The original Monopoly is arguably one of if not the most popular board game of all time. Almost everyone has played some version of the game at some point in their lives. Due to its popularity it should not surprise anyone that there have been quite a few spinoff games made throughout the years. From the different themed boards to the slight tweaks to the formula, most Monopoly spinoffs don’t really differentiate themselves from the original game. Among the many spinoff games though there are some that actually differentiate themselves quite a bit from the original game. One of these games is the Express Monopoly Card Game which I am looking at today. I was genuinely surprised that there have been five different Monopoly card games created over the years. We actually took a look at the 2000 Monopoly: The Card Game a while ago. I have to admit that I didn’t have high expectations for Express Monopoly Card Game. The Express Monopoly Card Game shares little in common with its namesake outside of the theme but it is a surprisingly solid little card game.
How to Play Express Monopoly Card Game
- Snap the four puzzle pieces together to create the gameboard.
- Separate the summary card and coupon card from the rest of the cards. Shuffle the rest of the cards and deal four cards to each player. The rest of the cards form the draw pile.
- Pick a scorekeeper and give them a sheet of paper to record the score on.
- The player to the left of the dealer will start the game.
Playing the Game
Express Monopoly Card Game is played over a number of rounds.
A player begins their turn by drawing cards until they have five in their hand.
The current player will then play one of their cards. The player has to play a card and can only play one card unless they can complete a Monopoly (see below). The card will be placed under the corresponding section of the gameboard. When more than one card is played to the same section of the board stack them so the players can see each card that has been played to the section.
Each card in the game belongs to a property group. Most property groups consist of the four spaces next to one another which are indicated by a color band along the bottom edge of the group on the gameboard. The four railroads are a group and the four corners also form a group. The player who plays the fourth card of a group will complete the Monopoly and take the cards placing them face down in front of them. When completing a Monopoly you can play multiple cards. You may only complete one Monopoly each turn though.
After a player plays a card(s) play will pass to the next player clockwise.
There are a couple special cards in the game which have special abilities.
Steal One Card cards can be used at any time. When you play the card you choose one of the other players and take one of their cards unseen. Once you play the steal card it is discarded from the game. The player who played the steal card then has to play another card(s) to the gameboard.
Chance and Community Chest cards are played to the gameboard like normal property cards to any matching property group. These cards are unique because they can be moved to another matching group once they have been played in order to complete a Monopoly. These cards are removed when a Monopoly is created so they can’t be used to create another Monopoly.
End of Round
Players will continue taking turns until all of the cards have been played and all of the Monopolies have been claimed. Players will then score points for the Monopolies they collected during the round. The various Monopolies are worth the following number of points:
- Purple – 1 point
- Light Blue – 2 points
- Pink – 3 points
- Orange – 4 points
- Red – 5 points
- Yellow – 6 points
- Green – 7 points
- Dark Blue – 8 points
- Railroads – 8 points
- Four Corners – 8 points
Players also have the opportunity to score some bonus points. If a player acquires both Monopolies on one side of the board they will receive five bonus points. If a player collects the railroads and the four corners they will receive five bonus points.
Each player records their score. If none of the players have scored 50 or more total points another round is played. The player who scored the most points in this round will be the dealer for the next round.
End of Game
The first player to score 50 or more points or the player who has scored the most points if two or more people have over 50 points will win the game.
My Thoughts on Express Monopoly Card Game
Before getting into the gameplay itself I have to first address Express Monopoly Card Game’s theme. I have to say that the theme feels a little tacked on where it feels like the game was designed and then someone decided to add in the Monopoly theme. The Monopoly theme doesn’t play much of a role in the actual gameplay. Outside of trying to collect traditional monopolies from the original game the Monopoly theme has no impact on the gameplay. Instead the Monopoly theme is mostly cosmetic utilizing the properties from the original game and copying the original gameboard. If you are looking for a typical Monopoly game Express Monopoly Card Game is not going to be what you are looking for.
Instead Express Monopoly Card Game is what I would classify as a reverse set collecting game. The goal of the game is to play the last card of a particular set in order to collect the corresponding monopoly. I call the game a reverse set collecting game because instead of collecting a set of cards you are playing cards onto the table. The sets are assembled face up on the table so all of the players can see them. Instead of just holding a large set of cards of the same type you are trying to hold the last card from a monopoly. As all of the monopolies will eventually be collected you are just trying to hold out for long enough that the other players are forced to play their cards from the monopoly before you have to play yours.
Ultimately a lot of the gameplay comes down to reading the other players and holding out for as long as possible. Until the end of the round your choice of which card to play is usually pretty obvious or it doesn’t really matter. If you have the cards needed to claim a monopoly you might as well claim it. The monopoly will give you points as well as allow you to draw more cards. It also prevents you from helping one of the other players claim a monopoly. This is usually not an option though so instead you need to find a card that minimizes the odds that another player will be able to claim a monopoly. Adding the second or third card to a monopoly can be dangerous as one of the other players may hold the last card or two of the set and then claim the monopoly. This is where reading your opponents can help. Playing a card that doesn’t help the other players is just as important as playing a card that helps yourself. Even better would be to play a card that leads another player to play a card that you need. There is not a lot of strategy to this part of the game, but which cards you choose to play can have a pretty big impact on the game.
