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The Inventors Board Game Review

How to Play | My Thoughts | Final Verdict | Comments

How to Play

Assemble the patent machine and randomly place the patent chips inside with the numbers face down. Shuffle the Eureka cards and give each player three cards. The player chooses their pawn and places it on the corner space to their right. All of the players receive $125,000 in play money.

On a player’s turn they choose to do one of the following:

  1. They can insert the dice into the patent machine to roll the dice. The player moves the corresponding number of spaces around the gameboard.
  2. They can play a Eureka card and follow it’s directions while on the invention track. A new Eureka card is drawn to replace the card played.
  3. The player can discard all of their Eureka card and draw three new cards.

While moving around the invention track a player can land on various different type of spaces.

  • If a player lands on the space for specific invention, they are able to purchase it if it is not owned by another player.If it is owned by another player they must roll both dice and pay the owner $1,000 times the total of the dice. If a player lands on their own invention space they roll the dice and receive $1,000 times the roll of the dice paid by the bank.
  • If the player lands on one of the corner spaces by exact count they can decide to follow the instructions on the space or they can move onto the royalty track on their next turn.
  • If a player lands on an “Uh-Oh” space they pay the fee by placing the corresponding amount of their money under the board below the “Law Office” corner. When a player lands on the “Law Office” space by exact count they can either take all of the money placed under the board or they can enter the royalty track.
  • Landing on a “Steal an Invention” space allows a player to steal an invention from any player that is not on the royalty track or on the entrance to it.

Throughout the game players can acquire patent claim clips for their inventions. These can be acquired by either playing a Eureka card or by landing on a corresponding space. When acquiring a patent clip, the player slides the card into the patent machine and attaches one of the clips to the card. The clip will have a number printed on it (0-3). The owner may look at the number while the other players are unable to look at it. Each invention can only have one patent clip and a patent clip may not be removed from an invention in order to get a new patent clip.

When a player enters the royalty track, they must decide which invention(s) they will use on the track. The player is allowed to use as many inventions of one letter (A, B, C) as they want. When a player declares which inventions they want to use, any player that has a “Silent Partner” card may play it in order to invest in one of the player’s inventions. The silent partner will pay the investment price printed on the back of the invention card. Being a silent partner, that player will receive half of all of the money earned by that invention during it’s trip through the royalty track. If multiple people want to be a silent partner on the same invention they roll a die to determine who gets to be the silent partner. If the holder of the invention being targeted by a silent partner has a “Eliminate Your Silent Partner” card, they can play it and the silent partner loses their claim on the invention. If the silent partner has already paid the investment fee, they do not get it back.

The Inventors Gameplay
In the above example the left invention has a “0” clip, the middle has a “1” clip, and the right has a “2” clip. The green player would receive a $28,000 from the left invention, $50,000 from the middle invention, and $70,000 from the right invention. If the blue player chose the royalties they would get $12,000 from the left, $20,000 from the middle, $30,000 from the right. If they chose to sell the inventions, they would get $40,000 from the left, $72,000 from the middle, and $100,000 from the right.

While traveling through the royalty track the player rolls one die. If the player lands on a royalty space he collects the corresponding amount of money as detailed on the back of the card from the bank. The left most number of the chart corresponds to the number on the royalty track. The player then looks at their patent clip (if there is one) and finds the corresponding number. If the player has a silent partner they split the money (check the silent partner column on the back of the card). If the player lands on the “3 Times Royalty or Sell for Twice Value” space they can either take three times the corresponding royalty or they can sell the invention to the bank for twice its’ value. If the player chooses to sell they have to sell all of their inventions that they are using on the royalty track. If a player sells off their inventions they return to the next corner space on the invention track. The inventions are returned to the bank and the patent clips are removed from the game.

If a player rolls the die and reaches  one of the corners of the royalty track they must leave the royalty track unless they land on one of the dollar sign spaces by exact count. If they land on the dollar sign by exact count they are able to continue on the royalty track for the next segment. The player keeps the same inventions in play and any silent partners are still in play. If they don’t land on the dollar space by exact count they return all of their invention cards that they used on the royalty track to the bank and the patent clips are removed from the game.

