As the temperatures begin to drop and the nights draw in, there is nothing we love more at Partyrama than an evening of good board games! Cosy nights around the fire, beating your friends and family… bliss. We have recently picked up a few of the latest editions of different board games (and one of our family favourites) and over the coming weeks we will be writing up our experiences with them. Hopefully you will find our board game reviews useful to help you make the right decisions as we prepare to hibernate for winter!
Monopoly – Ultimate Banking Edition – The Review
- Ages 8+
- 2-4 Players
- 30-45 minutes per game
- Price (as of 21/09/2016) – £24.98 from Amazon
On first glance, this latest version of what must be the worlds most famous board game seem like a simple update that replaces the cash with a debit card system. Once you dig into the rules and have a flick through the cards however, you will find that the game is a completely different animal, designed to be a much faster version of the original, where the stakes raise quickly and the downward spiral towards bankruptcy becomes inevitable. The game ends when the first player runs out of cash, properties and can’t afford to pay their debt, with the winner being the person with the highest wealth at that time (assets and cash combined).
What’s In The Box?
Included in the box are the rules, the game board, house pieces, four plastic playing tokens, dice, four debit cards, property cards, event cards and the handheld electronic banking system. Please note that batteries aren’t included, so make sure you have three AAA batteries available to play the game!
Using The Card Reader
As there is no physical cash in the game, the scores, fines, house levels on properties, and any event card actions are all tracked by the innovative card reader. I must admit, this seemed like a bit of a gimmick at first, but once you get used to it, you quickly find that it is a great system! Each player has their own debit card, and each card in the game has a unique code on the back that the card reader scans and understands. My parents are quite traditional in terms of their board game tastes, but they both ended up saying they preferred it to paper notes and a designated banker. The reader also plays sounds unique to each of the event cards and actions taken in the game, and this adds a really nice touch and gave us quite a few giggles along the way!
Following the classic Monopoly formula, players take it in turns to roll the dice and navigate around the board. While this starts off with a familiar feel, there are subtle rule changes that help to speed the game up and ramp up the excitement very quickly. Landing on a property space, you must either choose to buy the property, or it goes to auction between all the players using the card reader. This quickly escalates into a property arms race, with the players seeking to quickly accumulate as many properties as possible, and removes any of the more conservative tactics of the older editions.
The old system of buying houses and hotels is replaced with the house level increasing when players land on an already purchased property. Each increase in house level (up to a maximum of 5) increases the rent, and quickly sends the fine levels soaring. When combined with the fact that the properties on the board take little time to get snapped up, the fear factor navigating the board that is usually saved for the final hours of a long Monopoly game can take as little as 10-15 minutes to come into play! This certainly will help to appeal to those people who love Monopoly, but no longer have the hours spare necessary for a really solid game.
The event cards are a great addition, and can either raise or decrease house levels (individually, whole colour sets or occasionally whole sides of the board!), give players money, impose fines or allow players to jump to a property square of their choice. Each of these event cards is aimed at having an immediate impact on proceedings, without being completely catastrophic, and leaves the fear factor down to navigating your way past other players properties littered around the board.
Location, Location, Location…
Another new feature to the game are the location spaces – when you land on these, you can choose to pay £100 (or 100 ‘jimmys’ as my Dad likes to call them!) to move to any property square you like. This isn’t compulsory, but is certainly useful when trying to collect a set or get closer to Go to raise some more funds. You can’t use the location spaces to navigate past Go to collect more money, but we found that a shrewd tactic was to buy Park Lane or Mayfair, and then ruse the location space to go there and be able to collect your Go £200 on the next turn. Such subtle rule changes make such a difference to your tactics and approach!
I will admit, I was a little skeptical about this game when I first got it, however I am a little blown away by how a few subtle rule changes can make a game much more fast paced (and dare I say it, exciting). The game manages to condense the original Monopoly essence, and condense it into a 30 minute whirlwind of entertainment. My love for the card reader also completely caught me off guard – I usually see these things as a bit gimmicky but it really suits the game and helps to keep the pace high, with the sound effects adding to the (mostly evil) laughs in store. The only negative I can think of is the lack of AAA batteries for the card reader included in the box, but that isn’t really a huge deal as long as you are aware of it!
If you’re looking for a new game for the winter, but don’t want to spend hours and hours playing one game, I highly recommend Monopoly Ultimate Banking. Don’t be fooled by its familiar looks – it is a completely different, fast paced and highly entertaining animal!
Have you tried Monopoly Ultimate Banking? What did you think? Are there any board games that you’d like us to review in future? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below! If you liked this article, please feel free to share with your friends and family!