How to Build the Perfect Good & Cheap Game Collection
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Let's say you want to build a "perfect collection" but are strapped for cash. The games on "A Cheapskate's Guide to a Free & Well-Rounded Game Collection" look interesting, but many of them either have poor ratings or are time-consuming print-(and-cut-and-glue-)and-play affairs. The "Good and Cheap" list has nearly 100 games that are highly ranked and cost $10 or less, but you know you're not going to buy all of these games. How do you choose?

This list recasts the "Good and Cheap" Geeklist into the "Perfect Collection" approach discussed in this thread and modeled in this Geeklist. The first half of the games below show up on both Geeklists, while the second half is mostly a variety of lower priority games that can add to your collection but are not "necessary."

A few notes:

1. $13 Maximum Price: The "Good and Cheap" list used a $10 limit but was made 4 years ago. I've inflated the maximum price to $13.
2. BGG Top 20%: The number of games ranked here on BGG has also increased. I include anything in the Top 20% of all ranked games, rather than just the Top 1000. Right now, that amounts to using the Top 1200.
3. Traditional Card Games: Yes, many of these can fill categories below, but part of the idea here is to get you some nice, shiny, new games rather than just using the old standby.
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1. Board Game: The Werewolves of Miller's Hollow [Average Rating:6.82 Overall Rank:754]
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Party Game with Player Secrets & Negotiation
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2. Board Game: Battleground [Average Rating:6.96 Overall Rank:1797] [Average Rating:6.96 Unranked]
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Wargame with Variable Phase Order
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3. Board Game: Blokus Duo [Average Rating:6.86 Overall Rank:791]
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Abstract Tile Placement Game for Two Players That's Fast & Kid-Friendly
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4. Board Game: Magic: The Gathering [Average Rating:7.46 Overall Rank:149] [Average Rating:7.46 Unranked]
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Deck-Building Game That Doubles as a Gateway & a Filler

The "cheapest" entry into a Deck-Building game is with a CCG. Unfortunately, these don't remain "cheap" for long, so I've sequestered all of them into this single category. Magic is the most well-known and highest-ranked of them all.

- Battleground: Fantasy Warfare
- Middle Earth CCG
- Vampire: The Eternal Struggle
- Legend of the Five Rings
- Call of Cthulhu CCG
- Game of Thrones CCG
- Lord of the Rings Trading Card Game
- Mage Knight Dungeons
 
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5. Board Game: Jungle Speed [Average Rating:6.55 Overall Rank:1084]
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Dexterity Game That Large Groups and Kids Can Play
 
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6. Board Game: Leonardo da Vinci [Average Rating:6.78 Overall Rank:1000]
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Medium to Heavy Euro Utilizing Worker Placement
 
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7. Board Game: Saboteur [Average Rating:6.61 Overall Rank:869] [Average Rating:6.61 Unranked]
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Cooperative Game

Cheap, highly ranked cooperative games are hard to come by, but Saboteur fills this category. It's also a Party Game featuring Bluffing, Exploration, and a Modular Board.
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8. Board Game: Tower of Babel [Average Rating:6.65 Overall Rank:1350]
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Auction/Bidding

Many traditional card games feature an auction phase (ex., Bridge), but gamers tend to believe that a collector should have at least one game in which auctions are the central mechanic. If you can find For Sale for less than $13, then it would be the best of the cheap options, but I can't find it that cheap anywhere.

Alternatives
- No Thanks!
- Felix: The Cat in the Sack
- Wizard
- Il Principe (not a card game!)
- Vom Kap bis Kairo
- Monkeys on the Moon
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9. Board Game: Battle Line [Average Rating:7.42 Overall Rank:184]
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Two-Player Game

I've already mentioned several excellent two-player games, so getting a separate game just for this category is not entirely necessary.

Alternatives:
- Fjords
- Court of the Medici

For similarly affordable alternatives, check out the Abstract Strategy games and Wargames on this list, and for non-abstract options that cost a little more, see the comments below.
 
