Collecting board games is a fun hobby but it can be costly over time. The same thing applies to card games because of their rarity. The affordable solution that you can take is to choose the print and play route.
Print and play (PNP) games are similar to popular board games and card games, but you can just print them from your home or office. Once the printed pieces are ready, you and your friends can start playing!
This article will show you some of the most popular PNP games today. Aside from these games, you’d also learn some useful information about being a PNP enthusiast.
The Best Print and Play Games Explored
Game Type: Competitive
Mechanism: Strategic hand management, lucky draw
Goal: Be the sole winner of the game
Number of Players: 2-5
Duration: 15 minutes
- Fast-paced card game
- Easy to learn
- Lots of funny situations
- Some vulgar or offensive expressions
- Inconsistent card backs
Exploding Kittens is a nice game to play if you’re looking for something exciting and spontaneous. Every card you draw puts you closer to the edge of victory or defeat. Once you’ve drawn an exploding kitten, you just lost the game!
The Exploding Kittens card game is great for 2-5 players and can be played within 15 minutes or less. Every card has a simple rule that can boost your chances of evading an exploding kitten card. Since the rule applies to everyone in the game, you’d still have a moderate chance of losing unless you’re pretty lucky during the session.
While the Exploding Kittens card game is family-friendly, it still contains cards with relatively vulgar expressions. Before setting up the game, make sure that your playgroup consists of responsible and mature teens or adults.
Customizing the cards of Exploding Kittens can be a bit challenging. You need a capable modern printer to get accurate designs. Of course, you can redesign the kit from scratch but you need to own the original set first for greater accuracy.
Game Type: Competitive
Mechanism: Strategic hand management
Goal: Get the most points
Number of Players: 2-4
Duration: 15 minutes
- Easy to play party game
- ‘Make your own rules’ style
- Great room for customization
- Only 300 cards in the kit
- Box is fragile
The 1000 Blank White Cards is a classic PNP game that allows players to come up with their own rules. Aside from rules, the players can also add drawings in the cards whenever they feel like it. If you’re tired of playing PNP games with rigid mechanics, 1000 Blank White Cards is always a homely alternative.
Since the boxed game set has pre-made cards, you don’t have to do everything from scratch. The cards have starter designs and rules, setting the template for the rest of your game ideas. Each card measures 3×5 inches, granting large legroom for fresh and wacky designs.
Even though the 1000 Blank White Cards game kit implies that it has one thousand cards, it actually contains three hundred cards instead. Perhaps the title emphasizes the minimum amount of combinations that you can make. The game kit’s box is also fragile, so you may need to use a separate container for the cards.
Making additional printed cards for the 1000 Blank White Cards PNP game is easy. Just make sure that you’ve chosen the right type of paper for your customized game kit. To save more time, you can simply order additional cards from a 1000 Blank White Cards store.
Game Type: Competitive
Mechanism: Strategy, territory control, token placement
Goal: Conquer the world (or the board)
Number of Players: 2-4
Pieces: 80-100 (5 armies)
- A classic competitive strategy game
- Best for long game sessions
- Mentally rewarding
- Lots of pieces for immersion
- Fragile box
- Low-detail army pieces
Risk is one of the most popular and classic board games ever made. Through this game, players can channel their ‘Inner Alexander’ to conquer the world. Every piece represents an army that players can move around, and every card drawn is similar to a strategic move. Risk is complicated for beginners, but it is rewarding to play.
The classic Risk game box comes with five armies and a highly detailed map of the entire world. War chests are also included in the box, and they can be used to store all of the game pieces. Dice are also included in the box, as well as cards for strategic moves and secret missions.
One downside of the Risk game set is the fragile box. If you have a habit of playing in different places or conventions, you should consider buying a strong case or bag to protect your Risk board. Also, the game pieces have generic, almost subpar quality. Don’t expect lots of details regarding the movable game pieces.
Printing the Risk game board is easy. Nowadays, you can find dozens of downloadable Risk boards. These boards have unique designs and themes, and they rarely alter the core game rules. It’s also possible to get separate print-outs of the Risk strategy cards.
