Bejeweled, a new addition to game night.

Bejeweled, a new addition to game night.

So we got the new “Bejeweled” board game, based on the computer and cellphone game we all know and love. We needed something new for board game night, after the harrowing “Monopoly” incident where a giant cat wiped out an entire row of new hotels and houses.

The game instructions are simple, unfortunately I relied on someone else to read them aloud, misunderstood the rules, and was “playing it wrong” for a few turns. I had to give back several of my “coins” to compensate for my ill-gotten gains, which ultimately cost me the game.

The game is well built, the sliding jewels are large and colorful. They look like leftover props from “Land of the Lost”. The only drawback would be the tiny “coins”, which remind me of bingo markers from a struggling inner-city church. They could have made large, thick tokens, and really wowed the customer, without driving the cost up too much; imprinting them with ads for gaming products from “Hasbro”, “Electronic Arts”, “Popcap” and whatever other outfit they are in cahoots with.

The game did come with a product key to get a full PC version of “Bejeweled 3”, I downloaded it and soon had unlocked the “Bejeweled Poker” game, which I am completely addicted to already. That alone is worth a good chunk of the purchase price, I paid $19.99 at Amazon.

One thing about Amazon, sometimes if you look at something but don’t buy it, they will send you an ad with a cheaper price in a few days. I don’t know if that would work on this new and presumably popular board game, just thought I should mention it.

I got a tournament-approved Monopoly “Speed Die” from a guy on ebay, we started a game using this third die today. Not sure if we will vote to use it in the future.

The speed die does one of four things, three of them good but the last one very bad!

  1. If the SD shows a one, two or three, you just add that to the other dice and move that much further. Good for getting back around to GO a little faster, I guess.
  2. If the SD shows a bus, you have more options where to stop; For example, if the regular dice show a one and a six, you can move one space, or six, or all seven. Unfortunately, this slows the game a bit as players evaluate their movement options.
  3. If the SD rolls a “Monopoly Man” aka Mr. Moneybags, and if there are unsold properties, after you take your regular move, you advance to the next unowned property. This would seem to speed up the game, but actually we have to go through a roll call every time; “Connecticut! Who owns it? Saint Charles- Does anybody own it?”
  4. If the SD rolls a “Monopoly Man” and all 28 properties are owned, then after you take your regular move, you advance to the next opponent’s property and pay rent; This could mean paying rent two, or even three times in one turn, if you rolled doubles twice and were especially unlucky. It speeds the process of eliminating players, but I don’t like the “piling on” aspect of it. Am I just not ruthless enough?

We recently saw a documentary on Netflix about tournament Monopoly players, and it inspired us to dust off the old Monopoly board, seeing as how is was miserable out and all four of us were home.

The idea was to come up with some house rules that make it easier and more fun to play, without compromising the ability to bankrupt opponents, and without tilting it too far away from “skill” and toward “luck”. We were only partially successful. Here are the rules that got a majority vote.

(NOTE: Rules were modified a bit after I got a tournament-approved “speed die” from a dude on ebay)

GENERAL GAME PLAY:

#1. Added a “real estate agent” and a “General Contractor”. The banker only handles money, other people deal out property deeds and buildings. This doesn’t seem to affect game play, or does it? Isn’t the banker who handles everything going to be a bit distracted?

#2. NO ONES. We eliminated the $1 bills and rounded up all rent totals. This eliminated one of my big objections to playing Monopoly, too much time spent “making change”.

#3. NO JAILHOUSE LANDLORDS. We decided that people in jail with Jake don’t have anyone on the outside to manage their financial affairs, so no rent collecting, no trading, they are incommunicado. It makes about as much sense as the regular Monopoly rule that doesn’t let you collect rent on mortgaged property. Just think what a rule like that would do to Donald Trump! Our “No Jailhouse Landlords” rule also discourages hiding in jail to avoid PAYING rent.

BONUS CASH: I am generally against bonus cash rules but I always get outvoted. Hence these house rules;

#4. Free Parking starts at zero, but Chance fines and jail fees, etc. get put in the free parking zone. What is this teaching the children?

#5. They also made a rule where you get an extra $100 for landing directly on GO. I was outnumbered.

PROPERTIES:

#6. The title cards get shuffled and each player gets 3 random properties “From a rich uncle who dies” at the start of the game. I am lobbying to get this thrown out. There are only 28 properties to be had, I think using the speed die gets the properties distributed quickly enough.

#7. The very last property gets thrown in the FREE PARKING pile. I successfully got this house rule thrown out, because it conflicts with the speed die instructions.

#8. Mortgages are interest-free, thanks to an imaginary stimulus program.

#9.Build anything. I grow weary of fussing with all the houses, so until I find some old Monopoly sets with wooden houses at a thrift store, glue the houses together to form duplexes, triplexes, and four-unit apartment buildings, “uneven building” is OK- You can have 2 empty lots and a hotel. That’s how it works in real life.

#10. Since we have multiple sets of buildings, there will be unlimited housing stock; but if you have to sell them back to the bank, it’s still at half price.

ROLLING DOUBLES:

If someone lands on a rental property on doubles, they have to pay rent. We tried the “But I wasn’t staying the night!” rule, it slows the game down. #11. There are unlimited doubles with no penalty. I think rolling doubles three times in a row constitutes “speeding” and there should be an option to just pay a $50 fine where you stand, or optionally go to jail. Too many people trotting off to jail gives a slight advantage to purple and orange property owners. (My son says: “All of a sudden you’re smarter than the Parker Brothers?”)

… So those are our new house rules, what are yours?