The last 10-20% of each round will likely determine which player will score the most points. Unless players are careless or a player has most of a monopoly in their own hand, players won’t collect many monopolies early in a round. This is because players will likely avoid playing the second or third card for a monopoly until they are forced to. Players will hold these cards in their hands until the end of the round hoping one of the other players will play cards for the set first so they can collect the monopoly. Once the last card is drawn the game becomes quite a bit more interesting as players are forced to play cards even when they allow the other players to collect monopolies. There may be few monopolies in the first 80% of a round but in that last 20% of a round close to half of the turns will end in a player collecting a monopoly. Some players will score a lot of points quickly while others will get barely any points as they are forced to keep playing cards that will give the other players monopolies. Basically you better hope that luck is on your side.
Heading into playing Express Monopoly Card Game I didn’t have high expectations. The game just felt like another very generic card game. The Express Monopoly Card Game is far from an amazing game, but it is better than I thought it would be. It is far from a complex game as the strategy is pretty limited. Basically all you can do is read your opponents and hopefully play cards that won’t give another player a monopoly while waiting for your own monopoly option to open up. At times it feels like you are just randomly playing cards and yet there is still something enjoyable about Express Monopoly Card Game. It is one of those games that you can just turn your brain off while playing as most decisions are pretty obvious. I see it as more of a conversation game instead of something that you have to put all of your thought into. In this way Express Monopoly Card Game kind of feels like UNO even though the gameplay of both games are totally different. The game won’t blow your mind in any way, but it is a satisfying game that I had fun playing.
What adds to this is the fact that the Express Monopoly Card Game is quite easy to play and it plays quickly. The game has a recommended age of 8+ and I think kids even a little younger could play the game. The game is pretty simple as you just draw a card(s) and then play a card(s). Whenever you finish a set you collect it which will score points at the end of the game. That is basically all there is to the game. You could easily teach the game to new players within just a couple minutes. The game also plays quite quickly. Unless players take way too long to make their decisions most rounds should only take around five minutes. Depending on how many rounds it takes for a player to score enough points I think most games should be able to be finished within around 20 minutes. This makes Express Monopoly Card Game a good filler game.
I was honestly surprised that I had more fun with the game than I was expecting. Unfortunately it still has some issues. Not surprisingly the game doesn’t rely on much strategy. What cards you end up playing actually has a pretty big impact on the game but usually at best you can make an educated guess on what card you should play. Outside of cheating there is no way to know for sure what card you should play on any turn. Your decisions will have a big impact on how the game turns out but you will never have a lot of information that you can utilize to increase your odds of making the right decision.
This leads to the game relying on a lot of luck. The order in which the cards are drawn will have a big impact on the game. The cards are far from equal. Each card (outside of the steal cards) is just one of four needed to collect a monopoly. All of the monopolies are worth different values though. The purple monopoly is only worth one point while the dark blue monopoly is worth eight points. The dark blue monopoly might be a little harder to collect because players are more likely to horde the cards for it, but it is not eight times as hard to collect. Thus the players that are able to collect the higher valuable monopolies will have a distinct advantage in the game. As players are rarely willing to give up these cards the player who is dealt them will have a pretty big advantage in the game. You really can’t win the game without some help from lady luck.
Otherwise the gameplay can get a little repetitive after a while. As you are mostly just drawing and playing cards there isn’t a ton of gameplay to Express Monopoly Card Game. You will tire of the game after one or two plays. Thus it is best as a shorter filler game that you come back to every so often.
Component wise the game is pretty much what you would expect. The game just includes the cards and the mini gameboard. The cards are of a pretty typical cardstock. The artwork is not bad where it is easy to find whatever information you need to figure out card you should play each turn. The artwork on the cards also does a good job capitalizing on the theme. As for the board it isn’t particularly necessary as you could just play the game by forming piles for each monopoly in the game. The gameboard does a good job reinforcing the theme though and gives you a place to set the cards so all of the players can easily see what cards they are missing from each monopoly.
Should You Buy Express Monopoly Card Game?
Before playing Express Monopoly Card Game I can’t say that I had high expectations. It honestly looked like a pretty basic card game that was utilizing the Monopoly theme in order to sell more copies. In some ways this is correct as the game shares little in common with the original game outside of the theme. You could have easily applied any other theme and it wouldn’t have really impacted the gameplay. Despite the pasted on theme I have to say that I actually liked Express Monopoly Card Game more than I would have expected. The game will never be confused for a deep card game as the gameplay is quite simple and it relies on a lot of luck. There is something about the gameplay though that is surprisingly fun. It is one of those games like UNO that you can just sit back and enjoy without putting too much thought into what you are doing. The game is easy to pick up and it plays quickly. This makes Express Monopoly Card Game work pretty well as a filler game. The game is far from perfect but I still had fun with it.
If you don’t typically like simple card games or you don’t think it sounds all that interesting, Express Monopoly Card Game probably won’t be for you. People who think the premise sounds interesting though should have some fun with the game. If you can get a good deal on it I would consider picking it up.