How to Get the Most Out of Your Old Used Board Games

In All, Blog, fun by Zach Hillegas0 Comments

It’s a tale as old as time – you bought that board game, knowing you had room for it. You knew you could afford it, and you knew it would surely hit your table plenty of times, and you knew your group would love it! Maybe some of these things came to pass. Maybe none of them did. Or maybe the game really WAS a huge hit, and you’ve played it to oblivion and you’re finally moving on. In any case, you’ve now got a used board game sitting on your shelf, that (let’s be honest) you’re probably not going to play much anymore. So what do you do?

Well, you COULD just let it sit on your shelf for the rest of all eternity, lying to yourself that you’ll probably play it again when you know in your heart it’s not true. You COULD let it sit there and collect dust, taking space on your shelf, forever doomed to a lonely, unplayed existence. Or, you could do what should be done when a friend’s time has come–give them the honor they deserve, and move on.

If you collect board games, it’s more than likely you’ve accumulated at least a few of these lonely games. If you’ve ever been at a loss as to what to do with them, we are here to help! Here are some things you can do to give your used board games a proper sendoff.

1 – Sell them online

One great thing about board games is that they retain their value really well. If you’re willing to go through the hassle that is selling used board games online, you might be able to fetch a reasonable price for them. At least, more reasonable than you might get for a lot of other used goods.

This, however, is much easier said than done. Where do you sell them? Ebay is an option, but most people that have sold on Ebay know that it can be just the worst. I mean, it’s not that bad, but I’ve found that there are better ways. Ebay takes away a decent portion of your sale, and demand might not be as strong. That being said, if you’re an experienced Ebay seller who’s gone through the motions many times before, you’ll probably have a smoother experience than a newbie. Try throwing your game up there and see what happens.

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The (newly revamped) BGG marketplace offers a lot of options for both buyers and sellers of used board games

Another option is using BoardGameGeek. There are two options here–the BGG Marketplace, and Geeklist Auctions. For the uninitiated, BoardGameGeek is the largest board game community on the web. There are thousands of people at any given moment talking about games, selling them, trading them, and so on. Selling directly to a board game community is advantageous, because it’s filled with people who are actively looking for great deals.

With the BGG Marketplace, you can list your games at a set price. Geeklist Auctions are similar to Ebay in that you’re auctioning your game off. If you do business through BoardGameGeek, you’ll have to pay a 3% commission on your sale, but that’s much more generous than Ebay, which can sometimes reach as high as 8%. The disadvantage with BGG is that learning how to do it is probably going to be more of a hassle than it would be on Ebay, at least if you’re not familiar with BoardGameGeek. Fortunately, BGG offers helpful guides on how to sell games on the marketplace, and how to run a Geeklist Auction.

Finally, you can always try other communities. One of my favorite board game communities is /r/boardgames on Reddit, and they have a monthly bazaar where users can post games they’re selling. This can be a great place to buy and sell games! But, word of advice–Reddit is generally friendlier to people who try to be part of the community, rather than those who just show up for the benefits. If you want to buy and trade over there, make sure you’re friendly and that you take the time to read the rules and guidelines of the community!

2 – Trade Them

Don’t know how to price your game? Think you won’t get what you want for it? Try trading it instead! Just like selling, there are several places to trade board games online. Once again, the best placed I’ve found on the internet to do this are BoardGameGeek, and to a lesser extent, Reddit. If anyone knows of any other good trading communities online, I encourage you to post them in the comments!

Direct Trades

This is exactly what it sounds like–an online tool to set up direct trading with other people online. This guide on trading will help you to understand how to use BGG to set up direct trades. It might be a challenge to find someone who has what you want and wants what you have, but if you can manage to find that someone, the rest should be a breeze!

The nice thing about using BGG is that you can trade games passively. By listing your games as “have for trade,” people will be able to find them and directly message you if they’re interested. Direct trading can be a go-to solution for getting rid of games, but it’s also great if you’re not in a rush. If you don’t know exactly what you want to do with a game, but know you want to get rid of it, you might just get an unexpectedly sweet offer by putting it up for trade on BGG!

