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Pay Poor Tax: $12
October 13, 2011 8:46 AM   Subscribe

If you're occupying a financial center, you might want to pass the time with a game of Monopoly. Though Hasbro gives ahighly contested "official history" asserting that the game was invented by an unemployed Philadelphia man, it actually originated 30 years earlier as The Landlord's Game, an anti-capitalist protest against the movement of wealth from poor to rich via real estate profiteering. Designed and patented by a Georgist Quaker woman, Elizabeth Maggie, in 1904, it was published by her Economic Game Company, but also spread far and wide - including in circles of socialist-leaning academic economists like Scott Nearing - as a hand-drawn and independently printed folk game. posted by Miko (24 comments total) 45 users marked this as a favorite

 
I'd love a copy. Board Game Geek's take.
posted by postel's law at 9:07 AM on October 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


This is good news! My whole life I have refused to play Monopoly because I assumed it was all about money and profit and all that capitalist crap. Maybe now I will allow myself to try a game. Thanks!
posted by Hobgoblin at 9:20 AM on October 13, 2011


I had no idea, that's a really cool bit of trivia.

My whole life I have refused to play Monopoly because I assumed it was all about money and profit and all that capitalist crap

It is, when you're winning!
posted by Hoopo at 9:22 AM on October 13, 2011


It's such an infuriating game. Somehow knowing that it is supposed to be doesn't make me want to play it any more. Now I'm going to invent ice cream that tastes terrible and music that hurts your ears.
posted by jph at 9:23 AM on October 13, 2011


1. The best educated player will be named as the Banker.
2. The Banker may use the Bank for personal funds.
posted by crapmatic at 9:30 AM on October 13, 2011 [7 favorites]


Cheap Ass Games roundly trounce Parker Brothers/Hasbro games, including Monopoly. Did I mention many are free to print yourself?

There are libraries at OWS events via projects, apparently somebody made an Anti-monopoloy for one too.

There have been several software projects inspired by the Arab Spring and OccupyWallStreet/Everywhere too, like Telex and I'm Getting Arrested. I guess our songs post didn't have enough material though.
posted by jeffburdges at 9:30 AM on October 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


Great post.
posted by cashman at 9:35 AM on October 13, 2011


Even when you "win" Monopoly, you've assumed all your opponents' mortgages, and you have no income except any property you can sell back to the bank to get out of debt. You sell this property at a 50% markdown! Someone should write a simulation and see if there is any chance of rolling around the board rent-free forever versus breaking the bank or losing all your cash to taxes, bills, and bank charges.
posted by mkb at 9:42 AM on October 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


(Errr, you also get income from passing Go and the occasional beneficial Chance or Community Chest)
posted by mkb at 9:42 AM on October 13, 2011


From the discussion at BGG:
How can you not love a game with this in the rules:

(Refers to the "chance cube" - later replaced by chance cards in Monopoly)

5: Caught robbing a hen-roost: Go to jail.
10: Caught robbing the public. Take $200 from the board. The players will now call you Senator.

(From the second patent rules)
posted by fings at 9:48 AM on October 13, 2011 [11 favorites]


Another fun game on class issues is The Drifter's Escape is a fun rpg where you have 2 GMs - "The Devil" and "The Man", and both of them try to take your soul.

It uses poker hands and if you don't like your hand, you can take the Devil's or the Man's hand. You don't know what's in their hand, and they're going to ask you to do stuff in exchange. They're totally free to lie to you as much as they want...
posted by yeloson at 9:50 AM on October 13, 2011 [3 favorites]


Even when you "win" Monopoly, you've assumed all your opponents' mortgages, and you have no income except any property you can sell back to the bank to get out of debt.

Yeah, but then you're too big to fail
posted by Hoopo at 9:53 AM on October 13, 2011 [4 favorites]


This is how I imagine the game of Monopoly is played at say, a J.P. Morgan corporate retreat.
posted by malocchio at 10:00 AM on October 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


Even when you "win" Monopoly, you've assumed all your opponents' mortgages, and you have no income except any property you can sell back to the bank to get out of debt.
This doesn't happen when I win at Monopoly but nobody will play with me...
posted by dickasso at 10:04 AM on October 13, 2011


Class Struggle has the players argue about who is least/most privileged by birth/race/class in order to determine who plays the capitalist and worker classes.
posted by BrotherCaine at 10:18 AM on October 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


I've written before here, several times, about my personal falling out with Monopoly. It's much too long for too little play. All the important decisions, that is, which properties to trade with players, are made early on, yet they are of such dire importance that trading is very difficult. After someone makes a color group, the other player's days are numbered unless they can also make a color group, yet most groups won't recognize this unless they've already played enough games of Monopoly that their souls have already been sucked by the game from their bodies, leaving a bunch of dried, blackened, pseudo-capitalist husks. Capriciously, sometimes a player gets a color group entirely by chance.

