Monopoly Empire

Date Wed, September 27 2017

Monopoly is the game that we’ve all played – and many of us own – but few people seem to like. Sure, you could say that was the purpose. It was, after all, created to teach us a lesson about capitalism. But I always find myself wanting to like Monopoly. I’ve spent so much time playing it; I’ve got to like it.. right?

Perhaps we just need a little variation. Hasbro has tried to switch things up with Monopoly Empire, which does away completely with the idea of property-specific rents, houses, and hotels. But is that enough?

In Monopoly Empire, you don’t get a stack of cash. Instead, you get a few each of 50s, 100s and 500s. Each represents these as thousands (50 = 50,000) because wouldn’t that be nice? LOL

Neither do you get property cards as you move around the board, which works like it would regularly aside from some new Chance and Empire cards. Instead, you fork over money to the bank in exchange for “billboards” that represent the properties. Each billboard is placed into an ill-fitting that is pre-marked with amounts of money.

The tray is split up in slots in 50,000 increments and starting at 50. Place billboards onto the tray to see how much you’re owed now. The more billboards or the larger the billboards (higher-value billboards are larger, filling up your tray more quickly), the more money you make when you pass GO and when someone owes you rent for a maximum of $800,000. Ouch!

It might sound awesome that you make more money, but Monopoly Empire isn’t a game that feels balanced. Instead of the game ending when someone goes bankrupt and loses, a player now wins when his or her tray is filled. I was able to fill mine completely with two trips around the board and just a few of the larger billboards. Monopoly Empire makes for a short game, but it’s not one that’s particularly riveting.

Without property cards, the element of trading for monopolies is removed, and that’s one of the more interesting parts of gameplay in traditional Monopoly. Furthermore, while you can purchase all the billboards in each color group and earn extra money from passing GO or rent, there’s not much motivation to do so because you can pretty easily fill your slots with tiles from any color group in just a few rolls of the dice. Furthermore, the slotted tray means rent is based more on luck than what you buy, so you needn’t hold out for more expensive properties.

Speaking of properties, the theme of Monopoly Empire is brands. You’ll see recognizable powerhouses such as Samsung, Microsoft, and McDonalds. But Hasbro clearly had issues getting big name brands to sign on – I’d assume due to trademark issues and costs. So you’re left with lesser tech companies such as Yahoo instead of Apple or Google, and other brands that just don’t speak to the player (or leave them feeling confused). I understand why this happens, but it makes the game a little bit more lackluster.

Because you don’t lose by going bankrupt, you actually can’t go bankrupt. You simply do nothing if you can’t afford someone’s outrageous rent, which is just another way in which Monopoly Empire feels humdrum. Perhaps that’s why there are now Empire cards and new Chance cards, including one that allows you to move around the board to any property you desire (and collect if you pass GO), but they fail to liven up the game.

Unless Monopoly Empire intends to serve as a cautionary tale about the world of trading could be in the modern day, this version fails to make any sort of impact let alone improve upon the original.

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