Family Game Night: Animal Crossing New Horizons Monopoly

Monopoly. The name alone is enough to induce exasperated groans in people that enjoy board games. I hate playing Monopoly with a passion. I hate how long the game takes, I hate how miserable it feels to be on the slow, painful path to elimination, and most of all I hate how it’s the board game everyone has and bases their opinion of board games on. Year after year, they release edition after edition of Monopoly based on any property they can. You can put Mario or Sonic or whoever else you want on the box, as long as Monopoly is the game, I have refused to participate. But my wife really, really loves Animal Crossing…so now we own Animal Crossing New Horizons Monopoly.

I wasn’t sure how the cute and cuddly world of Animal Crossing would translate to the cold, capitalist hellscape that is Monopoly. But just one look at the rulebook makes it clear this isn’t your typical Monopoly experience. The biggest (and best) change being the complete removal of player elimination! Instead of winning by bankrupting your opponents, victory is achieved through the accumulation of Nook Miles which you gain by purchasing furnishings and completing tasks on Nook Mile cards (which replace Community Chest cards). Players can purchase up to three furnishings per trip around the game board, up to a maximum of seven items. Once a player has collected their seventh piece of furniture, their play stops while the remaining players complete one more circuit of the board before they are allowed to make a final round of purchases. This system makes for much shorter games, while keeping things from becoming mad dashes to the finish line.

Property ownership and management is also drastically different for Animal Crossing Monopoly. The first player that lands on an “island” (properties) places one of their tokens on it, at no cost, and collects the resource the island provides (fruit, fish, bugs, or fossils). If another player then lands on that same island, both the player that landed on the island AND the player that “discovered” the island get the resource benefits. That’s right, there’s no punishment, both players get to reap the benefits! It’s a system that keeps everyone engaged in a positive way, even on other players’ turns, just to see if they get that extra resource. The resources can then be used to complete Nook Miles cards or sold for the bells needed to purchase furniture.

It wouldn’t be enough for Animal Crossing Monopoly to just change the rules of everyone’s least favorite capitalism simulator, the game needs to look the part as well. The game board is more or less what you would expect, adorned with colorful artwork and familiar characters. The player tokens are surprisingly detailed, each of the four tokens being a unique villager doing a different activity, though the build quality is a little on the flimsy side and the coloring is a bit basic. There are a TON of different cardboard tokens in Animal Crossing Monopoly, representing fruit, fish, bugs, fossils, and the player tokens that mark “discovered” islands. As nice as it is to see all the familiar icons from the Animal Crossing video game, the sheer quantity of tokens can make setting up the game a bit of a hassle.

The cosmetic changes, along with the changes to game mechanics and the win condition give Animal Crossing Monopoly a substantially different feel than the vanilla version we’re all dreadfully familiar with, almost to the point it feels like a totally different game. But for all the mechanical changes, the game board itself remains firmly rooted in classic Monopoly style. The game board is still square, there are still colored groups of spaces, Chance cards, and the Jail, Free Parking, Go to Jail, and Go corner spaces are all present. The corner spaces in particular keep players rooted in that distinctly Monopoly headspace, as they received absolutely no Animal Crossing related cosmetic treatment. As a result, the corner spaces feel pretty out of place (Jail? Really? In Animal Crossing?).

Will’s Opinion:

I’m definitely the “hardcore” gamer in the house, and Animal Crossing Monopoly isn’t complex or strategic enough to earn its way into my list of favorite board games. The roll-and-move nature of Monopoly combined with the short play time keep strategies firmly in the short-term. That said, I still have something of a fondness for it. The game very rarely puts anyone at a significant disadvantage, and even if one player ends up with a ton more bells or resources than the others, it doesn’t necessarily translate to an easy win. In my experience, this does a good job of keeping the game competitive and keeping everyone engaged and positive. Animal Crossing Monopoly is charming enough to get my family to the table and an entertaining enough game to keep them coming back.

Liz’s Opinion:

Animal Crossing is far and away my favorite video game so when I learned there was an Animal Crossing Monopoly was announced I HAD to have it, even though I don’t really like Monopoly. I love all things Animal Crossing, and have a fair collection of Animal Crossing swag. I enjoy the Animal Crossing Monopoly because it has some of the same mechanics as the Animal Crossing New Horizons where you collect fish, bugs, fossils and fruit and you can use them in different ways, much like the video game. While the board looks and plays like traditional Monopoly the game play is very different and WAAAAAYYYY shorter, which is a definite plus! While there are many tokens and pieces their design is very cutesy which fits well with the Animal Crossing motif. Some of my favorite items are available in the Nook Shopping cards and several of my favorite villagers are displayed in the Chance cards making each draw a fun experience as you race around the board with your well crafted villager collecting resources and money to be the first to get to “go” so you can purchase your favorite items and obtain as many Nook Miles as possible. Since the game has a simple, yet fun dynamic, Animal Crossing Monopoly is a board game that makes its way to our family game night table on a regular basis. 

Alex’s Opinion:

I like that Animal Crossing Monopoly is a faster, less boring version of Monopoly. I have a lot of fun when I play the game together with my family. I like how the board and the pieces look and how fast the game is. I hope we can keeping playing it together for a long time.

Animal Crossing New Horizons Monopoly has found a regular place at our table, thanks to its charming theming and changes to the traditional Monopoly formula. The game isn’t terribly complex, but that can keep younger players from feeling confused or overwhelmed. The short play time keeps games from exhausting everyone’s patience, and makes the prospect of playing a game more appealing. If your family has a love for Animal Crossing and an interest in board games, I recommend giving Animal Crossing New Horizons Monopoly a try.

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