I read "turn based strategy" and actually got excited; you just don't see that type of game any more so I bought it without really doing any further research. The problem is: there is no strategy. This a very simple board game and nothing more.
I'm struggling to figure out who this was designed for. Are you 90 years old and barely able to push 1 button to play? This might be the game for you. Are you buying this for a 3 year old becuase you think monopoly might be too complicated for them? This might be a good game for them.
I've been playing for about 2 hours now. Honestly I'm looking for some redeeming quality to it. Some part of me really wants to like this game; I actually like board games and quite frankly if this were even on par with monopoly I would probably make this a positive review (since it's only a $2 game); but right now even $2 feels like a rip off.
Let me explain:
So you start the game by choosing 1 of 4 generic characters which amounts to little more than a colored token on the board.
You spin a wheel instead of dice; but even with 2 digits on the wheel the highest move you can make is 6. The second wheel might as well not exist since there are only 7 outcomes: numbers 1 through 6 or action. Action will only ever show up if you happen to have an action card (picked up at random from landing on one of the draw card spaces).
Also the game is dumb enough to make you spin (just to waste time) even when the outcome is fixed: if an opponent played a "move one space" action on you, than your next spin will always be a one. Why waste the time spinning? Just move me and get on with it.
You move around the board buying up properties. Functionally this is similar to monopoly. The design however seems to be attempting to fix the random nature of needing to land on a specific tile. Instead of needing to land on a specific space you land on any tiles in a region and can buy any property nearby that isn't already owned. Once you own a property you than have to hope you land near it again and you can upgrade (which levels up the rent factor similar to if you purchased a set of properties in monopoly). In a wierd twist you also need to land near your property again; after buying it, to be allowed to purchase an "entrance". Which is really just you defining which tile your opponent needs to land on in order to be forced to pay you rent (since the property you purchased was from the nearby region and not tied to a specific tile)
This almost sounds good doesnt it? Assuming you like monopoly and wanted a slightly customizable way to buy and upgrade your properties.
The problem is it doesnt really work any better. The mechanics of buying the properties and collecting rent from them function essentially the same as monopoly and while that by itself isn't a good or bad thing: the rest of the game is just boring as hell.
Being limited to moving 1 to 6 spaces means getting around the board takes forever. In monopoly you are rolling 2 to 12; and if you rolled a 2 you were rolling again so really the minimum is 3 spaces a turn (with a max of 35, which is two sets of double 6's plus an 11 ~ 3 doubles would have sent you to jail). See the difference? every turn moving 1 to 6 instead of 3 to 35? And the board is larger but with less property.
So where as monopoly you could get around the board in a few turns and have things to choose from and to do each time; which makes the game feel like its at least moving along. That doesnt happen here: it can take 40 to 50 turns to get around the board, and you have had maybe 1 or 2 decisions to make each time around which werent really decisions at all. If you land near something you buy it, if you land near it again you place an entrance or upgrade it. There was no real strategy involved; you either do that or watch your opponent do it and than you lose because you have no income.
There is also no auction function so that aspect of the game is missing as well. Theres also no real variety in properties, they all feel generic and samey. Imagine playing monoploy where all you can land on is draw a card or baltic avenue numbers 1 through 10.
If you aren't landing near a property to buy/upgrade than you are landing on one of the few draw card spaces. Monopolies cards feel positively creative and refreshing compared to how generic and stupid the cards in this game are. Most of the time it will be a complete waste of time: "everyone loses a turn", really? might as well not have drawn the card because what happens when we all lose a turn? We're right back to exactly where we are now. "everyone gains/loses X amount of money"... it doesn't really change the game much if everyones gaining and losing the same amount; we're all still equally up or down as much as we were in comparison to each other before doing so.
Even cards that feel like they could have been interesting "gamble"; you randomly win or lose an amount of money. Yea, but half the other cards were gain/lose an amount of money anyway. The difference? if you had drawn the gain/lose money card you would get that immediately and next turn you could keep playing. Gamble is an "action"; well great now you have to wait until you roll "action"... which means you lose your turn, you cant move and now you randomly gain/lose money. So you cant even enjoy the gambling, you had to give up a turn to do it.
Beyond that most of the other action cards you play are difficult to get any value out of. You effectively lose a turn to use one (since you roll action instead of a movement number). So... if you get a "target players loses a turn"... it hurts you as much as whoever you target since you needed to lose a turn to play it. In a two player game: that means nothing changed. In a 3 or 4 player game, you just hurt yourself as much as you hurt your target.
An hour into the game I drew a card I thought might help: switch places with target player. Except 20 minutes later when I finally spun an action that let me use the card: I realized its drawbacks. 1. i'd long since forgotten which portraits match which color icon on the board (there's just no reason to remember most of the time); but here you are targeting a portrait with no way to know which color icon you are going to be switching with. and 2. switching doesnt help you unless the target is near the start space (yes you collect money for going around the board and passing go just like monopoly)
I'm sitting here wondering why you need to spin action to be allowed to play an action. 99% of the action cards are case specific to get any value from them. It would be far better if you could just choose to skip spinning to play your actions. It wouldn't be so bad losing a turn to play an action if you could at least choose when to skip the turn and play it. Instead you have to wait to be randomly allowed to play an action and than you are forced to use an action even if it wont help you at the time. Most of the time you are just losing a turn and being forced to use an action that wont help you because it wasnt the right stategic time to use it.
So the one mechanic in the game that might have given you the ability to use strategy has been replaced entirely by a random roll that hurts you more often than helps.
I dont know what else to say. I have a laundry list of other complaints:
1. the music in this game was cute for about 5 minutes. except thats how long it is and than it loops. and since the game can last hours to finish you are listening to the same song endlessly in a loop. Theres no option to turn off the music after you start the game without turning off your computers sound.
2. the game is really kinda bland. Top down view of a 3d board means all you see are the tops of houses. the game would actually look better in 2d with pictures of things to look at.
3. you can play 99% of the game with space bar, seriously you just watch it happen. no strategy involved