Gaming Systems for Gamers on a Budget

While it’s tempting to buy every shiny new game on the market, it’s not very kind on the wallet. Realistically, most consumers can’t afford to purchase new titles month after month. Thankfully there’s a lot of different systems out there that allow you to play tons of other games using a unified set of pieces.

Playing Cards

If you didn’t see this coming, then I don’t know what to tell you. It’s super easy to pick up a standard Poker deck just about anywhere, and there are hundreds of games out there that can you can use with them. Did you know there are other decks of cards out there with similar versatility?

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Hanafuda are amazingly beautiful
(By Japanexperterna (CCBYSA), CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=38072666)

Hanafuda are small, tile-like, Japanese playing cards most famously known for their use in Koi-Koi. Of course, there are other games you can play with a deck making them a versatile, portable, beautiful deck of cards to own. There are tons of different styles of decks out there, ranging in price, but you can find them for as low as $5-$10.

Scopa is a classic Italian card game using a 40-card deck of the same name. There are several variations of the game that can be playing using a set, as well as a few unique games. To make things even more comfortable on a budget, you can pare down a Poker deck by removing the jacks, queens, kings, and jokers and counting Aces as 1’s.

While mostly known for fortune-telling, Tarot cards are actually for playing games. French Tarot is one of the more popular games played with a deck, but there are many, many more to play. The popularity of Tarot decks among artists makes it easy to find a deck suited to your visual style.

Looney Pyramids

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Pyramids contain the potential for hundreds of hours of fun

Created by Looney Labs, Pyramids have been around for quite a while, currently sold as a boxed set known as Pyramid Arcade; Pyramids are used in hundreds of games. There have even been several boxed games that have come from Pyramids, most notably Zendo, with more coming in the Fall of 2020. You can’t go wrong with a few stashes of these babies. There’s just so much to play with them.

Piecepack

Containing 24 tiles, 24 coins, 4 pawns, and 4 dice, Piecepack is a public domain set of components used to play tons of different games. Being public domain you can easily find what you need to make your own set, though there are a few places online to purchase a pre-made set. Once you have set the sky is the limit. There’s even games out there that incorporate Pyramids, playing cards, dominos, and more!

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One of the few sets available from The Game Crafter

Dominos

There’s more to dominos than domino halls and even more variety in choices of sets. While there is a certain charm to Straight Dominos, games like Mexican Train and Chickenfoot provide a bit more challenge.

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A wooden double 6 set

Most games require at least Doube 6 sets of dominos, but Double 9 and Double 12 sets are also common, inexpensive, and will add many more options to your game library. If you’re looking for something more, there are always sets made from various woods, gemstones, or even precious metals.

Others

There are even multiple games that can be played with standard Checkers, Chess, and Go sets—looking for something a bit more unique? Try a Pai Sho board and tiles. There are also plenty of lesser known systems out there using a set collection of pieces. Search around and you’re sure to find some gems.

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