Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Card Game Review - Monopoly Deal


Being on Hasbro's list of favored reviewers has its upsides and down. For instance, I once got Operation. It was fun - when I was seven. But I also got Risk: Black Ops, which was close to the highlight of my reviewing career. Recently I got a press package for Spongebob Squarepants Sorry, and I can tell you, I'm hoping the actual game does not arrive.

When I opened the most recent package from Hasbro and pulled out a little card game called Monopoly Deal, I was initially a little chagrined (for those of you who don't know what that means, go look it up). A card game spinoff of Monopoly is not the first game I would generally bring to the gaming table. However, I have a fairly solid policy of reviewing anything someone sends me, so I broke it out and read the rules anyway.

Turns out, it's not Monopoly (cue all the people saying, 'well, duh', including me if you had said the same thing to me). It's a set collection game using Monopoly properties. The winner is the first player to get three full sets of properties. You can't bankrupt your opponents, so everyone is playing until the game is over, and there's no such thing as Free Parking. Also, nobody gets to be the race car, which I found a little disappointing (I'm always the race car).

On your turn, you get to play three cards. You can bank a card - there are cards that are specifically money, but every card also has a value if you decide to turn it into money. You could play a property, placing it in front of you, or you could play an action that lets you do something like charge rent, pass Go, or steal money when nobody else is looking (you don't actually need a card for that last one - it's actually cheating, so you only get to do it if you can get away with it).

Every one of these possibilities is important, but you only get to play three cards, so you have to plan ahead. Sometimes you might even pass, just to make sure you set up your killer play for next turn. You can swipe money from other players with some of the action cards, and if they can't pay, they have to give you properties (cha-ching!). Since you also have to set up those collections, and you only get three cards per turn, you have to be building as you go. Playing money might seem like kind of a waste, but if you don't have money in your bank, you can't protect your properties, and you'll spend the whole game with nothing in front of you.

Monopoly Deal is a surprisingly good game, considering that the publisher of this game is also responsible for the intensely boring Game of Life. It's also really fast, so you can play with four people in 15-20 minutes. There's planning and strategy and luck and all that stuff you like in a decent card game.

Now, I do have a complaint. There are a couple cards that absolutely ruin the game, in my opinion. Of course, this is a mass-market game by the people who make Chutes and Ladders, so they probably don't mind if you can build a game-breaker hand with just two cards, but for those of us who like games that reward skill over blind luck, those cards just suck. For instance, in one game, I went from having nothing on the table at all to a sweeping win in just one turn. It's fun to win, but that's a crappy way to do it.

But this lucky card thing is not enough to keep me from playing Monopoly Deal again. For one thing, there are only two of the game-breaker cards, and we've pulled them out, so that we don't have a great, tense game ruined by one stupid card draw. Without these lucky cards, Monopoly Deal is a fun combination of luck, strategy and good card play that can lend itself to a fantastic, tense endgame where anyone could win.

Which is funny, because I would not have expected that from the people who make Candyland.

Summary

Pros:
Easily learned and fun
Really tense end game
Lots of strategy and quick thinking and planning

Cons:
A couple cards completely ruin the game for serious gamers

There's no effing way Dogstar Games has Monopoly Deal. But you know what? Target does.

19 comments:

Anonymous said...

Many of my (adult) friends love this game and use it as a filler when a spare half hour is at hand. It's easy to learn and not that tough to master though getting a hang of the strategy requires a good teacher or some experience.

A comment about the review: you can't go from no cards on the table to winning in one hand - because you can only lay down three cars per turn. You just can't do it. Luck plays a strong role in this game and fortunes turn quickly, but it's not as bad as the review suggests. Planning and strategy are most often rewarded.

jon23516 said...

I've played about a dozen games so far, only with 2 players, and have enjoyed the game. I too am curious about this card combo you speak of.

I agree with anonymous. If you can only play three cards per turn and and there are only 2 broken cards in the game...

If the broken card is what I think it is, then I don't see how you can steal three sets in a single turn.

Oh well.

Jon

Justin Stanley said...

to deal with those 2 "deal breaker" cards that let you steal complete sets, what we did was upped the number of complete sets needed to win the game! bump it up from 3 to 4 or 5 and the game lasts longer, and you can't win as easily just getting those 2 "deal breaker" cards...they'll help but won't end the game right away.

REALLY fun game...so creative for just being cards!

Anonymous said...

I enjoy the game but I do have one question. When paying monies owed, and you have no cash left...do you pay with your hotels, houses, and full sets, or are they safe?
Thanks
MYCULL@hotmail.com

Ian said...

I've never played the game but I can imagine a scenario where you can go from nothing to winning in one turn. You can play cards to steal properties but you can also play cards to require someone (or all) to pay rent on those properties. If players don't have enough cash banked to pay you they will have to pay you with more properties.

Abyss said...

