I coaxed Johanna to try the Monopoly Card Game. Designed by Phil Orbanes, it’s basically a Monopoly-themed Rummy game. Players try to form their 10-card hands into complete sets of colour groups and bonus cards. First player to build a ready hand scores five extra cards, but everybody counts points.
The game is very much ruled by the bonus cards. Houses (1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th house, they need to be played in order) multiply the value of the colour group, hotels add 500 dollars. Player pawns are basically houses without a number: they too act as multipliers. Chance cards are wild cards, but with a penalty: get caught with a wild card in your hand and you’ll score exactly zero dollars — unless you’re the first player to go out. Go! cards are 200 dollars cash, Mr. Monopoly cards are 1000 dollars for the majority of them.
It’s a rather complicated game, really. The only way it works is because of the Monopoly connection; everybody is immediately familiar with the setting and the card groups. In the other hand, if you don’t have that experience, you’re lost.
Johanna was a very good example of that: my explanation of rules pretty much expected the Monopoly experience, but Johanna has never (I repeat: never) played Monopoly — only a Finnish ripoff version which takes the board layout and buying of properties, but which has no houses.
So, no wonder she was a bit confused. She won anyway (with a bit of help in the final round). Not that we care about the result: we both agreed the game stinks, real bad. It’s simply put a very boring game. Since we both like Mhing, we just see very little point in playing something like this.
In this case it’s probably good the game is over as swiftly as it. Rounds can be quick, as in many cases your hand is very much complete with bonus cards, you just need to finish a colour group. Going first is a huge advantage, as you get a completed hand and five extra cards you can use if they work for you. That was particularly annoying in a two-player game.
However, while we didn’t enjoy our game, for someone this’ll probably be a good purchase. If you like Monopoly and want something faster, slightly different but still nothing too daring or adventurous, Monopoly Card Game might be just the game for you. It certainly has lots of the Monopoly atmosphere, even if it lacks all the real excitement. It’s also pretty simple game and easy to learn, if you know how to play Monopoly.
Gamers, however, should steer clear. That’s a fairly pointless warning anyway, since the name Monopoly should work as an effective serious gamer repellent. There’s no reason to make an exception here, even though the game is interesting enough to try once, just to see what you can do transforming an idea to completely different format.