Monopoly Rivals Edition is a two-player version of Monopoly. But, while the game board is very similar (albeit smaller) to a classic Monopoly board, the rules of Monopoly Rivals are actually pretty different.
When I picked up the cellophane-wrapped game in the store, I thought that it was just a quicker, simpler version of Monopoly for two people. But once I played it, I realized that the game is quite unique.
As with many Monopoly editions, the rules don’t fully explain every scenario in the game, so I’ve written this guide to help you to understand them.
In the review section at the bottom, I’ll also give my opinion on whether I think that this game is worth buying or not.
How To Play Monopoly Rivals Edition
How Long Does Monopoly Rivals Take?
A game of Monopoly Rivals edition takes 15 to 30 minutes to play, depending on the roll of the die. You may get lucky and have a quicker win, or you may find that it takes a little longer for one player to take all of the properties.
How To Set Up The Game
In Monopoly Rivals, each player starts with $1000. This is distributed as 8 x $1000 bills and 4 x $50 bills to each player.
The tokens in Monopoly Rivals are just the car and the hat, so you can fight amongst yourselves for who gets to be the car. Why they didn’t include the dog token is beyond me, everyone knows that’s the best.
You’ll also need to choose if you want to be red or blue. Take all of the houses of your color and place them in front of you. There are no hotels in Monopoly Rivals, just red and blue houses.
According to the Monopoly Rivals rules, ‘the player with the closest birthday goes first’. This caused an argument before the game had even started. If your birthday was yesterday, is yours the closest? Or does it mean the person whose birthday will be next? We didn’t know so we settled on closest overall, even though that birthday was in the past.
I’m not sure if Hasbro actually sets out to cause conflict when they write the Monopoly rules., but it seems that way. Maybe somebody up in Monopoly Towers is giggling every time they write an ambiguous rule! If you’ve ever played Monopoly Deal, you’ll know what I mean.
How To Play
To start a game of Monopoly Rivals, you roll the die and move that number of spaces. What happens when you land on a property depends on whether the property and its neighbor have any houses on them.
- If you land on a property with no house – place one house on it (you don’t need to pay anything)
- If you land on a property that you own, and you own the full set – draw a Chance or Community Chest card
- If you land on a property that you own, and the adjacent property has no house – the unoccupied property must be auctioned
- If you land on a property that your opponent owns – pay the value shown on the board to your opponent (or make a deal)
In Monopoly Rivals, you can trade with your opponent with properties and/or cash. While the rules mention trading as an alternative to paying rent, or because you’re unable to pay, there’s no reason why you can’t trade at any time.
It can be tricky to know how much to trade properties for. But adding in trades to your game is a good idea as it makes it more interesting and makes the game less about luck and more about skill.
The official Monopoly Rivals rules don’t say anything about trading Chance and Community Chest cards like ‘Double The Rent’, ‘Triple The Rent’, ‘Skip The Rent’, or ‘Just Say No’. In classic Monopoly, you can trade Go To Jail cards, so should you be able to include cards in your trades in Monopoly Rivals?
I’ll have to leave that to you to decide, but if you do implement this rule, you should agree on that plan from the very beginning to avoid any confusion.
Going To Jail
If you land on Go To Jail, you must move your token to the jail space and remain there for one turn. According to the Monopoly Rivals rules, only one player at a time can be in jail.
This ambiguous rule poses a question. If my opponent goes to jail and then I get sent to jail, what happens? Do I go to jail and they get early release? Or do I receive a pardon and remain on the Go To Jail space? Do I move to the Just Visiting space? The rules don’t say either way.
We decided to interpret the rule to mean that if someone else is in jail, you don’t have to go and so remain on the Go To Jail space. Even if they’ve served their time and are about to leave on the next roll.
Chance & Community Chest Cards
In Monopoly Rivals, there are 16 Chance and 16 Community Chest cards.
You can take a Chance or Community Chest card whenever you land on a Chance or Community Chest space. Also, if you land on one of your own properties and you have a complete set, you can choose to take either a Chance or a Community Chest card.
The Difference Between Chance and Community Chest
You may be wondering what the difference is between Chance and Community Chest, and which one is best to choose. On the whole, the two card types are very similar, and each pile includes cards that can advance your token, multiply the rent, skip the rent, give or take cash, and take or trade properties. There’s also a ‘Just Say No’ card in each.
