- Designer: not credited on box/rules
- Publisher: Hasbro
- Players: 2-4
- Ages: 8+
- Time: ~30 minutes
- Times played: 2, with review copy provided by Hasbro
Well, Monopoly is one of those games that probably everyone who is reading this has played at least once. Of course, it’s also probably just as certain that everyone who is reading this has also not played that game by the rules provided in the box. This newest version of Monopoly keeps some of the familiar aspects of Monopoly but it is really an altogether different game. I’ll pretend that you don’t know anything about Monopoly and explain the game anew.
In this game, each player starts by choosing a character (Mario, Donkey Kong, Princess Peach or Yoshi in the base set) and takes the matching character card and ten coins. This card will tell you what the special ability is of your character. All players place their character on the Go space and a start player is chosen by highest roll. There are two decks of cards, one deck which corresponds to the “properties” around the board. There is also a small deck of Boss cards which is organized in numerical order from 1 to 8.
There are two dice, a blue regular d6 and a white powerup die which has different colored symbols on each side. On a turn, the active player rolls both dice, and then uses them in either order. The blue die is used to move your character clockwise around the 32 space board. Collect any coins that on spaces that you pass through or finish your movement on. Depending on where you end your movement, something might happen. When you use the powerup die, you activate the ability shown on that die – making sure to check your character card to make sure that you do not get a boost for the ability that you rolled.
If you land on a property, you first check if it is owned or unowned. If unowned, you get the chance to buy it by paying the price shown on the space. Pay the coins to the bank and take the matching deed card. Each property has a point value printed at the bottom. At the end of the game, the holder of this deed will score this many points. If you do not want to buy it, the property is then sent up for auction. Starting with the player to the left of the active player, the opening bid is 1 coin. Following players must either raise the bid or pass. The highest bidder wins the auction and takes the deed. If no one bids on the property, it remains unowned. If someone else owns the property, then you have to pay rent to the owner of the property. There is a higher rent rate if the owner of the property owns BOTH of the properties of that color. (Each of the 8 colors has exactly two properties in that color).
There are a number of other special spaces on the board:
- Warp Pipe – if you land on this, you speed ahead to the next clockwise warp pipe. You still pick up any coins which you pass by
- Coin Block – if you end your turn here, you roll the blue die and take coins equal to the roll
- Thwomp – if you end here, leave 2 coins on this space
- Go To Jail – if you end here, you immediately place your character in Jail. If you’re in Jail, you must either pay a penalty of 5 coins prior to your turn to get out of jail, or you can try to roll the blue die and hope to get a 6. If you get a 6, you are sprung from jail; take the two dice, roll them and take your usual turn. If you do not get a 6, your turn ends immediately. Once you have failed twice, you then automatically escape at the start of your next turn.
- Go – anytime you pass Go, you collect two coins. You also will flip over a Boss card at the end of your turn.
The Power-Up Die – there are different icons that you can roll. Again, remember that you can use the effects of the power up die and the numbered die in either order
Red Shell – choose any player to drop 3 coins on their current space. Princess Peach causes 4 coins to fall.
Green Shell – the next player clockwise from you drops 3 Coins on their current space. Yoshi can choose a player either clockwise or counterclockwise.
POW – All other players drop a coin on their current space. Donkey Kong causes all other players to drop 2 coins
Coins – Collect 3 coins from the Bank, Mario collects 4.
Blooper – Steal 2 coins from any player.
If at any time in the game, you need to pay coins and you don’t have enough – you must sell your property back to the bank for face-value or to any other player for a mutually agreed price. You then use this to pay off your debts. If you have no properties left and have no coins, there is no further penalty. The person (or space) that you owe money to just gets stiffed.
Each time that a player lands on or passes Go! On their turn, they flip over a Boss card at the end of their turn. Again, the Boss cards are in numerical order with the easiest (and least valuable) on top. You look at the top card, and the active player chooses if he wants to fight. There is a cost to fight, printed on the card – these coins are paid to either the bank or the card (the card will tell you where). Then, you roll the die. If you meet or exceed the target number, you win the fight, you take the Boss card and will score the points at the bottom at the end of the game. If you fail, the next player gets to choose if he wants to roll or pass. If a player passes, he is out of this Boss Fight for the duration. The Boss fight goes on until someone either wins or all players have passed out of the fight. If everyone passes, the Boss card is discarded. It could be possible that a player can fight the same Boss multiple times.
