When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, getting together with friends for a quick game of Monopoly was put on the shelf, literally. Over the past few months, we've had some Hasbro titles come across our doorstep but we haven't had a chance to just sit down and play them with a group of people. Until recently, that is. With a few safety precautions, a bunch of masks, and sometimes with the hilarious use of hockey sticks, we managed to get a long game session a few weeks ago with social distancing in full effect to play three different Monopoly games. Those three were Monopoly Speed, Monopoly: House Divided, and Monopoly: Longest Game Ever. We got a short review for you on all three so that the next time you're out shopping for stuff, you have a few choices of what to go play.
First of all, let's start with Monopoly Speed. This game is literally designed to be the fastest version of the game you've ever played, shy of the time half your family quit the game early after one of you got one of each property and held up trading. The game is designed to be played in 10 minutes as four players will get their own tokens, $5,000 to spend, and one D6. You also get 4 Chance cards and 3 Community Chest cards, all dealt face down in front of you. Once the timer starts, everyone rolls their dice at once and goes around the board playing simultaneously. The first player to land on a property can buy it by throwing their money into the center of the board because there is no Banker and the only money increment is $1,000. You can build a home or hotel at $1k per upgrade, but there is no rent collection. If you land on something that's already owned, you just keep rolling.
There are two GO spaces to give you $1k each passing, and Jail/Go To Jail spaces which are kind of meaningless since you're not confined to jail, you're just sent there when you land on it and you keep rolling from there. There are two stages to the game: buying and trading. You'll use these to acquire property, get monopolies, and build. The game comes with a timer that will count down the game clock and also let you know which stage you're in. At the start of each trading round, you'll flip over a chance card and do what it says. At the end of the game, you'll tally up all the property you have, bonus cash for buildings, bonuses for Community Chest cards, and other circumstances until the player with the highest total wins.
It's an awesome take on the classic that is fun to play and easy to learn. A lot of it deals more with chance than the standard version, so the plotting and scheming end of things is pretty much garbaged. We highly recommend this version
Moving onto Monopoly: Longest Game Ever, this is pretty much the direct opposite of the previous version. To go into all of the changes of this version might take longer than we should, so we'll just roll off the basics you need to know. The board is triple the length, there's only 1 D6 for everyone, Chance and Community Chest cards are designed to hurt other players more than they help or hinder you, there are two Jail spots with extended periods of time to sit there. You do get free money no matter what if you land on Free Parking, but it's just $500. Oh… and there are no auctions. Which is important to note because the biggest aspect of the game is that there are 66 properties in this version, and the only way to win the game is to OWN all 66 properties.
It's made a little easier with the fact that if you own one version of a property, you own all three versions of it. Bankrupting a player doesn't mean they're out of the game, which is where the end-game rules start to kick in, meaning even a player out of cash can still win it all. But this is a winner-take-all game with no way to cheat and help someone else win the game if you don't like who you're losing to. If can buy homes and hotels still, and you can move them around from property to property on your turn, but only in small amounts. The rules even state you can rip the money up for extended play, because printed on the other side of all the case is a way to cut the money into four more copies of said cash if the game needs it.
Simply put: this is for hardcore Monopoly fans and not for the timid of heart. Expect games to last around two hours. But if you're up for the endurance and feel like you can be the greater player of all time, this is the one for you.
Finally, we have Monopoly: House Divided, which is straight-up tackling politics. So before we dive in, let's be clear: this is NOT a Democrats vs. Republicans game. There is no party affiliation. The red and blue colors are here because red and blue are associated with a lot of democratic politics around the world. But the ideals tied to those parties do not exist here, they only exist if you choose to be THAT kind of player. You're not talking policy, you're not representing current candidates, and there's no platform to debate on. If you have THAT kind of player at the table, this is where you announce to everyone you won't be playing the game and go grab a different Monopoly title. We feel like we have to say that in advance because while they are going for the politics motif, you're not picking the Dems or the GOP, and trying to bring that crap into the game serves no one any good.
That said, the game plays like regular Monopoly, except you are running for President. Instead of properties you're buying votes by spending campaign money in the states you visit. Players will choose their token, which comes with a card letting you know if you're on the red or blue side. When you land on a property, you either have to buy or auction immediately. When you get sets, you can build campaign HQ's instead of homes and hotels to charge rent. Railroads have been replaced with a Campaign Bus, which you can use to move you to any space on the board between that spot and the next bus spot. Jail still exists, but you can still campaign out of it, you just can't move anywhere. for three turns before rolling doubles or paying $50. Chance and CC have been replaced with I Voted and Executive Power cards. EP cards can help you out in the game, while IV cards ask a question of the group that you all vote on using small tokens. There is also a White House token that gets passed around depending on who rolls doubles each turn or gets a card giving them control. If you have it, the rent on your properties is doubled.
The game ends when all of the properties have been purchased, which is when you tally up who has the most votes. That person becomes President and wins this fictitious election campaign. This is a unique twist on the game that we really enjoyed. And shockingly, no hard feelings from any players and no politics entered the fray while we played. We recommend it if you're looking for a change, but not if you have someone who is so hardcore into politics that seeing one of these colors makes them go off on a tirade.