Most Expensive Board Games Ever

Any hobby, for a person that crosses over from “beginner” to “vested interest” and finally into the heady heights and only slightly alarming world of “enthusiast”, can bring with it a certain amount of expense. Picture the men at the golf club floating like Buggs Bunny behind a new nine iron, or the trail of wrappers currently piling up in the corner of my flat that once held Pokemon cards and that I refuse to move because it’s not my mess. If you’re reading this, dear, your passion makes me very happy but clean it up for god’s sake.

Board gaming is no different. Not every game has to break the bank, and the thing about us is that we can find true joy by the opening of a simple pack of playing cards. We wouldn’t inherently be great at the life-saving bit of an apocalypse but we sure would know how to pass the time between zombie attacks.

However, the deeper down this rabbit hole you find yourself, the more willing you are to scrimp and save so you can sink your hard-earned cash into something on the higher end. And that game is probably on the higher end because the manufacturing costs go up the more little tokens and dice and cards and booklets and boards and bits and, indeed, bobs get added to the mix. So in many ways, it’s quite fair enough.

But even so, this is not a list about the games you might want to save up for and collect. These games are the most expensive board games ever. Some important pieces of history, some collectors editions and some that are simply there to prove money trumps sense.

Bonus: Bloody Fancy Chess Sets

There are a plethora of chess sets folks have commissioned to make them look fancy and full of status. And, look, I can see the appeal. A chess board as a piece of art is a beautiful thing, and honestly I get a little rush of serotonin from purely SEEING a board, let alone from playing a game.

So whether it’s a simple wooden version that you can part with a tenner for, one designed to look like the Harry Potter board that’ll cost Not Me, Not Hermione, You £359 (sorry, had to), or indeed the Jewel Royale chess set made from solid gold and platinum, studded with all manner of precious gems, that will set you back a cool $9.8m, there’s something for your price range. Even if your price range is nonsense.

Smart Scrabble

Where others on this list have a high price tag because of their use of premium materials, this one owes its valuation more to its use of technology!

There actually was a crystal-set Scrabble board custom crafted by Swarovski to honour the 60th anniversary of the game – that’s the diamond one, you see – but intriguingly enough, the $20,000 price tag on that one is less expensive than this whizzbang tech fest.

Created for a games tournament back in 2012, it was made from a carbon fibre system incorporating LEDs and specialist technology that was able to read the board and instantly transmit it to viewers watching the tournament online.

Each tile contains a unique RFID tag, and if you know what that means you will undoubtedly be beating me at the game, and fortunately because of the technology involved, everyone will be able to watch you decimate me. (Good word for a triple letter score, incidentally).

The OG Monopoly Board

I like a nice bit of variety on my list, which is how I shall preface the first of two entries that are a Monopoly Board.

Yet I stand by it because the variety in question the reason this particular board has such a high valuation. Where Scrabble is tech-rich and the others come from the Trumpian school of excess, this has value because it is the prototype of one of the world’s most famous properties – pun intended.

The story of Monopoly is well-trodden. A lady named Lizzie Magie invented The Landlord’s Game as a sort of social commentary, designed to illustrate a point about the negatives of monopolising land in a capitalist system.

In true capitalist fashion, a bloke named Charles Darrow played the game at a friend’s house and then robbed the idea off her, changed it around ever so slightly and turned it into a “fun” game that he then later sold to the Parker Brothers for a massive profit.

This “Atlantic City” version of the game, as it’s known, is one of Darrow’s early prototype versions of the game, many of which were written on paper and in the shape of a circle.

One of the earliest of these prototypes, hand-made by Darrow, was bought by a New York museum to the tune of $147,000. Which I’m sure Lizzie would be utterly thrilled about were she able to visit said museum and take a look. Just…well, nobody tell her about…

Monopoly But Gold

The proof positive that irony is not dead. Where the Original Monopoly Board finds its expense coming from its status as not only a collector’s item but a genuinely important piece of cultural history, this entry exists because money can buy a lot of things, but taste isn’t one of them.

Crafted by the artist and jeweller Sidney Mobell, who is known for creating solid gold versions of every day items, the board is currently housed in the Smithsonian. It features a board made of 23-carat gold, houses and hotels topped with rubies and sapphires, diamond-studded dice and even money printed on gold paper.

I’ve done a little bit of research and I can’t seem to find any reason Mobell creates his bejewelled art other than because he loves gold. And thus, given that this edition of a game stolen from a woman who had intended to lampoon and lambast capitalism is now valued at $2m, the Mobell board stands as the most glamorous example of ruthless irony.

This redefines the meaning of “Opulence: You Own Everything.”

Charles Hollander Backgammon

To tie in quite nicely with the world’s most gaudy family fight at Christmas, Charles Hollander is another old man who likes to design ordinary things but smother them in precious jewels and metals because perhaps we weren’t descended from apes and instead should trace our evolutionary history back to that of a magpie.

His collection boasts a roulette wheel, obviously there’s a chess board for good measure, and then this backgammon set. The game sits nicely alongside chess as a thing most people would like to have on display to say something about themselves rather than a game to actively play on a regular basis, and if you’re GOING to take up table space just in case the nice people from Architectural Digest pop in to take a tour, then you might as well splash FIVE. MILLION. QUID. on the most souped-up version of the game imaginable.

It’s made with six kilograms of gold, naturally, and absolutely dripping in diamonds of all varieties…and honestly, yeah, it’s a bit ugly. Because if you’re gonna drop a cool $5 million on a backgammon set, your grasp on reality is already stretched far enough that worrying about aesthetics is probably quite low on your list.

Let’s be honest, you’re probably not going to be buying any of these games. If you’re looking for something a little more budget friendly then check out Zatu. Buying games from them supports No Rolls Barred via our affiliate partnership. Read more here.