Complaints about Monopoly

Alright, I may have done this before but lets have a few complaints about Monopoly. The game isn’t really all that interesting, and doesn’t have that much going on for it. A lot of times people lump Monopoly in with Risk, because of the positive feedback loop. Being in the lead allows you to be further in the lead by strengthening your position. And while that aspect is true for both games: in monopoly, if you have a bunch of property, you are more likely to make more money to allow you to buy more property; in risk, if you own a bunch of countries, you gain more reinforcement troops which allow you to conquer more countries. The comparisons are quite valid, and lots of people make points about them.

In quick defense of the game that I wasted many many hours in (Risk) even though there is this type of feedback, a lot of cases its the player’s fault if they don’t target the person who is in the lead. Sure sometimes it’s impossible to stop (like cashing in cards) but with average dice, there can be enough player interaction to take the leader down a peg or two. It may take a little time to crown a victor, but that time is spent jockeying for position. In monopoly, interaction is limited (at best) and that time is spent watching the richest person rack up positive cash each loop around the board. And likely, the $200 bonus from passing go isn’t enough for the losing players to make up the difference.

So if you haven’t seen it yet, there’s an internet post floating around about the shortest possible game of Monopoly. While I applaud the players for attempting to play the Shortest game possible. But there’s one major problem, that’s a problem with most Monopoly games. They don’t play by the rules. Now there’s a major difference between saying Monopoly’s Shortest game, and Monopoly’s Shortest game with our own house rules. I know that few people actually play the auctioning rules, but they speed up the game dramatically. This shortest game obviously isn’t using them. Luckily they don’t play with any other house rules, (or if they are the game is too short to focus on them) but as an amateur game designer, a lot of time is spent tweaking balance in a game. Now you might not like the idea of auctioning, or think it might be too complex for the kids to play, but the problem is: once you’ve played a handful of games without those rules, you’ll never play the actual rules.

There are a few comments about auctioning, but the original poster just claims they both decline to bid anything. The original rules stated that a property must be sold to the highest bidder in an auction. In fact, no auctioning occurs in their game which speeds up the movement, but also is unrealistic. Noone actually says “i’m not going to bid” and they just run through the game as if it’s assumed. Hell, if someone said I’m not going to bid, I’d bid a $1 just to get cheap property.

Hell don’t get me wrong. I don’t have that much against adding rules to speed up a game or make things more interesting. But the auction rules aren’t being played, and people never read the rules to realize they are missing anything. How else can we get word out? When I was much younger, we used to play a variant of Rummy 500 with all types of crazy rules. Instead of drawing 13 cards to be able to play everything we allowed more matches to go through. Just a few that I can remember off the top of my head are: crosswords (reusing a card for both a run and a triple), cousins (runs of the same color), around the corner (K-A-2 run). This sped up the game, and allowed some fun rulings.

Hell we used to play 7 card stud with crazy wildcards. Winning with a pair was boring, but winning with a straight flush! That was something. We used the baseball or the woolworth wild rules. Baseball, 3’s and 9’s were wild and 4’s were an extra card. Woolworth 5’s and 10’s were wild, and 6’s were an extra card. Basball makes sense: strikes and innings are wilds, a walk is an extra card. With Woolworth, everything in the store was 5 cents or 10 cents (maybe when my parents were growing up) but I have no idea where the 6 came in. Looking online, it doesn’t seem like anyone actually used this extra card for Woolworth so I wouldn’t be surprised if we just made that up. Possibly, 6 represented the Sales Tax in New Jersey. Although from a game flavor standpoint, giving you an extra card for tax doesn’t make sense.

So anyway, Monopoly sucks and you shouldn’t play it. If the best game you are playing is Monopoly, try switching over to family friendly games like Ticket to Ride, Carcassonne or Settlers of Catan.

Leave a Reply