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For several decades, Monopoly has been a firm, family favourite of ours where board games are concerned. The familiar original set has changed over the years and the latest version I bought has brought the more modern, twentieth century methods of spending, and wheeling and dealing into the game, but more on that later.
My very first set has long gone. The penultimate set I bought and reviewed earlier, was the Monopoly City where the property types were increased, the board layout slightly altered and auctioning was a new feature. Paper Monopoly money was still in use, and the metal movers were virtually the same as in the original versions.
However, my brother in law has developed Parkinson's disease and although his tremor is slight, he found handling the Monopoly money a little awkward.
I saw this newer version called Monopoly Revolution in Smiths, on sale for £18.49 reduced from £30.
It was not so much the fact it was reduced that attracted my attention but that each player is supplied with a Monopoly credit card, rather than paper money; a perfect solution for players with problems handling the paper money.
The game is suitable for 2 - 6 players age 8 and above; the aim is, as usual, to move game pieces around the board, collecting money when passing GO, and claiming rents from properties bought; paying out on fines and rent. Properties can also be bid for when one is auctioned this is one of the newer features introduced years after the original game was born.
What was in the box.
A Game unit.
A strong, circular game board, folded into four,
Six tombstone shaped plastic movers, each with a coloured symbol etched into the wall.
Thirty-two green, plastic houses,
12 slightly larger, red hotels,
Thirty title deeds of the properties,
Six tough, plastic Monopoly credit cards,
A large, plastic, flying saucer shaped Game Unit, which serves as the bank, a bit like an ATM machine.
Three AAA batteries to power the Game unit... no USB connections in this game. If rechargeable batteries are used, these have to be charged in a separate charger.
The plastic tray in the base of the box holds all the cards and pieces and serves as the banker's tray when game is being played.
Finally, a comprehensive and well-illustrated booklet describing the rules of play and set up.
How does this version differ from others?
Apart from the board being circular, addition of credit cards, and battery operated game unit, the movers were all plastic and shaped like tombstones. Each had a coloured symbol etched into the plastic the colour corresponding to the credit card colour given to each player. The game unit can be set to play a "party" tune when a player passes Go, it is used to auction a property and gives out instructions when the player lands on a Take a Chance or Zone space.
These Zone spaces have replaced the Community chest; the board is divided into four zones, a car zone, walking zone, cycle zone and rocket zone. When a player lands on one of those zone spaces, they have to decide whether to give all the players in that zone a Chance or, they can go to the nearest un-owned property and put it up for auction. However, if there are no unowned properties left, the player can then force a deal and swap one of his properties with another player's properties.
Another difference is that there are four utilities instead of the usual two, namely, the Water Company, Electric Company, Gas Company and Communications Company; and like the four stations, they can be bought and rent collected when players land on them, but they cannot be built upon. Each property is printed with the amount of rent to be collected and the mortgage amount received when mortgaging the property.
The Game Unit
The game unit is a sturdy circular unit, powered by three AAA batteries, it is a multipurpose machine, which primarily credits and debits the player's card with money. One side of the unit is the green slot, where the card is placed when passing GO or collecting rent. On the opposite side is the red slot where the card is placed when paying out fines or rent. The middle section looks like a calculator, where the amount of money to be credited or debited is keyed in. However when collecting amounts like a million monopoly notes, there is a M button under the key pad, and the K button next to it is when keying in 1000 Monopoly notes.
When paying money to the bank the player's card goes into the red slot. When paying money, such as rent, to another player, the player receiving the money puts his or her card into the green slot, whilst the other player puts his or hers into the red slot to complete the transaction.
The game unit is also used when auctioning properties, when a player lands in a Zone space on the board and has a choice of auctioning a property or take a Chance. The auction is timed by the unit. Chance instructions scrolls onto the screen at the top. However, the unit will also randomly select a chance during the game and make a sound, so that whoever is playing at the time has to follow the instructions coming up on the screen.
Once the game has ended, the cards can be cleared of their balances and made ready for the next game by pressing and holding the C button.
In all honesty, I much prefer the simpler rules of the original game, whereby whoever had the most money at the end won, if a player went bankrupt, he was out of the game, there were no auctioning or re-mortgaging processes, which can extend the length of an already lengthy game.
Having said that, I did like the use of the Game Unit when it came to handling money transactions, so often we would use the Game unit but agree that we would not be using the auction or re-mortgaging facilities when playing for a limited time.
The batteries last very well, but will depend on the number and length of the games played as to how long they will last. I use rechargeable batteries and always have spares at the ready should the ones in situ fail during a game.. not that it has happened yet.
For me, the fact that we can play a game of Monopoly without having to handle paper notes is a big bonus, as I am sure it would be for any suffering dexterity problems which make the handling of small, thin slips of paper difficult.
The movers are also bigger and much easier to grasp.
The downside of using the credit card system instead of money is that to keep track of how much credit is on the cards, one needs to have a good memory or pen and paper to note each transaction. The alternative is to keep inserting the card into the Game Unit to check, this could drain the battery more quickly, but all in all it is a problem easily solved and one which doesn't spoil the game.