Board games are a great way to have frugal fun with friends and family. Our children particularly like Monopoly and Hand-n-Foot (a card game). While board games can provide countless hours of thrifty enjoyment, if you have the cash and desire, you can likely find a much more expensive version of your favorite cheap cardboard game.
A seemingly inexpensive form of entertainment can grow quite costly for a few different reasons. If a game is out-of-print, for example, its price instantly increases. The Tolkien strategy game, “War of the Ring,” initially cost $50 in 2008, but now can go for as much as $150 on eBay.
Aside from out-of-print editions, collector’s edition board games can fetch a shockingly high price as well. One example is the Franklin Mint edition of Monopoly, which costs $650. The board has built-in drawers on a hardwood frame, and the playing tokens have 24-karat gold accents. The price of the leather-bound edition of Zontik Games’ Trivial Pursuit blows the Monopoly price tag out of the water. The board is inlaid by hand with leather, embossed with gold or silver, and the pockets are lined with felt. This leads to a price tag of $6,200!
Surprisingly, these games don’t even make the Top Five Most Expensive Board Games list:
5. Outrage! Deluxe – $12,465
This is a game where players attempt to steal the crown jewels from the Tower of London. It comes with such a high price tag mainly because of the expensive metals used to make the pieces: cards with gold leaf edges, gold crown jewels, sterling silver playing pieces, and some sort of brass plate. The board, which is more like a small cabinet, is made of solid mahogany.
4. Kseido Imports Go Set – $12,950
This is an ancient Chinese game played on a traditional board with legs. Players move black or white pieces called stones to attempt to surround more points than the opponent. To be honest, I can’t speak with much authority on the specifics of how the game is actually played. But I can tell you why Kseido’s version is so expensive: the block of wood that acts as the board is cut from a tree that is over 700 years old.
3. Charles Hollander Backgammon Set – $1.5 million
Moving into the seven-figure price tag board games, we come to a thoroughly bejeweled backgammon game. In total, the game has over 60,000 diamonds totaling more than 2,000 carats. Inlaying these diamonds over 150 g of silver and 6.77 kg of yellow gold requires more than 10,000 hours of labor.
2. Sidney Mobell Monopoly Set – $2 million
This Monopoly set was specially created by jeweler Sidney Mobell. It glitters with diamonds, sapphires, rubies, and 23k gold. You can see it at the Museum of American Finance on Wall St.
1. Jewel Royale Chess Set – $7.8 million
A British custom jewelry company that goes by the amusing name of “Boodles” commissioned this astoundingly expensive chess set. It is made of gold and platinum and topped with all kinds of jewels, including sapphires, rubies, emeralds, and diamonds. The king alone weighs over 165 grams and is adorned with 146 diamonds!
If you still want to play a board game, and you aren’t a member of the British royal family, there are plenty of inexpensive options. You can find a backgammon set for less than $30 on Amazon and even cheaper on eBay. Likewise, a wooden chess set can be purchased for less than $20 on either site. And a brand new version of Monopoly will only run you $9.99!
Published or updated August 15, 2011.