A few months ago, Mother Duck and I accumulated a small collection of classic board games, along with one variation on a classic, the Animal Crossing: New Horizons edition of Monopoly. (They aren’t exactly a proper replacement for games of the electronic variety, but we imagine they’ll come in quite handy during power outages, at least!) Rather than buying property and financially annihilating friends and family unlucky enough to land on one of your exorbitantly priced hotels, the Animal Crossing variation has each player gathering and selling resources in the hopes of buying the best items. It may seem like a simple enough concept, but as for how the game plays out, that’s another story entirely.
On the surface, the game looks quite cute. You get four figurines representing the four player characters, and the board features the game’s cover art. The game gets a bit more complicated once you start setting it up, however. Each player starts with a small amount of money and character tokens, and you must organize three main sets of cards (plus skill cards) and four resource tokens, each of which are split up even more by four colors, for 16 individual piles of tokens!
As mentioned before, instead of buying property like you would in the original Monopoly, you visit islands, and if you’re the first person to land there, you place a character token there to show that you discovered it. This determines how many resources you collect when you or the other players land on it. There’s also a second dice that determines which resources you can sell during that turn, whether it be fruit, bugs, fish, or fossils, which have different values, as displayed on the back of each token.
Confused yet? Because we certainly were.
And to make matters even more complicated, after you pass GO for the first time, each player gets a skill card that gives you a certain advantage for the rest of the game. Mother Duck got a 3-coin discount for every item she bought, and I got more resources every time I landed on an island, which started making the rules even more confusing than they already were.
Oh yeah, but how do you actually win the game? Well, whenever you pass GO, you can browse through the item cards and buy whichever items you can afford. Your goal is to get items worth the most Nook Miles, and once every player has seven items, the game is over, and the person with the most Nook Miles wins.
My verdict? Well, I felt the game was just a bit too complicated and confusing and could have really used some streamlining. For example, maybe resources shouldn’t have been broken down into four colors, as this created 16 individual stacks of items to keep track of! Plus, the skill cards managed to make the game even more confusing. I think when you land on your own island, you get two items. And if someone else does, you each get one? But then, my skill card meant I got…two items on the other player’s islands and three if I land on my own island? And…is there a difference in the rules if I land on the island or if someone else lands on my island?
Plus, browsing through a big pile of items is time-consuming and slows the game down. Perhaps there’s a better way that could have been handled, as well. You also may have noticed that I failed to even mention the other two types of cards because…I kind of forgot what they were. All I really remember were some cards talking about donating to the museum, but we never had anything to donate because we sold our resources right away.
Mother Duck and I have yet to play Animal Crossing Monopoly a second time, and I doubt we ever will. The game is just needlessly complicated and the lack of player interaction made it feel much less competitive than, let’s say, traditional Monopoly. I mean, Animal Crossing certainly isn’t a competitive game, but when one is playing a multiplayer board game, more player interaction of some kind might have made for a more interesting game. On the plus side, at least I got some cute figurines out of it!