The importance of trading means more experienced players are highly standoffish about giving another player a color group without receive one of his own. Once color groups are gained, the game becomes the traditional hours-long slog of losing money to rents until everyone but one player has been eliminated. This is the part that causes the soul-sucking mentioned above. If the players are standoffish enough about trading and no one can unwind enough to trade with other players for fear of giving them a winning advantage, which is in fact most games I've played with friends, then the game becomes roll-yer-dice-move-yer-mice indefinitely, and purgatory is a more desirable fate than that slog.

mkb: Even when you "win" Monopoly, you've assumed all your opponents' mortgages, and you have no income except any property you can sell back to the bank to get out of debt. You sell this property at a 50% markdown! Someone should write a simulation and see if there is any chance of rolling around the board rent-free forever versus breaking the bank or losing all your cash to taxes, bills, and bank charges.

You don't need to run a computer simulation. There are only two substantive charges in the game for a single, highly-developed player circling the board: there is one Chance and one Community Chest card that charges players by the number of houses and hotels they have, the "street repair" cards. These cards are the only things that could hurt a well-healed player and throw the outcome of a game with only one player with a color group still alive into doubt. But keep in mind that Chance and Community chest cycle, so these cards only come up once every sixteen times landing on those spaces, and once all other players are eliminated the remaining player can entirely remove their impact by just selling off all hotels and houses. On the average, assuming you're paying no rent and have no chance of being hit by street repairs, you earn a bit of a profit each time around the board. The biggest charge left in the game is Income Tax, which if you're really rich you can just take the $75 option every time.

fings: (Refers to the "chance cube" - later replaced by chance cards in Monopoly)

A very little known fact is that Maggie herself borrowed the idea for The Landlord's Game from an immigrant from Tattooine.
posted by JHarris at 10:47 AM on October 13, 2011 [3 favorites]


Monopoly Deal is a fun 20-30 minute card game that manages to avoid the problem JHarris talks about by allowing people to steal property with certain cards.

OTOH, it still suffers from the issue that wealthy players are unlikely to get hurt (except by property theft) and that the winning "tactic" against that is to not "group" same colored properties, preventing people from stealing a pile at once.

I keep thinking I need to go back and come up with some house rules, since it's actually pretty fun, just lacking a little extra balance in strategic depth.
posted by yeloson at 11:03 AM on October 13, 2011


Unexploded Cow
posted by jeffburdges at 12:17 PM on October 13, 2011


The Forbes Gallery at 12th Street and 5th Ave in NYC houses Malcom Forbes' collection of toy boats and hand drawn Monopoly sets (and early prints of the Landlord's game).
The gallery is free, and is amazing. Monopoly lovers and haters in New York should check it out.
posted by DaveZ at 12:34 PM on October 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


Fascinating post. I used to draw boardgames for presents and just for fun. This story is really inspiring.
posted by mumimor at 1:23 PM on October 13, 2011


Now I'm going to invent ice cream that tastes terrible and music that hurts your ears.

Sorry, that's already been accomplished by Cherry Garcia and Jerry Garcia.

Thank you, thank you... I'll be here all week. Try the veal.
posted by jonp72 at 2:56 PM on October 13, 2011 [4 favorites]


Class Struggle has the players argue about who is least/most privileged by birth/race/class in order to determine who plays the capitalist and worker classes.

If you want to learn more about the board game Class Struggle, you may want to check out Confessions of a Marxist Businessman by Bertell Ollman, the Marxist political science professor who invented the game.
posted by jonp72 at 3:01 PM on October 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


In Survival of the Witless, when you begin each player draws a card indicating their gender, sexual orientation, and class background, which determines how many cards you get at the beginning of the game. A White, Hereditary Academic, Male Heterosexual gets the most, a Minority, Female, Working Class Homosexual gets the least.
posted by Snyder at 11:36 AM on October 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


This is amazing. Thanks.
posted by JackVarnell at 5:30 PM on October 16, 2011


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