Five Fun Games With Money

Ask somebody to name a fun game involving money and they’d probably answer “Monopoly”. However they would be wrong. Because while Monopoly certainly does have money in it, there is no way on earth that it could ever be accused of being “fun”. Tedious, agonising, and frustrating – yes. Fun? Not in my experience anyhow.

Here’s five money focused board games that are hands down superior to moving a little metal dog around a neverend board.

For Sale

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For Sale designed by Stefan Dorra and is quick and easy card game for 3-6 players. In it you are a real estate agent competing with the other players in order to to buy houses cheap and sell them on for a profit.

For Sale is an exceptionally simple bidding game at it’s heart, and is playable by the whole family. At first glance the theming may seem a little dry, however the art is cute and you soon imerse yourself in the cut throat busness of trying to gazump your fellow players. And unlike the real life practice of flipping houses for profit, In For Sale you never have to touch a paintbrush or a screwdriver. Bonus!

Lords of Vegas

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In Lords of Vegas you are a casino owner back in the golden era of Las Vegas. Your task is to beat all the other bosses and make your chain of casino’s the biggest and most profitable in town.

Being set in the 1950′s there is no option to start up your own online gaming websites like http://www.gamingclub.com/au in order to globalise your gambling activities. But never the less the game is really atmospheric and you can almost hear the ring of the slot machines and the shouts from the roulette table as you roll your dice and build your casinos.

Niagara

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Niagara is a game of searching for precious jewels in the river directly above Niagra Falls. In it you canoe downstream finding precious valuable jewel deposits along the bank of the river and loading the booty into your canoe. However you need to be careful that you don’t go too close to the edge of the waterfall or else the unpredictable current might sweep you over the edge and towards your doom.

This is a fantastically silly game, and benifits superbly from a very clever moving board that physically pushes your playing peices towards the waterfall. You really start to sweat when the river currents start to pick up and you see your canoe laden with precious stones inch steadily towards disaster.

Panic on Wall Street

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Another wonderfully silly game, Panic on Wall Street simulates the chaotic frenzy of the stock market trading pits of the 80s. The players are split up into two groups – managers (who own stock to sell), and traders (who want to buy it).

Each round the managers and the traders are given two minutes to negotiate with each other in a furious hurly burly of shouting, pleading, and backstabing which never fails to raise volume levels to hights which can induce neighbours to bang on the wall. The winners of the game are the manager and the trader who have been most profitable. This game is fantastic fun and I heartily recomend it to absolutely everyone.

Aquire

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Not all games on this list are modern trendy board games. Aquire is a true classic and was first published in 1964. This is another stock market game; although a little less frenetic than Panic on Wall Street. In it players stratigicaly invest in businesses, which grow and merge with other companies and hopefully make the money you’ve invested grow too.

It’s a great game, although one I’ve yet to master (coming last each time I’ve played). There have been multiple editions relased over the years, but if you are going to try and pick one up then I recomend trying to get hold of the one with big chunky plastic bits – as it is by far the most satisfying to handle.

So there you go – 5 board games about money. Did I leave out your favorite? If so, let me know.

How to Win at Strategy Games

Strategy games are all about testing your ability to think and adapt against an opponent or opponents. Practice and patience are important, but your success will also rely upon your natural ability to react.

Board Games

Examples: Monopoly, Risk, Chess

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When playing board games, a substantial component to your success is the skill of other players. Learn the rules, play consistently and take advantage of any weaknesses you see in the other player’s defenses.

  • Each game usually has a specific strategy or trick that is difficult to beat. Look online for guides. As an example, in Monopoly a winning strategy is usually to purchase everything you land on.
  • Board games usually operate on “house rules.” This means that you may not always be playing in the way that you are accustomed to. Learn as many variations as you can and adjust your strategies accordingly.

PC Games

Examples: Civilization, Age of Empires, Command & Conquer

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PC strategy games tend to be incredibly intricate. Unlike with card games, board games and other types of strategy game, you are usually playing against a computer rather than another player (though you can play against other players if you choose). PC games tend to be won by ensuring that you complete the correct actions early on.

  • Look up the Wiki. Almost every game has a Wiki devoted to it that outlines all of the components of the game and the best strategies, such as this Civilization Wiki.
  • Determine what it takes to win. Most PC strategy games have multiple ways to win it, depending on how you want to play the game.
  • Start out small. PC strategy games usually has several modes, ranging from very easy to very difficult.
  • Don’t be afraid to “cheat.” Sites like GameFAQs can give you information regarding specific problems that you’re having

Card Games

Examples: Blackjack, Poker

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Card games can be incredibly difficult to master because you need to understand both the rules and the psychology of the people you are playing with.

  • Learn the rules thoroughly. Games like poker have many variants; you will need to know them all
  • Invest in strategy guides. Poker, as an example, has a large amount of strategy guides available free online.
  • Practice. There are websites and apps that will help you develop your own personal style.
  • Be consistent. Card games, like most games that involve a component of luck, are about having a system and remaining consistent.

