Masterpiece board game
Board game manufacturer:
Parker Brothers (now out of print)
Number of players:
Okay, this review is for the 1970s version of the game. Perhaps the fixes made in the 90s helped make this a better game, perhaps I’ll play it someday and weigh in on that topic. But… I doubt it.
The game and gameplay
This is a pretty game. The art cards are faithful reproductions and are really quite striking.
As a way to give yourself a little cultural knowledge ala “So that’s who painted that picture of the bald guy with the pitchfork who looks like Uncle John.”… this game rates higher than any other art game I’ve played (namely Modern Art).
If I saw another copy of the Masterpiece board game in a thrift store, I would buy it for up to $3, just to have the painting cards to just to include in letters to my friends.
This game doesn’t suck. It just seems that way if (like me) you have the-other-art-auction-game taunting you in the back of your head the whole time. Granted, Modern Art is an EXCELLENT “modern” game in design and theme and this is a Parker Brothers game from the 70s, but it hurts at times to be thinking that you could be playing a game that requires/rewards thinking.
Anyway, the board track is a circle and you roll and move in one direction to a space and then follow its directions. These vary from being able to buy a painting from the bank (or another player) for a set price, starting an auction for the top painting, starting an auction for one of your paintings (others pick which one), or collecting a set amount of money.
This illusion of choice and strategy in picking an action unfortunately acts to negate what is one of the more fun elements in the game: stealing a valuable painting away from another with a lowball bid. “Hrmmm… instead of selling to the bank, Marty chose to hold a private auction. That means he’s got crap in his hand.”
Pros and cons
Paintings are assigned a random and secret (except to the winning bidder) value when they are first auctioned off. This value can range from $1 million to nothing (a forgery).
This adds the bit of random fun in this game. Bidding for a painting only to have it turn up a forgery, and then being able to pawn it off to another player during a private auction… that sort of take-that shadenfreud.
It makes the game mildly amusing. But at least the game is short.
Stoopid Warning: “The dollar values which are associated with paintings in the Masterpiece game are not representative of their actual market value.”
The Masterpiece board game is not terrible, but really only bearable because of the artwork. If you’re playing with 8 year olds, this is a sound choice. Opponents 12 and older should just graduate to Modern Art.