FTW Staff Picks - Monopoly Deal
For The Win Board Game Cafe's Staff Picks is a weekly series where we take a quick look at some of the staff's favourite games, old and new.
Genre: Card Game
Player Size: 2 to 5 Players
Game Length: 15 minutes
For fans of: Uno, Monopoly, Coloretto
Let me take you back to the summer of 2009, before I had gotten wrapped up by the entire board game craze. A little game by the name of Monopoly Deal helped close out the long summer days. I still remember getting asked to leave a handful of Tim Hortons because we had long overstayed our welcome. Not to be confused with its much older brother Monopoly, Monopoly Deal is a cool and fast alternative - that adopts more modern table top mechanics such as set collection. Unlike the original's playtime of possibly up to 5 hours, Monopoly Deal can be completed within 15 to 20 minutes very easily.
The goal of Monopoly Deal is to complete 3 full property sets. These are the same sets from the classic game. But to add some variety, they've added a handful of Property Wild Cards. These cards give players options, as they can be rotated to represent two different sets - but not simultaneously. There's also a more powerful Wild Card that can be used in place of any coloured set in the game. In Monopoly Deal, your bank account acts as protection for your properties. If a player cannot afford to pay an opponent with cash, they must pay in properties. Action Cards are used to steal or trade properties, force others to pay you because it's your birthday or collect rent for your properties. And then there is the almighty Deal Breaker card, which allows you to steal one fully completed property set from any player.
Monopoly Deal plays like any standard card game. You begin your turn by drawing 2 cards, and you may play up to 3 cards. On first glance, it may appear to be a "lesser" game compared to the original - but that couldn't be further from the truth. I would wager that Monopoly Deal has more going on than any old "roll-to-move" classic. The more you play the game, the more you get a feeling for the timing of when to do things. Just because you can play 3 cards, doesn't mean you should. Hand-management plays a big role in building your game-winning move. The game itself isn't the most balanced, but the players tend to balance it out, as they form temporary alliances to bring down the current leader.
Nostalgia plays a big factor at board game cafes, so it's no surprise that the most played games are typically Jenga, Battleship, Monopoly, Clue and Connect 4. And there's nothing wrong with the classics. But so many times I've seen a group come in and start to play Monopoly and as the game drags into its second hour, the dread of completing it becomes real. For an outing at a board game cafe, I just feel that Monopoly Deal lends itself as a better use of time. If you like the original, you'll almost surely love its younger, cooler brother.