Wargames have been around for as long as humans have been around. The very best in this genre simulate combat in straightforward or novel ways, and are centered on the elements of strategy, tactics, and chance.
If you love exercising your inner general without the need to place yourself in immediate danger–except for the occasional flipped table–then you will definitely want to check out these board and tabletop wargames!
15. Axis & Allies
First up is Axis & Allies and as the name suggests this game is based upon World War II.
Spanning land, air, and sea, players can deploy: infantry, tanks, artillery, bombers, destroyers, battleships, and more. Effective resource management is important in determining which side will be victorious.
Axis & Allies gives players advanced mechanisms to consider as they wage total war And this depth makes the game feel more rewarding.
14. D-Day at Omaha Beach
Continuing with the WWII theme, D-Day at Omaha Beach can be played either solo (recommended) or cooperative.
Where Axis & Allies is grand in scale, D-Day at Omaha Beach zooms in on one of the bloodiest battles of the war.
As the Americans, one or two players launch the famed amphibious assault against Fortress Europe.
The pieces use military symbols rather than miniature models, so it feels like you are actually in the boots of Supreme Commander Eisenhower standing over his sand table as the American forces fight against the German army.
13. MechWarrior: Dark Age (Miniatures)
Released in 2002, MechWarrior was the follow up to WizKids’s exceptionally successful Mage Knight miniatures wargaming series.
Similar to its older sibling, in MechWarrior players combat one another using pre-painted models of infantry, armored vehicles, and piloted robots called BattleMechs. The battlefields are completely customizable with gamers using 2D print outs or 3D structures to build up the playing arena.
Rich fictional narratives accompany the gameplay. The original factions of MechWarrior include clans such as Wolf and Nova Cat, the Federated Suns, Highlanders, Capellan Confederation, and more. Each of these have their own history and political objectives, which helps immerse players into the game's universe while the battle unfolds before them.
If you are a fan of the Mobile Suit Gundam television series, then you will want to add MechWarrior to your gaming collection.
12. Memoir 44
A close relative to D-Day at Omaha Beach and Axis & Allies, next up is Memoir 44.
Based in WWII, two to eight players reenact famous battles from the war.
The game takes place in Normandy, and comes with over a dozen scenarios including Arnhem Bridge, Pointe du Hoc, and St. Vith. The booklet includes historical context for each battle, which WWII enthusiasts will appreciate.
Players use Command cards to move troops and engage in combat. Upon eliminating an enemy unit, they earn a medal. Standard units include infantry, tanks, and artillery; while special units include special forces, the French Resistance, and elite tanks.
Depending on the scenario being played, once a player earns four, five, or six medals he or she wins the game.
The replayability of Memoir 44 is impressive. It has had many expansion packs since it’s release in 2004, some of which were created by the fan community itself.
Perhaps one of the first games that comes to mind when you hear the words “war board game,” Risk has been one of the most popular in the genre for over six decades.
The objective is straightforward: build up your armies to conquer your opponent’s territories. Last player with an army still standing wins.
Crafty diplomacy and military might quickly become necessary for world domination, so you can bet that whenever Risk is played, friendships are put to the test.
What would Chess look like if it were a game of incomplete information? Stratego sure seems to fit the bill.
Two armies go head to head; however, unit identities remain hidden until engaged in combat. Players do not know where the strength of their opponent’s force is gathered or the location of their opponent’s flag, until the game is well under way.
Protect your flag while you attempt to capture your enemy’s, but proceed carefully. Bomb traps have been planted throughout his or her camp. Are you sure you want to attack that piece?
The suspense element of Stratego makes it a particularly fun choice for gamers of all ages.
Similar to Stratego, Battleship may conjure fond childhood memories. Another game of incomplete information, players–ahem admirals–command their very own naval fleet.
After placing their ships, which include an aircraft carrier, battleship, submarine, destroyer, and cruiser, each side takes turns firing shots using alphanumeric coordinates. The defender then announces whether a shot was a hit, a miss, or a sinking, and then the attacker records this information for future reference.
After one admiral eliminates the other admiral’s fleet, the game is over.
Simple in design, Battleship is an excellent exercise in strategy and critical thinking.
Pro tip: you can play this classic using pen and paper only. In fact, Battleship started out this way as far back as World War I by some estimates.
