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Prize Property» Forums » Reviews

Subject: Prize Property: A Nostalgic Review rss

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Christopher Halbower
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If I had to go out on a limb, I would say board gamers are more nostalgic about their hobby than other hobby enthusiasts. We remember the games that were fun when we were young. Then we go to extravagant lengths to reacquire those games as adults. Then those games sit idly on our shelves because of the Cult of the New. To shed some light on my recent feelings of nostalgia, I thought I would discuss one such gem. The game is Milton Bradley’s Prize Property.

My first exposure to Prize Property

I didn’t know that Milton Bradley released this gem until the mid 80’s. I was at a church function at Giles Road Baptist (located in the 49445). The youth pastor and his wife had a copy. I was enamored. It didn't take much coaxing to get me to want to play.

I lost.

But I wanted a copy. It would be 25 years later when I finally had a copy myself.

Milton Bradley improves upon Parker Brothers’ Monopoly


Improving upon Monopoly is not exactly setting the bar very high. But Milton Bradley’s Prize Property was definitely superior in almost every metric.

Players take on the roles of real estate developers (same as Monopoly). The goal is to be the first to build all nine buildings. There is no player elimination unlike Monopoly (point in favor of Prize Property). Players get more income for owning sets of buildings similar to Monopoly. The game takes about 90 minutes to play (the time listed to play Monopoly which is wholly inaccurate).

This alone would not inspire that much nostalgia. So let’s take a look at the particulars!

Glorious bits


Prize Property is the spiritual predecessor of Milton Bradley’s Hotels. And the components show this. Prize Property had fantastic components for 1974.

The 3-D cardboard buildings added lots of visual flair. There were three levels of buildings players could build. And there were three buildings in each level. The biggest buildings cost $15,000, the mid-sized ones cost $10,000 and the smallest cost $5,000.

As the game progressed, players would get a sense of accomplishment from watching their resort materialize on the board.

The Mechanics


A player’s turn begins with collecting income. A player rolls a six sided died for income. The die had 1, 3 or a red circle on its sides. A player could roll the die as much as he wanted until he rolled the red circle. Rolling the red circle means the player earns no income. Otherwise the player earns income equal to the sum of what he rolled. He doubles this if he owns all the buildings in set. And he triples it if he owns the buildings in two sets. This press-your-luck mechanic for income collection works surprisingly good. Of course a string a bad luck can be frustrating but in the end, the game was going for “thrills” over “balance”.

After collecting income the player could develop his land. The board starts with overlays that must be removed before he can place buildings. A player can also spend his money on townhall cards and/or on placing building.


Townhall cards give a player the ability to either challenge another player’s building efforts or defend themselves from another player’s challenge. When you try to build, you spend the money but the townhall might object to your plans. Your opponents can litigate against by playing their “Legal Action” townhall cards. This allows them to throw a red marble into the gavel. You may play “Defense” cards to throw green marbles into the gavel. You shake up the gavel. And a marble falls into the slot. If it’s red, townhall ruled against. If green, then your plans are approved!

This mechanic adds thrills (albeit by introducing randomness) to the game. The other benefit of this mechanic is it taught children of the 70’s that litigation is largely unrelated to the merits of the case.

Specialness
The components were cool. And the mechanics were definitely a unique blend for its day and age. But there is really something special about the overlays.

I really like the idea of the board being transformed in ways other than placing buildings. The implementation of overlays in Prize Property is about the most basic way they can be implemented in a game. But it was a very inspired game mechanic.

How inspired? This may very well be the first use of overlays for a board game. Overlays are quite common now especially in wargames. But I cannot think of another game published before 1974 that used this now recognizable mechanic.

If I am wrong about the overlays, please feel free to comment. I don't just play board games; I am an amateur historian of our hobby as well.



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Forest Cole
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Brings King Oil to mind ..
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Christopher Halbower
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simply4est wrote:
Brings King Oil to mind ..


King Oil is game that I really need to acquire.
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Brad Miller
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halbower wrote:
simply4est wrote:
Brings King Oil to mind ..


King Oil is game that I really need to acquire.


I've been able to get both of these nostalgia games from my youth....

King Oil plays better IMO.
 
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