Saturday, February 11, 2006

Fixing Monopoly

A hilarious summary of a Monopoly gaming session:
At about the three and one half hours mark, the mood of the game was definitely down. Everybody was yawning, and Chad was playing with action figures between turns. I had a novel I was a reading.

Not much had changed by four hours, and Jason said he was quitting. Thankfully, I followed suit. And then Chad. Jenny, in exasperation, claimed the win because everybody else had abandonded the game.

Nobody cared.
Sounds a lot like some Monopoly sessions I've played. I always love the first half of the game, but it tends to fizzle as it winds down. How do you fix a game like that?
  1. Time limits won't work, because they are anticlimactic and arbitrary. You need a clear climax, where a winner takes a risk and triumphs.
  2. Winning tends to work by wearing other players down. A better solution would introduce some kind of double-or-nothing risks--like Final Jeopardy--that at least give those behind a chance.
  3. Partnerships and free landings, which encourage the uniting of monopolies and the building of houses and hotels, must be used. (Plus, negotiation is fun.) But these are not enough.
So what do I propose?

The best single rule improvement I've heard is the "tax man" piece idea (taken from Play Again Games)--where a nonplayer piece moves around the board, charging rent rather than paying it. It equalizes players and adds drama, as well as taking cash out of the game so that building is riskier and the game is shorter.