8. Hannibal and Hamilcar
Carthage versus Rome, one of the most famous imperial rivalries in ancient history.
How would you like to take on the roles of Hannibal or Hamilcar Barca, the Carthiginian generals whose family’s deep hatred of the Romans led them to wage all out war against the nascent Roman empire?
In Hannibal and Hamilcar, players must contend with regular as well as special combat units such as elephants, tribal factions who have shifting allegiances, diverse terrain, and generals’ special abilities.
Hannibal and Hamilcar are two different sets of scenarios that make up opposite sides of the same board. Hamilcar takes place during the First Punic War, focuses on naval combat, and is suggested for players who have experience with Hannibal, which takes place during the Second Punic War and focuses on its namesake’s invasion of Italy from the north.
7. Mage Knight (Miniatures)
First released in 2000, Mage Knight revolutionized miniature wargaming with the introduction of a rotating dial to reflect real time changes to unit statistics.
The factions that players can choose from include the Necropolis Sect, Atlantis Guild, Draconum, Black Powder Rebels, Orc Raiders, Knights Immortal, and Elemental League.
Interestingly, different factions can be used in the same army but they cannot group up in formations, which provide movement and attack bonuses.
Before beginning, players create a symmetrical or asymmetrical battlefield that can be filled with diverse terrain, obstacles, fortifications–imagination is truly the only limit here. They then agree to a total number of points with which to invest in their armies.
Once each army is built and placed, the battle commences.
Mage Knight does require a higher upfront investment cost than other games in this list. Although, a higher price tag is common for most tabletop wargames involving miniatures. See below.
6. Warhammer 40K (Miniatures)
Warhammer 40K is one of the most popular miniatures wargames in the world. It also has a high startup cost that can reach into the range of several hundreds of dollars. That being said, you will have a difficult time finding a more dedicated fanbase.
Unlike other series, the models in Warhammer 40K do not come ready to play. Gluing warriors and painting them is an important, creative component that takes place prior to actual gameplay. Because of this, Warhammer 40K is often considered more a hobby than a game alone.
Once their warriors are assembled and painted, players fight each other on custom battlefields as in other miniatures games. Unlike Mage Knight, it is advised that gamers stay true to the factional allegiances depicted in the rich fictional universe of Warhammer 40K.
That means that the Tyranids and the Chaos would no sooner stand shoulder to shoulder than tear each other to pieces. Same goes for the Imperium of Man, the Necrons, Aeldari, Orks, and T’au.
Win conditions can vary but typically involve: 1) eliminating an enemy’s force; 2) controlling an area; or 3) capturing an object. Or some combination of the three.
The craftsmanship that goes into constructing and painting the miniatures of Warhammer 40K is astounding.
5. Root: A Game of Woodland Might and Right
Root took the board game community by storm when it first launched in 2018.
Choosing one of four factions, the Vagabond, the Eyrie birds of prey, the Woodland Alliance, or the Marquise de Cat, players vie for control of a lush forest kingdom.
Each faction in Root comes with rich lore and compelling objectives: the Cats harvest wood to build up their economy while enforcing imperial order; the Vagabond is both a friend to all and to none; the Eyrie rush to recapture lost ground; and the Alliance sows dissent until the time for revolution draws near.
You score victory points by accomplishing your faction’s unique goals, and by removing enemy tokens from the board.
Additional groups in Root have since been released, including the Lizard Cult, the Keepers in Iron, the Corvid Conspiracy, and more–adding further depth and drama to the embroiled woodland.
Root is loads of fun. It is simply one of the best asymmetrical wargames available today.
4. War of the Ring
Are you a fan of wargames and Tolkien’s The Hobbit or The Lord of the Rings? Then look no further than War of the Ring, where players battle for the fate of Middle-earth as the Free Peoples or the Shadow Armies.
The Free Peoples are made up of the Fellowship, Gondor, Rohan, the North, Dwarves, and Elves; while the Shadow Armies are made up of the Nazgul, Sauron, Isengard, Southrons and Easterlings, Saruman, and the Witch King.
While victory can be obtained through military might alone, the destruction of Sauron once and for all is more likely if the Free Peoples can hold Sauron’s armies at bay long enough for the Fellowship of the Ring to reach Mount Doom.
