App Reviewed on: iPhone 3GS
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Reiner Knizia designs some pretty interesting games. They’re almost always not much to look at, but their simple aesthetics belie some truly clever (and fun) mechanics. Take Reiner Knizia’s Money, for example. It’s a game about exchanging currency for more currency. It doesn’t even read like a fun game. And yet it is. And it’s incredibly difficult to stop playing.
The rules are obviously a bit more complex than simply trading cash, but that’s the basic gist. Several different currencies are available, each with a range of values (20, 60, etc). The trick to winning is to gather up a bunch of the same kind of cash, thus netting larger amounts of points and hopefully beating out the competition. Each turn players are able to “bid” the bills they don’t want, and can then exchange them for either of the two lots in the middle of the table or another player’s bid. A lot of ducat-shuffling goes on in these games, but with enough planning and a little luck it’s possible to come out on top.
Money is a game that sounds simple, then looks complex in the How-To, and ends up being fairly simple anyway once the playing starts. Unobtrusive tips are always available to be ignored or to guide, and any pertinent information can be called up as needed with a tap or two. It also incorporates what’s called an “Elo Rating” system, which is similar to other ranking systems used by various gaming organizations including the US Chess Federation. This Elo Rating changes with each win and loss, easily allowing players to compare themselves to friends and rivals over Game Center. Pop-up rankings also help to keep competition lively.
It’s unfortunate to think that some might never give Money a chance simply because of the visuals or somewhat daunting rules, but it’s definitely a possibility. Even assuming that isn’t enough to turn away potential players, the lack of any real form of multiplayer could end up being the final nail in the proverbial coffin. Not that playing against AI opponents of various skill levels and strategies isn’t fun, but the inability to directly compete with another person will no doubt be a major letdown to some.
When taken as a single-player card (cash) game with the potential for multiplayer in the future, Reiner Knizia’s Money is definitely a game worth playing. It’s much easier to learn than it first appears, and can be utterly absorbing if given the chance. It’s no multiplayer tour-de-force, sure, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t still a heck of a lot of fun.