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10. Board Game: Bohnanza [Average Rating:7.05 Overall Rank:373]
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Trading/Negotiation Game

Trading and Negotiation don't make it on to lists like this enough to merit a category for each, but together there are enough recommendations that you really should have a game featuring at least one or the other. If Werewolf's negotiation element isn't enough for you, you might want to check out Bohnanza for the Trading side of things. The Settlers of Catan Card Game can also be had fairly cheaply.
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11. Board Game: SET [Average Rating:6.48 Overall Rank:1243]
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Fast/Filler Game

Many of the games already on this list are quick plays, but, if you want yet another one, there are many, many "Good and Cheap" options.

Alternatives
- No Thanks!
- Fairy Tale
- Turn the Tide
- R-Eco
- Loco!
- Gang of Four
- Aquadukt
- Guillotine
- Lines of Action (not a card game!)
- Modern Art: The Card Game
- Poison
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12. Board Game: The Bridges of Shangri-La [Average Rating:6.78 Overall Rank:1203]
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Tile Placement

If Travel Blokus is not enough for your Tile Placement needs, the BGG Marketplace has a number of additional "Good & Cheap" options.

Alternatives
- Fjords was already mentioned above as a two-player game.
- Oasis works best with 5 players, but 4 is also possible. 3 is doable.
- Bridges of Shangri-La reportedly works best for 3 or 4 players.
- Aquadukt is playable with 2 players, but many complain about the luck involved.
- Bananagrams is a quick-playing word game.
- California is a relatively light game for 2 or more players.
 
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13. Board Game: Mü & More [Average Rating:7.19 Overall Rank:855]
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Trick-Taking Game

Trick-Taking games are by no means required in a well-rounded collection, but it's tough not to include one in a cheap collection filled with mostly card games. You've got a lot of options here.

Alternatives
- Sticheln
- Wizard
- Cosmic Eidex
- David & Goliath
- Rook
 
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14. Board Game: Mystery Rummy: Jack the Ripper [Average Rating:6.97 Overall Rank:813]
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Set Collection

Like Trick-Taking, Set Collection games are not required in a well-rounded collection, but there are so many cheap choices that it can't hurt to add one. The Mystery Rummy series puts an interesting twist on an old classic in a theme of your choice (Jack the Ripper, Al Capone, Jekyl & Hyde).

Alternatives
- Coloretto
- No Thanks!
- Wyatt Earp
- Tower of Babel
- Mystery Rummy
- Get the Goods
- Circus Flohcati
- David & Goliath
- Klunker
- Corsari
- Archeology: The Card Game
 
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15. Board Game: Pick Picknic [Average Rating:6.56 Overall Rank:1475]
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Kids Game

Many other games on this list can serve as Kids Games, but this one is especially targeted at younger players.
 
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16. Board Game: Sleuth [Average Rating:6.90 Overall Rank:969]
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Deduction Game
Secrets (Action Selection, Role Selection, Win Conditions, etc.)

Some believe a well-rounded collection needs a "Deduction" game. If Werewolf is not enough, here are some more options.

Alternatives:
- Chrononauts
- Dia de los Muertos: As noted in the comments, kind of weak on Deduction
- Die Kutschfahrt zur Teufelsburg: Good and Cheap, but unavailable at this time
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17. Board Game: Verräter [Average Rating:6.73 Overall Rank:1370]
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The Game Diversity Addition

Relative to the games suggested so far, Verrater (or the related Meuterer) adds more new mechanics/themes to your collection than any other remaining game. This game features Card Drafting, Hand Management, a Modular Board, Variable Player Powers, and a Political theme.
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18. Board Game: Tichu [Average Rating:7.60 Overall Rank:125]
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Collector's Choice

Even after all the categories and choices above, there are still several "Good but Cheap" games out there. Games that do not fit any of the categories above are listed below. As one comment below notes, these are all more or less climbing games.

- Tichu
- Category 5
- Frank's Zoo
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19. Board Game: No Thanks! [Average Rating:7.04 Overall Rank:391]
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I've seen it sold for a prayer on the net, one of my favorites.
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