Sunday, 18 January 2015

A Noob Reviews : Junior Monopoly My Little Pony

Today I thought I'd try something new, which may turn into an occasional series -- if I feel like it!

Husband has become increasingly addicted to board games in the last few months, and to ease me into it as well, he bought me a couple for Christmas. We didn't have time to play them straight away, but our wedding anniversary is in early January, so we had a board games day to celebrate. I thought it would be fun to review them, from a beginner's point of view. The first one I'll be looking at is Junior Monopoly My Little Pony.

The Game: It's Monopoly, the classic money-making, property-buying board game, but simplified for the kiddies, and with the adorably cute My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic TV show theme.

Features:
Instead of the normal, boring Monopoly tokens, players play with one of four pony figurines. The properties are represented by ponies from the TV show -- I've only seen the first season, so I didn't recognise half of them. But that's not important in order to play the game. When a player purchases a pony/property, they are issued with a property card and they place a Rainbow Token on the space where the houses would go in the adult game. Each player has 8 Rainbow Tokens. Presumably this is to limit the number of properties that any one player can buy, giving everyone a fair chance. (Technically the game is no longer "monopoly" then, but it doesn't really matter!)
Instead of the Treasure Chest, money is placed inside the the Book of Harmony, and instead of Action Cards, there are Cutie Mark Cards. The currency is in Heart Dollars.

Gameplay:
The gameplay is very similar to normal Monopoly, but with modifications to make it simpler and faster. In fact, when played as per the instructions, it only lasted 10 minutes. There is an advanced version with a few extra rules for older players, but this didn't seem to make much difference length-wise. Husband and I made a couple of modifications to make the game go longer and give a more satisfying experience. We gave ourselves 30 Heart Dollars each instead of 18 at the start. Also, we kept finding that when we landed on the Book of Harmony, the book had no money in it. There are two Book of Harmony spaces and two Cutie Mark spaces on the board, so there's an equal chance of landing on either one. We arbitrarily decided that one of the Book of Harmony spaces should be a Cutie Mark space instead. That way, there was more chance of there being money in the Book of Harmony when we landed on the space.

Pluses:
++ The game is simple enough for even young children to understand.
++ It's much faster than the original, so children won't get bored so quickly. (Or adults with short attention spans, for that matter!)
++ The bright, colourful design of the board, cards and Book of Harmony box is fun. ++ The pony figurines are fun and innovative to play with (though see the minus below!).
++ Many elements of the TV show are represented in the game, like the Cutie Marks and the Book of Harmony.

Minuses:
-- One huge Minus that I noticed immediately is that there are only 4 pony figurines. However, there are 6 core characters in the TV show: Twilight Sparkle and Rainbow Dash are missing! And they happen to be my two favourite characters! So I was pretty peeved right from the start.
-- Played as-is, the game only lasts about 10 minutes.
-- The instructions were a little confusing in that you play with ponies (i.e. the player's pieces), but you also buy ponies (i.e. the properties).
-- The Heart Dollars are very boring. They're printed in black and white only, which is at odds with the bright, colourful design of the rest of the game. Not only that, but they only come in 1s. Denominations of 2 and 5 in different colours would have been great. Also, they're made of that clingy paper that's very hard to separate. So counting out 15 or more 1s becomes even more annoying.
-- It's difficult to tell the different-coloured rainbow tokens apart. I also wondered why there are property cards as well as rainbow tokens. The property cards don't have any essential information on them, just a picture of the pony. It would be just as easy to keep track of which player owns what, just from the Rainbow Tokens alone. It seems to be double-handling. But perhaps the cards are still included to get younger players used to the concept for when they play the adult game later.
-- Why is there a jail in a little kids' game?? Even the picture of the jail cell is exactly the same as in the adult version of the game. They could have made it school detention or something more kid-appropriate.

Final Comments:
I know there are a lot of entries under the 'Minus' section in my review! But I do think that, with a few modifications, Junior Monopoly My Little Pony would be a very fun game for both adults and children. Husband suggested getting some better play money to put with it (you could use the money from the Monopoly game if you have it, or any other kind of tokens or even real coins). I would like to try and get Twilight Sparkle and Rainbow Dash figurines to complete the set.
Husband and I both decided that the game is worth playing again, perhaps as the appetiser to start off our next board games day.

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