Buying Games

The German-style or designer board and card games that will be discussed in this blog are not available in the usual toy or department stores (unless you happen to live in Germany). There are various ways of buying such games, each with its advantages and disadvantages. Here are some guidelines based on my experience so far.

Editions

Many games are first edited in German and then translated to English and other languages. Sometimes it’s the other way round. BoardGameGeek (BGG), the world’s biggest information resource on ‘unplugged’ games, indicates for most games their language dependency. A language independent game has little or no text in the game components (board, cards, etc.). You can therefore buy a cheaper foreign edition, print out a translation of the rules into your native language from BGG, learn them once, and then play the game as smoothly as if you were playing the more expensive edition of the game published in your native language.

This issue of which edition to buy may not be a problem for many, but if you live in Sweden, with its high taxes, or in the UK, where the English editions cost more in pounds than the German editions in Euros, then buying German editions of language-independent games can lead to some savings…

FLGSs

The Friendly Local Game Stores are usually run by game enthusiasts who will be able to provide you a more personal service than an online shop. Moreover, buying from your local shop saves you postage costs and you’re able to browse the game boxes before you buy. Some shop owners also organise game meetings, where you can try games before you buy. An extensive list of FLGSs worldwide can be found here.

Specialist online shops

These have usually a much wider range than local shops and sell in larger quantities. They hence provide more choice and better prices, but don’t forget to add the postage costs. Some online shops also provide extra services, like user recommendations, game reviews, etc., which is a bit pointless, given the existence of BGG. An extensive list of online shops  can be found here.

eBay

You can buy new games from eBay shops, but I don’t recommend it: those shops don’t have the same choice and low prices as the specialist online shops. However, eBay is a great place to look for used copies or out-of-print games. The disadvantage is that most often you can’t buy a game immediately — you have to wait for the auction’s end and possibly not get the item. Also, unless a seller happens to have several games you’re interested in, you can’t reduce postage costs by combining orders.

Amazon

Due to its buying power, Amazon can offer many popular games (e.g. those who have won major awards) at good discount prices. Amazon Germany has a much wider range of games than Amazon UK. There are also many associate Amazon sellers that offer games, but the same comment as for eBay shops applies. Moreover, they usually can’t ship to outside the country in which the corresponding Amazon site operates, e.g. UK residents can’t buy games from Amazon Germany’s associate sellers. Last, but not least, postage may be free or very low when buying from Amazon. For example, in November 2007, a shipment from Amazon Germany to various EU countries cost only 6 Euros, independently of the number of games ordered!

Other options

There are other possibilities of buying games, like garage and car boot sales, thrift or charity shops, and the BGG market place. I have no experience of any of them. Through price comparison, I can only say that the same comment as for eBay shops applies to the BGG market place: if you want to buy games in new condition, you find them cheapest at the big specialist online shops.

Finally, there is also trading on BGG, where games are simply exchanged between interested parties, without any payment. Again, I have no experience with that system.

Summing up

If the game is out of print, I search for it on eBay. If the game is in print, I compare the prices among multiple specialist online shops on BoardGamePrices.com. If the game is language independent, I also check the prices on Amazon Germany and Magnus Spiele, which has usually the lowest prices (I guess they pass their savings in website development on to the customers…). Of course, postage costs have to be taken into account.

Comments

  1. by mw, on January 17 2009 @ 11:07 am
    The above advice was written for my old website, quite some time ago, when the pound was 50% over the Euro. Now, with the pound below the Euro, the advice on getting language independent games sent from Germany has become dated for UK buyers.

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