I guess the deal breaker cards are important and need to be part of the game as apart from allowing a lucky person to win it can prevent another from winning. Also there are two just say no cards to ruin the deal breakers so those are the ones that really make the game fun keeping the element of suprise in them.

Wilfred said...

I bought the game as a stocking stuffer for Christmas and my wife absolutely loves it.

We play with all the cards and no special rules. We tend to simply keep our properties from being a full set unless we have the 'Just Say No' to protect it from the 'Deal Breaker'.

When it comes to charging rent, we use the wildcards to make a full set, charge rent, then move the wildcards out into an incomplete set before ending our turn (as allowed in the rules).

I highly recommend this game.

Sergio said...

My trick is that I don’t complete the sets of cards until I have the 3 sets. So I have 2 blue, 2 green, 2 orange. My last move I do 1 blue, 1 green, 1 orange.

I discard most of the time the deal breaker and add it to the bank.

I also have won with wild rent and double rent cards. I had 20 dls on properties... I put a wild.. so they paid me 20.. my second and third move was I put wild rent with double rent. so they paid me 40.. total 60 in just one turn. They all paid me with properties :)

You can be lucky in a game, but if you play smart you can win more times.

Anonymous said...

here's a hypothetical situation where a player with no cards laid down can win in one turn. 3 players. Player 1 has no cards. Player 2 has Boardwalk, Park Place, House and Hotel, Baltic, and 5 million banked. Player 3 has Electric Company, Water Works, Mediterannean, plus 6 million in the bank. Player 1 lays down dealbreaker (and gets the boardwalk monopoly plus house and hotel), the all players pay rent card (green and blue) and the double rent card. No one has a just say no card. Since no one has 30 million, they must surrender all cash and properties. Therefore player one is has three monopolies in one turn and wins the game.

Anonymous said...

I really have no idea why you made this game sound so bad in the review ? My little brother got it for me and my other brother the Christmas just passed & we love it ! Took a wee bit of time to learn how to play it at first but not too bad. We then took it away with us camping on holiday. Taught it to our friends, played heaps with them & now two families have gone out and bought it for themselves. great family game & good for a quick 10- 20 minute game (: really recommend it. I'm playing it right now (:

Sergio said...

If you have a swap card and deal breaker:
You opponent has 2 cards of the same color let say red.. and you have one red. Use the swap card and give him the red card. Now he has a full set and you can use the Deal Breakers. Is risky, he may have a just say no. But when it works, you have a full set!

Daniel said...

Sergio ,
Sorry to burst your bubble about forceddeal a property and after adding it to take it with the dealbreaker .
The rules strictly says that you can move your OWN properties on your turn and ..
you don't have to put properties together in a set , it can be split until YOU decide what to do with your own properties .
So this does not cook with me . My brother once slydeal a green property from me , force deal it to another player with 2 green properties and then played his dealbreaker . I contested him and agreed that according to the rules you cannot do it .
Daniel

Daniel said...

Matt , this is for you if you can help me out . Being a reviewer of hasbro games is there any way at all that you can please get them to answer the following questions about monopoly deal posted on their customer service mail weeks ago . They just seem to ignore it at all .

Question 1:
Player 1 played a 2colour rent on a blue property set with a house - rent is then m11 for all players (4 in this example) Player 3 decides to play his Just Say No card .

a) Does this cancel out the action card
b) Does this cancel just the rent payment due by player 3
c) Does this cancel the rent only or double the rent as well in this case

Please give a clear and logic answer to this whole scenario.

Question 2:
Player 1 has both a blue and green full property sets . He puts a house on the blue property set .

a) Is this house fixed to this blue set
b) Can it be moved to the green property set

This is one question that Hasbro gave 2 conflicting answers : "it is fixed" and "it can be moved between sets" . It is confusing to play if the rules are not fixed by the manufacturer .

Question 3:

Player 1 has a full blue set and a single blue property . He plays a blue 2colour rent card .

a)Does he collect m8 on the full set only
b)Does he collect m11 i.e. full set plus the single blue card

This is also one from Hasbro with 2 conflicting answers - "collect from all blue properties" and "not allowed"

Question 4:

Player 1 is playing a Sly Deal on player 2 for a green property card . He then plays a Forced Deal on player 3 with this green card because player 3 has a set with 2 green cards . Player 3 then places the green card on his 2 other green cards . Now player 1 plays a Deal Breaker on the green set and wins .

a)Is player 3 allowed to move the card he receives from player 1 to the green pile ? It is not his turn to play thus technically he is not allowed to move cards around .

b) Can player 1 place the card on the green pile in front of player 3 . I reckon player 3 can decide - on his turn - where he wants to put the card

c)Can player 2 or 4 play a Just Say No card to save player 3 from giving a full set to player 1 to stop him from winning?

Thank you very much for a great game !

Daniel

Berlin Man said...

Wow Daniel, rules are rules, but way to take away all the fun from the game. Just play and have fun. I think a force deal to force someone to have a set is a fun maneuver, and should be allowed. I would allow it.

Anonymous said...

