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How To Play Mall World (8 Minute Guide)

How To Play Mall World (8 Minute Guide)


Summary: Mall World is a cult classic that was produced by Andrea Meyer and published by Rio Grande Games in 2004.  In this game you play the role of a contractor that wants to dominate the construction of the largest mall ever built.  To do this, you will have to control contracts of the shops within the mall, and the ability to rent these shops out to different types of people.  Depending on the number of players, you will use the game’s unique bribing, bidding, and asset control capabilities to work towards earning the most money overall by the end of the game.  This little-known game can be difficult to find but people wanting a copy will find it frequently on Amazon and Ebay.


To have the most money at the end of the game. 


Set up board in the appropriate play area.

4 Players – Place the Storage Room Tile on the board.

3 Players – Place the Storage Room and Bathroom tile on the board.

Make sure that the placement of these tiles does not isolate any portion of the mall.  Randomly add each color tile to the board, ensuring that none of their edges are touching. 

Place the Slush Fund tile adjacent to the board.

Color code the Customer Tokens and Shop Tiles and consolidate them next to the board.

Shuffle the Approval Cards

Each player should be given only 1 Special Blue Contract and 4 Approval Cards.  Place the rest of the Approval Cards, information side down, next to the board.  Flip the top four Approval Cards and place them next to the board.  Players can draw from these cards during the game.

When only 3 players are playing, remove 3 Green Contracts and 3 Red Contracts and place them in the box without revealing their information.  These contracts are out of game. 

Shuffle the Green and Red Contracts into separate decks.  On the designated space on the board, place the green deck and then add the red deck to the top of that space.  Draw the top four cards and place them information side up in the lobby, filling the spaces from right to left.

Shuffle the Bribe Chips face down and then randomly draw enough for all players plus 1 and add them to the Mall Bureau area.  Retain the other chips on the side for alternate game play.    

Each player will receive 2 markers by color and 1 Overview card.  On the Money Track, each player will add their marker to the $20,000 indicator.  Each player receives 5 Coins for liquid capital. 

Information on the coins is kept a secret.

Excess Player Markers, Coins or Overviews can be moved to the box.

Turn Flow:

                Players determine who has on the cheapest outfit, and that player plays the first turn.  Turns continue clockwise throughout the game.

During a player’s turn, they will:

  1. Buy a contract (optional)
  2. Auction Approval cards or play a contract (mandatory)
  3. Discard and/or draw Approval cards (optional)
  4. Distribute Slush Fund, when appropriate

Once a round starts, the player that would have been next in the previous round starts the new round.

Game Play:

  1. Buying a Contract (Optional)

One contract (from the four displayed in the lobby) can be purchased for the price displayed on it per turn.  When a contract is purchased, all remaining contracts are slid to the right and the furthest left space is filled with a new contract from the contract draw pile.  If the player chooses not to buy a contract, then they must place their Game Piece in the lobby.  If all players do this and their Game Pieces are in the lobby at the beginning of a turn, the cheapest visible contract (in the lobby) is discarded from the game and replaced before the player begins their turn.  If Game Pieces are in the lobby and a contract is purchased, all Game Pieces go back to their owners. 

If a Green Contract is pulled during the first round, discard all the Red Contracts and fill the lobby with Green ContractsThe Red Contracts that the players have in their hands must still be played in the game

  • Auction Approval Cards or Play a Contract (Mandatory)

1 of 2 actions (Auction Approval cards or play a Contract) must be completed during this step. 

Auction Approval Cards

1 Card – The player plays one Approval Card by placing it faceup in front of them.  This requires a payment to the Slush Fund and will allow the player to execute the action on the card one time.  This means that only one Shop Tile can be placed.  (If anyone has a Green Contract, or if the 2nd round has started, the player has the option of executing the other action listed at the bottom of the card which will allow them to place a customer on the shown tile color).

2 Cards – The player puts out two Approval Cards for auction.  All other players will bid for the ability to execute the card discreetly placing coins in their hand.  When everyone has done this all players will disclose what coins they have in their hand.  If there is a tie, the higher bid will be considered the tied player closest to the active player using the turn flow direction.  Once the bidder has been determined, they pay their bid to the Slush Fund and will execute their card of choice.  The other card will be executed by the active player for free.  If 2 cards are presented and no one wishes to bid on the cards, then the active player will execute both cards for free.

3 Cards – Apply the same actions as you would with 2 cards with the exception that the two highest bidders will select cards in order of the highest bidder.  If no one bids on the cards, the active player will execute all three cards.

