The definitive 2020 ranked list of the best loan board games. While a loan can be many things, it is typically when a bank is willing to give you a little money up front with the expectation that you will pay them back. They benefit by making a little interest money or gaining favor. It doesn’t have to be that though, this could be among players or not even involve money. In the most general sense, it is about promises and trust. These are our top 10 best loan board games.
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#10 | 1817
1817 makes the list of the best loan board games because it is a railroad operations and share trading board game in the very intense and popular 18xx series with a distinct financial flair. They say “simulate the laissez-faire capitalism of early America” but they basically mean irresponsible loans. Get in on the fun. If you want an intense one, this is it.
1817 includes financial mechanics seen in other 18xx games such as mergers, friendly takeovers, and conversions to different share structures. It then introduces several additional financial mechanics such as short selling, market driven interest rates, hostile takeovers, and corporate liquidations. The most unique is selling stock short. Short selling is the practice of selling stock you don’t own with the intention of buying the stock back at a later date. For 3 – 7 players, games go 6 – 9 hours.
FOR MORE: Buy 1817 on Amazon
#09 | Crystal Palace
Crystal Palace makes the list of the best loan board games because it successfully transforms being a scientist at a fair into a lucrative mission of business. This take that and set collection game that has you collecting income will hit you with plenty of twists and turns.
Players take on the role of a nation at the time of the first World Fair in London (1851), trying to create a buzz with spectacular inventions. You determine the stats of their dice at the beginning of each round. The higher the number, the better — but it comes at a price. In the course of the game, dice are placed on eight action locations in a competition for the best resources, patents, and brains. For 2 – 5 players, games go for 90 – 150 minutes.
FOR MORE: Buy Crystal Palace on Amazon
#08 | Container
Container makes the list of the best loan board games because of its open economy and lots of meaningful decisions to make that raise the stakes. Throwing around money is all part of you having to build your own massive shipping empire. The way that money flows is very interesting and unique which warrants a closer look.
Build factories and warehouses, or focus on shipping goods to your island. Take advantage of government subsidies to ensure maximum profits! But watch out for your cash reserves because the player-driven market can go sour at any time, and you’ll need to be ready to change your strategy. For 3 – 5 players, games run 75 – 90 minutes per game.
FOR MORE: Buy Container on Amazon
#07 | Prêt-à-Porter
Prêt-à-Porter makes the list of the best loan board games because it is an economic strategy experience set in a world of fashion when the paying and collecting of loans is the key to any success. You need to bet big on the next big thing and if you are not willing to take the big risks, you are not in it to win it.
Players open new branches and outlets, hire new workers and try to gain new capabilities. New Design Agencies, Brand stores or Prep rooms are opened, Accountants, Models and Designers are hired, lucrative contracts are signed to allow for short-term profits and expand company’s competencies. Companies grow each month expanding your options as you grow. There are fashion shows along the way and you need to keep up with trends. For 2 – 4 players, games last around 90 minutes.
FOR MORE: Buy Prêt-à-Porter on Amazon
#06 | Homesteaders
Homesteaders makes the list of the best loan board games because it is one of the best in the fields of business speculation. You are working on building up a cool little town in the Wild West, but the heart of the game is betting on how everything is going to go. Your money is always out there working for you or it is being wasted. You need to get in on the action.
This is an auction and resource management game in which you bid on the opportunity to build certain types of buildings, then spend resource cubes to build one of several buildings of that type. There are ten rounds of this. You score for their buildings, bonuses and points earned throughout the game from selling resource cubes. The player who builds the best combination of buildings and best manages the nine different resources in the game will score the most points and claim victory. For 2 – 4 players, games run 90 minutes.
FOR MORE: Buy Homesteaders on Amazon
#05 | Age of Industry
Age of Industry makes the list of the best loan board games because it is another highly rated economics game about buying, selling, and all that good stuff. This is actually meant to be a more streamlined version of the Brass Series, which it is. Spoiler alert, that title is also on that list which should show you how great this business machine type of game fits.
Players are tycoons in the early days of the Industrial Revolution; a time when traditional craftsman were being rapidly replaced with steam-powered machines. Players invest in the production of raw materials, the manufacture of goods, and the transportation networks needed to connect them to their markets. For 2 – 5 players, games run about 2 hours.
FOR MORE: Buy Age of Industry on Amazon
#04 | At the Gates of Loyang
At the Gates of Loyang makes the list of the best loan board games because it is a trading game in which you are able to produce goods by planting them and later selling them to customers. You can use the abilities of some helpers to increase your income or production. Fulfilling orders is basically the opposite of loans and this is the master of it.
Fields, customers, helpers, and miscellaneous objects are represented by cards. Each player receives two of these cards per round distributed by a bidding/drawing mechanism in which you end up with one of the cards you draw and one of the cards of a public offer filled by all players. Placing one good on a field fills the complete field with goods of this type. Each round, one unit per field is harvested. For 1 – 4 players, games go 1 – 2 hours.
FOR MORE: Buy At the Gates of Loyang on Amazon
#03 | Steam
Steam makes the list of the best loan board games because railway companies compete to build networks and maximize profits by transporting goods. You need lots of money to succeed and taking risks with loans and your money is part of that. There are auctions and you have networks to lay, money needs to be thrown around to handle your tycoon ways.
You build railroads and deliver goods along an ever changing network of tracks and stations. You build the tracks, upgrade towns, improve your train, and grab the right goods to make the longest, most profitable deliveries. Score your deliveries and add to your income or victory points, balancing your need to invest against your quest to win the game. For 3 – 5 players, games go for about 90 minutes.
FOR MORE: Buy Steam on Amazon
#02 | Le Havre
Le Havre makes the list of the best loan board games because you are a man or woman of the sea just trying to hustle which includes non-stop transactions and little loan here or there. It is a very legitimate business game but with the movement and worker placement, you also feel like a pirate at times.
Your turn consists of two parts: (1) distribute newly supplied goods onto the offer spaces; then (2) take an action. Choose either to take all goods of one type from an offer space or to use one of the available buildings. Building actions allow players to upgrade goods, sell them or use them to build their own buildings and ships. Buildings are both an investment opportunity and a revenue stream, as players must pay entry fees, Monopoly style. Ships, on the other hand, are primarily used as key tools. For 1 – 5 players, games last 30 – 150 minutes.
FOR MORE: Buy Le Havre on Amazon
#01 | Brass: Birmingham
Brass: Birmingham takes the top spot on the list of the best load games because it is widely held as the best economic board game ever created. People may have different opinions but everyone can agree that this intense engine builder deserves your respect. You need to do business and loans are of course a big part of that.
This is an economic strategy powerhouse that tells the story of competing entrepreneurs in Birmingham during the industrial revolution (1770-1870). You must develop, build, and establish your industries and network so that you can capitalize on the demand for iron, coal and cotton. The game is played over various important phases. Many decisions need to be made about what you are going to invest in and where you are going to go. For 2 – 4 players, games last 1 – 2 hours.