Here ya go, a list of my top 5 games that cost under $25. Well, at least the top 5 I can think of right now.
Disclaimer: Subject to change based on my whims and memory capacity, and in no particular order. :)
1. Mmmmm.... brains! And flower power! Plants vs. Zombies!
You live in a house and zombies want to eat your brains. Use sunshine to grow various species of plants to defend yourself. Unlock new plants as you go and discover fun challenges along the way such as lawn bowling. All while holding off the teeming hordes of zombies from getting through your lawn, your pool, and your roof. Yay!
This game is available for everything from the computer to the xbox360 to the Nintendo DS to the iPhone (my personal favorite) and ranging in price from $2.99 for the iPhone to $20(ish) for console versions. I love tapping all over the screen, grabbing sunshine, building up my plant army, collecting coins, and watching those pesky zombies eat the dust. Plants Vs. Zombies is a fresh, fun take on tower defense style games, and the art, humor, and replayability of the game makes it well worth checking out.
2. THIS is how we roll....
Roll Through the Agesis one of the Gryphon Games line of "Bookshelf Games". There are some awesome components in this game, especially for the $20-25 price point! We're talking wooden peg boards, wooden dice, and a scoring pad so thick I doubt we'll ever run out.
This game plays somewhat like Yahtzee, with a civilization building theme to it. It's definitely more complex, with lots of different options on how to improve your civilization. There are some good choices to be made, and a number of different strategies to try out. As with any dice game, there is an element of luck that can sway things and keep you on your toes even when you have a solid grasp on the basics. We've had a lot of fun playing this game, and it's a favorite for pick up and go matches at coffee houses or for a light, quick-playing strategy fix.
As an added bonus, there's a free expansion online here, and you can print out updated score sheets that include all the new stuff. The expansion adds some really interesting strategy and a little more depth than the base game, and keeps the whole package fresh and challenging.
This game is also available as an iPhone app, and we've played it on my phone when we are lounging around, on trips, and even out camping. The solitaire version is fun enough to justify the app purchase, but it's also pretty awesome to just pull it out and pass around when you don't have your game shelf handy :)
Burning Wheel RPG is an incredible value. For $25 you get the game system book and a character guide full of rich options for a deep fantasy world. Many RPG systems will cost you $30-40 just for a player's guide, but this set includes enough to get you playing for a good long time. My tiny disclaimer is that we haven't actually played a campaign with this system yet, but it's been a very inspiring read and we've had a lot of fun discussing the system, making characters, and implementing elements into other games we play. I fully intend to run or play a Burning Wheel campaign at some point, because I love the emphasis on story, fresh take on character creation, and intricate systems for things such as social debates and elaborate combat.
5. The simplest thing
A deck of cards is an amazing value because it comes with an infinite way to play. You probably already know a dozen games, and so do your friends. You can use them to play solitaire games by yourself, gamble to your hearts content with poker and blackjack, or engage in elaborate games that take a lifetime to master, such as Bridge. In between is my favorite card realm, social games such as 99, Oh Hell, Hearts, and Spades that most often amounts to an awesome evening of fun gameplay. I grew up playing cards with my family, and love pulling out a deck from time to time and saying "What are we playing tonight?". I recommend checking out a nice set of Copag or KEM plastic playing cards if you are looking for a nice gift or want to invest in a set of cards that will last forever. My mom and grandma both have double-deck sets of these cards and playing with them is top-notch. The next time I buy a deck of cards it will definitely be one of these sets. They will run you between $15-20 bucks, which may seem expensive for "just cards", but they don't wear out, warp, bend, and eventually sag like other cards do with heavy wear. Plus they just feel so NICE to shuffle. Ahh...
Check out another take on this topic at Cool Factor 5, and be sure to tell us what games YOU love for under $25. We know commenting on this blog can be a bit of a pain, but we'd love to hear from you and appreciate the effort!