It’s the best selling board game of modern times. Hundreds of millions of copies of Monopoly have been bought since it was first published in 1935. At the last time of counting there exist over 1000 different versions of the game. But what is it that makes the property-purchasing game so popular?
Firstly there’s the money-making factor. Who doesn’t enjoy counting their money with a smug sense of success? Monopoly certainly appeals to those that want nothing more than a pile of cash as big as a Mayfair hotel.
Secondly there’s the opportunity to destroy your opponents along the way. Monopoly certainly has a nasty streak and (if you enjoy that sort of thing) nothing beats forcing your younger brother to hand over his last pound note.
Thirdly the game is relatively light on rules and easy enough for everyone to pick up. An important factor in making Monopoly a family classic.
So here are 5 Lazy Horse recommendations for people who love Monopoly but fancy something new:
1. Ticket To Ride Europe. 2-5 players. ages 8+. Playing time approx 60 mins
This is somewhat of a modern board game classic and definitely a Lazy Horse favourite. There’s a good chance you’ve already heard of it, if that’s the case forgive us and feel free to move on to our next recommendation.
Ticket To Ride is popular for good reason. The game has a brilliant theme and is easy to pick up for adults and kids. The game is played out on a map of Europe and involves building railway routes between well-known cities. Connections between cities are limited so players are competing to claim the routes that they need whilst they are still available.
Ticket To Ride is full of excitement. There is plenty of opportunity to ruin your opponents grand plans by stealing a section of railway just before they claim it for themselves. There are no dice (a player’s turn involves drawing cards and discarding them to build railways) so unlike Monopoly you won’t need to rely on luck of the dice to do well.
Like monopoly, Ticket To Ride’s popularity has led to various versions of the game which cover different parts of the World. We currently have the Europe version, the Nordic Countries version (which is designed specifically for 3 players) and the smaller New York version (play time only 15-20 mins) available to rent. If you haven’t come across it yet put it straight on your list of games to try!
2. Machi Koro. 2-4 players. ages 10+. Playing time approx 30 mins
If you’re a fan of Monopoly but just wish it lasted 30 minutes instead of 4 hours then give Machi Koro a try. It’s a delightfully simple Japanese property game. You play the role of a city planner who is trying to build a city that will earn you maximum return on investment. The buildings you can choose from include everything from a bakery to a stadium and even a cheese factory or two.
The gameplay involves rolling a dice and depending on the dice roll you may receive money for the properties that you have already built. Sometimes this money comes from the bank and sometimes it comes form the other players. Once you have enough money you can build more establishments which will, in turn, earn you more money. At some point you have to spend big to build 4 landmark buildings. The first player to build all 4 wins the game.
Machi Koro is a fun and quirky family game, which is equally enjoyable for adults and children. It introduces a couple of mechanisms that don’t feature in Monopoly (different buildings offering you different rewards on future turns) which will help to challenge your own strategic thinking. On top of all this the artwork is adorable with a very cute Japanese style.
In short, Machi Koro has a lot of the appeal of Monopoly but you’re more likely to end the evening with a hug than an argument. We love it and so will you!
3. Lords of Vegas. 2-4 players. ages 12+. Playing time approx 60-90 mins
Lords of Vegas is possibly the most Monopoly-like game on the list. It’s a property game that is full of luck, grudges and money changing hands. As the name suggests the game is set on the Las Vegas Strip. You and your opponents are aiming to purchase plots, develop the land and become the big bosses of casinos. Like Monopoly, wining the game requires a bit of strategy and a hefty chunk of luck which comes in the form of dice rolling, all of which seems perfectly reasonable given the gambling theme.
The stakes are high throughout the game. Everyone starts with $1million and the money comes and goes as you buy plots to later build your casinos. The tension starts to ramp up when someone builds a rival casino next to yours and then may stage a takeover of your casino with a lucky roll of the dice. On top of that, you never know when someone might simply walk in the door and try to steal your money with a bit of casual gambling.
The rules are slightly more complex than Monopoly but still relatively easy to grasp. Once you have familiarised yourself with all of them you are guaranteed a brilliant time. For people who like their board games to be full of excitement and don’t mind risking it all to win big – Lords of Vegas is a must.
4. Unfair. 2-5 players. ages 14+. Playing time approx 60-120 mins
If you’re going to start an argument with your loved ones you might as well have fun in the process. Well, it doesn’t get much more fun than building your very own theme park. But, as you might have guessed there is a large part of this game that is, well, how can we put it?…..Unfair.
The whole game is artistically beautiful. You draw cards, which feature all the theme park attractions you can think of, and then lay them down in front of you. As you add more cards, your park grows and part of the fun is simply seeing your theme park grow in front of you. Attractions can be upgraded and you can even add staff. Adding all these things to your park costs money but also scores you points. At the end of the game it’s the points, not money, that determines who wins. Moreover, you can choose from 6 different themes, which can be mixed and matched so that each game will offer you the chance to build completely different theme parks.
But (just like Monopoly) Unfair brings plenty of opportunities for interfering with your opponents’ grand plans. You also have a set of cards which can be played to either enhance your own park or ruin those of your rivals. So don’t come running to us when your dad has just shut down half of your rides and stolen money from you in the process!
Unfair is a great game with a nasty side. If you can handle that and you fancy a game that is a bit more advanced than Monopoly we highly recommend you give it a try.
5) Last Will. 2-5 players. ages 14+. Playing time approx 60 mins
Fun might not be the word that comes to mind when you think of Monopoly. We all know that tears can be shed when things don’t go your way. So perhaps you wish you could just play Monopoly and have a bit more fun in the process? Or do you just love spending your cash frivolously but start to lose interest when it comes to recouping it through rent. If that sounds like you then hire yourself a copy of Last Will.
The idea is simple and silly – you all inherit a ton of money and the winner is the person who can get rid of it all as quickly as possible. Cue buying extravagant properties and throwing endless parties. But there are different ways to go about your ‘bad business’. The game is played over 6 rounds, at the start of each round you need to decide which actions you will employ to get rid of your money as effectively as possible. Will you go out for dinner or will you go on a day trip? Will you let your mansion go to ruin to make sure it’s worth next-to-nothing? You might even get yourself an old school chum who can help you spend your cash.
Whilst the game is full of frankly ludicrous humour it does involves some interesting gameplay and strategy choices. The mechanisms are very different to Monopoly and the rule book is definitely a bit heftier. Last Will is a great introduction to some of the more advanced mechanics of modern board games. Don’t worry if that sounds complicated, once you have mastered the rules you will probably find yourself wanting to play it again straight away afterwards with a completely different strategy.
And just to ensure that the fun doesn’t turn into a feud, each player has their own board and plays almost independently of what other players are up to. This keeps nastiness to a minimum, which should ensure everyone is still laughing at the end.
So there you have it; 5 games that are similar to Monopoly.
All of these games are simple enough for anyone to learn and play and they all involve some of the elements that have made Monopoly such a popular game over the years.
We hope you enjoy reading this and get the chance to play at least one of them. For more Lazy Horse recommendations take a look at our other blog posts here!