Game Type: Competitive
Mechanism: Strategy, hand management, resource control
Goal: Get the most points
Number of Players: 1-5
Duration: 40 minutes
- Relaxing game with a ‘collectible’ appeal
- Nice illustrations of birds
- Comes with a dice tray, egg pieces, and player mats
- Steep learning curve
- Pricier than other games
- Challenging to print or customize
Do you want to experience the thrill of owning a bird reservation? Well, this is now possible through the official Wingspan board game. In Wingspan, your goal is to accumulate the most points by putting bird cards in their right habitats. This is easier said than done because you still have to generate food to activate the abilities of some powerful birds. And on top of that, you must manage the birds’ eggs. Wingspan is all about control and priority.
Wingspan has a steep learning curve. You need to analyze all bird cards and determine if they complement your planned synergy. Other players will rarely disrupt your moves since they are busy setting up the board for final scoring. If your board has no synergy or end plan, you will very likely lose the game.
The real charm of Wingspan is its attempt to simulate the realities of a bird reservation. Inside the game box, you’d find a bird feeder (dice tray) that serves as ‘roller’ for the food die. You can even use the little plastic eggs from the box to serve as point markers for your birds.
In terms of median board game price, Wingspan is expensive. Consider the game box as a curator’s set with a strong value.
Wingspan is a challenging game to customize because it has lots of moving parts already. Aside from that reason, you need to redesign all (or most) of the illustrated bird cards. One of the simple workarounds to Wingspan PNP is to create separate cards and pieces for Automa – the game’s AI-like mechanism. You just need to create hacks or separate rulings to ensure that Automa still plays effectively and fair.
Game Type: Competitive
Mechanism: Strategy, board control, resource management
Goal: Get the most victory points
Number of Players: 3-4
Duration: 60 minutes
Pieces: 95 resource cards, 25 development cards, 19 tiles/hexes, 20 settlement pieces
- Easy to learn
- In-depth strategy
- Detailed game board
- Lots of pieces to use
- Inconsistent print-out quality
Catan is a popular board game focused on the reality and challenges of being a medieval colony leader. On the island of Catan, your goal is to construct roads and buildings while maintaining an efficient system of trade with your neighbors. Well, these neighbors are also your competitors! At the end of the game, the player with the highest amount of victory points becomes the Master Colonist of Catan.
The whole island of Catan is represented by a large hex board. Each hex pertains to a specific resource that you can utilize. These resources are needed to build stuff all over the hex map, and they’re also improved by development cards. In order to win at Catan, you must build a solid foundation for your colony while getting as many resources and cards as you can.
The Catan game box is full of unique game pieces to represent your colony’s progress. By setting the pieces in an efficient way, you’d see the colony come to life within every turn. Catan’s rules also ensure that building placement is aligned properly with the hex tiles, so there are no awkward positions.
Catan has an official print and play version that you can download. While the quality is not as good as the original game board, the printed version is still tolerable.
Game Type: Competitive
Mechanism: Strategy, board control, card collection, efficient placement
Goal: Build the longest train track
Number of Players: 2-5
Duration: 30 minutes
Pieces: 20+ train pieces
- Easy to learn family game
- Lots of train pieces to simulate the game
- Alexa Echo compatibility
- Low-quality game board
- Some cards are missing from the box
Ticket to Ride is a classic retelling of America’s classic railway route era. In this board game, you can experience the thrill and satisfaction of completing a train route and connecting one city after another. But here’s the catch: other players are vying for the same goal! Without a measure of speed and precision, you can’t be a ‘Trainmaster’ in Ticket to Ride.
The Ticket to Ride game box contains a moderate-sized game board that shows the railway routes of 20th century America. These routes are connected to each other but you need to stake your claim by playing train cards and putting train pieces. You also have the option to play Destination Tickets for bonus points.
Ticket to Ride is fully compatible with Alexa Echo. Simply mention the game title and Alexa will explain the rules thoroughly. If you’re up to the challenge, you can even play the game with Alexa.
There are some noticeable problems with the Ticket to Ride boxed set. The game board bends easily, so you need to be careful with it. Plus, some important cards are missing, affecting your gameplay to a certain degree.
If you don’t like the original Ticket to Ride boxed set, you can download a PNP alternative. Ticket to Ride uses basic materials so it’s easy to customize based on your preferred theme and style. As long as you leave the core rules intact, you won’t have a problem playing the Ticket to Ride PNP game.
Benefits of Playing Print and Play Games
Playing PNP games is not just meant for fun or leisure. By playing a PNP board game or card game continuously, your mental prowess will improve. Aside from that advantage, you’d gain other important benefits.