One key difference between Chance and Community Chest in Monopoly Rivals is that Community Chest has two ‘Skip The Rent’ cards, whereas Chance has one. These can be incredibly valuable. As players must keep these cards face up in front of them, if none have been drawn then you should draw from the Community Chest pile for the highest probability of picking one up.
The main advantage of the Chance pile is that there is a card that says ‘Take Any One Complete Property Set From Your Opponent’. This is the best card of all and you won’t find it in the Community Chest pile.
Playing Chance and Community Chest Cards
The Monopoly Rivals rules don’t mention whether you can play two Chance or Community Chest cards together or not. So, can you play a ‘Double the Rent’ and a ‘Triple The Rent’ together and demand six times the rent? Logic would say that this shouldn’t be an option as it would cause a fast end to the game in most cases. But, you may decide that this is okay.
Just Say No Card
In Monopoly Rivals, the ‘Just Say No’ card can be used to cancel your opponent’s action against you.
We need to consider carefully what an ‘action’ is…
It might be sensible to say that an ‘action against you’ is something that another player does that negatively affects you.
- Double The Rent
- Triple The Rent
- Skip The Rent
- Take Your Property
- Trade Your Property
- Take Your Cash
What about collecting rent? I would argue that that’s not an action because all of the options above involve playing a Chance or Community Chest card, whereas collecting rent happens without playing a card.
If you’re familiar with Hasbro’s card game Monopoly Deal, you can see that there are some similarities with Monopoly Rivals, and I suspect that the game’s developers had the ‘Action Cards’ of Monopoly Deal in mind when writing the rules for the ‘Just Say No’ card.
Can you ‘Just Say No’ to a ‘Just Say No’?
Using a precedent that was set by Monopoly Deal (the first game to feature ‘Just Say No’ cards) you can play a ‘Just Say No’ card in response to a ‘Just Say No’ card played by your opponent.
This is a rule that Hasbro has publicly clarified in the past.
Let’s take this example…
- Hat asks for $500 rent
- Car plays ‘Skip The Rent’
- Hat plays ‘Just Say No’
- Car plays ‘Just Say No’
In this situation, the rent would not be due as the second Just Say No card would cancel the first.
Just as in classic Monopoly, the Free Parking space in Monopoly Rivals is just a rest space. Nothing happens when you land here.
In Monopoly Rivals, you should collect $200 from the bank each time you pass or land on Go, even if that is from a Chance or Community Chest card.
The ‘Advance Token To Any Property’ card specifies that you should collect $200 if you pass Go. The ‘Advance Token To Any *insert color* Space’ cards do not specify that you should collect $200 if you pass Go. However, according to a precedent set by classic Monopoly, it would make sense to do so.
The only time that you do not collect $200 is if you are sent to Jail. In this case, you go straight across the board and do not pass the Go space.
How Monopoly Rivals Ends
If you owe rent to your opponent and you don’t have enough cash, you can either sell properties back to the bank for the amount listed on the board or sell them to your opponent for an amount that you decide between you.
If you have sold all of your properties and you still can’t pay rent, then you are bankrupt and out of the game.
Alternatively, if one player owns every property on the board then they will also win the game, even if you have some cash left.
What If The Game Runs Out Of Cash?
It’s possible that you may run out of banknotes when playing Monopoly Rivals. If this happens, you can either make more money using paper or take some Monopoly Money from another set.
My Monopoly Rivals Review
I think that Monopoly Rivals is one of the best Monopoly games for two people. It’s quick to set up, easy to learn, and fast to play. What lets the game down is the ambiguity in the rules and I do wish that Hasbro had taken a little more time to publish the answers to some of the questions highlighted in this article.
Monopoly Rivals involves more luck than skill, that’s for sure. While you may have a few decisions to make, most of the outcome comes from the luck of the die roll and which cards you draw in the stack.
If you’re able to land on a lot of vacant properties on your first two trips around the board and if you’re lucky enough to draw some of the best Chance and Community Chest cards, then this will affect the outcome of the game more than any skills you can learn.
But on the whole, Monopoly Rivals is usually pretty cheap to buy and I think it would make a good addition to anyone’s board games collection.