What Should One Do With a Stimulus Check?

In the United States there happens to be a lot of news covering the U.S. government passing a 1.9 trillion dollar COVID relief bill and people getting a “Stimulus Check.”  I’ve read a number of articles making suggestions of what people should spend their “stimulus money” on.  It ranges from paying down debt, paying rent and paying necessities, which is my first priority, and probably should be yours as well.  (I spent 6 months out of work during this pandemic so these priorities are my focus.)  A lot of people suggest putting the cash in savings for a “rainy day” or emergency fund, or replenishing your waning savings, which I second.  However these don’t exactly “stimulate” the economy.  But keeping a roof over your head, food on the table, keeping the heat on and having an emergency fund are essential and should be prioritized.  I am also a big proponent of tithing or charitable giving if your income and situation allows.  I find it’s extremely important to give back to your place of worship, your community or those around you that are less fortunate than you.

Which brings us to the other articles I’ve seen on what people may consider doing with their money.  In order to “stimulate” the economy, people typically need to spend money and spend it locally or on shops, stores, businesses and restaurants that they care about and want to help keep afloat.  And board games.  If your other needs are covered, you need to purchase lots and lots of board games.  Especially during a pandemic.  Board games for the family to play to keep the kids from killing each other.  Board games for you and your wife to play while gazing lovingly into each other’s eyes across the table.  Board games to play with your friends while Facetiming with a GoPro camera strapped to your head so your friends can see the board and play out their moves while interacting online.

So if I want to stimulate my local gaming economy, what would I want to purchase?  I am an American so I will speak to purchasing games from American companies but (hopefully) our Opinionated Gamer writers across the globe will share what they might purchase from whatever country they are in, as well as give a glimpse of what their country is doing to help that country’s economy, if anything.

First and foremost, I would want to purchase coffee.  Coffee is absolutely a quintessential gaming drink.  For our wedding, our friends Bill and Maria got my wife and I a subscription to the Atlas Coffee of the Month Club.  It ranks in as one of my favorite all time gifts and would be a definite economy stimulating purchase.

But let’s talk about games.  

There are a number of games on my wishlist that are produced by American companies.  If I had unlimited income (I do not and if I did am not sure my wife would let me anyway) but saying I did and a large sum of money dropped into my lap, I might help “stimulate the economy” by spending it at companies that I care about that are located in my home country.


Cephalofair Games in Lafayette, IN is releasing its awesome monstrosity or Awesomonstrosity (that’s right, we’re making it a word!  Awesomonstrosity!  Use it!) into the wild (read coming soon to a retail store near you) before the end of the year.  I did not go in on the record breaking kickstarter, and turned down the offer to beta test it (what was I thinking?!?)  Instead, I am slowly making my way through and totally enjoying it’s older sibling, Gloomhaven. Frosthaven is on my list.  I’m in no hurry to get it as I have plenty of Gloomhaven left, but with as much as I am enjoying the #1 game on www.boardgamegeek.com, I may have to get Gloomhaven’s Awesomonstrosity of a baby brother.


Leder Games in Saint Paul, Minnesota and their amazing game, Root, has been on my wishlist since it came out.  I’ve been able to play the base game a number of times and thoroughly enjoy the asymmetric game play and have enjoyed playing each of the base game’s factions, which is why I would have to stimulate the gaming economy even more by purchasing each of the expansions.  RIght now, Leder Games has their latest expansion Root: The Marauder Expansion on Kickstarter.

Silver Games

Ted Alspach’s Bezier Games in Louisville, Tennessee has a line of Silver Games, card games with a werewolf twist!  I would want to add these fun, lighter, quicker games to the collection for filler, or when playing with groups that might not want a heavier strategy game.  

Tiny Epic Games

Gamelyn Games out of Gilbert, Arizona has their Tiny Epic Series of Games.  I currently own Tiny Epic Galaxies, Tiny Epic Mechs and Tiny Epic Zombies.  (and rate them best to worst in that order).  I have decided perhaps I should own the rest as well!  There’s Tiny Epic:  Tactics, Dinosaurs, Pirates, Defenders, Dungeons, Kingdoms, Quest, Western!  And I’m sure there’s more coming.  Once I get (and play of course) all the Tiny Epics, I think it’d be fun to do an article on the whole series.  

Terraforming Mars

Stronghold Games in Boynton Beach, Florida has had Terraforming Mars out for a number of years now and it’s been holding its own on the ‘Geek’s rating’s board.  I’ve had a couple of plays on the game, making Kim Stanley Robinson’s Red Mars, Green Mars and Blue Mars trilogy a gaming reality for me.  I’ve enjoyed this game each time I’ve played it, even though I generally get trounced, but like it enough to sit down again and always give it another go when asked.


