As a regular thrift store and garage sale shopper, I have seen tons of different board games. You usually end up seeing the same handful of board games, but you occasionally see a board game that you have never seen or heard of before. That was what Hock Shop was when I recently found it at a rummage sale for $0.50. The game was originally made back in 1975 by Whitman. As I had never heard of the game before I was wondering if it was a hidden gem or a game that was forgotten about for a good reason. I was intrigued by the game because the idea of a board game based around a pawn shop sounded interesting. Hock Shop is a glorified Monopoly clone whose theme makes almost no sense leading to the game only appealing to the biggest of Monopoly fans.
How to Play Hock Shop
- Place the gameboard where everyone can reach it.
- Each player chooses a playing piece and places it on the “Hock Shop” space.
- Each player is given the following amount of money:
- Four $500
- Six $100
- Six $50
- Ten $10
- The rest of the money is placed on the corresponding spaces in the Hock Shop.
- Place the corresponding pawn tickets and merchandise cards on their appropriate spaces on the gameboard. Place pawn tickets and merchandise cards of each type equal to the number of players.
- Shuffle the Hock Shop Cards and place them face down on the corresponding space.
- Roll the dice. The player who rolls highest will start the game. Play will then proceed clockwise.
Playing the Game
At the beginning of a player’s turn they can pawn items or take items out of pawn (see the corresponding section).
A player starts their turn by rolling the dice. Each player can choose to either roll both dice or just one die. The player will then move their playing piece clockwise around the gameboard a number of spaces equal to what they rolled. The player will then take an action based on what space they landed on.
After a player takes the action of the space they landed on, play passes to the next player.
Pawning and Taking Items Out of Pawn
A player may pawn any of their merchandise cards at the beginning of their own turn or during an auction. When a player pawns a piece of merchandise they will move their playing piece to the Hock Shop space. The player will return the card corresponding to the item they are pawning to the shop and take the pawn value from the shop’s cash supply and add it to their own. They will then take the corresponding pawn ticket. The player will then roll the dice if it is their turn.
During a player’s turn they also have the opportunity to reacquire any of the merchandise cards that they pawned off on previous turns. To reacquire a merchandise card they will pay the amount of money on the pawn ticket to the pawn shop. They will then return the pawn ticket and take the corresponding merchandise card. The player’s turn will then end.
If a player ever has to pay a debt off and doesn’t have enough cash and goods to pawn to pay off the debt, they can declare bankruptcy. When a player declares bankruptcy, they will turn in all of their merchandise cards, pawn tickets, and money to the shop. They will then take $900 from the shop.
Depending on which space a playing piece lands on, the player will take a special action.
When a player lands on one of the merchandise spaces, they have the opportunity (they don’t have to) to purchase the corresponding merchandise card from the shop. If you already own the corresponding merchandise card you can’t purchase another card for the item. When they purchase the card they will pay the appraised value of the item to the shop. They will then take the corresponding merchandise card and place it in front of them.
All players will also check if they own the merchandise card that corresponds to the space that the player landed on. The current player will have to pay the interest value to all players that own the corresponding merchandise card. They will have to pay the interest even if they own a copy of the merchandise themselves. Players will not receive interest for merchandise items that have been pawned.
When a player lands on this space they may purchase any merchandise card from another player for double its appraised value. Players may not purchase pawn tickets or a card for an item they already own.
Draw Hock Shop Card
If a player lands on this space they will draw the top card from the Hock Shop deck. They will read out the card and follow its instructions. The card is then placed on the bottom of the deck.
The player will have to forfeit one of their merchandise cards to the Hock Shop. They will receive no money for the item.
The player will roll one or two dice (depending on the space they landed on). They will receive $100 times the number they rolled from the Hock Shop.
When a player lands on this space they will get to choose one card from the Hock Shop to put up for auction. The player who landed on the space will get to make the first bid on the item. All of the players can then raise the bid. The player who bids the most takes the corresponding merchandise card and pays the bank the amount they bid. If a player does not have enough to pay their entire bid, they will pay a penalty of 20% of what they bid to the Hock Shop. The item then goes up for bid again.
You will collect the amount of money shown on the space from the Hock Shop.
Must Pay Hock Shop
If the player has a pawn ticket in front of them, they must pay the amount on the ticket and reclaim the corresponding merchandise card. If the player can’t buy back the merchandise card, they will go bankrupt.
When a player lands on this space they have the opportunity to purchase one merchandise card from another player for half of its appraised value. The player is unable to buy a pawn ticket.
The player has the opportunity to redeem one of their pawn tickets for the corresponding merchandise card for free.
The game ends immediately when one player acquires a merchandise card for all six types of merchandise. Merchandise that has been pawned do not count. The player who acquires all six merchandise items wins the game.
My Thoughts on Hock Shop
I usually like to judge a board game on its own merits and not compare it to other board games. In the case of Hock Shop though a comparison is warranted as it shares so much in common with Monopoly. Almost all of the game’s mechanics are the same as Monopoly’s. You basically roll the dice to move around the board and take actions based on the space you land on. Players will collect interest when other players land on merchandise that they own. Basically anyone that has played Monopoly before should already have a pretty good idea on whether they will like Hock Shop.
I honestly only see Hock Shop differing from Monopoly in a couple areas. The most obvious area is the final end goal. In Monopoly the final goal is to bankrupt the other players. In Hock Shop you are only trying to acquire all of the different types of merchandise. Unlike properties in Monopoly, all of the players have the opportunity to own a piece of merchandise at the same time. Hock Shop has more unique spaces that require players to take special actions. Hock Shop also allows you to choose between using one or both dice which adds some strategic options to maximize the odds of landing on the space that you prefer. Otherwise Hock Shop has a couple small tweaks that slightly change up the gameplay but still plays very similarly to Monopoly.
