Reviewed by Herb Levy

(Parker Brothers, 3-4 adult players, about 60 minutes, $24.99)


If we’re talking about guilty pleasures, reality television should enter into the conversation. Watching people embarrass and humiliate themselves for money and prizes is something that people really shouldn’t enjoy. Yet, judging from the TV ratings, it seems we all do. Oscar Wilde said “Nothing exceeds like excess” and reality TV proves his point. One of the better entries and bigger hits of the genre is Donald Trump’s The Apprentice where a bunch of wannabe financial movers and shakers compete to end up with a coveted position in the vast Trump financial empire.trumpnewbox

It seems like only yesterday (well, actually, it was the Summer 1989 issue of GA REPORT, later revisited in the Spring 2004 issue) that we took a look at the game that arose from Donald Trump’s flamboyant persona: Trump: The Game. Despite its above average design, the original game failed, selling “only” 800,000 copies when Milton Bradley was targeting 2 to 3 million! But, if at first you don’t succeed…. Donald Trump, boldly announcing his return, complete with his famous “You’re Fired!” tagline, has re-entered the World of Games, this time aided and abetted by Parker Brothers, with a revised and revamped Trump: The Game.

Once again, the object is to bid against the opposition to buy and sell properties and end up with the most money. But, heeding the advice of Mr. Trump who argued that the original game was “too complicated”, this new edition has been modified to become simplified.

Trump: The Game comes with a board showing seven properties (the original game had eight), seven matching property boxes (used to hold money generated from each property), money and a plastic tray to hold it, a pair of dice, four player tokens (shaped in a Trump “T”) and a deck of 60 Trump cards, topped off by six pages of rules.

In the original game, two phases were played: a Buying Phase (where pawns were moved around
board and properties bought) and a Dealing Phase (when players, using their Trump cards could try to maximize profits through agreements.) In the new edition, this process is combined into one.

Players start out with $500 million ($100 million more than in the original). The seven property boxes are placed on their matching property spaces on the board and filled with a specified amount of money (as denoted on the property box itself). Players are dealt a hand of seven Trump cards (two more than the original) and high roller goes first.trumpnewpcs

On a turn, a player first draws one Trump card and takes ONE of three possible actions: roll the dice (and move around the circular track of the board) OR play ONE Trump card held in your hand OR offer to sell ONE of your Trump cards to another player.

Trump cards are the key mechanism of the game as they empower you in different ways. They can add to the profits properties you own generate, beefing up your cash on hand. Some penalize an opponent by forcing him to pay some hefty taxes. They also play a significant role in auctions.

To make play easier, the spaces on the board tell you what to do. Some spaces add $50 million from the bank to a property box of your choice or you may land on a space that allows you to draw another Trump card. Best of all, though, is to land on a For Sale space and try to buy one of the properties in the game.

You don’t exactly buy a property; you have to win an auction for it. To participate in the auction, you must use your cash on hand for an opening bid and players reveal their opening bids simultaneously. Then, starting with the player who put the property up for bid (called “the Broker”), players may continue to bid. Bids are made in increments of at least $10 million and, once bidding has started, players may use their Trump cards.

Some Trump cards act as additional cash in a bid. (There are six of these “Trump Backs You” cards worth from $40 to $60 million.) You can pass, and then re-enter the bidding but only if a “You’re Fired!” Trump Card hasn’t been played on you, knocking you out of the auction. Playing one of the four “The Donald” card, however, cancels that effect and gets you back in. With bidding done, high bidder gets the property (and the property box with the money inside it). All unsuccessful bidders get their cash back. Any “You’re Fired!” or “The Donald” cards played, however, are discarded!

When the last property has been bought, players may play any remaining Trump cards they hold to enhance the values of their holdings. Several Trump cards are property-specific, granting big bucks to the player if he owns a particular property. Cards that do not apply to a player’s specific holdings can be cashed in for $10 million each. Players total their cash, both in their owned property boxes and cash on hand. The player with the most money wins!

Although the age listed on the box is “Adult”, in actuality, anyone who can play Monopoly should have no problem handling the action. The game spaces tell you precisely what to do so there’s no cloud of confusion here. Even the Trump cards have “Trump Tips” offering players fairly obvious advice as to how much to sell a card for, how to bid. when to play the card etc., a little overkill in a game touted for “adults”. The game is better fitted for the “family game” category and, in keeping with a family game, the luck factor is a bit high. For example, should you roll a T on the dice, you are allowed to draw, at random, a Trump card from any other player. With these cards being so vital, a few lucky rolls by an opponent can devastate a competitor. Forced Sale cards (four of them in the original game) do not appear here. Forced Sales are only triggered by landing on the proper spaces which impacts on your timing in auctioneering.

On the plus side, the revisions to play does makes the game move more quickly. In the original game, once the properties were all sold, THEN the wheeling and dealing began. Here, the deal making is incorporated into the standard player turn so interaction is high. Another nice touch occurs when you’re trying to sell a Trump card to an opponent. If you cannot reach a deal, the card being offered is considered dead and removed from the game! This prevents interminable dealing and forces a degree of reason to prevail. And the game looks good too.

Trump: The Game follows in the footsteps of TV-related games. By using the high profile – and television success – of Donald Trump, Parker should be able to attract people who haven’t played games in years but are intrigued by the possibilities of billionaire status. The game is good looking enough with enough solid play value to do what its predecessor couldn’t – “fire” up the game-buying public and make a dent in the best seller lists for board games in the upcoming Holiday Season. – – – – – – – – – – – – Herb Levy


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Fall 2004 GA Report Articles


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