Stonemaier Games out of St. Louis, Missouri produces Wingspan.  It is a board game where players are bird enthusiasts attempting to attract birds to their wildlife refuge.  The art is pretty amazing and it is currently sitting in BGG’s top 100.  Wingspan is at the top of my “want to try” list.  It’s one of the games that I’m keeping my eye on and want to get in a play or two prior to purchasing.

Star Wars Armada/ Rebellion/ Imperial Assault Expansion

Fantasy Flight Games, which yeah, some people will say is solely owned by the French Gaming Empire of Asmodee, is no longer American, but from my very in-depth 2 minute Google research, found they still maintain their own rights and such, so are still an American Board Game Company.  Anyway, they have a number of games I’d love to try out, and most of them Star Wars related.  I own Imperial Assault, and would love to get the Hoth expansion.  The others, Rebellion and Armada are games I would want to try out prior to making the investment into the ever expanding games.

Those listed above are not the top games on my wishlist, but they are a number of the top games on my list that are owned by American companies.  If I’m going to stimulate the economy by purchasing board games, I may have to go with something off the above list. I would encourage people to shop locally. My former local gaming store was Sci-Fi City in Cincinnati, and if you happen to be stimulating your local economy, and live there (I have since moved for work), visit them! They have an awesome selection at awesome prices. Say “Hi!” to Eric for me.

What about you?  Where are you from?  How is your economy being stimulated?  If your government dropped cash into your lap and your essentials were covered, what might you purchase first?

Opinions from other Opinionated Gamers:

Brandon K – (Missouri-USA) So, I kind of started wondering about this last week. I put a post out on Twitter asking for folks to recommend games that were outside of my wheelhouse for me to pick up with the intent on buying a handful of games. Well meaning folks had lots of recommendations, but a lot of them fell firmly into my wheelhouse, so I only ended up with a couple of games I have purchased, one from a US company, Plaid Hat Games (Forgotten Waters) and one from Taiwanese Publisher Moaideas (Mini Express). We are lucky and grateful to be in the position where we can use some of the stimulus for fun, I recognize that not all can and that this hobby is really a luxury that not everyone can afford to keep up with. I am however looking for a couple of other titles to add to the list, I’m trying to get out of my comfort zone a bit and also offer a bit more variety to some of the folks that I hope choose to participate in game nights again once everyone is vaccinated and we are comfortable with it. 

James Nathan (Midwest, USA) – I’m in a position where my essentials are covered, but, well, I also have enough games! For me, my stimulus checks increase how much of my personal budget I devote towards causes and principles that are important to me, such as local food banks and shifting my general economic activity towards local minority-owned businesses  (e.g. gym, meals, groceries, home repairs/upgrades.)

But. How would I leverage the extra cash in tandem with those principles as a way of stimulating something towards a board gaming end?  Where I live we have a “Play Library” that acts, well, like a library but for board games!  There is space there to play, but you can also check out games to take home.  It is oriented more towards kids and teenagers than adults and serves a racially diverse inner-city population. I like the space they’ve created and supporting them.

If I wanted to spoil myself gaming wise?  I just ran across this upcoming Japanese release on booth.pm, あの子のとなり, (roughly: Next to That Child), that appears to be about school children wanting to sit in class next to who they have a crush on.  However, rather than simple 2D cardboard chits, it uses these beautiful 3D bits!  Unfortunately, it clocks in at around $100.

The other bucket of possible expenditures that comes to mind for me is creative indie Kickstarters that I want to encourage, such as “A Mending” (which ends in a few days).  Craft-time is one of my favorite…mechanics(?) in games, when you get to color things in or cut things up.  Here, it is a solo-RPG that involves sewing your path through a cloth map!

Alan How (U.K.) I already stimulate the board gaming economy to a significant degree. I back a lot of Kickstarter games but I don’t focus on the source country, just the game. If I had to spend more on games I’d get them sent to friends in groups around the U.K. who are unable to afford games as much as me. I think that they’d do more for others. As to the choice, games arrive every week so I’d just organise new games to my gaming buddies. 

Fraser (Australia): There were some targeted payments in Australia and also some level of job support from the Australian government. Most of our game purchasing recently has been from  local shops.  If I had a windfall of some sort, Barrage is high up on my list..

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2 Responses to What Should One Do With a Stimulus Check?

  1. That’s a great list of games. So many there I want to try too, but in particular Frosthaven! I can vouch for Wingspan, lots of fun and also kind of peaceful to play with beautiful artwork, especially for the nature lovers :D

    • RJ Garrison says:

      Pre-pandemic, I liked to pretend I was a board game ambassador and Wingspan seems to fit that perfect niche in a game that allows me to introduce new people to games as well as a iight-midweight game for gamers to play as well. I can’t wait to try it out. And it’s no secret, I am a Gloomhaven fan and looking forward to Frosthaven (though it may be a while before I invest with plenty of GH left to play.)