Game at a Glance
A review copy of this game was provided by the publisher; however, my opinions are my own
If you had 49 Zillion Dollars burning a hole in your pocket, what would you do with it? If your answer is “buy up as many zany roadside attractions as possible” then you’re in luck – that is exactly the premise of Zillionaires: Road Trip USA.
Players begin the game with $49 zillion and “Sold” chips in their chosen color. The game consists of a 7×7 grid board marked with numbers and a deck of roadside attraction cards that correspond to grid locations. Every round a property card is revealed and players take turns bidding on location. Whoever is willing to spend the most gets to claim the space. The goal is to own four properties in a row (just three in a 5-player game), either vertically, horizontally, or diagonally.
There is pattern building in this game that will feel familiar to anybody who’s played Connect Four. However, the addition of the auction, area majority, and bluffing mechanics elevate Zillionaires: Road Trip USA into something much more engaging and enjoyable.
Players should always be working on securing four properties in a row, but bidding on properties in other areas is important, too. More properties lead to bigger payouts when the Pay Day cards are flipped, and having an income stream is crucial to staying competitive. Players can start bidding wars but should know when to back out. Raising the cost of unwanted properties is a great way to bankrupt your opponents. Be careful – it is easy to push your luck too far and get stuck paying an excessive amount for an unwanted location.
This is a fairly lightweight game with simple mechanics. It lends itself well to families with older children and also works well as a light, highly interactive party game for adults.
There is a very short rulebook that is easy to understand which made learning and teaching this game a snap. The game setup is incredibly fast, as well, so getting this one to the table on a whim is no problem. My rulebook had a misprint concerning the two-player variant that is pretty obviously a mistake, but players should know this in case they are hoping to try it at that count.
The differences in gaming experiences will mostly come from the player interaction more so than the game itself, although it does come with plenty of property cards that will always come out in a different order.
This is an abstract game and the grid board has nothing to do with the map of the USA. That doesn’t mean the theme isn’t enjoyable – the roadside attractions are zany and represent real places. I recently visited the Idaho Potato Museum and was delighted to find it in the game. Any theme could have been pasted onto this game, but I appreciate that this one is unique and that the silliness of the subject matches the gameplay.
Big Potato Games did a great job with the eco-friendly packaging. The box comes with a cardboard insert, paper money, and no shrinkwrap. It seems like there was an effort to keep the packaging and components functional while still reducing the use of unnecessary plastic.
The wooden gavel in the game is a novelty, but a huge hit for all ages. I’m never a fan of paper money in games but since players are supposed to keep their bank accounts a secret, having 1-sided paper money is a good option. The cards in the game are thin but they don’t get handled much, so I don’t consider it a problem. The minimalist cartoon art won’t be turning any heads, but it works well with the light-hearted theme.
There are no variable player powers so no one person gets any sort of game-given advantage. Any balancing issues will likely come from skill imbalances rather than the game’s design.
Zillionaires: Road Trip USA is an auction game so it is heavy on social interaction. It facilitates bidding wars, table talk, and bluffing while leaving plenty of room open for social chatting as well. There is direct competition in the game – people can and should try to outbid others on properties they don’t need or at least try to drive the prices up in hopes their competition runs out of money. But the lighthearted nature of the game helps to prevent the interactions from slipping into something that feels mean-spirited.
This is a loud, fast-paced, and heavily-interactive party game. There’s very little downtime between turns because unless you run out of money, you can participate in the bidding each turn. Even when a player runs low on cash they can resort to table-talk and still potentially affect the outcome of bids. The decisions made in the game are simple yet meaningful. This game can be a lot of fun with the right group.
When I first read the rules to Zillionaires: Road Trip USA, I made an initial comparison to Connect Four and was concerned it would be a little too simple to hold my attention for long. The race to four properties in a row isn’t all that exciting in itself, but the addition of the auction, area majority, and money-management elements turned it into a fun group experience with more depth than I was expecting.
This one can work well as a family game for older children. The suggested age of 8+ seems about right. Players who are skilled at bidding games and enjoy the bluffing and press-your-luck aspect that is often baked into these types of games should find a lot to like here as well.
I am not all that fond of party games in general, but I have genuinely enjoyed each play of this one because of the player interactions it facilitates. It’s one I can play with my family, introduce to new gamers, or use as a quick filler game with my adult gaming group. I even set up a kids-only game of Zillionaires and they were able to run it on their own and had a good time without a single fight. It is versatile enough that I can see it getting a decent amount of play despite not being the type of game I typically reach for.
I highly recommend this one for families and people looking for an easy-to-learn party game. If you enjoy bluffing, bidding and table-talk, you should check out Zillionaires: Road Trip USA.