Math Trades

“Math Trades” are unique trades on BGG that are aimed towards achieving a “win/win” scenario for everyone involved. The easiest expression to use to describe Math Trades is “the more the merrier.” Essentially, a large number of people can opt-in to the Math Trade, volunteering whatever games they’re willing to let go of. A participant also lists what games they want, and the system takes care of the rest. Algorithms on BGG attempt to match everyone up in such a way to where everyone gets what they want. Person A might get Person B’s game, but trade their own game with Person C. Obviously, the more people who participate, the merrier.

Signing up for a Math Trade isn’t a breeze, and it’s not like they’re happening every day, but it’s definitely one of the most surefire ways of making a trade worthwhile. If you want to get the skinny on math trades, BGG has a guide for that too!

Board Game Bazaar

Similar to above, Reddit can be a useful tool for trading board games. Here is a link to their December Board Game Bazaar (there is a new one for every month, so anyone reading this past 12/2016 will be looking at an outdated link). In addition to selling games, you can also list them for trade. Reddit is nice because, assuming you both follow the rules, it will easily be the most hassle-free experience. You’re not selling through an official system, so it’s all based on trust. The obvious downside to this is that it’s all at your own risk–the mods are not officially involved in any capacity, and if you get scammed then that’s that and you’d better be more careful next time. Once again, I urge anyone who looks to Reddit to be a part of the community.

3 – Sell/Trade Locally

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Craigslist can be hit and miss, but if you check in every day, you’re bound to find some good deals. The same goes for if you’re selling! Unless you’re in the middle of nowhere, there’s probably at least a few people that are searching for hot game deals.

This is a much less reliable method, but potentially much easier if you can pull it off. If you want to sell your games, it never hurts to put them up on Craigslist/Letgo. Everyone’s heard of Craigslist, and listing items is extremely easy. You might not get any interested buyers depending on what you’re selling, but the good thing is that there aren’t really any downsides to listing something on CL. It’s free, it’s easy, and if nothing happens, it’s not like you’ve lost anything. I advise anyone who’s selling on Craigslist to meet in a public place to conduct transactions, and ONLY accept cash! If you’ve never used Craigslist, you should know that scammers are all over the place. Granted, they usually pop up for higher ticket items like electronics, but if someone wants to pay you through some sketchy check delivered through mail, you miiight want to reconsider.

Also, a lesser-known, but similar solution is Letgo. Letgo is a newish app that’s essentially a more streamlined/efficient Craigslist clone. Anyone who’s used Craigslist knows that it still seems to be stuck in 1999, and of course, it’s all based on trust. Letgo is essentially an alternate Craigslist in app form, and it fixes a lot of CL’s problems. For example, you can direct message the seller to ask questions and chat, as opposed to CL’s clunky email system. You’ll also get push notifications for deals you’re watching and so on. The disadvantage to Letgo is that it doesn’t have as big of a userbase as CL, so selling something kind of niche like board games might not go anywhere. But hey, why not try? I’ve found some amazing deals on Letgo just on the virtue that it doesn’t have a lot of people yet. So whether you’re buying or selling, maybe you can make it work.

4 – Give them away

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Giving a way a good game is a great way to make someone’s day! Age of Steam was the subject of BGR’s last giveaway. Do you have any people in your life or online that would benefit from a free game?

Alright, now let’s assume that you’re not out to get money for your game. Maybe selling or trading online is too much of an inconvenience for you (I wouldn’t blame you). Maybe you don’t think you’ll get much for it, or maybe you just don’t need the money. Even if this is the case, there are better ways to use a game than to let it sit on your shelf indefinitely!

If you’ve got games that you know will never be played, what better way to get rid of them than to give them to someone else? You’ll clear your shelf space, you’ll have less stuff to store, and best of all, you’ll know that your game might actually be getting played! So, do some thinking–who might be interested in your game? It could be a gamer friend who would be able to find more time for it than you do. It could be someone who’s not really into games, but maybe they would be if you give them something to start with! It could be a friend or family member who has a birthday coming up (I’ll let you decide if giving them something used is tactful or not), or it could be somebody you don’t know at all!