When a card is used it is placed in the discard deck and will be shuffled once cards are no longer available.  Unusable cards have to still be placed up for “Auction” and players will still have to bid, or the active player will have to pay to have it completely removed from the game. 

Play a Contract

The player will select 1 of their contracts (including their Special Blue Contract) and place it face up in front of them.  The player then takes an available Bribe Chip from the Mall Bureau.  The player then moves their marker on the money track to reflect the bribes value.  (The card will not score until the end of the round.  If the last Bribe Chip was taken, they round will end with the player’s turn.  Cards and special contacts in a player’s hand do not score). 

In the third round, players auction Approval Cards and play a contract.

  • Discard and/or Draw Approval Cards (Optional)

Players can draw up to 2 cards for free from the displayed Approval Cards into their hand if they don’t exceed the 8-card limit.  After cards are drawn, the same player will replenish the display with fresh cards from the Approval Card draw deck. 

If no desirable cards are displayed the player can replenish all the faceup Approval Cards by paying 2 coins.  This can be done if the player is willing to pay the 2-coin cost.  This method can be used to remove unusable cards from the game. 

If the draw pile is exhausted shuffle the discarded Approval Cards into a new deck. 

  • Distribute Slush Fund (Mandatory)

If the Slush Fund has at least 1 coin for every player, distribute all coins evenly to all players.  If any coins are left (odd number of coins) leave them in the fund for a later turn. 

End of Round:

When the last chip is taken from the Mall Bureau, the player completes their turn and the round ends.


Red Contracts – Count the number of times that the contract’s combination of tiles appear on the board.  Use the amount shown for the combination to move the player’s money marker on the board.  One tile can be used for two combinations, but two tiles can only be counted once.  Tiles in a basic combination cannot be counted with a customer on it. 

Green Contracts – Each image is treated separately.  Count each time the image is on the board with a customer of the appropriate color on the card.  Not all images are required to score the card.

Blue Contracts – The tiles must be adjacent and match the exact shop-customer combinations.  It is rare, but if the image occurs more than once, it is scored for each occurrence. 

All contracts are only scored when played within the round they are played.  All scored contracts are removed from the game.  Each player takes back their Game Piece.  Shuffle all bribe chips and replace the bureau bribe chips with a fresh set face up. 

3 Players – 4 Bribe Chips in 2nd round; 6 Bribe Chips in 3rd round

4 Players – 5 Bribe Chips in 2nd round; 8 Bribe Chips in 3rd round

5 Players – 6 Bribe Chips in 2nd round; 10 Bribe Chips in 3rd round

Common Rules:

At the start of the 2nd round, remove all Red Contracts from the lobby.  If any, slide Green Contracts to the right and then fill the empty spaces with new Green ContractsPlayers do retain their Red Contracts to play

Ending Conditions: 

Typically, the game ends at the end of the third round. 

The game can end early if one of the two following conditions are met:  When all colored tiles have covered all empty spaces, or the exhaustion of all contracts for sale in the lobby. 

Winning Conditions:  The player with the most money wins. 

Mall World: Original Rule Book is the Worst… of the Worst

A blog, review, or comment probably does not exist in any world that says that the Rule Book that comes with Mall World is useful at all.  Don’t be discouraged though, this game has been so important to some players that they felt it was important enough to create an adaptation of the rule book to benefit other players.  This alternate rule book was adapted by Christine Biancheria and can be downloaded as a Word document at

Auctioning Approval Cards in a 3-Player Game

When playing with three players, a player can offer two to three cards for auction but they must participate in a closed fist bid with the other players.  If the active player wins a bid, they will still be able to play the free card also.  Active players are always the high bid in the event of a tie. 

Quick/Long Game:

To reduce or increase the amount of time and play that occurs during the game, the players have the option of manipulating the Bribe Chips in the third round (normally the Bribe Chips almost double).  This will change the length of the third round.  Two game ending conditions can still be met to end the game where all contracts have been exhausted or no more tiles remain on the game board. (When the chip count is not increased, players have noted that the third round is almost non-existent). 

Quick Info: 

Time: 80 Minutes

Ages:  12+

Community Suggested Ages:  12+

Expansions: No current expansions.

Community Rating:  5.5

Overall Rank: 12844

Difficulty:  2.88/5

Published Year:  2004

Designer:  Andrea Meyer

Publisher Credits: Rio Grande Games

Official Site: None

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