But this is no easy task. Not only do the Ringbearers risk being hunted down each turn, they are also vulnerable to corruption from the ring’s evil magic. Furthermore, the Free Peoples’ units face permanent death while the Shadow Armies’ units respawn in Mordor.
Have a few hours to spare? Forth Eorlingas! Lead your dwarves, elves, and men to victory over trolls, goblins, and orcs–or vice versa–and save or destroy Middle-earth. The choice is yours.
Backgammon is a world favorite for many reasons. Having been around in some form for several millennia, this game is definitely one of the oldest in this list.
The winning condition is simple: get your pieces off of the board before your opponent does. The catch to this race is that the two of you advance in opposite directions, and can capture enemy men who have been left exposed along the way. Doing so knocks them all the way back to the start. Ouch.
Because movement depends on dice rolls, chance is a core component of the game. That being said, which pieces a player decides to move each turn requires a high degree of strategic skill.
The movement of your pieces involves a tradeoff: sacrifice your position in order to advance into scoring position (“bearing off”), or consolidate your pieces at the risk of losing momentum to your opponent.
Although not required, the doubling cube also adds a fun element to the gameplay.
Both players agree to a wager before starting, and throughout the game either player can invoke the doubling cube. In order to continue, the other player must then accept the raise, or lose immediately. Wagers can be increased up to sixty four times the original amount!
Chess has origins back to the 7th century in India, and it is a classic.
Where Backgammon uses dice to determine movement, in Chess each side controls six different types of pieces–for a total of sixteen per player. Each piece is bound by preset movement rules.
Because Chess is a game of complete information, the winner of the game is determined by skill alone.
Move your pawns, bishops, knights, rooks, queen, and king into favorable positions across the 8x8 board then go on the offensive by capturing your opponent’s pieces. Win by checkmating the enemy king.
Did you miss an obvious tactic or make a critical mistake? That’s called a blunder. And a single blunder can turn a decisive victory into a stunning defeat.
While it does have somewhat of a learning curve compared to other games, Chess has exploded in popularity recently. Especially with the advent of the internet and mobile apps.
Once you get the hang of this game there is an entire world of strategy and tactics waiting for you to dive into: openings, gambits, sacrifices, pins, skewers, middle games, end games, and so much more.
Go is one of the oldest board games to be continuously played in human history. Simple in design and elegant in gameplay, the strategies available to each player seem limitless in Go.
The objective of the game is straightforward: capture a greater area of the board and a higher number of your opponent’s stones to win.
Whenever you completely surround an opponent’s stone or group of stones, they are removed from the board and become your prisoners.
Unlike most games, passing one’s turn is allowed in Go. Although if both players pass their turns consecutively, then the game is over.
Scores can be determined in one of two ways: 1) the sum of a player’s stones on the board plus the empty intersections surrounded by those stones; or 2) the sum of empty intersections surrounded by a player’s stones plus the prisoners he or she captured throughout the game.
Like Chess, the stages of Go can be organized into opening, middle, and end games, with tactics including invasions, sacrifices, ladders, pincers, and many more.
Go is incredibly fun and the number of potential outcomes is astronomical, making for exciting matches that are often packed with surprises.
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Some of the most popular games include Warhammer 40,000, Warhammer Age of Sigmar, and Battletech.What is the #1 board game in the world? ›
The most popular board game is Monopoly, which holds the Guinness World Record for being played by the most people: 500 million people worldwide. This record was set in 1999, so we imagine that many millions of people in the world have been introduced to the popular game of Monopoly since then.What are the top 10 board games of all time? ›
- Backgammon. > Year introduced: 3000 B.C. ...
- Trivial Pursuit. > Year introduced: 1981. ...
- Battleship. > Year introduced: 1931. ...
- Clue. > Year introduced: 1949. ...
- Scrabble. > Year introduced: 1938. ...
- Monopoly. > Year introduced: 1935. ...
- Checkers. > Year introduced: 3000 B.C. ...
- Chess. > Year introduced: 1200.
