Boardgaming your way to freedom

One of Mr Zombie’s most powerful allies in keeping his expenses relatively low and trying to save around 60% of his income is the humble board game.

To the Level 0 finance newbie, the board game can seem childish and a vacuous waste of time.  Yet, the Level 0 n00b makes these assertions and then sits in front of TV, eating a take-away pizza whilst browsing the internet for tat he or she doesn’t need.  To the Level 10 financial wizard, the board game is the perfect opportunity to have an absolutely smashing evening with friends, whilst not battering the bank balance to pieces.

Over the years Mr Zombie has collected a few of these here ‘boardgames’, to much positive effect.  And had his fair share of raised eyebrows and smirks when inviting the uninitiated round for food, a few drinks and a couple of games.  A few hours later and the uninitiated is hooting at dice rolls, high fiving or taking it too seriously and brawling in the kitchen.

The humble board game allows you to catch up with friends, without the need to frequent an expensive bar or restaurant.  You can cook some delicious food, get a few drinks from the supermarket (for approximately 7 million % less than a bar) and play a couple of games.  A game might set you back £30 – £70 (someone get the man that fainted at the back a medic!) but that’s only really the price of a couple of nights out.  Then you have the board game (investment) that just keeps on giving.  A boardgame could save you the cost of a meal and a few drinks EVERY weekend.  At £30 that’s £90k over 20 years, compounded at 7%.

Before you know it there will be a group of you, collectively with a smorgasbord of boardgames and all willing to host a cracking evening on a rotating basis.

The uninitiated may feel that this is a geeky, nerdy or dweeby pursuit.  And they might be right.  Still, it is awesome.  These are the ones from ‘Mr Zombie and Pals’ stash that we keep on returning to;

Zombicide*

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Awwww, come on!  How can we look at board games without at LEAST one of them being about zombies?  This was (naturally) the first one that I bought.  It pits you, and up to 5 others, against a ravenous horde of zombies.  Zombies move automatically, through a set of pre-defined rules.  And there is fucking loads of them.  So you all got to work together.  Played best with some super spooky music.

Mrs Z actually finds this one really stressful to play as she gets so involved with it. It’s designed like active investing so that you lose it more than you win, it feels like a daunting and bleak task a lot of the time.  I only see that as a good thing.  We’ve had some epic sessions on this game, playing until the wee hours of the morning where tiredness and whisky begin to impact your decisions.

The game is played on tiles (there’s 9 double sided and different ones), so you can chop and change what the game actually looks like.  It comes with a chunk of missions in the game itself and then there are tons more online for free.

Turns are, broadly, each of you uses action points (to move, search, pick stuff up or slay some zombies like a legend), zombies then move and eat your brains if they can, then finally more zombies spawn at the end of the turn.  As you kill more zombies you level-up but so does the number of zombies spawning.  Geeky as hell.  Love it.

There’s load of expansions, a second and third season, if you can’t get enough of it.

There’s been plenty of times when we have created the perfect plan.  Edna, you turn back and shoot that single sucker right between the eyes with your 9mm and create an escape route.  Barry, boot that door down over there, clear out the two walkers and the fatty in the room.  Then I’ll get in there and pick up the supplies, our objective.  Larry, you start making your way down the escape route in preparation for next turn.  Sounds good?  Sweet, lets do this. Fucking go team.

It all goes smoothly.  Edna shoots the lone zombie between it’s undead eyes, clearing the escape route.  Barry clears out the room with his chainsaw like a man possessed.  I get in there and pick up the supplies.  But wait, whoa, Larry is looking pensive.  Guys, I really think I can take out all of those zombies outside.

But, mate, then they have a direct route to us, the door will be open.  There’s approximately a shit-load of them out there.  You don’t have a chance.  I reply reasonably.

Sure enough, Larry charges out side, Uzi’s pumping into the horde over and over. And kills one fucking zombie.  Time for a regroup, a replan and a stern telling off for the now silent Larry.

I joke not, this happens nearly every game.  Damn you Larry.

Puerto Rico*

Possibly the most played game of the collection.  It’s a ripper!  It’s quicker than the other two to play, which can be a good thing depending on the situation.

It’s kind of confusing the first time you play it through.  Yet after you play it a couple of times you realise the greatness of the game actually lies in it’s simplicity.

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You play a colonial leader, setting up a civilisation on an island and trying to grow it through trade, building, cultivating natural resources and attracting more colonists to your island.  At the end you total up the number of victory points you have amassed, leader with the most wins.

In a freakish twist for the unprepared, you all play on your own mini-board.  There is no central board where the action happens.  WTF!  This isn’t monopoly my friend, things have moved on, let it go.

Each turn is divided into a load of mini-phases, building, selling goods, producing, attracting colonists etc.  It’s all very hectic.

Imagine if you will, you have devised the perfect plan.  This combination of buildings with that combinations of resources and you will be unstoppable.  You just need to build a harbour at the next building phase and victory is all yours.  You take a sip of your drink, it tastes like £200 champagne, and you secretly laugh at the mugs around the table.  But then, Johnny the Bastard takes the last harbour and builds it.  Bastard!  Your plan is shot to ruin.  Suddenly everyone else looks smug, building what they need, chirping away happily to each other.  Your board is a mess now, you have no clear direction…unless…then you devise some other equally devious plan that needs 3 turns to complete that requires a specific set of circumstances to work.