Strategic Thinking Improvement
Finishing a print and play game requires strategic thinking, speed, and tactical oversight. Even the simplest PNP game offers a degree of competition, either in scoring or territorial advantage. By playing PNP games, you’ll know how to formulate complicated strategies for short-term or long-term victories. Once you move on to different games, you’d notice a remarkable improvement in your playing style.
To make the best out of a competitive print and play game, you should try playing with different types of people. Aside from improving your general playing skills, you can learn about new strategies from others.
Local conventions or board game events are also great opportunities to improve your strategic playing style. In conventions, you might find print and play games recommended by other enthusiasts. Don’t hesitate to ask for useful information regarding such games. Maybe one of these games will help you become a master PNP strategist!
Check out this quick video summary about the board games that can improve your logical thinking:
Strengthens Friendships and Relationships
Most print and play games require a degree of cooperation among players. Other titles are also competitive, but they emphasize the real concept of ‘social fun.’ Just like board games and trading card games, PNP games can strengthen friendships and relationships.
In a deeper way, a print and play game can improve friendships better than standard board games. While assembling a PNP kit, you can share jokes and stories with your friends. The bonding will even get better as soon as you started playing the game.
If you want to improve your relationship with your partner, you must have at least one print and play game. Just imagine the laughs that you can share with your partner over an exciting PNP game session.
Continuous Creativity Boost
Print and play games allow you to become more creative in terms of assembly and actual gameplay. While assembling a game kit, you can come up of ways to customize the printed pieces. Maybe a caricature scribble will make a piece more interesting or the playing field might benefit from having additional tokens.
During the game, you can practice your creativity by executing a difficult move or one-upping your opponents. In some PNP games, winning is all about the graceful execution of moves and actions. It takes practice to master these moves, so keep playing!
Gateway to Other Games
Traditional board games are naturally more popular than PNP games. Basically, the whole niche of print and play is related to board games and card games. However, you can still start with PNP games and move on to other niches eventually.
Once you’ve sunk your teeth on PNP games, you can adapt easily to traditional or complicated board games. Some of the best titles that you shouldn’t miss are Risk, Monopoly, Axis and Allies, Wingspan, and Stardew Valley Official Board Game.
Side Hustle Opportunities
Whether you believe it or not, you can earn money while playing your favorite print and play game. At first, however, the profits might be small. Sooner or later, your PNP side hustle will provide continuous income to support your lifestyle.
To start a PNP side hustle, you must have a printer and a set of high-quality crafting materials. You can create a print and play prototype, but this takes a long time. The best alternative is to provide custom parts and accessories to other enthusiasts or PNP businesses. It’s easier to sell printed parts by bulk, especially if a certain community is hungry for discounts.
You need to be patient in setting up a PNP customization hustle. Reach out to as many people as possible, and don’t forget to make your own website for marketing.
Quick Tips on Being a Great Print and Play Enthusiast
Have you decided to become a dedicated PNP enthusiast? The road is not easy, but it will definitely be fun. As you play one game after another, you might even develop new perspectives about the world.
Here are some quick tips on becoming an awesome PNP enthusiast:
Start Collecting Old Print and Play Games
Collectibles will always have an increasing value over time. Some of the most valuable collectibles today are board games, old-school miniatures, trading card games, and vintage reference manuals. PNP games, though less common, also have immense collectible value that might cost tens and hundreds of dollars.
Collecting vintage PNP games might be difficult because you have to scour marketplaces to find rare kits. You can start searching in online forums with threads dedicated to print and play games. Keep in mind that many people still consider PNP games as traditional board games.
As an enthusiast, you must understand that collecting PNP games is part of the hobby’s wonderful experience. Perhaps you might even find other dedicated collectors along the way!
Customize the Printed Assets and Models
Most PNP gamers prefer to set up their games and start playing as much as possible. Some players, on the other hand, want to take the experience to a whole new level by customizing game assets. As an enthusiast, you should try customizing PNP game pieces despite the effort and crafting skills required.
Before customizing your print and play game, don’t forget to check its parts and pieces. Determine if some pieces can be modified according to your desired style. If you don’t like some of the kit’s pieces, you always have the option to use different assets. Just be careful in using downloadable assets because most of them are copyrighted.
