The “charity shop treaure hunt” is a game I play frequently. The rules are straightforward.
1) Scour every charity shop in a given area for any item at all related to gaming.
2) Leave no find unpurchased.
I think I’ve become quite good at this, to the point that I have been compared to a one-man locust swarm. And my collection of board games has been growing substantially, as a result. Recent catches have included A Game of Nations, Survival, Game of Thrones (first edition, I believe), Heroquest, Heroscape, Hour of Glory, the Heroclix core game, and (on the non-wargaming front, though I have some ideas for adapting it) a storytelling game called Never Ending Stories. Not a bad haul, and none of those has cost me more than £5.
It’s a good idea to check the components of a game before purchase. Charity shops can be a little unreliable, sometimes, on that score, probably because staff don’t necessarily know what they should be looking for. But even an incomplete game, if cheap enough, can be useful for spares and bits that can be put to other uses. Personally, I can never find enough of those little houses and hotels that come in Monopoly – they paint up quite nicely for use in 6mm scale wargames.
I will just point out that, if you happen to be in Kent, or in Leamington Spa as I visit there quite often, I am not encouraging you to play the same charity shop hunt in competition with me. I’m selfish like that. But if you’re anywhere else in the world, then I can recommend it. I’ve even turned up a few miniatures, here and there.
Then, of course, there are the books. Oh, so many books…Here’s a little tip. Check the children’s books, and don’t get so obsessed with the “military history” section that you miss things elsewhere. For instance, I picked this up from a shelf of children’s books in a Canterbury shop, about a year ago:
The games in it are on the simple side – which is only to be expected – but in a way that’s part of its charm, and its utility. Now I’m looking for others in the same series, as there were a number of them I think, each covering a different historical period or theme.
My final point on this subject is that, to be honest, board games have become scarily expensive, with new games very often going above the £50 mark nowadays. This kind of treasure hunting is a good way to build up a games collection without breaking the bank – you just need a bit of luck, and a willingness to spend a little time on the trail.