The troubles with Monopoly, much better games to enjoy, and reasons why they are more enjoyable.

Monopoly’s problems

Today I was going to attend an afternoon board gaming event at Sam’s new place in Ilam, and yet at lunchtime another invite came in from Nicky about enjoying lunch and games nearby at Felix’s too. Due to the persistent rain it was a rather easy choice to make, and so we met up close by for an enjoyable afternoon of scrabble, Carcassonne, and Monopoly.

Well, I say enjoyable in terms of Monopoly but really it’s a game that’s only enjoyable for the winner. This is not just because others didn’t win, but mostly because there is little ability throughout the game to affect the outcome of the game.

The first half of the game consists of people circling the board gathering up everything that they land on. Nobody allows the property to be auctioned by the bank, and if needed they mortgage properties to be able to afford other ones. So there are no choices made by the players at all in any regard to this. The only choices that people get are when they go to jail, and you choose whether to attempt to roll doubles to get out or pay instead. That’s about the only choice that’s made in the first hour of play.

The second half of the game becomes more interesting when you negotiate with other players to complete a colour set so that you may build apartments on them, but invariably the game comes down to mortgaging many of your incomplete sets in order to add more apartments, and waiting for luck to land players on there.

Better games

There’s an excellent what’s wrong with Monopoly article that goes in to greater depth about the problems with the game, and also mentions many other better games and the reasons why they are better. For example:

  • Power Grid for a more closely matched game where it’s difficult to determine who will win right up until the end of the game
  • For Sale is a much more superior game to Monopoly because it rewards strategic play in much better ways
  • Dominion which has a variety of different starting conditions, resulting in a wider range of enjoyable ways to start the game
  • Puerto Rico which uses a depletion of resources to much more creatively make players use different strategies to remain profitable
  • Stone Age where a perceived value of huts results in a much better model of a scarcity economy
  • Pandemic where even losing is fun because you have the sense that you still have a chance right to the end
  • Ticket to Ride where you have much better strategic opportunities to choose routes to hamper your opponents
  • Settlers of Catan where you build on an island and collect resources to build up your civilization
  • Factory Manager where you buy machines and robots to strategically earn the most money from your factory
  • Alhambra where you not only acquire buildings, but strategically place them to improve your abilities to score

The list could go on. But ultimately what I’m getting at is that there is a big wide world of other games that are much more rewarding to play than Monopoly.

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