Warhammer 40K: the largest tabletop game ever, with 10,000 figures? (gaming). - SFcrowsnest.What is to the strongest wargames? ›
To the Strongest! is a set of simple rules for Ancient and Medieval tabletop wargaming. It enables a battle to be fought with model soldiers on a dining room table and won or lost in less than two hours. But the rules also support huge battles, with several thousand figures and up to five players a side.What is the oldest tabletop wargames? ›
In 1812 the Prussian and German armies created a set of rules for simulating battles on the tabletop as part of their officer training programmes, and with that game - "Kriegspeil" - tabletop historical wargaming was born.What is the oldest popular board game? ›
The Royal Game of Ur
The Royal Game of Ur is the oldest playable boardgame in the world, originating around 4,600 years ago in ancient Mesopotamia. The game's rules were written on a cuneiform tablet by a Babylonian astronomer in 177 BC.
Chess. One of the most famously difficult games in the world to master is chess. There's much debate about how old chess is and where it came from, but one thing's for sure: The objective is to checkmate the opposition king, while keeping your own monarch safe.What is a popular board game that is still played? ›
Following chess, checkers, backgammon, Monopoly, and Scrabble are among the top five most popular board games. Whether you like to play the best card games or prefer to think ten steps ahead in one of your favorite strategy board games, one of these classic board games will suit your taste.What is the top 1 games? ›
|4.||The Sims 4||Electronic Arts|
In 1978, a strategy board game called “The Campaign for North Africa,” which simulated the armies and units that fought there between 1940 and 1943 was released by Simulations Publications, Inc. This board game takes longer than the campaign itself to finish.What was the world's first wargame? ›
The first wargame was invented in Prussia in 1780 by Johann Christian Ludwig Hellwig. Hellwig's wargame was the first true wargame because it attempted to be realistic enough to teach useful lessons in military strategy to future army officers.Which wargame has the biggest map? ›
Setting a few records for the Wargame: Red Dragon franchise, Russian Roulette features the largest playable area ever designed for the game, allowing large-scale maneuvers. It's also the map with the highest density of fields and gameplay elements ever made, leaving ample room for ambushes and sneak tactics.What is Age of War tabletop game? ›
Age of War is a fast-paced dice game for two to six players, designed by Reiner Knizia and set among the warring states of feudal Japan. In the game, you and your fellow players take on the roles of rival daimyos attempting to unite the Japanese clans by mustering your troops and conquering castles.How many God of WarGames are there? ›
The God of War franchise currently has 8 games in the series, with another installment in the works. Familiarize yourself with the basics of combat, explore the lore of this legendary setting and get a look at the enemies you'll face in the official PlayStation guide to God of War.Does the military use WarGames? ›
A professional wargame, specifically, is a wargame that is used by military organizations to train officers in tactical and strategic decision-making, to test new tactics and strategies, or to predict trends in future conflicts.What cards win in war? ›
The owner of the higher face-up card wins the war and adds all the cards on the table to the bottom of their deck. If the face-up cards are again equal then the battle repeats with another set of face-down/up cards. This repeats until one player's face-up card is higher than their opponent's.What are the older God of War games? ›
- God of War (2005)
- God of War 2 (2007)
- God of War: Betrayal (2007)
- God of War: Chains of Olympus (2008)
- God of War 3 (2010)
- God of War: Ghost of Sparta (2010)
- God of War: Ascension (2013)
- God of War: A Call from the Wilds (2018)
Johann Hellwig, a professor at the University of Brunswick and Helmstedt would be the first true pioneer in tabletop wargaming. In essence he was the grandfather of wargames. He created a manuscript entitled Kriegsspiel, literally meaning War Game in German.What is the oldest known RPG? ›
The first commercially available role-playing game, Dungeons & Dragons (D&D), was published in 1974 by Gygax's TSR which marketed the game as a niche product.
Margaret Hofer described the period of the 1880s–1920s as "The Golden Age" of board gaming in America. Board game popularity was boosted, like that of many items, through mass production, which made them cheaper and more easily available.What was the best board game of the last decade? ›
- Whistle Stop (2017) ...
- Terraforming Mars (2016) ...
- Patchwork (2014) ...
- Kodama: The Tree Spirits (2016) ...
- Charterstone (2017) ...
- Imhotep (2016) ...
- Everdell (2018) ...
- Great Western Trail (2016)
With little money to spend on entertainment, families enjoyed new board games such as "Monopoly" and "Scrabble" which were first sold during the 1930s. Neighbors got together to play card games such as whist, pinochle, canasta and bridge.What is the top 1 hardest game? ›
- Contra. Konami Be prepared to die, die, and die again.
