Updated on 06.26.09

The Simple Dollar Podcast #6: Games People Play

Trent Hamm

The sixth episode focuses on gaming, a surprisingly fun way to save money. Along the way, I highlight tons of my favorite games to play with others that maximize bang for the buck. Total time: 10:50.

Listen In!

Other options for enjoying The Simple Dollar Podcast include:
Listen to this episode on a separate page
Subscribe via iTunes
Download this episode (right click and save)
Subscribe in the media player of your choice

Though I hope you do subscribe using one of the above methods, don’t worry – each episode will be featured in its own post, much like this one, on Tuesday afternoons. The podcast itself may appear earlier than that, however, if you subscribe using one of the above forms, but the notes won’t appear until I post about it here on The Simple Dollar.

Episode Notes
Here are some additional notes that go alongside the comments in the podcast. Approximate times for the corresponding links and notes are listed.

0:00 – The theme song is a snippet of a Camper van Beethoven concert on October 25, 1986, shared via their very open taping policy. Listen to the concert in its entirety.
0:44 – We played Dominion multiple times, Ticket to Ride: Europe, and Torres (I think … I might be mixing it with the previous game night we had).
1:05 – Her family plays the card game 500, which is quite fun.
2:10 – Good card games with kids: slapjack, go fish, and war.
2:18 – Good card games with adults: bridge, gin, canasta, poker, spades, hearts, cribbage, pitch, euchre … a nearly infinite list.
2:44 – My family always plays four point pitch.
2:55 – Monopoly seems to never end – I played a game for more than twelve hours once. Even worse, many people seem to play it without the auction rule – when someone lands on a property and chooses not to buy it, it goes up for auction. Without that, the game really does never seem to end.
3:27 – Ticket to Ride is a great board game that revolves around connecting various cities to one another via train. You essentially play on a map of a continent, with major cities highlighted, and throughout the game you connect these cities. You only have a limited number of connections, though, and other players are trying to do the same thing (and thus sometimes block your connections). It’s incredibly fun.
3:39 – Puerto Rico is a board game in which you’re trying to build a successful Puerto Rican farm while competing against the other players for resources – workers, money, and space on ships to sell what your farm grows. It can be played in an hour and fits three or four people really well.
3:45 – Settlers of Catan is a board game where you’re simply trying to settle on an island by placing just a small handful of towns and roads. It’s really simple and incredibly fun – as I say on the podcast, we played our first copy until it looks…. grizzled is a good word for it.
4:20 – You want a great way to network with someone? Play a game with them. You’ll almost magically open up a bit during the game.
6:25 – I use Gamerz in Ames, Iowa for most of my video game trading.
6:55 – Yes, I know I “overlooked” the social aspect of XBox Live and many online RPGs, but unless you’re (a) willing to give a lot of time to it or (b) have a strong affinity for teenagers being “funny” by yelling racial epithets, I’d suggest skipping it.
8:35 – I turn walks outdoors into a scavenger hunt.
8:50 – Here are ten ways I save money golfing.
10:40 – A preview of next week’s topic.

One thing I’d like to do in a future episode is have an audio reader’s mailbag. If you have a microphone on your computer and can record an MP3 of a simple, short question you might have on personal finance, careers, pop culture, or anything else you’d like me to answer, record it as an MP3 and send it to me. Keep the total recording under 15 seconds, please. Also, if you use Skype, feel free to ask your question that way – my username is trenttsd.

Comments and suggestions welcome.

Loading Disqus Comments ...
Loading Facebook Comments ...
  1. Zach V says:

    I noticed in your show notes that you use Gamerz for your game trading. I use Goozex, an online trading service similar to the book services you’ve written about in the past, and have only good things to say.


    If you trade a newly released game, you get enough credit to receive a new released game. The only cost to the user is the $1 trade credit Goozex charges for the use of their service. You are also responsible for shipping the games you are trading to other users, which costs money obviously.

    Anyway, I end up playing all of the big new releases but only buy a game or two each year. I _never_ trade away games to retail outlets for pennies on the dollar.

  2. Carrie says:

    For single gameplay, those who have a Facebook account can play a variety of strategy games for FREE by downloading the application to their Facebook page. Most noteworthy are the games by Zynga, such as Vampire Wars, Mafia Wars, Yoville, Sorority Life, Fashion Wars, etc. These games are static, asynchronous gameplay with other players; not at all like the graphic interaction with World of Warcraft or similar online gaming, but more like the Dungeons and Dragons board game style of gaming.
    I have found Vampire Wars to be terribly addictive. Basically the games have the same strategy: acquire clan members, acquire booty and abilities and combat other players as you move up the levels and increase your skill points.

  3. Michelle says:

    GREAT podcast…I should have had “plays games” on my list for the perfect DH, since when I found him, he had everything on that list…but he doesn’t like games. I think because he grew up with cousins who tended to beat each other and him up over the results – taking competitive to a different level? I promised him I wouldn’t really smack him during slapjack, but he’s still resistant! (kidding) I finally got him to learn cribbage when our power was out for a few days after a storm a few years ago and he still plays with the Doyle’s rule book at his side to make sure I’m not cheating him! I had never heard of the board games you referenced, by the way. I’m glad you included them in your show notes, as they would make great gifts as well, for a gaming family.

  4. A.J. says:

    Twelve hours for Monopoly? Sounds like nobody knows any strategies for the game, if you ask me.

    I spent a summer working in a camp kitchen, and the kitchen crew didn’t have a whole lot to do during our afternoon break other than play Monopoly, so we did that on a disturbingly high number of afternoons. We had the game down so much that by the end of the summer, we considered a game that ended in an hour to be LONG.

    Every game ended up looking something like this:

    1. Everyone rolls the dice and scoops up properties.
    2. Once the last key property is bought (usually either the third Orange or third Red), a flurry of trading. Within five minutes, the number of monopolies in play has gone from zero to six.
    3. Everyone who can afford it puts 3-4 houses on their best properties. Everyone else is pretty much screwed.
    4. Roll the dice until the massive rents bankrupt all but one player.

    If it do it right (for example, roll the dice as soon as the person before you announces they’re buying a property; no reason to wait while they count out the cash, the Bank fishes out the deed and makes change), none of these steps take that much time at all.

    The only real problem with Monopoly is that step 4 is pretty much all luck and the only thing you can do about it is to increase your chances by trading for/landing on the Oranges/Reds (or maybe Blues if you feel lucky).

  5. Doug says:

    I enjoyed this podcast and I’m going to check out a couple of the games you mentioned.

    I wanted to make an additional sports suggestion, especially if you’re interested in golf. Disc golf (aka “frisbee golf”) is a great alternative. You can start off a single disc that costs around $7 or $8 and the vast majority of courses are completely free to play. Check out http://www.pdga.com/course-directory to find a nearby course.

  6. prodgod says:

    Alas, I have never had much patience for games, much to the chagrin of my family. My ADHD perhaps?

  7. Andrea says:

    I’m an only child, so I didnt play a lot of games growing up. My real comments are around the feedback on the podcast itself.

    You are sounding much more comfortable and the single topic focus also worked much better. There was less jumping around from one subject to the next, which i heard more of during the first few weeks.

    Keep at it. I think you’ll be making really good progress in another six weeks.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *