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Re-Thinking the Game of Monopoly
May 17, 2014 9:35 AM   Subscribe

K. Mike Merrill at BigThink has some ideas on how to modernize Monopoly while helping players better understand the nature of our financial system.
posted by reenum (39 comments total) 16 users marked this as a favorite

 
Rule #1: Let the plebs fight over the battleship/racecar/silver nose-cork. Always volunteer to be the banker.

The writer is also the K. Mike Merrill that sold shares of himself.
posted by wcfields at 9:41 AM on May 17 [2 favorites]


Rule #0: Start one player with several billion more than the other players, ensure that any and all other rule changes are vetted through this player.
posted by Cosine at 10:00 AM on May 17 [46 favorites]


Yeah, really. Perhaps a rule that states that players who would be helped by a union have a high chance of being distrustful of them?
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 10:04 AM on May 17 [5 favorites]


EVE Online needs to get a board game.
posted by Sticherbeast at 10:05 AM on May 17 [3 favorites]


MMO Monopoly, MMO problems...
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:06 AM on May 17 [4 favorites]


Monopoly was invented as an anti-capitalist Georgeist allegory. The point of the banker is that they can so easily get away with cheating.
posted by idiopath at 10:08 AM on May 17 [5 favorites]


i like the new cat piece.
posted by bruce at 10:08 AM on May 17 [2 favorites]


This article just gave me one of those "this is really fun and interesting, and I should maybe make a Metafilter post? How did I get here again, maybe those links would help flesh out the post? Oh right, Metafilter link" moments.

If only we could figure out how to monetize these moments.
posted by nubs at 10:21 AM on May 17 [2 favorites]


Some of the comments were lauding a game called Acquire. Anyone played it? Is it fun/comparable?
posted by oceanjesse at 10:27 AM on May 17


It's quite enjoyable (and highly ranked on Board Game Geek -- currently one spot above Settlers of Catan), and comparable in the sense that you're playing for your own benefit while simultaneously trying not to hurt the other players too much because you're likely invested in their success as well.
posted by Etrigan at 10:35 AM on May 17 [1 favorite]


Acquire looks pretty awesome. Thanks for bringing it up, oceanjesse!
posted by reenum at 11:03 AM on May 17


I've always thought that, accidentally of course, Monopoly encapsulates the existential dilemma perfectly: you're "winning" but now nobody wants to keep playing; the people still "playing" know they are doomed (although perhaps house rules, Free Parking?) yet keep playing to keep everyone happy.
posted by digitalprimate at 11:15 AM on May 17 [6 favorites]


helping players better understand the nature of our financial system

Oregon Trail 5evah
posted by Iris Gambol at 11:21 AM on May 17 [2 favorites]


An anarchist Monopoly would be so much more amusing...
posted by Alexandra Kitty at 11:24 AM on May 17 [1 favorite]


Acquire is great. It's one of the 5-6 games my family keeps coming back to year after year.
posted by benito.strauss at 11:29 AM on May 17 [1 favorite]


Instant Sociopath: just add Monopoly!
posted by Phlegmco(tm) at 11:50 AM on May 17 [3 favorites]


Now I'm trying to decide what the squares would be...

Food Not Bombs (everyone at the table gets "fed" maybe?)

Argument With Parents (no allowance this round - is this too mean spirited?)

Dibs on the "invisible backpack" playing piece.
posted by idiopath at 11:56 AM on May 17 [1 favorite]


You could always just sit down for a nice game of Blacks & Whites.
posted by The Card Cheat at 12:00 PM on May 17 [4 favorites]


Own no property or only property on the first quarter of the board? Go directly to jail. Do not pass Go. Own property in the middle? Maybe you'd like to see about a lawyer. Own property on the last fifth of the board? Sorry to bother you. Perhaps there's another player you'd like to see held responsible for this.
posted by TimTypeZed at 12:04 PM on May 17 [10 favorites]


1. If any other player is winning, banker may print more money to devalue their savings
2. Whoever has the most money can decide to lobby the banker to throw out one rule
3. If you complete a monopoly, the banker will issue you enough cash to win at the end (too big to fail).
4. Money is speech, so the richest player gets to read passages from Atlas Shrugged until all other players leave or are converted.
5. If you run out of money, you will not collect any cash when passing go. The only way out of this is to get a magical "Bootstraps" card.
posted by benzenedream at 12:11 PM on May 17 [13 favorites]


When you land on a street, you don't just buy it. You put in an offer, and the bank has until your next turn to accept it. If another player lands on the same street in the meantime, he can make a higher offer. Then you can counter-offer and waive inspection contingency. Every time a player makes an offer he has to fill in and sign a bunch of forms in triplicate (focus groups have reported they enjoy this portion of the game much more than actually playing original Monopoly). If the player has a spouse, they have to have an argument about this. The other players evaluate the argument to make sure it is sufficiently realistic.

Every 20 turns, the real estate market crashes and the value and return on all properties drop to 25% of nominal value. Over the 20 turns that follow a crash, these values grow in arithmetic progression to 200% of nominal value.
posted by Behemoth at 12:26 PM on May 17 [12 favorites]


Along a similar vein, I tried my hand at modernizing Stock Ticker a while back.