- Sekiro. ...
- Elden Ring, Dark Souls (1-3), Demon's Souls, Bloodborne. ...
- Super Meat Boy. ...
- Ghosts 'n Goblins. ...
- Cuphead. ...
- Sifu. ...
- Ninja Gaiden (Series) ...
In a 2012 review, game designer Andrea Angiolino called CNA "the most complicated board game ever released."Which game is hardest to run? ›
- Hogwarts Legacy. Trailer. 83 % ...
- Marvel's Spider-Man Remastered. Trailer. 87 % ...
- God of War. Trailer. 94 % ...
- Red Dead Redemption 2. Trailer. 92 % ...
- Dying Light 2: Stay Human. Trailer. ...
- Uncharted: The Legacy of Thieves Collection. Trailer. ...
- Forspoken. Trailer. ...
- Cyberpunk 2077. Trailer.
Go. Go, known as Weiqi in its country of origin China, is one of the oldest board games in the world that is still largely popular today. Although the games exact origins are unknown, Go is believed to have originated in China sometime around 3,000 – 4,000 years ago.What board game let you take over the world? ›
Risk is a strategy board game of diplomacy, conflict and conquest for two to six players. The standard version is played on a board depicting a political map of the world, divided into 42 territories, which are grouped into six continents.What was a popular board game in 1920? ›
Checkers, like both Parchisi and Backgammon, was a very old game which grew in popularity in the early twentieth century.What is the #1 game in the world 2023? ›
|3||Apex Legends||Respawn Entertainment|
|4||Fortnite Battle Royale||Epic Games|
- 3.1 Mortal Kombat: Special Forces (2000)
- 3.2 The Simpsons Wrestling (2001)
- 3.3 Mortal Kombat Advance (2001)
- 3.4 Batman: Dark Tomorrow (2003)
- 3.5 Tomb Raider: The Angel of Darkness (2003)
- 3.6 Drake of the 99 Dragons (2003)
- 3.7 Big Rigs: Over the Road Racing (2003)
- 3.8 Lula 3D (2005)
Best of five means out of 5 sets, the player who wins 3 sets out of 5, wins the match. If the player wins first 3 sets, it is said that he/she has won in straight sets and the remaining 2 sets will not be played at all.What is the most sold game of all time? ›
The best-selling video game to date is Minecraft, a sandbox game released by Mojang in May 2009 for a wide range of PC, mobile and console platforms, selling more than 238 million copies across all platforms. Grand Theft Auto V and EA's Tetris are the only other known video games to have sold over 100 million copies.What is the best-selling game right now? ›
|Rank||Rank Last Month||Title|
|2||2||Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 (2022)|
|3||3||Resident Evil 4 (2023)|
|4||NEW||Star Wars: Jedi: Survivor|
Hogwarts Legacy is holding its title as the best-selling game of 2023 so far, now with a two-month lead on the new titles. Still, Resident Evil 4 Remake debuting at #3 on the list isn't too shabby either.What is the board game most or least? ›
Most Or Least is a relaxed style party game for 4-8 players ages 13 and up. In the game you and your friends go through a selection of interesting playful question which ask if you are most/least likely to do something or make a selection between three unpredictable & hilarious choices.How many WarGames are there? ›
The match itself featured two connected rings surrounded by a steel cage with a roof on top of it and would go on to house some of the most iconic moments in WCW history. 31 WarGames matches would take place until WCW went out of business in 2001.What does Kriegspiel mean in German? ›
The word Kriegsspiel literally means "wargame" in German, but in the context of the English language it refers specifically to the wargames developed by the Prussian army in the 19th century.What are WarGames in the military? ›
Wargames are analytic games that simulate aspects of warfare at the tactical, operational, or strategic level. They are used to examine warfighting concepts, train and educate commanders and analysts, explore scenarios, and assess how force planning and posture choices affect campaign outcomes.What is deepest Valley wargame? ›
Deepest Valley is a fantasy strategy gamezine for 2 to 5 players. A complete hand-drawn hex and dice wargame in zine format. Plays in 1 hour (2 players), to 3 hours (5 players). Comes with a large fold-out map, carry case, and *lots* of dice."