Miniature Games

Example: Warhammer 40k

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Miniature strategy games have seen a resurgence in popularity lately. With miniature strategy games, also known sometimes as war games, you command troops and attempt to best your opponent or opponents in battle. Miniatures are used to visualize the lay of the land and your troops.

  • Make sure to pay attention to the board. The environment in a miniature game is half the battle.
  • Miniature games are about collecting as much as about playing. Make sure you do your research and are prepared before you step up to the table. Collect with success in mind, rather than simply to collect.

Fantasy Sports

Examples: Fantasy Football, Fantasy Baseball, Fantasy Basketball

Though often seen as a “gambling” game, fantasy sports games actually involve a significant amount of strategy. Players must educate themselves thoroughly about each player and construct a winning strategy.

  • Memorize as much information about the players as possible; you may need to make decisions on the fly.
  • Always keep current on recent news. They can affect how the players will actually perform regardless of prior history.
  • Learn what makes a strong team strong. As an example, a typical NBA team needs to contain a specific roster.
  • Use a good platform. There are many fantasy sports platforms that allow you to select your picks and automatically tabulate the statistics.

Game Resources

Games for a Horde of 8 Year Olds

Last week I was feeling the gaming urge rather strongly. Unfortunately all my regular gaming sessions had been cancelled, and even Mike turned my suggestions of an impromptu two-player game of something.

So in a fit of desperation shallowly disguised as parental involvement I asked my 8 year old son if he would like to invite some of his friends over for a games night.

I play a lot of board games with my children, particularly my son. However I’ve never really played with a larger group of kids before and so I was a little nervous about how well it would go down. A group of 8 year old boys aren’t the easiest of cats to herd, and my track record of tolerating other people’s children is patchy at best.

I needn’t have worried however as the night went very well indeed.

I think its success can be attributed to choosing a variety of short and engaging games. As much as we gamer types like to point to Mice and Mystics and Forbidden Island as being great kids games; the amount of concentration needed can sometimes be a little too much for the younger end of the age range; especially if they’re giddy about being with their friends.

All the games I brought to the table went down very well; but two in particular were standouts.

The first big hit was Rampage – a board game version of the classic arcade game from the 80s. In Rampage you are a monster who’s sole purpose in life is to smash things up, eat as much as you can, and try to knock your rivals on their arses. Which, when you think about it, is pretty much the life of an 8 year old boy too so its success with the lads shouldn’t have been a surprise.

(photo by Daniel Thurot)

(photo by Daniel Thurot)

However Rampage is an awful lot of fun, even for grown ups. It has a surprising amount of tactics to it considering it is a game where you are flicking wooden discs around and knocking over buildings by dropping model monsters on them.

There were very few tactics to be seen on this games night however, especially as I simplified the rules somewhat by taking the special powers cards out. The game quickly degenerated into a joyful free-for-all of wanton destruction with little to no regard for scoring points. Which to be fair is probably the way its best played.

The other big success of the night was Snake Oil, which is a party game I’ve reviewed here in the past. In Snake Oil one person takes the role of a customer, while the others try to sell them a fictional product made up from combining two words from cards in their hand.

Snake Oil Cards

Snake Oil Cards

Snake Oil is a firm favourite of both my son and my elder daughter, and so I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised at how well it went down with the boys. At points they were literally crying with laughter at the products they were coming up with. And when one of them drew a card that said “Burp” I thought they were going to have an aneurysm.

Other games that we played were Tsuro, Dobble (or Spot It for the chronically non-British), and a nifty little German worm racing game called Da ist der Wurm drin. All of which were met with exuberance, enthusiasm and good sportsmanship.

There was no incidences of whining, and only one episode of crying (when I misjudged the mood and accused one of the boys of looking like a chimpanzee). When it was time to go home all three lads were disappointed it was over and all asked to do it again as soon as possible. Which is an idea that I’m pretty much in favour of myself.

What games would you play with a bunch of 8 year old boys?

Concept: Board Game Review

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Opening the box for Concept feels much like unpacking a new iPad. There is same matt white plastic, the same clean and simple design philosophy, and the same tactile thrill as you pulled the components from the insert. In fact the only real difference in between opening a iPad and opening Concept is that you don’t have to re-mortgage your house in order to do it.

Its not just the packaging that shares the aesthetics of Apple products. The game board itself resembles some sort of giant iOS display. Dozens of square icons with rounded corners sitting in neat columns. The only thing missing is the angry birds app and a background hum of smug superiority.

Concept is a game for between two and twelve players aged around ten and up. In it the players attempt to communicate words and phrases to each other by putting counters down on relevant icons on the board. It’s a bit like charades, but instead of gestures you use a pre-set and finite set of pictures.