Haven't had a chance to try it yet though, I haven't had the time/invested the effort into finding/making a Stock Ticker board to play it on.
posted by Imperfect at 12:29 PM on May 17


Acquire is fun. It's a good tournament/series game, too, because runners up can do pretty well so tracking cumulative score over a few games is interesting.
posted by michaelh at 12:32 PM on May 17 [1 favorite]


Acquire isn't bad, but it might suffer a bit in that the "game" there is pretty much just tile placement, which doesn't objectively feel like the kind of game it is. The act of building a company is reduced to just placing one of a number of arbitrary tiles in your hand in its proper spot on the board.

This can be said about all games to some extent, of course, and is mostly a factor in how people are socialized to accept how money games should play.
posted by JHarris at 12:40 PM on May 17


(╯°□°)╯︵ ┻━┻ Fizzbin!
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 12:42 PM on May 17 [2 favorites]


All of the players should roll the dice before starting and be given cash equivalent to 10x what they rolled. That way those with the most can feel smugly superior that they won a game of chance right out of the gate.
posted by bleep at 3:35 PM on May 17 [3 favorites]


If you want to mimic real world wealth distributions, it should be more like you get 10x dollars, so that the poorest player might start with 10 while the richest could have 1,000,000.
posted by Pyry at 3:45 PM on May 17 [1 favorite]


Make it more hopeful by allowing a player to choose to play as "the people" who liberate properties instead of buying them and get to send the banker to jail permanently if they catch him stealing. No, I know it's not realistic.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 4:23 PM on May 17 [1 favorite]


Acquire isn't bad, but it might suffer a bit in that the "game" there is pretty much just tile placement, which doesn't objectively feel like the kind of game it is. The act of building a company is reduced to just placing one of a number of arbitrary tiles in your hand in its proper spot on the board.

Yes, and I think the other problem is you don't have as many significant stock-buying options as it can sometimes appear. But, the tile game, even if abstract and a bit random, gets pretty interesting in the middle of the game when you have the most usable information about future mergers, and the less often your opponents suicide-purchase stock against you, the more often you can make interesting bets in other companies.

Heard of games that use another company-building mechanic that Acquire's stock mechanic could be grafted onto? I can't see any reason why not to try it.
posted by michaelh at 4:25 PM on May 17 [1 favorite]


helping players better understand the nature of our financial system

So board games based on a legal mafia?
posted by juiceCake at 4:48 PM on May 17


I rather like Mozopoly, but there really should be an Electric Company square with the title "There Is A Light That Never Goes Out." Also, the Jail square should be called "I've Changed My Plea To Guilty."
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 5:02 PM on May 17


Add in cultural pieces that improve rental value on properties? Nah, lengthens game.

Add eminent domain rules that let players who are 2/3 of the way to a monopoly force a purchase of the remaining space if the holding player doesn't have more houses/hotels developed on that space. Better.

Take the game out into the back yard and set it on fire. Best.
posted by BrotherCaine at 5:37 PM on May 17 [3 favorites]


Stock is a huge part of Itadeki Street/Fortune Street. The playfield is divided into colored blocks of property, which any player can buy into. Furthermore, the "value" of a block is based on both capital investment (improvement to property by the owner) and investment (large purchases of stock increase value, large sales decrease). The result is that the game has an entire additional dynamic for gaining wealth - you can invest in districts owned by other players and gain on their investment (and get dividends when they get payments!), then sell out and crash the stock.

It's a shame that we only got one of the games in the series here in the US.
posted by NoxAeternum at 5:58 PM on May 17 [2 favorites]


A great previous post about the history of Monopoly.
posted by latkes at 6:24 PM on May 17


Heard of games that use another company-building mechanic that Acquire's stock mechanic could be grafted onto? I can't see any reason why not to try it.

I wasn't trying to talk it down, just explain my own experience with it. I do like it, but the one time we played it in our group the others didn't really see a need to try it again.
posted by JHarris at 7:10 PM on May 17


Also it's worth noting (gee I say that a lot) that there is an official Stock Exchange expansion for Monopoly. It's little heard of these days, and from what I've read it doesn't seem like it adds much to the game other than additional randomness.
posted by JHarris at 7:13 PM on May 17


JHarris, I suspect your gaming group is a little more hardcore than most people who are starting from Monopoly. (The fact that they belong to a gaming group in the first place is pretty good evidence.)

I tend to be the most into games of the people I play with, and among these folk, I find Acquire to be a pretty good next step up from Monopoly.
posted by benito.strauss at 9:55 PM on May 17


Acquire is an excellent game. But the best game I have played for buying/investing is the 18xx series of rail games. Really, they are a stock market game with the rail portion tacked on, and they are suprisingly fun to play.
posted by Vindaloo at 9:36 AM on May 18


My own favorite money game has to be Power Grid. It performs the trick of having money and possessions really matter to the game while in large part avoiding the problem common to many of these games, where the leader can use the advantages that put him in the lead to widen that lead and end up the obvious winner with half the game left to play. It doesn't have a stock market component, but it does have a commodities market players participate in to get the fuel they need to provide electricity.
posted by JHarris at 2:36 PM on May 18 [3 favorites]


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