Generally I am not a huge stickler for themes in board games. A really good theme can bring a board game to the next level, but rarely does a bad theme ruin a board game. Hock Shop may be one of the few board games where the theme actually makes the game worse. The theme in Hock Shop may be one of the worst implemented themes that I have ever seen in a board game. The idea of buying and selling items to a pawn shop could have made for a good board game. Very little effort was put into the theme though as it feels like Hock Shop took Monopoly, threw on a pawn shop theme, and didn’t even bother tweaking any mechanics to fit the theme.
The one mechanic that single-handedly ruins the theme is the idea that for some reason you are able to charge interest to the other players. In Monopoly this makes sense as you purchase properties and charge rent for people to stay at them. In Hock Shop you are purchasing items. I want to know why in the world you are charging other players interest because you own an item. Is it because you are loaning the item out to them? That would make sense except that you can still charge interest to a player that owns the item themselves. Why would you pay to rent an item that you already own? While this doesn’t totally ruin the game, it really takes you out of the experience.
In some ways I liked the interest mechanic (outside of it ruining the theme) and in other ways I didn’t like it. On the positive side I liked that multiple people could own an item/property at the same time. This eliminates some of the luck of Monopoly where players who land on a lot of unowned properties have a huge advantage. It makes landing on one of the item spaces really expensive as well as you might have to pay several players. The problem is that you owe interest to the other players even when you own the item yourself. This basically turns the game into an exercise in exchanging money as you are constantly passing money back and forth. I think it would have helped the game quite a bit if once you owned an item it would prevent you from having to continue paying interest for it. This would encourage players to acquire merchandise earlier in the game.
I would say that the biggest problem with Hock Shop is that the game takes way too long. Hock Shop is probably not quite as long as Monopoly as you don’t have to bankrupt the other players. Games of Hock Shop take a lot longer than they should though. This is due to the fact that it is hard to accumulate wealth in the game. Unless other players always land on your item spaces while you avoid landing on item spaces yourself, you aren’t going to make much from interest as most of what you earn will likely be paid back to the other players. Therefore the only way to gain wealth in the game is to land on the spaces that give you money. This is easier said than done as the game doesn’t have a “pass go” mechanic where you regularly get additional money. You end up losing money almost as quickly as you gain it. It is a true grind to acquire enough money in order to afford all of the different merchandise cards.
This is made worse by the Hock Shop cards. Most of the Hock Shop cards are pretty mild as they have you move to a certain space or save some money when purchasing a merchandise card. Then there are the cards that can basically ruin another player’s chance of winning the game. The game has cards that have players lose $750-$1,000. This might not seem like much but it will probably take you at least three times around the board to recoup that much money.What Hock Shop cards you and the other players end up drawing can have a big influence on the outcome of the game.
All this does is illustrate that Hock Shop relies on a lot of luck. From die roll luck, to card draw luck, to what the other players end up doing; you don’t have a lot of impact over what happens to you in the game. For the most part the game plays itself. Your only real decisions in the game are whether to purchase a merchandise card, whether you want to pawn items, and whether you want to roll one or two dice. When choosing how many dice to roll you need to consider the odds of landing on a beneficial space. There is also some strategy in pawning items as it protects them from being stolen by the other players. You could also land on a space that lets you take the item back for free which is one of the best ways to earn money in the game.
On top of all of these other issues, Hock Shop’s component quality is quite bad. Lets start with the game’s gameboard. The gameboard is quite large as it will entirely fill most tables. The problem is that it is made of paper and feels cheaply made. The game’s artwork is not bad, but the components are otherwise pretty bland. Most of the game’s components feel like they could have been taken from another board game. The components don’t hurt the game that much, but they don’t really help either.
If it wasn’t already pretty obvious, I was not a fan of Hock Shop. As it is basically a Monopoly clone, I wasn’t expecting much. I don’t hate Monopoly as much as a lot of people, but the game has serious flaws. Hock Shop finds a way to be worse than Monopoly in most areas. Anyone who doesn’t like Monopoly should stay far away from Hock Shop.
The one positive for Hock Shop is that the game is quite easy to play. I would say that anyone who can read the spaces and cards shouldn’t have any problems playing the game. You could probably explain the game to new players within a couple minutes. If the players are familiar with Monopoly it will probably take even less time. While I didn’t like Hock Shop I can see people who really enjoy Monopoly having some fun with the game. It might change up the formula just enough to be a unique experience for fans of Monopoly as well.
Should You Buy Hock Shop?
Hock Shop is basically a Monopoly clone. The concept behind the game and even the gameboard itself is very similar to Monopoly. You roll the dice, move around the gameboard, purchase merchandise, do the actions listed on the spaces you landed on, and charge interest to the other players who land on merchandise spaces that you own. Outside of a few tweaks here and there the game shares a lot in common with Monopoly. Unfortunately it is worse than Monopoly in almost every way. The theme basically makes no sense as you are charged interest by other players for items that you already own. It takes way too long to acquire any wealth as the game basically feels like you are just passing money back and forth. The game also relies on a lot of luck. This is topped off by the component quality being pretty bad. The only positives for the game is that it is easy to play, and might differentiate itself just enough to interest people that really like Monopoly.
Unless you are a big fan of Monopoly, I would stay away from Hock Shop as you won’t like the game. If you really like Monopoly though and don’t mind a game that only slightly tweaks the formula, you might have some fun with Hock Shop. I would only recommend picking up the game though if you can get a very good deal on it.