I didn't really fancy Bibleopoly on first impressions to be honest as I thought it was just going to be a version of the popular Monopoly board game but with the famous streets and stations of London renamed. Opening the box and game board for the first time didn't change my views. The layout was pretty much the same with the old popular corner squares renamed to a biblical theme but no stations on this one. Fair enough I guess as I never recall reading about any railway station in the Bible.
Three of us have decided to give the game a run, myself, my twenty year old son and my eighteen year old daughter. Interesting combination of teenage stubbornness, 20 years of wisdom and answers on every known subject to man and a 49-year-old who, given the current competition, anything but winning isn't an option.
Now it's time to have a closer look at everything.
There are no houses or hotels in Bibleopoly. I must admit to immediately thinking there must be inn's and stables then. But no, I spot a small clear bag of multi-colours rectangles. I wonder what they're for? As I ponder, my daughter deals out the money as per the game instructions. She announces that she is the Overseer (banker).
I smell a rat and demand to know where my wedge of £1500 starting monopoly money is. But as is proved, you start with 75, and not money but offerings. Ok, that makes sense. We're zooming back 2000 years here after all. I start to plan my victory armed with my 3 tens, 7 fives and 10 ones.
Here's another new variation. We are also dealt 4 deeds each to start with. (as three are playing). Owning a deed - which is a biblical town on the game board - instantly promotes you to caretaker of that town. Anyone landing on your town has to pay up. I quickly scan the board to see that Jerusalem and Bethlehem is where Mayfair and Park Lane would be. Also Nazareth has been added to make the big hitters a group of three. Nice touch in my opinion.
Community Chest and Chance are also here but are now named Abyss and Faith / Contingency respectfully. The Abyss squares are located where the stations would be. Read into that what you will.
All the playing pieces are the same, bar colour. Out with the hat, dog, car, iron etc and we have a selection of what can only resemble a kind of square edged witches hat. I must add here that it turns out not to be anything like a witches hat and is actually a very nice addition to this game. My daughter selects the blue piece, my son takes control of the red piece and I take on the white. Three other coloured pieces remain in the box unused. We're now ready to play.
Two dice are used and the same rules apply, a double entitles the thrower to another go, three doubles on the trot and it's off to Meditation for you for a further three turns to attempt to throw a double to get out. No double after 3 attempts and it's 5 offerings to the middle of the board.
The game progresses as expected with each player taking a turn. If you land on an available town you have the option to purchase it from the Overseer. The cost is much cheaper than monopoly, you can become a caretaker of the town from between 6 offerings being the cheapest and 14 offerings for Jerusalem. Landing on them isn't such a slap in the face and ranges between 2 and 9 respectfully.
One thing we did discover is that although community chest was the baddies of the two sets of cards in monopoly, it wasn't always a punch in the privates that the Abyss cards often dish out. This is where the Biblical theme really takes hold on the game and can have totally changing effects not just for the player landing on the card square but for all those playing - just like a famine or a plague. Some can cost you heavily.
Faith and Contingency wont hit you as hard as the Abyss and can sometime be quite kind. Watch for any bending of the rules here as well. My son was told to move forward one space and state something factual about the town he would land on or move back five spaces.
I could tell by the look on his face that he's never even heard of Miletus let alone knew anything about it. But with passion my son announced that Miletus began with the letter M and that was a fact. Fair comment but not really the ideal answer in the spirit of the game. But he protested that the question was to state a fact and not to state a Biblical fact. In the end we let him have it just to shut him up.
After playing for a while I could start to feel that there was something about the game that was pretty good. The cards had a kind of way about making you reflect about your decisions and what affects certain things can have on others. Some good and some not so good.
The closing, or winning of the game is a nice clincher. Rather than having all the money, wealth, assets and being the last man standing as in the monopoly format, the object to win Bibleopoly is to be the first to build a complete church on one of your deeds. You can only build one church and you have to decide where it will be built. The Church is made up of a corner-stone, three bricks and a steeple. Bring on the afore-mentioned clear bag of multi-coloured rectangles and the odd square edged witches hat playing piece (which turned out to be the steeple).
Ok, admittedly 3 bricks doesn't build a church as we know it but the three bricks will be the 3 sections you have to add to your corner-stone before your steeple goes on top and proclaims you the winner.
This is where the game can get really interesting. Unlike monopoly, Bibleopoly has three deeds (towns) per colour group. You get a small fee paid to you in offerings if someone lands on your deed. If you own all three deeds for the group then anyone landing on a deed has to pay double. That's really as far as that part goes.
The idea of the game is to build a church but you can only do this if you own three deeds of a colour group. Once that is done and you own all three you first have to start your church by obtaining a corner-stone from the Overseer. I liked this bit. You can only get the Corner Stone from the overseer if you give, yes give, one of your deeds to another player who has two of that colour. So in effect you're giving your opponent a final deed so they will have three deeds of a colour set as well. This enables them the chance to get a corner-stone also. This is a nice Charitable thing to do for someone and allows you to build your church based on an act of charity and donation. You then receive your appropriate coloured corner-stone and place it upon any one of the three towns.
The next stage is to build the three bricks upon your corner-stone. Easier said than done. A brick costs 30 offerings and you can only get one when you pass the starting square aptly titled 'In the Beginning' (you also get 10 offerings from the Overseer each time you pass here as well). That doesn't sound a lot but it's quite surprising how hard it can be to do a circuit of the board and keep that amount in your hand, especially if someone gets an Abyss card which can flood 5 of your towns or you get swallowed by a whale and miss three turns. Good ol' Jonah.
Eventually, by practicing good patience together with Faith, Hope and Charity. You will get three bricks on your church. All three of us did. Dont get complacent though, you could lose a brick or two if the Abyss cards aren't kind.
Now comes the final hurdle. Your almost complete church sits proudly on the chosen deed. All it needs is a steeple and you win. But where is the steeple? It's on the game board doing it's best to dodge anything too costly or being sent off to Meditation. The only way to get your Steeple onto your Church is to land exactly on the deed it's built upon. That is no easy task with two dice and forty playing squares. But amazingly there are more than one way to do it if the Faith/Constitution cards fall right for you. And it's also possible to have two winners at the same time. Which is a very nice addition.
All in all Bibleopoly is based on a good moral foundation. Some knowledge of the Bible will help but it's by far not needed to play the game. It's a fantastic family game and produces an enjoyable atmosphere. We'll be playing this again.