The truth is that gaming can be expensive. Unless you’re getting rid of a piece of trash, there’s a good chance that your used game is saving someone $30-$60 if they were to buy it themselves. If you have games that are glorified paperweights, I urge you to consider people who might benefit from owning your game. Heck, it could even be a great way to bond with someone. Give ’em a game, sit down and teach it/play it with them, and you’ve given them something that can use forevermore, and perhaps you’ve strengthened your relationship because of it. Tabletop gaming is a great way to bond with people, and giving someone a free game could be a great way to kickstart that bonding.

5 – Donate them

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Believe it or not, there ARE people at your thrift store that are willing to sift through all the copies of Candy Land and Scene It to find a good game. Why not throw them a bone?

Did you know that there are a multitude of organizations that would just love to have your used board games? Schools, shelters, and assisted living homes all have need of games, and you’d be surprised at who else does too, if you just take the time to look! There are also general donation centers like Goodwill. If you’ve got some games you don’t want, and want to do some good, look up local places that might take your games!

I know what you might be thinking–“will old ladies really want to play my copy of Twilight Imperium?” Well, probably not. But guess what? Your local game store might want it! That’s right, in addition to charity organizations, your friendly local game store is likely to be interested in your games. If you’ve got heavier, more hobby-based games, they might be appreciated at your FLGS where they can be used as demo copies. A lot of board game cafes and game stores in general have a catalogue of used games that patrons can play at their tables, sometimes for free, or for a small cover charge. If you give your games to a local game store, you can rest easy knowing they’ll be played and loved over and over! Heck, you can even pay them a visit yourself if you’re having a hard time letting go.

6 – Frame Them

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Wouldn’t it be cool to have a game of Risk hanging on your wall? Image credit goes to giftwrappedandgorgeous.com

Okay, now we’re getting kind of weird, but bare with me here. Have you ever thought of framing your games? I admit it’s never something I would have thought of myself, but I’ve seen a few posts online of people who have done it, and it seemed like a fun idea! This is obviously something that’s not for everyone, but if you’re big on gaming, it could be a fun and sentimental way to add some flair to your room. Naturally, you won’t want to do this if it’s a game you just never got into, but if you had some fond memories of the game in question, a frame is a great way to immortalize it while also providing some nice scenery.

The picture above is an example of how a really well done framed board game could work. The framed Risk board above is actually a product that’s for sale from its makers, but someone who’s dedicated could always take their own stab at it! I really like in this one how certain pieces are glued on to make it look like it’s in play on your wall. There is incredible potential for modern board games here!

This option is especially viable for Legacy or campaign style games, which each tell their own story. Legacy games in particular can’t be played once they’re finished, so framing them is a great way to handle their dead remains, when your only other options are keeping them inside a box or throwing them away. Wouldn’t it be fun to add a framed Risk Legacy board on your wall so you can constantly have a pleasant reminder of you and your friends’ history of betrayal and backstabbing?

7 – Make Something Out of Them

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Image credit goes to vannessaalvarado.com

If you have a sentimental attachment to your game but feel like it will never be played anymore, you can always repurpose them into cool crafts! I’m not much of a crafty guy, so I had to do some research for this, but I found some cool results. Check out, for example, this blog where somebody made cool shelves out of their old games! I also found this cool guide on how to make USB keychains out of dice. With all the crazy shapes and sizes of dice in modern board games, someone could have a field day with this. You kind of have to be creative in this department, but I’m sure you could come up with something awesome you could do with your old games if you think hard enough!

Conclusion

So there you have it–an old, unplayed game is NOT a lost cause! There are plenty of ways to either profit from your game, make other people happy with it, or to repurpose it into something cool that will add some nice visual flair to your house or game room. Regardless of what you choose, almost any of these options are better than just letting them sit on a shelf for an eternity. Got any other ideas of how to get use from your unplayed games? Sound ’em out in the comments!

About the Author

Zach Hillegas

Zach is an avid tabletop gamer, and he created Board Game Resource out of his love for the hobby, and his desire to see more people come into it. When he's not writing for or managing BGR, Zach might be hanging out with cats, hiking a mountain, or spending time with his lovely wife. Zach is currently studying for a degree in Business Management. Zach has also enjoys creating digital character art. You can check out his gallery here!

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