The above box cover and cards are from the first time I played LANDLORD. It was in 1992, designed by Friedemann Friese
and published by Abacusspiele. It was (still is) a fun game for 2-6 players and was best with 4 players for speed and interaction.
Below is the 2013 edition, still by Friedemann Friese, still for 2-6 players, still best with 4 players, but now all cards are in colour
the box is somewhat larger and squarer, the publishing company is Friedemann's own 2F Spiele, and the backs of the cards still
represent the apartments that make up the buildings from where you will make your rent money - it is still all about money ofc.
If you already own the earlier version don't let that put you off obtaining the new edition. The game is, of course basically the same,
but Friedemann has introduced some extra fun to make this (almost) a brand new game.
For example there are new tenants, such as the Hackers, who set up an internet connection when they share a building and for the
opportunity to do this they pay extra rent. Then there is the Scientist who creates friendly Monsters and sets them up in their own
apartments where they can take tea with their teddy bear and play games with their other toys.
The game is played in continuous rounds, that is once a start player has been chosen play just goes round clockwise until the stack of
cards runs out. The cards are shuffled and a hand dealt to each player. Roof cards and the Jail Cell are set aside before shuffling begins
as these are not cards you can draw from the main deck - you purchase Roofs and the Police (card) may put you in Jail. Players then
sort their cards in their hands as they see fit, using the backs of some cards to form a floors (apartments) of a building or buildings. Each
building once started must be completed in the same round; adding a roof completes the structure. The first roof you require is free but
from then on there is a cost depending on the number of buildings you have standing.
Having built what aspires to a block of flats (or perhaps a single-storey bungalow) and capped it with a roof you can add tenants from your
hand - you can even place tenants in other player's buildings. On each tenant card there is a fixed rent which they will pay and a building
level which shows the extent (height) of the building they will only settle in. The tenant cards are generally played in landscape position,
though there are a few cards that need to be positioned Portrait style. For example Nobles will only live in a one-level building but being
Nobles they require height so their idea of one level is actually two for everyone else. They occupy both floors of a building and will allow
no other tenants in said building. Most tenants have rules specific to them, all of which are fairly obvious from the text on the cards, but just
in case there is any confusion there are necessary descriptions in the rules booklet.
Once players have played a couple of games they will have learned the cards and their actions - there are just enough cards to make the first
playing a little difficult (as in reminding yourself of the possible actions for each card) but the illustrations and text are very good and clear.
Turns are played in a specific order, so players, when it is their go use the cards in their hand to build, add tenants, buy roofs and complete
buildings, attack opponents buildings by using Demolish, Eviction, Squatters etc - anything that to reduce opponent's rent - then collect their
own rent, including that from tenants placed this turn. They may then buy cards at 1 coin each for up to 5; if they want more than 5 cards the
cost goes up in increments. These newly bought cards cannot be used until their next turn unless they are remedies to attacks, such as Alibi for
a Police Raid. In amongst the action card deck are Flat Roof Tops which count as roofs, thus preventing the need to buy additional roof tops.
Generally you cannot add any more floors to a building once it has a roof but there are a couple of exceptions. One is a roof expansion that is
placed on top of a roof card (ie actually placed over the roof card) and then there is a Basement expansion which is placed under the bottom
card of a building. Neither of these expansions count as another floor and thus do not affect any tenants already in place by expanding the size
of the building per se.
Naturally there is an amount of luck as you are dealt cards from a shuffled deck and you then buy cards blind from the same deck, but there is
also an amount of strategy as you decide which cards to play and which to use as apartments - once a card has been played face down so that it
becomes part of a building it cannot be turned back and its action side used.
I have mentioned rent so I think I should explain that there are four values of coin which are available in the form of plastic counters imprinted with
their value; Blue (1s) Yellow (5s) Orange (10s) and Green (50s). Players begin the game with only 3 Blue coins and as it is the player with the most
money when the game ends you can see how important getting tenants is. There are remedy cards that counter some actions played against you. I have
a tendency to play either too safely, holding onto these cards incase I get attacked rather than using them as building levels (apartments), or I use them
all as apartments and end up losing my tenants and/or buildings to opposition attack cards. Mind you I have won games playing both ways and also by
trying to keep a happy medium, balancing the card's building and defensive qualities - there is something to be said to going on the offensive a lot too.
In other words, I have yet to find a strategy that will win more times than not, and that is the mark of a good game.
When you consider the fun game mechanics, the humourous illustrations on the cards, the new inclusions and of course the possibilities of sticking it
to your opponents every turn, this new edition is a delight. If you are going to revise a very good old game then this is a prime example of how to do it.