While you and your fellow banner-sworn await the return of HBO’s Game of Thrones for its final season this April, you might want to kill some time (and your opponents’ dreams of world domination) with Hasbro’s new Game of Thrones-themed Monopoly. The re-released classic, designed with the theme of George R.R. Martin‘s TV series adaptation in mind, comes with brand-new features like custom player tokens, iconic properties to buy, sell, and build upon, and new graphics to be found throughout the gameboard. Senior TV Editor Allison Keene and Animation Editor Dave Trumbore had a chance to check the game out; our review follows below. We’ll break down The Good, The Bad, and The Gameplay for Hasbro’s Game of Thrones: Monopoly to let you know if it’s worth your while and your Gold Dragons!
The TL;DR version is this: If you’re a fan of Monopoly and Game of Thrones, or are considering this for someone in your life who is, then this is an easy buy. The standard Monopoly rules apply here and very little is changed, meaning you can still factor in your own house rules even if you’re more of a Lannister than a Tully. The branding is on point, especially when it comes to the iconic properties and landmarks, but it’s also a shame that they didn’t go all-out and paint every possible inch of the Monopoly game with the Game of Thrones brush. And while the mini Iron Throne (which doubles as a Chance Card holder and sits on a base that plays the world-famous theme) is a clever inclusion, it’s also made of plastic instead of a more satisfyingly hefty (and pricier) diecast metal, though it’s one of the few disappointments in this version.
When it comes to branding, Hasbro’s classic Monopoly product has rarely met a theme it didn’t immediately want to partner with, but HBO and Game of Thrones make (almost) the most of it. From the currency (Golden Dragons and Silver Stags), to the player tokens (diecast metal pieces modeled after the various Houses’ symbols, like the Baratheon’s stag, the Lannister’s lion, or the Targaryen’s dragon), to the themed cards themselves, this game has Game of Thrones‘ DNA in every possible aspect. The centerpiece of the whole thing is a recreation of the Iron Throne itself which doubles as a card-holder; it sits upon a speaker that, at the push of a button, plays the Game of Thrones theme song. It’s just as much fun to push it during the game while forcing a player to go broke if they set foot on your lucrative property as it is to just push it for no reason at all. Fans should eat this one up.
The downside is that if you don’t happen to be a fan of Game of Thrones or Martin’s “A Song of Ice and Fire” books, you’re going to be a little lost while playing it. You can still follow along since Monopoly’s rule set remains unchanged, but the extra incentive just won’t be there. And even for fans of the show, there are some disappointing aspects throughout: The “Free Parking”, “Go to Jail”, and “Jail/Just Visiting” squares retain the same designs from the classic game. That’s just odd, especially when everything else has that fantasy-world tint to it, and it wouldn’t have taken much effort to add the GoT spin to these iconic spots on the game board. The other disappointment is the Iron Throne itself. If there was going to be one centerpiece that would be worth shelling out the cash for yet another version of Monopoly, it should have been a high quality rendering of the prized throne. Instead, it’s flimsy plastic, and that’s a bummer.
Here’s where the game itself makes up for the branding’s shortcomings. Game of Thrones: Monopoly is just as fun to play as the regular game and (somehow) even more cutthroat when it comes to claiming properties and paying out rental fees. It’s a little extra fun when playing with GoT superfans who get excited at seeing famous, infamous, and lesser-known properties pop up throughout the game. The game also moves fast. The rules force you to buy whatever property you land on, and if you can’t (or don’t want to), it will immediately be available for other players to scoop up. Given how much money you are given at the start, it’s pretty easy to load up on properties and even start building on them; this version of the game also encourages you to trade and barter when the money starts to run out (even when it’s not your turn!), which makes it particularly cutthroat and, again, speedy.
While the included instructions are just fine to get your gameplay started, we have a few suggestions from our own playtest: You might want to start with roughly half the money that the instructions suggest, otherwise one player might get lucky and gobble up every available property, gaining a lopsided advantage. Starting with less money could make the game go a little longer, and might encourage more thoughtful strategy and money management.
Also, since the Iron Throne plays the show’s theme song only, one way to incorporate it and not get tired of it is to push the button every time you get to draw a Chance Card; it really adds drama to the whole thing!
Bottom Line: This themed Monopoly game is a neat twist on a classic, but also a pretty standard approach that doesn’t take full advantage of the theme. It’s as fun as Monopoly has ever been with a little extra kick for Game of Thrones fans.
Rating: ★★★ of 5