Going on 15 years ago, Hasbro about a bunch of card games that were based on their popular board games. I think the sort of thing comes in cycles because they had done it before and they've done it since. I am pretty sure there are at least three distinct card games based on Monopoly.
Out of this particular lot, there were two that stood out to me. In fact, they stood up so much that they are still a part of my collection and I happen to like them better than the games they were based on.
Those two games were Battleship and the Game of Life.
I know that Battleship is a venerable old game that teaches deductive reasoning. It helps young minds learn how to analyze situations. However, ever since I have been young, I've always found it pretty boring.
The 2002 card version had next to nothing to do with the original board game. Instead, it resembled a mash up of Reiner Knizia's Battle Line and Stratego. The players take turns placing cards facedown on their side of five placeholder cards which represent the five oceans of the world.
Both players have identical decks and the cards include ships and special commands. Almost all of the ships, except for the title battleship, also have special abilities. After the cards get revealed and the special abilities get resolved, the highest numerical value wins that ocean. First person to three oceans is the winner.
Battleship the Card Game has bluffing, special powers and a dynamic playing field. And it plays out in about ten minutes. It may not be as educational or as analytical as the original game but I find it a lot more enjoyable.
The Game of Life is basically a spin and move game with a couple branches in the board to add choices. Let's face it, it wouldn't take much to make it more interesting game for an older gamer.
In the card version of the game, you are creating a tableau of cards that show various accomplishments of your life. Your occupation will give you two forms of denomination, time and money, that you can spend on these cards.
In other words, it uses the exact same formula as Chez Geek. And not only do I like it more then the board version of the Game of Life, I like it more than Chez Geek as well.
While I think that Chez Geek has a more interesting and, quite frankly, more realistic theme, it also has the game ending when someone achieves a certain number of slack points. And there are plenty of ways of dragging players down, which means dragging the game out.
In the card version of the Game of Life, four letter cards which will spell out LIFE are shuffled into the last part of the deck. When LIFE is finished, so is the game. Having a built in timer like that makes the game a much more enjoyable experience for me.
Mind you, the card game still has the theme of creating the most conservative and traditional family model ever. I know plenty of happy families that don't fit that mold. Friedemann Friese's irreverent game Funny Friends was pitched to me as the Game of Life as people actually live it and I think that's a fair call.
Still, I I think that the game did a really good job with its mechanics, creating a game that is enjoyable to play and offers a lot more choices than the spin and move forward game.
I might be accused of taking aim at low hanging fruit for saying that I enjoy the card versions of these games more than the original board games. However, I do and they have themes that make it easier for me to introduce them to folks who aren't into gaming.