One Year Later, but this is how we handle your scenarios.

Question 1:
Player 1 played a 2colour rent on a blue property set with a house - rent is then m11 for all players (4 in this example) Player 3 decides to play his Just Say No card .

The Answer: B and C. Player 3 Is choosing to "Say No" to paying the rent. He is not saying no for the entire table. Also, since he is saying no to paying rent the Double the rent has no effect. Player 3 could just say no to the double and pay the original rent amount.


Question 2:
Player 1 has both a blue and green full property sets . He puts a house on the blue property set .

a) Is this house fixed to this blue set
b) Can it be moved to the green property set

ANSWER: A. A - No. Once a card has been put down in the playing area (on the play pile, into a property collection or into someone's Bank), it can NEVER go back into a player's hand. The "it can be moved between sets" refers to Wild Cards.


Question 3:

Player 1 has a full blue set and a single blue property . He plays a blue 2colour rent card .

a)Does he collect m8 on the full set only
b)Does he collect m11 i.e. full set plus the single blue card

ANSWER: A. A - No. You can charge Rent on one set (complete or incomplete) at a time. In your scenario, Player 1 may choose to charge 8m(full set) or 3M (single blue).

Question 4:

Player 1 is playing a Sly Deal on player 2 for a green property card . He then plays a Forced Deal on player 3 with this green card because player 3 has a set with 2 green cards . Player 3 then places the green card on his 2 other green cards . Now player 1 plays a Deal Breaker on the green set and wins .

a)Is player 3 allowed to move the card he receives from player 1 to the green pile ? It is not his turn to play thus technically he is not allowed to move cards around .

Answer: It is not Player3's turn so he can not arrange his cards. The green card from P1 will cause him to make a full set. This legally allows P1 to play Deal Breaker.

b) Can player 1 place the card on the green pile in front of player 3 . I reckon player 3 can decide - on his turn - where he wants to put the card
ANSWER: See Answer to a)

c)Can player 2 or 4 play a Just Say No card to save player 3 from giving a full set to player 1 to stop him from winning?

ANSWER: Yes/No. Player 2 Could have played a "No" card on the "sly Deal", but "Just Say No" cards specifically state "when a card targets you". In this scenario the Deal Breaker is not targeting P2 or P4.

Xavier Lim said...

I believe that you were referring to the deal-breakers when you mentioned that there were 2 "broken cards" that spoilt the game. I agree with you that if you had the deal-breakers, you could ruin a tense game. However, if not, then it is improbable for someone who has lots of cash and a full set to ever, lose the full set. These cards are there to ensure that we play the game with caution, and adds a whole new element to our strategies. However, i agree with you that when we only have to complete 3 sets, any set of properties stolen from the deal breakers plays a very important role in the game.
Moving on, I believe that it isn't possible to move from having no cards on the table to winning if you had the deal-breakers. However, it is possible if you have something that affects the whole group. For instance, if you're playing a 4-player game, when you use debt collector, you can end up gobbling full sets, if those are the only cards that your friends have placed, or if they're silly. Utilities card are each worth $2m if i'm not wrong, so a full set for the utility 'property' is only worth $4m. So if you poached a utility set from someone, and use the two deal breakers, you can win in a turn.
Another way i can think of is that you use debt collector to 'steal' away the blue coloured property set. Then, you use the blue 'rent' card, and use "double-the-rent" with it. You will end up collecting $16m from everyone, so you could acquire 2 full sets of property from your friends. Maybe you could collect scattered properties from your friends, and then piece them together to form the sets you need.
Since you can only steal properties by using the "sly deals", "forced deal" and "deal-breaker" type of cards or if you are collecting money from people (eg. "it's my birthday"), i believe how you won should be similar to the cases i have stated above. However, if you won using a different way, please tell me. Thanks :)

Anonymous said...

My cousin and I play this game religiously. And these rulings help a lot. We've gone so far as to call the company hotline to rule in on decisions.

Our first problem was can you play a Just say no card, on a just say no card, on a just say no card. The answer is yes.

And the other, which I see some people listing as a strategy. You CANNOT break up your sets to prevent other players from using a deal breaker on you. We asked, it was heartbreaking.

Dave said...

Daniel,
Sorry to burst your bubble back, but your wrong to say Sergio can't do that with the forcedeal and deal breaker. Rules state you can only move cards around during your turn, and properties that aren't wild of the same color have to be put together. Therefore, Sergio's plan works.

Anonymous said...

This is a rare occurrence so I understand why this question hasn't been asked but I guess I play this game a bit too much. So there are two double the rent cards, can you play them together, so in essence you are quadrupling the rent. When I play it is allowed since there are only two in the deck. We also thought about making these cards the kryptonite of deal breakers but figured three just say no cards are plenty. Getting both double the rent cards happens more often in heads up rather then a game with more people, so it makes sense for it to be allowed but I can't find an answer anywheres that says for sure if you can or cannot.. If I have to call the hotline, so be it