While a lot of people have pretty strong feelings towards Monopoly (both positive and negative), it is hard to ignore that it is easily one of the most popular board games of all time. With how popular the game is, pretty much every year at least a couple new Monopoly games get released that try to tweak the formula in a new way hoping to improve upon the original game. Today I am looking at Monopoly Bid which was released in 2020. There have been a number of Monopoly Card games released in the past with most trying to streamline the gameplay to make it work as a card game. Monopoly Bid tries to do something similar as it focuses mostly on acquiring properties through secret auctions and trying to complete sets. Monopoly Bid is a simple and streamlined Monopoly card game that can be somewhat fun despite some unbalanced cards almost ruining the entire game.
How to Play Monopoly Bid
- Shuffle the property cards and place the pile facedown on the table.
- Shuffle the money and action cards together to form one deck.
- Deal five money/action cards to each player.
- The rest of the money/action cards are placed face down to form a draw pile.
- The youngest player will host the first auction of the game.
Playing the Game
Monopoly Bid is played over a number of rounds. Each round consists of three phases.
- Draw Cards
- Play Action Cards (auctioneer only)
- Auction Property
To begin each round all of the players will draw one money/action card. If the deck runs out of cards, shuffle the discard pile to form a new draw pile.
Playing Action Cards
This action can only be performed by the current auctioneer except for Nope! cards. The auctioneer can play as many action cards as they want during this phase. Each action card has its own special effects. Once the special effect has been applied, the card will be discarded.
Wild! cards can replace any one card from a property set. You cannot create a set entirely of Wild! cards. Once you add a Wild! card to a set, you cannot move it to another set. If the set is not complete though, another player can steal the card from you and add it to one of their sets.
Wild! cards can be canceled if another player plays a Nope! card.
You will immediately draw two cards from the draw deck.
When you play a Steal! card you can steal one property card from another player (this includes Wild! cards). The only limitation is that you can’t steal from a set that has already been completed.
A Nope! card can be played by any player during this phase. A Nope! card can cancel the effect of any other action card played. A Nope! card can also cancel another Nope! card. The Nope! card and the card(s) it cancels will be discarded.
The auctioneer will then flip over the top property card and place it where everyone can see it. Each of the players will secretly decide how much money they would like to bid for the property. Each money card is worth the amount printed on the card. Players can also choose not to bid anything.
Once everyone is ready, all of the players will reveal their bids at the say time after a countdown of “1, 2, 3, Bid!”.
The player that bid the most (value not number of cards) will acquire the property card. They will place the card face up in front of themselves. All of the money cards they bid will be added to the discard pile. All of the other players will take back the cards they bid.
If two or more players bid the same amount for a property card, all tied players can raise their bid until one player bids more than the rest. If the bidding ends in a tie, no one wins the card. All of the players take back their money cards. The property card is placed at the bottom of the property card pile.
If no one bids on an auction, the card is placed at the bottom of the property card pile.
After the auction has concluded the next player clockwise will become the next auctioneer.
The objective of Monopoly Bid is to complete three different sets. Each of the property cards belong to a set of cards of the same color. Each card in a set shows a number in the bottom left corner which is how many of that type of card that you need to collect to complete the set.
Players can also use Wild! cards to replace cards in a set they don’t currently own. You cannot create a set of only Wild! cards though. If players use Wilds it is possible for two players to complete a set of the same color.
Players may trade property cards at any time in order to help complete sets.
Once a player completes a set, that set is safe for the rest of the game.
End of Game
The first player to complete three property sets wins the game.
My Thoughts on Monopoly Bid
In the past there have been several attempts at creating a Monopoly card game. Some have been more successful than others. Most basically try to eliminate the board mechanics and instead focus on the other elements that have made Monopoly as popular as it is. The same holds true for Monopoly Bid. The board is completely gone along with any of the associated mechanics. Basically the game has streamlined the original down to its core mechanics.
Basically Monopoly Bid is a set collecting game. The goal is to acquire three different Monopolies/sets. This is done through a set of auctions that the players will compete in. Players will draw cards throughout the game with many of them featuring various denominations of money. In each round a new property goes up for auction. Players will decide which of the cards in their hand that they want to bid and everyone will reveal their chosen cards at the same time. Whoever bids the most wins the property card. The ultimate goal is to acquire all of the cards in three sets.
In theory I like what Monopoly Bid is trying to accomplish. The game really streamlines the original game to get down to what the core of Monopoly is about. The original game is mostly about assembling sets of properties so you can charge extravagant rents to the other players to bankrupt them. You don’t get to charge rents in Monopoly Bid, but otherwise it feels pretty similar. Like a lot of the Monopoly card games, I think the game does a good job focusing on the best elements of Monopoly while ditching the board.
I thought the auction mechanics in the game were pretty good. Most games just have a normal auction where you just go round and around as players raise the bid by the lowest increment until all but one player have given up. Using a silent auction mechanic was a good decision in my opinion. The basic goal of each auction is to acquire a property for the least amount of money possible. As you don’t know what anyone else is going to bid though, you need to weigh trying to get a bargain versus not losing out on a property that you want. Thus sometimes you are going to overpay and other times you are not going to bid enough and lose a property that you would have liked to have. This makes the auctions more interesting than your traditional auction-style mechanic.