Customization doesn’t stop with print and play game pieces. You can modify external parts like game boxes, pouches, and accessories. The aesthetic improvements will increase the game’s immersion level, thus creating awesome moments for anyone.
Join Tabletop Gaming Communities
Tabletop gaming communities are not limited to RPGs and board games. They also cover the growing niche of print and play games, recommending new titles now and then. Joining a tabletop community is also free unless you want to pay for extra features like a custom signature, editing advantages, and ad removal.
The best thing about a tabletop community is its capability of growing beyond the online medium. Dedicated members often have meet-ups in large conventions or stores. Attending a meet-up will help you form a supportive playgroup, and you can also gain new information about rare collectible PNP games.
Find Reliable Mentors
Print and play gaming has grown remarkably over the past years. While the PNP community is still smaller than traditional gaming fandoms, it’s still an interesting scene filled with game ideas, reviews, and collaborations. You can even find mentors in PNP and board gaming forums.
A reliable PNP game mentor will teach you the ropes of the hobby. If you’re having a hard time picking a game, a mentor can offer a list of standard choices. Additionally, you might learn some useful strategies on beating a specific print and play game. Some mentors are also willing to give insights related to customizing PNP kits and boards.
Another benefit of getting a mentor is that you will always have someone to play the game with. Don’t worry about the gap in skills and experience. In the near future, the mentor’s knowledge might rub off on you and provide tactical advantages.
Find Print and Play Services
Print and play games contain detailed information on assembling and setting up game pieces. Setting up a PNP game is easy but it still requires time. If you also mess up the printing process, you will get a game with low-quality pieces. To solve this problem, you can just contact a print and play service provider.
PNP services are few and far between. These services range from the customization of game kits and pieces to the creation of extra accessories. You can even ask a print and play business for custom miniatures to represent some of your game pieces.
Most PNP artisans support numerous prototype makers around the world. These artisans or service providers have a wide range of products such as tokens, card templates, characters, boards, and custom game pieces. Even if you’re not a PNP game-maker, you can always order game pieces to spice up your favorite printed kits. Prepare your wallet because customized pieces are somehow expensive.
Play for Fun and Relaxation
A print and play game, just like most board games and card games, should be played for fun and relaxation. There might be serious moments, especially if the game is competitive but no one at the table should have a bad time. If a PNP game is not fun for you and your friends, start looking for a new one.
In print and play gaming, the fun begins with the actual game setup. You must feel excited while printing and cutting the game pieces, just like solving a big puzzle. It’s even better if you can set up the game with the help of dear friends and family members.
More often than not, you can actually tell if a PNP game is fun or not. Online reviews will serve as your guides, as well as recommendations from forums and social media. As a rule of thumb, keep in mind that long print and play games might cause a slog unlike some titles that can be finished within an hour or so.
You should also consider the dominant age in your playgroup. Always settle for short and fun games if your playgroup consists of kids or teenagers.
FAQ About Print and Play Games
What’s the difference between normal board games and print and play games?
Answer: Normal board games are ready-made kits that you can buy directly from a store. These board games are usually pricier than common print and play games. Even though print and play games are cheaper, they must be printed and cut first before the first game session.
Do I need a high-quality printer to make print and play games?
Answer: No, but a high-quality printer can make better designs with clear details. But if your budget is low, you can always settle for a printer with standard quality.
Are print and play games child-friendly?
Answer: Most print and play games are child-friendly and easy to set up. However, there are some complicated and adult-rated games that you must be wary of.
Are there free print and play games online?
Answer: Yes. You can download free print and play games from websites, online stores, and even forums. Before downloading a free PNP game, make sure that there are no conflicts between the game creator and publisher.
What accessories do I need for a print and play game?
Answer: Some accessories that you need are gaming dice, clips, small binders, tokens, and extra paper sheets. These accessories are affordable and can be ordered by bulk.
Is it possible to make my own print and play game?
Answer: Yes, you can make your own PNP game. All you need is an idea concept and a versatile design tool. Afterwards, you can start working on a prototype design. Once the design is complete, just print it out and run a test game.
Now that print and play games have become more accessible, you’d have more chances to grow your gaming collection. Just remember that some PNP games are ‘vintage rare’ and couldn’t be downloaded anywhere easily. But if you’re a real PNP enthusiast, you can definitely find a way to print new pieces and kits!
Have you discovered a rare print and play game? Tell us about it, and we might include your choice in this article!