If there is one thing gamers can agree on it's that Monopoly is awful. In fact, a backlash against the tired roll and move mechanics is a big reason that Eurogames have blossomed. But, what if Monopoly were redesigned with a modern sensibility? I think it might look something like Owner's Choice.
Owner's Choice is a game of stock buying and selling played around a board where each space causes something to happen. However, in a crucial twist, it is a move then roll game, which changes everything. The game plays 2-5 (although, in my opinion is best with 3 or 4) and plays in about 30 minutes!
The idea of the game is that there are four companies, with 12 shares of stock each. Whoever has the majority ownership of a company controls it, and keeps the corresponding die. Each companies die has different effects (some pay dividends to all stockholders based on the number of shares owned, some increase the price of the company stock, some increase the price of another companies stock and some reduce stock prices) and may be rolled whenever the companies space is landed on. No matter who lands on the space, the owner of the company decides if they want to pay money to the fund (a "free parking" like part of the board) to roll their die, or they can choose to roll the fund die for free.
The fund die is one of the best parts of the game. It essentially allows an owner to crash their stock, but it is a gamble. The fund die has one side that makes nothing happen (which is the side you usually don't want to get) the rest of the sides reduce the price of your stock, but let you take all the money in the fund space. If you are the first to do this, it can be quite a payout. However, the damage to your stock could cost you heavily in the end.
On your turn you can do two things. First, you must move the pawn ahead a few spaces (1-4, or 1-3 with more players). If the pawn lands on a company space, the owner of that company must immediately decide to either pay money to the fund & roll the company die, or pay nothing and roll the fund die. This mechanic means there is rarely any downtime in the game, since you might be rolling during other players turns. The second thing you can do is buy or sell any stock. You may do this once, before or after you move. At the end of the game, all stock is sold, and whoever has the most money wins.
I like this game a lot. It's a nice quick filler. It plays so quickly that you can often get in two games. Plus, the board is modular which means it is different every time. The strategy of deciding which companies to buy stock in, and when to crash a company you own make for some interesting decisions, and the random element of the dice mean you will find yourself scrambling to revise strategy at some point in the game. My only knock on the game is that the dice can be a little hard to read, and printing out some reference sheets (available on boardgamegeek) so everyone can see the different abilities of the company dice would be helpful.
If you are looking for a family game that plays quickly but has a little of that Monopoly flavor, Owner's Choice might be for you.
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