Monza takes place on a board that depicts an oval race track with three lanes. Each lane is divided-up into staggered spaces of six various colours. Players take a wonderfully chunky wooden race car in the colour of their choice (which doesn’t relate to the colours on the track) and place it onto the corresponding starting arrow.
The dice in the game all show a colour on each face. On your turn you roll all six identical dice and attempt to move your car according to the colours rolled.
To do this you will look at the available spaces in front of your car and allocate (discard) a die of the same colour to move into that space. You will then do the same again and again until you have used all six dice or you do not have any dice that match the available spaces.
Keep On Rolling
Oh, and moving backwards is not allowed! Indeed, a change of lane is only possible is the far end of the neighbouring space is ahead of the space you currently occupy.
On the track there are some grey spaces with abandoned tyres. These spaces may not be entered and must be evaded. While moving your car you may enter and pass through spaces containing other racers. However, if you end your turn on a space with another racer then that racer is moved back to the next available space in the same lane.
When the first car reaches one of the finishing spaces the current round is completed so that all racers have had an equal number of turns. If at the end of this round there is only one racer on a finishing space, they win. But if there is more than one racer on a finishing space, the winner is the player who used the least dice in the final round.
My wife usually acquires presents for the family, so much so that the children know who to thank. So, a while ago I had the idea of a special “Daddy Present” for birthdays and Christmases, where I would get them a special present just from me. A couple of Christmases ago I bought my second daughter Monza and it proved to be a big hit!
Monza plays so quickly that you will often find that you play a series of races in a session. I guess you could keep tabs on placings from race to race and create your own championship league. At player counts of two to three we have played a slight variant where we control two cars per player. This adds to the complexity slightly and fills the racetrack nicely.
Moving your racer ahead is compulsory if you have a dice that matches an available space. I like this rule because it stops negative play. You could, in theory, purposefully end your turn on another racer, forcing them back. This would most likely start a tit-for-tat mini-battle that would sour the mood. It would also take the focus away from the real aim, which is to finish the race.
Final Thoughts on Monza
For what is, essentially, a simple game Monza is surprisingly tense and fun. It always produces several "Monza Moments". For example, when you're praying that you roll a red in order to get out of the chicane on the far straight, and don't. Or when you’re in last place then get a perfect roll on the final bend and glide past your opponents.
Be aware that Monza is a game intended for children and families. I wouldn’t necessarily suggest you get this game for an adult gaming session down the pub. There just aren’t enough meaningful decisions to make it appeal to adults.
I’d also say that Monza is a game your children will eventually grow out of as they progress onto more complex games. But that’s okay! I have had plenty of great times playing this game with my second daughter. I'm also looking forward to playing it with my son when he gets to an age where he doesn’t just want to post the dice under the sofa!