This week Garion and I go head to head on our favorite table top board games. I expect some kinda crazy logical argument about why Android: Netrunner (my chosen game) is an inferior game to, wait for it, Star Wars Monopoly (Garion’s chosen game). That is right folks, now let’s see who wins in the battle of the most dangerous game.
Monopoly is a classic game and Star Wars in an awesome franchise. So naturally combining them was a good play on Hasbro’s part. The game has plenty of references to Star Wars and sweet pewter figurines in a very familiar game setting. However, upon further inspection the game doesn’t bring much to the table. Android: Netrunner (A:R), a living card game from Fantasy Flight Games, has awesome sci-fi references, awesome components, and while the game is not necessary a familiar one, it will keep you coming back for more.
Let us start off by looking at how each game embraces theme. The way that star wars Monopoly embraces theme is much the way that a mother embraces an adopted child when their birth child is around. They term in the board gaming community is,”pasted on.” The fact that it is Star Wars doesn’t matter with regard to how the mechanics and game play feel. It is pure ameritrash in the most simple definition of the word (What is ameritrash you ask? Look here).
A;N is based in a dystopian future where a few large corporations have gained power and influence in the world (think Blade Runner, Total Recall, Alien). The game embraces this by building the game play around it. The runners have to expose the agendas of the corporation. They do this by making hacking runs on the Corps server using programs to break through firewalls called ice. The game also embraces the dichotomy by make making the game asymmetric, the corporation plays a very different game than the runner. One has all the information and the other is desperately trying to get as much as possible. So maybe Star Wars Monopoly doesn’t have the best theme application, but it does have sweet pewter figurines and paper credits.
“Kyle how does a card game have better components than paper money and pewter figurines?” Well let me explain something, sometimes even the best components don’t make the game. Kickstarter is a great example of a place where this happens a lot (for a more specific example look up Myth or The Doom that Came to Atlantic City). This combined with the fact that Star Wars Monopoly (SWM) doesn’t really have the best components, it just has a few good ones. There are plenty of other euro games that have better components. Caverna, Terra Mystica, even Lords of Waterdeep have better components than SWM. Lastly SWM’s components are easily replaceable and more for show. Choosing pewter Darth Vader over pewter x-wing changes literally nothing about the game. A:N has practical and useful components. Credit chips to keep track of money, tags, bad rep trackers, click tracker and virus counters are all used in the game play in meaningful ways. Theme and components are important to a game, but what use are components if the game itself is not fun to play? Let’s look at the game play of both games really fast.
A;N is distinct because it is easy to teach, difficult to master, and plays quickly. SWM, while easy to teach, is not very deep and takes way too long to play for what the game is presenting. A game that has depth like A;N allows players of different skill level to interact and teach others. The short game play means you can play a lot more games in a shorter period of time. This is also important because the game gets less boring when you are not doing the same thing for 4 hours ( or more). Each game of A:N is distinct and new, where SWM gets stale while you are still playing the first game.
Star Wars Monopoly, in my opinion, has no place being even considered for the best table top sci-fi game. It’s lack of theme and meaningful components and inherent game play issues make it a bad entry game at best. Android: Netrunner offers a new world, a great theme, excellent components (include original art on all the cards), and varied, intricate game play. I think the game speaks for itself. So, as I have said before, go grab a core set and start playing!