net's top 5 competitors in April 2023 are: worldoftanks.eu, tanki.su, modxvm.com, wgmods.net, and more.What is the standard wargame counter size? ›
Traditional wargames typically have hundreds of counters (The Russian Campaign, 225; GI: Anvil of Victory, 856; Terrible Swift Sword, 2,000). Squad Leader had counters of different sizes: 520 1⁄2-inch counters and 192 5⁄8-inch, with the different sizes used for different purposes.Are tabletop games still popular? ›
The board game industry is expected to reach $3.63 billion in revenue in 2023, up from $3.13 billion in 2022. There are over 140,000 board games on BoardGameGeek website. 57% of gamers in one survey admitted to owning between 1 and 25 board or card games.Is there a Warhammer game like the tabletop? ›
With multiple scenarios, a custom mission builder, a timeless art style, and the ability to let players command Space Marines and vehicles alike in a way that brings the classic tabletop warfare game to violent life, Warhammer 40,000: Chaos Gate is a classic for a reason.What age is Warhammer for? ›
Is there an age limit for Warhammer World? Games Workshop's miniatures and games are intended for age 12 +, but visitors of any age are welcome!What is the highest selling tabletop RPG? ›
- ALIEN RPG Core Rulebook.
- Five Torches Deep.
- Rangers of Shadow Deep: A Tabletop Adventure Game.
- Vampire: The Masquerade 5th Edition.
- The Black Hack Second Edition.
- Kids on Bikes: Core Rulebook.
- Mothership: Player's Survival Guide.
The top 5 most popular tabletop RPGs of all time are Dungeons & Dragons, Shadowrun, Call of Cthulhu, Vampire: The Masquerade, and Edge Studio's Star Wars: The Roleplaying Game, each offering its own unique setting, gameplay mechanics, and themes.What was SSI's best-selling wargame? ›
Panzer General was a major commercial hit: 250,000 units were sold at full price, and long tail sales continued in the years ahead. It became and remained SSI's best-selling game across all genres, and was named the best-selling computer wargame of all time in 2007.What is the longest RPG to beat? ›
1. Persona 5 Royal. The longest single-player story in gaming can be found within Atlus's preeminent JRPG Persona 5 Royal. HLTB lists the average completion time for its story at 101 hours.What is the longest RPG ever? ›
- 1 Persona 5 Royal - 102 Hours.
- 2 Dragon Quest 7: Fragments Of The Forgotten Past - 78 Hours. ...
- 3 Etrian Odyssey Nexus - 71.5 Hours. ...
- 4 Xenoblade Chronicles X - 68 Hours. ...
- 5 The Legend Of Heroes: Trails Of Cold Steel 4 - 62 Hours. ...
- 6 Suikoden 3 - 61.5 Hours. ...
- 7 Final Fantasy 12: The Zodiac Age- 61 Hours. ...
- Pathfinder: Kingmaker (79 Hours) ...
- Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 3 (81.5 Hours) ...
- Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate (82 Hours) ...
- Warhammer: Inquisitor (90 Hours) ...
- Rune Factory Frontier (90.5 Hours) ...
- Persona 5 Royal (103 Hours) ...
- Dragon Warrior VII (107 Hours)
Dungeons & Dragons, developed in 1974 by Dave Arneson and E. Gary Gygax and published by Gygax's company, TSR, was the first commercially available role-playing game, though at the time its first printing was marketed as a niche wargaming product.What is the most popular Dawn of War game? ›
Perhaps unsurprising, but the best Warhammer 40,000 video game is the first Dawn of War. Unlike its sequel, the 2004 release is a true RTS experience with structure creation, deployable units and a complete resource management system to utilise.Why is wargaming so expensive? ›
First, Warhammer models are designed and manufactured entirely in the UK, using a well-paid workforce that is treated well and given decent workplace conditions. Games Workshop does not manufacture any of its models in China or in other countries where manufacturing workers are poorly treated and poorly paid.Are board games good for your brain? ›
Of course, many board games lead to bouts of laughter that stimulate endorphins. The simple act of having fun can help boost serotonin, relieve symptoms of anxiety, and increase enthusiasm in other areas of your life.
Why are boardgames so expensive? They are often made by small publishers, in small print runs, with custom components which means the production costs are high. Each game also has costs for assembly, storage, and distribution. Of course, the price of board games varies hugely.