The game ends when the last patent clip has been claimed. At this time everyone counts up their money on hand plus the value of the inventions that they own. Whoever has the most money is the winner.

My Thoughts

In 1974 Parker Brothers made The Inventors. The Inventors is a roll and move game in the same vein as most of Parker Brothers games. In The Inventors players move around the gameboard acquiring various inventions and trying to profit off them through royalties and selling them off. Before playing The Inventors I was just expecting another completely average roll and move game. After playing the game I was  a little surprised.

The comparisons to Monopoly are inevitable and they are quite warranted. People’s opinion of Monopoly differ significantly with some people loving the game while others despise it. I personally stand somewhere in the middle where I can easily see Monopoly’s faults but I think some people are a little too harsh on it. I think the game can be fun at times but it also relies too heavily on luck and has a significant standoff issue if the players are not willing to compromise and make trades.

The Inventors has a very similar feel to it as Monopoly. They both share the roll and move mechanic. Both require players to purchase properties/inventions in order to turn a profit. They both rely heavily on luck.

At the same time the two games do have some differences.

First The Inventors fixes the single biggest problem with Monopoly, the ending. In Monopoly it could take forever for the game to end. If players are not willing to make any trades the game really starts to drag on towards the end of the game. This is usually a huge issue in the games that I play since no one wants to make a trade unless they get fair value or more than fair value. This problem is fixed in The Inventors. Once all of the patent clips have been used, the game is over. There is no trading and the game doesn’t have the never ending issues of Monopoly.

Another thing I liked more about The Inventors is that there is more of a risk/reward element to it then Monopoly. In Monopoly essentially the only decision you have to make is whether or not to buy a property. Generally speaking if you have enough money to buy the property, you should probably buy it. In The Inventors you have the same decision about whether or not to buy a property. You also have the ability to make decisions on which inventions you would like to use in the royalty track, which inventions you want to put patent clips on, and whether you want to sell your invention while in the royalty track or if you want to press your luck and risk not being able to sell the invention.

One thing I give Monopoly the nod over The Inventors is the quantity of things to buy. In Monopoly there is a lot of choice and variety in what you can buy. In The Inventors there are only twelve items that can be purchased at any time. These inventions go quickly and players will regularly run into situations where there are no inventions available for sale until someone goes through the royalty track. This ends up slowing down the game as some players essentially have to waste turns waiting for an invention to go back up for sale. The inventions are also pretty wacky/unique so it would have been interesting to see what else the the game could have come up with.

The Inventors also shares its’ biggest issue with Monopoly in that the game’s outcome is highly reliant on luck. If you don’t roll well, get bad patent clips, don’t get the opportunity to get patent clips or enter the royalty track, or do poorly while rolling in the royalty track; you will most likely not do very well in the game. This issue is quite typical of most roll and move games.

Probably the best part of the entire game is the patent machine. I don’t know what it is but the patent machine is quite cool. For some reason it is so satisfying to drop the dice into the top of the machine, press the button, hear the quick ring and then see the result of your dice roll. The machine adds additional time to the game but I felt like it was worth it since it brought something unique to the game. Also if you have a good dice roller in the group, this will mitigate their advantage.

Another thing I liked quite a bit were the patent clips. They are strong and sturdy and for some reason it is satisfying placing them on the invention cards. At times they are somewhat hard to get on the invention cards though which will damage the edges of the invention cards.

The other components are what you can typically expect out of an older Parker Brothers game. The artwork on the gameboard and invention cards have this old timey inventing look to them which I kind of like. The play money and cards are your typical quality.

Final Verdict

The Inventors is a typical roll and move game. It is far from a strategic game and has a lot of luck to it. In my opinion though it is probably better than a lot of them which includes Monopoly. The game is pretty fun and simple to play so it should work well in family situations. If you don’t like roll and move games, The Inventors won’t be for you. If you like roll and move games though I think you will like The Inventors.

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