End of Game
The game ends when the Final Boss Fight is over – there are only 8 cards in the deck for 4 players. After the final fight, all players total up their points. Players score points for all the property and Boss cards that they have collected. Also, every 5 coins is worth 10 points. No points are scored for remaining coins. The player with the most points wins.
My thoughts on the game
Well, it looks like Monopoly, but it doesn’t really play like Monopoly. There are a number of differences —
Win condition – in this game, you win by having the most points at the end… you don’t have to run everyone else out of money
Powerups – the game is somewhat asymmetrical as each character has a special ability. However, in the base set, three of them are not always useful to the player controlling the character while Mario’s ability always benefits the player. Sure, it’s something a bit different, but I’m not sure this adds anything to the enjoyment of the game . FWIW, there is a Party Mode where players control multiple figures and can hot swap them in and out to take advantage of different powers. However, I don’t have enough characters to try this out, so this will have to remain a theoretical advantage at this time…
Expandability – there are 8 Power Packs that can be added to the game – it appears that they will cost about $3 each. Each of these Power Packs give you an additional Mario character, each with its own special ability. It doesn’t look like you need these to play, but it’s definitely something else that you can ask your mom to buy you in the checkout line at Target.
Pairs of properties – there are 8 colors of properties, but there are only 2 properties in each color. This makes Monopolies somewhat easier to achieve.
No houses/hotels – While it’s easier to get a monopoly, there isn’t as much direct benefit from it. The rents are lower, and there’s no way to supercharge them with a hotel
No Chance/Community Chest – there’s enough luck with the powerup die. No need for extra cards to further muck things up. These spaces have been replaced with the Warp Pipes and other special spaces.
No mortgaging – if you need money, you must relinquish the deed back to the bank. No hogging them facedown in your area in Nintendo-land! Also, when selling off your properties, be sure to factor in the VP amount on the card!
Game Length – the game seems to move by fairly quickly but can get bogged down a bit if you have unlucky rolls throwing you into jail… In a 4p game, each player on average only circles the board twice before the game ends. There are only 8 Boss cards in the deck… and regardless of the outcome of the fight, the card leaves the deck. That being said, it does take a little bit longer to get around the board as you only have a single d6 to roll each turn, though the warp pipes do help you scoot along a bit faster. Thankfully, unlike regular Monopoly, the game ends itself, you don’t have to slog it out until everyone is bankrupt (or everyone quits in disgust).
In the end, it was an amusing yet frustrating diversion. Our group found the Power Up die to be annoyingly targeted most of the time, and that always comes with its own issues/groupthink/metagaming issues. Additionally, there was a juxtaposition with the main thrust of the game which wants this to be a wild affair similar to the video game Mario Kart where you rush around the board and shoot people and make them drop coins. This is negated/balanced out by the property auctions (the young players which seem to want the manic racing/attacking don’t seem to get the nuances of the auctions).
Would I recommend this to boardgamers? Not really any more than I’d recommend regular Monopoly. If you are a video gamer as well, the theme may be interesting enough for you. As far as gameplay goes, it’s still essentially roll-and-move. You have the slight illusion of more choice when deciding your target on some of the powerup die rolls, but otherwise, there isn’t much strategy here. You do what the dice tell you to do. I guess you maybe get to make some decisions on whether or not to risk your coins to defeat a Boss, but for the most part, this seems to always be worth the risk.
Given the shorter game length and the Nintendo tie-in, this would work well for younger gamers. It’s probably not something that my regular Euro-game group is going to want to play regularly. It was interesting to see the changes made to the quintessential American board game though, and I look forward for further innovations using familiar properties. I could definitely see myself giving this out as a gift in the months to come.
Until your next appointment,
The Gaming Doctor