Aah, Monopoly. One of the oldest and most popular board games. It was first published in 1935 and after 84 years it’s still going strong. Although it involves a die and a very high luck factor, the true skills (read about luck and skill in board games here) lay in the money management and negotiation. Persuading players to trade properties with you, looking for the right price and satisfying your inner salesman/tycoon is really what keeps this game on the top charts of popularity.
Game mechanics allow for a very easy implementation of different themes, and there are a lot on the market. Before I get on with my pick for the best monopoly editions, let’s quickly go through the basics.
Basic Game Mechanics of Monopoly
Players use dice (usually two of them) to travel along on the board (clockwise). Board is made up of several properties, which the players who visit them have the option to buy. If the property is not bought, it goes up for auction.
In a case when the property is already owned by someone else, the visitor must pay rent to the owner. When a player owns all the properties of the same color (usually 3), he can start building houses and hotels on them, thus further increasing the rent that must be payed upon a visit.
Other tiles that make up the board are jail (you cannot move for a while), chance and community chest tiles (you draw a card from a deck that contains either positive or negative impact on you – you pay or you receive money), utilities and railroads (properties that work a bit different as regular).
The game is played until all but one player go bankrupt who is then declared a winner.
List wouldn’t be complete with the one that started it all. Baltic Avenue, Vermont Avenue, Atlantic Avenue, Park Place and Boardwalk are some of the properties you will compete for with other players. Tokens are metal and feel really nice and heavy: a battleship, a car, a dog, a hat etc. Houses and hotels are unfortunately plastic not wooden (try looking for retro version). Trading is done with good ol’ cash. 2-6 players can play.
- Classic rules, classic properties
- Lacks freshness
- My score: 7.5/10
Monopoly Ultimate Banking
Plastic replaces cash. Main feature of this edition is the centralized ultimate banking unit. It’s a computer that does all the transactions for you. Players each have their “credit card” instead of cash and with a combination of the unit and property cards money changes hands.
Some rules are slightly changed (no railroads, utilities and hotels – you get a 5 level of housing instead) and gameplay is much faster. The main negative of this edition is that it takes away the trading and bargaining aspect of the game (as all transactions must be “official” and made by the central unit) thus the game is much more chance affected. Only 4 players are supported – limited by the number of “credit cards” and banking unit capabilities.
- Fast gameplay
- No trading
- My score: 7/10
Monopoly Game of Thrones
This one is based on the popular TV show (and books, but who reads those, right? :)). Properties are named after famous GoT locations: Riverrun, Volantis, Casterly Rock, Winterfell, Mereen, King’s Landing and The Wall are just some of them.
Money is replaced with coins (made from cardboard) and chance cards sit on the iron throne (which the winner receives and it also plays the theme song). Board has very nice GoT style design with location pictures. Tokens are metal cast symbols of the most famous houses and there are six of them – which is how many players can play at once.
- It has that GoT feel
- Theme is well implemented
- My score: 9/10
Monopoly Star Wars
Another blockbuster license, but it’s not just a Star Wars theme on top of the standard monopoly. Game revolves around the conflict of rebels versus the empire. Four tokens are available, two per each side (Luke Skywalker, Darth Vader, Kylo Ren and Finn) and the goal is to have as many planet bases (Players build planet bases instead of houses and hotels) on your side at the end of the game.
Popular monopoly game mechanics such as trade, rent, jail and chance cards (“Force cards”) are still included, but players cannot go bankrupt, instead they lose bases. Game is best played with teams of two, rebels against the empire. Maximum of 4 players are supported.
- Special empire vs. rebels rules
- Only supports 4 players
- My score: 9/10
Monopoly National Parks
Even though this edition plays pretty much the same as the classic version, I have included it because it is visually stunning. Properties are made of American national parks and historical sites (i.e Yellowstone, Death Valley, Big Bend) all portraited with high quality pictures on the board. Tokens also follow the same outdoor-hiking theme: ranger’s hat, a boot, a backpack etc.
Board provides a zen-like serene feeling – you almost feel like you’re sitting on a bench somewhere out in the nature. Let’s also not forget the educational aspect – you never know when you’ll need to list all the America’s famous sites (if you want to be a millionaire :)).
- Gameplay is the same as with classic edition
- Beautiful board and “green-eco-feel” to the game
- My score: 8.5/10
There are many variants and editions available on top of those five. I didn’t want to include editions that change the rules too much (like Monopoly Fortnite) or repainted classic editions (I kept it down to National Parks) like Monopoly Avengers or Clone Wars.
For the sake of clarity there are only five items on the list, so that you can best find your favorite and you don’t lose yourself in the bunch of editions available on the online stores. My opinion is that you won’t go wrong with any of those on the list, just be careful with the Ultimate Banking and Star Wars editions, since they change the rules of the game a bit more.
Have you tried any of the aforementioned versions or do you have other favorites? Tell me about your experience and opinions in the comments below.