So in order to do the word “milk” you might put a counter on the icon for foodstuff, a counter on liquid, and a counter on white.

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Or if you wanted to do Van Gogh you would put your counters on the icons for male, art, ear and cut:

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Easy peasy lemon squeezy right?

Well yes, but not all the concepts are that easy. There is even a sliding scale of difficulty for you to chose from. The options range from “crocodile” and “brick” all the way to “get your sea legs” and “Statue of Christ the Redeemer”. There are also ways of you indicating “sub concepts” within the main concept using different coloured counters. Should you want to you can make the game very tricky indeed.

I really like Concept. In fact I really really like it. By placing severe limitations on your means of communication the game brings out the creativity and lateral thinking in its players. Much like the wonderful Dixit, Concept allows you to get a fascinating glimpse of how your friends and family’s brains really work. And sometimes that glimpse can be very funny indeed.

The rules of the game are short, but relatively vague. The designers of the game clearly consider this to be a game that is played for fun rather than competition, and points and scoring seem added almost as an afterthought.

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This casual approach to doesn’t bother me in the slightest. Concept is a warm game, best played to enjoy the company of the fellow players rather than coolly test your metal against them. It’s one of those games that you’ll probably end up playing until you feel ready to stop rather than to the rather flimsily set end objective.

However if grinding opponents into the dust is more your cup of tea then the game can be easily corrupted to accommodate that style of play. I can certainly envisage a team vs team variant which would be cut throat and intense enough to end the most solid of relationships.

Concept is a fantastic game, ideally suited to family game nights and grown up’s dinner parties alike. Its one of those precious games that both kids and adults can play together and enjoy equally.

It’s also an extremely accessible game. Anyone can pick this off the shelf and be up and running and able to teach others to play within five to ten minutes.

Concept is a game that deserves to be as mainstream as Pictonary or Cranium, and with a bit of luck combined with it’s recent nomination for the prestigious Speil des Jahres gaming award I’d not be surprised if it catches the cultural zeitgeist very soon.

Concept can be bought at a your favourite multinational faceless online megastore for about £25.

Monopoly: A Love-Hate Relationship

When you think of a classic board game, you probably think of Monopoly. Versions of the game have been played by friends and families for over 100 years. Based off the 1906 game The Landlord’s Game, the first version of Monopoly was created in 1933, which launched Parker Brothers distribution of a version in 1935. A few years later, Parker Brothers earned licensing rights to sell the game outside of the US. Today, it has been translated into 43 different languages, and is sold in over 111 different countries across the world.

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Every once in a while, it can be fun to break out the classic game. Its usually a guaranteed way to keep you busy for a few hours. If you follow the blog, you know I’ve acknowledged how Monopoly could be used as a way to teach your children how to be good losers, but also that there are more gentle ways of teaching the lesson with games that won’t result in tears.

Admittedly while this might be a slight exaggeration, the game has been the center of a long-running joke about feuds and hurt feelings between competitive players. The joke inspired the satirical Cracked article, If Monopoly Was Honest, as well as a slew of internet memes.

In 1973, San Francisco State University Professor Ralph Anspach took his hatred of the game to a new level. Anspach believed the game taught players that monopolies in business were a good thing, when they are actually harmful to the free-enterprise system. Frustrated, he created the Anti-Monopoly game. The strategy is to essentially work backwards from the end of Monopoly, taking the monopolized properties and returning the board to a free-market system.

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Even though some might find the game infuriating, others can’t seem to get enough. For those that really have the urge to play, there are a couple of easy ways you can get your Monopoly fix. When you can’t find a willing challenger, you can turn your Monopoly dollars into cold hard cash with the Monopoly Pass GO game on Betfair’s Arcade site. At the very least when you’re playing online, you’ll be able to avoid fights with you’re loved ones. Also, again, there’s actual money to be made instead of just shouting matches about how someone collected too much money for rent.

If you’re really crazy for the game, you might even find yourself participating in McDonald’s yearly Monopoly sales promotion. It first ran in 1987 and is still one of McDonald’s most successful campaigns. Last year’s promotion was credited for raising profits 5% throughout its duration. Players can collect game pieces off of food and drink wrappers and packaging to win prizes, although you might find your clothes are a bit tighter and your wallet more empty once the promotion wraps.

Love it or hate it, the game has been around for over a century, and it doesn’t look like it’s going anywhere any time soon. Incorporating new themed boards and special editions keep the game relevant to new players constantly. If you decide to partake in a round, remember the unwritten Monopoly rules:

- Flipping the board off the table will not be tolerated.

- Even if you did land on her hotel, on Boardwalk, cursing at your Grandmother is not okay.

- You will probably have to see the people you play with again, so avoid name-calling.

- Keep your hands to yourself. Biting, spitting, hitting, and other physical violence is prohibited.

- Just because you lose at Monopoly, doesn’t mean you lose at life. Lighten up, it’s just a game!