And that’s where the fun lies, everything is linked and limited in the game and so your plans are always changing.  Getting one thing means you can’t get another.  Some don’t do anything until the end of the game, but they are really cool.  It’s like a constant battle of Fear Of Missing Out (FOMO).  Good training for trying to ignore the calls of active investing then.

Settlers of Catan*

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A classic, if you haven’t played it then you haven’t lived my friend, you haven’t lived.  The basic game is for 2-4 players, but it can 6 if you buy the expansion.  And there’s loads of variations on the game.

It’s a game based on amassing victory points, building roads & settlements and trading commodities (sheep, wood, etc).  It’s way more awesome that it sounds.  And if you are Mr Z, you always try to become the sheep baron.  I’m not sure I have ever won.

It’s another of those games where playing it the first time it seem mind meltingly complicated, yet after a couple of play throughs your are now confused by it’s simplicity.

And there are so many opportunities to ask people if they “have wood” during the game.  Can it get any better?

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Any other board games you’d recommend? For use in blasting your way to Financial Independence whilst not becoming a hermit?

Fancy a bit of research?  Head on over to board game geek.

Mr Z

* Yep, those are affiliate links, deal with it.  If you fancy supporting the blog you could buy something through the link, won’t make a difference to your price.  If you do, I love you.  There is of course no need to what so ever 🙂

13 thoughts on “Boardgaming your way to freedom

  1. Tawcan

    I’m a big Settlers fan, also like Carcassonne and Ticket to Ride. Have played Puerto Rico a couple of time but really don’t remember all the rules. Agree that board games are great entertainment, yes it’s expensive initially but pays back very quickly.

    Reply
    1. Mr Zombie Post author

      Yeah ticket to ride is also great. Never played Carcassonne, will check it out as wanted a new one 🙂

      Reply
  2. Daemon

    Christmas and birthdays certainly lost the element of surprise as of two years ago when I discovered board games. Up until then, I only really thought games consisted of Monopoly, Scrabble and Cluedo (still sitting on the Woolworths shelves in my mind).
    In place of the token DVD or album present, I was searching for gifts that would have more than a single use and would overhaul the passive, one off event of watching a film.
    The rest is history. Everybody knows they are getting a game now. However, surprise has been replaced by hope… hope for the next expansion pack! Swiftly followed by a flurry of emotions as we descend into ‘debating’ (not arguing) strategies

    Back at home too, it has fed into my savings plans for exactly the reasons you’ve listed. If the prices still seem a little too steep, often there are now board game meet ups around. There are usually a stack to try out, so you can test new games and meet a bunch of new people. Perfect Sunday afternoon.

    Give Pandemic a shot. Advised not to play with Larry.

    Reply
  3. Organised Redhead

    Hey Mr Zombie,

    Great article about games – thanks!

    I have played the online app version of Catan and really enjoy that. I too have Carcassonne and love it, though it would be nice if it was for more than 4 players.

    Another game my family and I enjoy is Hotel – it’s a similar (ish) idea to monopoly. I owned it during my childhood, then it got given away accidentally much to my despair. My sister bought me the updated version for Christmas, we’ve started playing it again and really enjoy it! Totally agree with you that board games are awesome, particularly when played at games nights. I’m eyeing up Ticket to Ride as my next purchase…

    Reply
    1. Mr Zombie Post author

      Hey OR,

      I remember Hotel! It blew my mind as a kid as it had actual models…of hotels. We got a copy of Scotland Yard as remembered playing it as kids. Still pretty fun!

      Reply
  4. Steve

    I, too, am a big boardgaming fan. I’ve never got into video/PC games.

    3 quick suggestions, all originally in the same series as Puerto Rico

    Ra: bidding, where each player will value items differently
    Taj Mahal: sunk cost. All bids lost, so pick your battles wisely.
    Macao: future returns: a little soon or lots later, and contingency planning.

    Reply
  5. Mike

    I love the games you have suggested. Also very very good ones are 7 Wonders, Agricola, Castles of Burgundy, Caylus All great for keeping the brain cells ticking over too!

    Reply
  6. Peter

    Whilst I love a bit of Settlers my all time favorite has to be Bohnanza. Whenever we play (you really need 4 as it is heavily trade based) everyone gets massively involved; it is always quite close but skill still matters and who doesn’t want to be the best bean farmer?

    A few really interesting games to look up, thanks for the article & comments.

    Reply
  7. ZJ Thorne

    I love board games. Got a great deal on them when I worked at a toy store. Settlers if my favorite that I rarely get to play. Love quibbler, too. For awhile I was carrying bananagrams in my purse because my girlfriend liked it so much.

    Reply
  8. Adam

    First I have to include card games I have too, cause actually having a board is arbitrary to the point of its a re-playable game you can enjoy with friends.

    That being said, I have 7 wonders, Cards against Humanity, Exploding Kittens, Gloom, Flux, Firefly, Lords of Waterdeep, Carcassone, Arkham Horror, Munchkin, Splendor, Race for the Galaxy, Dominion, Pandemic, Stone Age, Galaxy Trucker, Small World, Dixit, Betrayal at House on the Hill, and more I can’t think of right now. I may have a slight problem. I CAN QUIT ANYTIME I WANT!

    Of the games I’ve played, the one I reach for the most and the one that is easy to get people into is Betrayal at House on the hill. It’s easy to explain and it build’s up tension nicely as it goes. It starts out as find a new room, draw and read a card, follow directions. That works until the second half when the rules start getting more needed, cause someone just became a betrayer.

    Reply

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