The auction mechanics are combined with a typical set collecting game. The Wild! cards add in a little twist, but the mechanic is similar to your typical game from the genre. Unless you get really lucky, you aren’t going to have enough money to purchase everything that you want. Thus you need to prioritize which properties you want most and which you are willing to let other players get. The sets in the game require between two and four cards to complete. The two card sets are by far the easiest to complete, but they also receive the most interest from the other players which leads to its own problems. Meanwhile you can usually get four card sets cheap, but it will take a long time to complete them. To do well in the game you need to find the right balance of properties to pursue to complete your sets before the other players.
With the game streamlining the original game down to auctions and set collecting, it is not surprising that the game is quite easy to play. Those at all familiar with Monopoly should be able to pick it up pretty quickly. Some players may have a few questions about the silent auctions or what some of the Action cards do, but after a couple of rounds everyone should have a good idea of what they are doing. The game has a recommended age of 7+ which seems right. The game is simple enough that I don’t think anyone would have too much trouble playing it.
Monopoly Bid also plays considerably faster than the original game. Monopoly games can drag on and on as a player tries to take the last remaining dollars from another player. Eliminating the board and just focusing on acquiring sets speeds up the game considerably. The length of a game will depend somewhat on luck, but I would think most games could be finished within 15-20 minutes. This keeps the game in line with most card games and allows the game to work pretty well as a filler card game.
Monopoly Bid is basically what you would expect it to be. It is far from a deep game, but it is fine for what it is trying to be. It is a solid filler card game that you can play without having to put too much thought into what you are doing. If you are looking for a streamlined Monopoly, I think you could enjoy the game. If I stopped at this point Monopoly Bid would actually be a pretty good card game. Unfortunately the game has one pretty major issue which does hurt the game quite a bit.
The problem with Monopoly Bid is the Action cards. Simply put these cards are basically rigged where if given the choice you would almost always choose to get one of these cards instead of even the most valuable money card. The problem with these cards are that they are way too powerful. They can completely change the game to the point where the main mechanics can become almost pointless if a player gets enough of these cards. The Draw 2! cards are helpful as more cards will always help. The Nope! cards are also useful because they can mess with another player or protect you from another player messing with you .
The two worst offenders though are the Steal! and Wild! cards. The Steal! cards in particular basically make the auctions pointless. A player could spend a lot of money buying a property in one round, and then another player could play a Steal! card in the next round and take it for themselves without having to pay anything for it. This is made worse by the Wild! cards as once you steal a card you can use a Wild! to complete the set and prevent another player from stealing it back. While the two cards sets are by far the easiest to complete in the game, they will be stolen almost immediately if you can’t quickly complete them yourself.
These two cards in particular almost ruin the entire game. In some way the game needed these type of cards as the game could theoretically stalemate without them and take much longer to complete. The problem is that they are way too powerful where they basically break the main mechanic of the game. What is the point of bidding a lot of money for a property if you have Steal! cards as you might as well let someone else buy it and then steal it from them. This really starts to hurt the auctions as players are not willing to spend much when they know the property can be stolen from them at any time.
These cards are just one example of how Monopoly Bid relies heavily on luck. There is some strategy to the game as you have to decide how much to bid and which sets to go after. If your strategy is bad, you can’t really win the game unless you have tons of luck. Outside of hurting your own chances though, luck is likely going to be the deciding factor in who wins most of the time. There is a clear hierarchy in the cards and whoever gets the best cards is going to win the game. Almost half of the deck you draw from is Action cards so the player that draws more of them will have an advantage in the game. I think the game had potential, but this reliance on luck does hurt the overall experience.
This is kind of a shame as I think Monopoly Bid could have been a good spinoff from the original game if you wanted a shorter and more streamlined experience. Unless you don’t care about the reliance on luck though, something needs to be done about the overpowered Action cards to make the game a little more balanced. In its current state the game just feels unbalanced. I really don’t know how to fix the problems with the game either. I would say to maybe just ditch the Action cards entirely, but that might lead to stalemates as players will purposefully purchase property cards to prevent another player from winning. The Action cards need to be weakened in some way. For the Steal! card maybe you could turn it into a trade card where you can take a property card from another player, but you have to give them one of your properties in return. If anyone else has a way to make the Action cards feel more balanced I would love to hear your thoughts. If there was a way to tweak these cards I think Monopoly Bid could actually be a pretty good game.
Before wrapping up let me quickly talk about the game’s components. Basically you get what you would expect out of a card game. The card quality is pretty typical. The artwork is solid and well designed where the information you need from the cards is easy to find. The game also includes enough cards where you likely won’t have to reshuffle often. In particular in the few games I played we never even came close to using all of the property cards. Basically the game’s components are solid for a cheap card game like Monopoly Bid.
Should You Buy Monopoly Bid?
I honestly had mixed feelings towards Monopoly Bid. In a lot of ways it accomplishes what it tried to do. It does a good job taking the original game and streamlining it into its most important elements. The game focuses on acquiring properties through auctions and completing Monopolies/sets. The secret auction mechanic works well as players have to balance between trying to get a deal and bidding enough to get a property that they want. The game has some strategy, but it is mostly a quick simple card game that you don’t have to put too much thought into. This by itself leads to a game that can be kind of fun. The problem is that the cards are not balanced at all. The Action cards in particular are rigged where it doesn’t really even pay to bid in auctions if you can just steal a property another player just won. The unbalanced cards basically lead to a game that relies heavily on luck which takes away from the things that the game does well.
Because of this I am conflicted on my recommendations for the game. If you don’t like the original game or don’t like simple card games that rely on a lot of luck, I don’t see it being for you. If you can get over the overpowered cards and want a streamlined Monopoly game, I think you can have fun playing Monopoly Bid and should consider picking it up.