Still, now that they are no longer printing Cheap Ass games anymore, what's a game to do for a bit of new fun when the budget is low. Here are my top 5 Cheap Games in no particular order. (In other words, they are my five favorite but #1 isn't necessarily my most favoritist one the bunch.)
Players: 9 or more
Werewolf is a party game where a couple of players are werewolves eating the villagers and the rest of the people are villagers trying to lynch werewolves to stay alive. It is a game of deception and fun that I have played for many hours of enjoyment. One of these days I will do a write up of my version of the rules. Until then, here's a printable free set that looked alright.
Players: 4-8 (but 6-8 is best).
The Great Dalmuti is a card game. The deck has 1 card of value 1, 2 cards of value 2, 3 cards of value 3 all they way up to 12 cards of value 12. Lower numbers beat higher numbers. All the cards are dealt out and players try to empty their hands. Each round plays until every person but one has emptied their hand. The first person to go out is the Dalmuti. The Dalmuti gets to pick the best chair in the room to sit in, gets a few bonus cards, and gets to act like a pompous ass and ask people to get him or her drinks. The person who didn't go out is the Greater Peon (or piss boy as we like to call it sometimes). This person has to shuffle cards, give good cards away and possibly run some errands for the Dalmuti. Round after round, people keep playing, status' change, people move to new chairs and go again. Its a simple mechanic that can go on for hours if people can let themselves have a little fun with it.
Mancala is an ancient and classic board game. They sell sets of it all over the place and they are usually pretty cheap. That said, I once made a Mancala board for free in less than 10 minutes by digging 12 holes in the dirt and gathering 40 little gravel sized rocks. Mancala is a game where players pick up stones from a bin and redistribute them around in a circle, capturing 1 stone every time they get to put one in there scoring bin. The person with the most stones at the end wins. There are few more rules than that, but overall it is very simple, highly strategic, and fairly entertaining even after multiple play throughs.
4. Magic The Gathering
Now this one probably sounds crazy. As a collectible card game, Magic can cost you hundred and hundreds of dollars over the course of a year if you try to buy a fair chunk of cards from each new set. So why call this a cheap game? Well, your personal lack of self-restraint isn't the issue here. We're just talking how much it costs to actually start having some fun. Magic has a Deck Builders Toolkit for around $20 that will easily let you build a couple of decks and start playing. There are Duels of the Plainswalker sets for about $25 that will give you some really decently matched decks to play. Also, there are many game stores that will sell single commons for around $.o5 a piece and I've seen lands from $.01 to around $.10. So 24 land ($2.40) and 46 hand picked commons ($2.30) means that for around $20 you could easily build 4 decks to play with your friends. They won't be the most powerful decks ever but they will probably be evenly matched and still fun to play. Magic the Gathering can become an expensive habit if you're not careful. However, it's still incredibly cheap to jump in and play one of the best games ever made.
Players: Highly variable depending on the game.
This may seem ridiculous to mention, but I think many gamers overlook it when searching for something new to play. A standard deck of playing cards is the greatest piece of gaming equipment ever invented. It has access to thousands of games. Way more than any Playstation or Xbox. The rules for most cards games can be easily found online and there is a large variety of different types of card games to try. My personal favorite card games are: Hearts, Oh Hell, 500, Poker, Red/Black, and Bullshit.
Please leaves a comment and let me know what cheap games you love to play. My friends at Growing Up Gamers should be posting on this topic as well if you want to check out their perspective.