(In the booming 1980s, Donald Trump became a celebrity due to his high profile real estate success. It seemed that “The Donald” could do no wrong. It was not a surprise to see Milton Bradley try to capitalize on his fame and fortune with a high quality financial game. The game was, surprisingly, quite good! But, even more surprising, it failed! Why? A backlash against Trump? A failure to target an appreciative audience? Perhaps. Milton Bradley thought it couldn’t miss and printed THREE MILLION copies! The game “only” sold 800,000. Mr. Trump’s comment? “I think it was too complicated a game… [but] how many games sell 800,000?” Good point! Now that Mr. Trump has found success as a TV star with his hit show “The Apprentice”, we thought it might be interesting to revisit Trump: The Game. Here’s how we saw this much maligned and under-appreciated game classic back in the Summer 1989 issue of Gamers Alliance Report.)

TRUMP: THE GAME (Milton Bradley, 3-4 players, about 2 hours; out of print)


High finance inspired by the flamboyant billionaire, Donald Trump, is the theme for this latest release from Milton Bradley, Trump: The Game.

Packaged in a deep box, Trump: The Game gives a rich and sumptuous appearance with its attractive mounted board, large property boxes (not cards), Trump cards, money, pawns, special die and tray to hold it all. Trump is a low to moderate complexity game for 3 or 4 players with a playing time of about 2 hours.trumpold

Set up involves placing the eight property boxes representing luxury holdings (Convention Center, Casino, Hotel, Airline etc., similar to Mr. Trump’s actual assets) on the matching board spaces. A $50 million bill is placed in the slot of each box. All players begin with a $400 million cash bankroll and, after the Trump card deck is shuffled, a hand of 5 Trump cards. The remaining cards become the draw pile. Players pick their own token (appropriately shaped as a “T”) and the die is rolled. The die shows number 1 to 5 and a “T”. High roller goes first. (A roll of “T” is high.)

Trump consists of two phases of play – the Buying Phase and the Dealing Phase.

During the Buying Phase, players conduct 2 actions per turn. First, they must draw a Trump card. Then, they may either roll the die and move their token around the board OR play a Trump card from their hand. Should you roll a “T” when you opt to roll the die, you are allowed to draw a Trump card, sight unseen, from another player’s hand! This can be crucial as Trump cards are vital to success and there’s no limit to how many you can hold! And you still get to roll to move your token!

Trump cards offer a variety of strategic choices. These include Profit cards which give you money for ownership of various properties in various combinations, Tax cards which, if played adroitly, can cripple a wealthy opponent or blow away a weaker one, and Force Sale cards which allow properties to be sold and can even compel an opponent to sell holdings against his will! Other cards include Die Roll cards which allow a player to roll the die several times to try to roll some “T”s and swipe some Trump cards from rival entrepreneurs.

The sale of properties is very adeptly handled. Properties are NOT put up for sale by landing on their spaces. Landing on a property only puts $10 million from the bank into the appropriate property box. Instead, properties are made available for purchase by landing on a Force Sale board space or through the play of a Force Sale Trump card. At that point, the seller becomes the Broker and an auction begins.

Each player has the option to make an opening bid in the auction. Any opening bid must be all in cash. When all players are ready, the players, starting with the Broker, declare their bids. Once the high bidder is revealed, the bidding may continue.trump

To continue the bidding, each subsequent bid must be increased by at least $10 million. However, no bid may be increased unless an Outside Investor Trump card has been played by any player. Once that happens, Trump cards and/or cash may be used to augment a bid. Still more possibilities exist as players may knock an opponent out of the bidding by playing the aptly titled “You’re Out of the Bidding” Trump card. (This can be negated with the, yes, you guessed it, “I’m back in the bidding” Trump card.) Bidding continues until all players have passed consecutively. At this stage, ALL played bidding cards are discarded so you must play your cards wisely and not be indiscriminate with your bidding. (Cash offered with the bid, however, is returned.)

If the property was unowned, the high bidder’s money goes to the bank. If owned, though, the previous owner gets paid.

Once all eight properties have been purchased, the second phase of play – the Dealing Phase – begins.

During the Dealing Phase, the board is no longer used. Now the Trump cards take on even greater significance as players may, on their turn, do any ONE of the following: play a card from their hand, make a deal or pass.

Trump cards are used as they were in the first half of the game – to collect profits, tax opponents, force property sales etc. Deals can be attempted and they may involve anything – sales, trades, loans etc. of cards, cash and/or property. But once a deal is rejected, that turn is over! This keeps the game moving.

The Dealing Phase continues until all players either run out of Trump cards to play or give up trying to make deals. At phase end, players count both their cash on hand any cash that has accumulated inside the property boxes they still own. The player with the most money is the winner.

Trump: The Game is a highly promoted piece of work. Very often, something that is so highly hyped fails to live up to expectations. But Trump: The Game exceeds expectations! Card play and board play dovetail nicely, the rules are clear and well written with plenty of examples (plus a quick guide to get you right into the game) and it is about as classy a presentation as you are likely to see. This should be a top choice for the upcoming Christmas season. Highly recommended. – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Herb Levy

Copyright © 1989, all rights reserved.


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