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First started in late 2007, Kasey's Mobile Game Review (then just a regular feature of Kasey's Korner) started as a simul-post between here and IGN. Later I realized there's no reason to post it twice, when I can use the traffic on my own site. so, here we are, in 2010, and the mobile game industry has grown a bit. What do you think?

KMGR of "Monopoly Deal"

Card game, 1895Image via Wikipedia

Monopoly Deal is based on Monopoly, but is in fact a "card game". It moves much faster than regular Monopoly, and is actually an authorized product. The mobile version can be played in "adventure mode", "single game", or even "pass the phone" multiplayer. The game itself seems to rely a lot on chance, but also quite a bit of your knowledge of Monopoly, and the extra cards and rules adds a fair bit of interaction not found in the regular game. Recommended for casual gamer.

Monopoly Deal can be described as sort of "gin rummy" meets Monopoly. Each player receives five cards to start (and depending on which level, some starting capital). Each card can be money, property, rent, or special actions.

Any money card must be banked. Money is used to pay rent and special actions that require payments. However, ANY card with a denomination, even property cards, rent cards, and special action cards (except super wild card which has no denomination/value) can be banked for its value. Thus, if you have a rent card you can't use, you may want to bank it for some cash. Or if you have a property you don't really need, but may potentially benefit another player as it could be stolen or forced exchange, it may be better to bank it for its value rather than play it and risk it being taken.

Properties are regular Monopoly properties, except they are on cards, still have their original colors. The properties that borders two colors are considered "wild cards", and have TWO colors. The object of the game is be the first to collect THREE full sets of properties. This is where the knowledge of the game comesin handy, as you need to remember which properties have 2, 3, or even 4 cards, and thus, which to keep and which to bank. Yes, property cards can be banked for their value instead of played. And yes, there are super wild cards that can stand-in for any color (they look like rainbow, so sometimes they are known as rainbow cards). And as a nod to traditional Monopoly, you can add house card and hotel card, if you got them, to a complete set, further increasing their value.

Rent cards are played to collect rent from other players. Each rent card has two colors, so you have to choose one to play as. There is also a "rent wild card", where you can choose any color, and it'll even tell you how much rent to expect per color, but it affects only one player. Regular rent affect all players, so one way to win is to accumulate enough properties to collect a lot of rent, thus force the other player to turn over their all their assets. On the top level of play, if you are out of money, you are out of the game.

There's also a double rent card (which is technically a special action card, but it goes here better)... Doubling the rent you collect from the rent card, but that counts as one of the three actions per turn. So the max rent you can collect is 4X... Two double rent cards, and the actual rent card. If you collect a max full set (4 properties, plus house and hotel), you can potentially collect a LOT of rent.

Also, there are a lot of different denomination cards for the money, and in this game no change is given for payment. So if the rent is $2M, and you only have $1M and $3M cards, you have to pay with the $3M, and you don't get the extra $1M back.

It's the special actions that really sets the game apart, and those special actions are really interesting.

If you have a "no" card, actions can be refused. For example, you can refuse to pay rent, pay "debt" or birthday gift, even counter cards that steal property or even property sets. And yes, the "no" card itself can be countered by a "no" card as well.

There are cards that forces an exchange of property with you (forced deal), steals one property (sly deal), steals a whole set (deal breaker), steals one random card in other player's hand (lawsuit), and so on. There are also plenty of other excuses to collect money from other players, such as birthday ($2M from everybody else), debt collection ($5M from one), luxury tax ($2M for every "wildcard" you have), and so on.

So while collecting money is important (without which, you can't pay rent and other payments, and you'll have to pay with property), the objective is to collect properties to make three full sets. It's the in-between that makes things interesting. Clearly, you want to prevent people from making sets as much as possible.

The mechanics are simple. Each player starts with 5 cards. The play goes around in a circle. When it's a player's turn, that player draws 2 cards, and can play up to 3 cards (3 actions). If you have no cards in your hand, you draw 5 cards instead of 2. You can hold maximum of 7 cards. One of the special action cards is "draw two cards", which is in addition to the two you get per turn.

Again, the objective is to collect three full sets of properties. It's knowing which cards to play that is important. Between actions, you can flip the cards that can be flipped (such as property wild cards, if you want to make them sort on a different set), change super wild card's color, view your hand's detail as well as the other three player's played cards (including their banked amount and their played properties).

As you can imagine, the action can be quite wild, as one person then another complete a set, then another steal a property to make their set, then sets are stolen from one then another. The AI is surprisingly adept in making serious moves, such as squeeze play that chains two or three money events together, squeezing you dry of any cash or assets. And surprisingly, chance plays a much greater role than skill in this game. But then, Monopoly has always been a game of chance (roll of the dice). In my final game where I beat the highest level, I got such good cards that I squeezed out two opponents in the first round (forced them into bankruptcy), and I was able to defeat the last AI opponent.

The "adventure mode" has you play four sets of opponents of increasing difficulty, from regular home game all the way to exclusive social club (where you need to win 2 games out of 5). Winning is very difficult and you will be playing plenty of games before you can even win something.

The single game is just that... play a single game of the setup you wish. You can even choose the specific player you wish to play as (you start with one, and unlock more later).

Pass the phone is just that... you pass the phone back and forth as multiplayer against 2 other AI opponents. It's NOT a team effort, so don't hold back.

There are also achievements you can do, such as double negative (use a "no" on a "no"), win each difficulty level, complete the game, double double (double the double rent), and so on. Those are recorded as well.

The graphics are regular sprites, nothing too serious, just semi-realistic characters on the table. The animations are well done enough, and events like "full set" or "property" [played] are animated as well. Sound... is pretty much nonexistent except for the music (which I usually turn off).

All in all, Monopoly Deal is a fun variant of the original game, that is fast paced (most games don't last more than 10 turns) and has a lot of surprising twists and turns due to all those special action cards. If you like casual card games like Uno, you should enjoy Monopoly Deal.

Score: 8 out of 10
Pros: surprisingly fun little casual card game with familiar Monopoly properties and conventions
Cons: way more dependent on chance than you first suspect, higher levels VERY difficult

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