Thursday, 14 February 2013

What is Wrong with Monopoly

Monopoly is probably the worst thing to happen in board gaming history. I do not like its mechanics, politics, impact on gaming, time required to play, or indeed just anything about it. I mean to go into detail about everything I do not like about it here. It may end up being a bit of a rant, but this is an issue I take up with people quite frequently, and so I'd like to have a well structured rebuttal to back up my opinions.

Problems with the Game Itself

  • You have no choice about the most important action of your turn. The entire "roll to move" mechanic is widely hated among board games, and Monopoly is likely the root of most people's dislike. It makes you feel like you are doing something, but it is really just busy-work.
  • You make very few meaningful decisions throughout the course of the game. Probably about 95% of what you do throughout the game does not require any thinking whatsoever; roll dice, move the spaces, buy whatever you can or perform any required actions. 
  • It just takes too damn long. Games typically wear on for upwards of three hours.
  • There is no humane victory condition. When you are losing, you slowly and pathetically bleed out your money, with no hope of making a come-back. 
  • There is player elimination. In a game that takes this long, if you are eliminated, it really, really sucks. You have nothing to do, and no input to the game that will continue to drag on for quite a long time.
  • The money is far too granular. No one cares about single dollars, and yet no one will let them slide either. You will inevitably waste copious amounts of time retrieving change in order to pay someone an extremely specific amount of money. This only compounds the problem of the game taking too long.
  • When playing with inexperienced players in a 3+ playered game, the key to winning often becomes the exploitation of the new players as hard as possible by the veterans. Not that Monopoly requires a great deal of skill, but it really irks me that it encourages the exploitation of your fellow man.

How Monopoly has Damaged Board-Gaming as a Whole

I stated earlier that Monopoly was the worst thing to happen in the history of board gaming. This is not a light accusation, and I want to justify that as well.

Monopoly is not the worst game out there, however it is probably the most popular; and it is BAD. For at least an entire generation, Monopoly has been the example that everyone looks to when thinking of what a board game is. As a result of this, no one cares that much about board games. Why would you want to delve deeper into something that you don't really enjoy? Essentially, Monopoly alone has set board gaming back by at least an entire generation. Fortunately, this trend has been remedied somewhat in recent years, as Eurogames have been taken to the forefront and Monopoly has finally started to die down in popularity.

Most (good) games suffer from being slightly difficult to teach, and requiring new players to learn the rules initially, and after an initial adjustment period, good times are had by all. Monopoly has the opposite effect, it lures players in by being extremely easy to teach (and indeed most people already know how to play due to its widespread popularity), and after the first half-hour or so, it is agony for everyone. This diabolically sneaky tactic has tainted board games for most people.

I personally hate Monopoly with a passion. I hate its terrible mechanics. I hate the effect it has had on gaming. I hate its spinoffs, from the mundane, to the obscure, to Edna Krabappoly. I hate that most people do not realise how terrible it is. I actually took sadistic pleasure in watching the miserable failure of Aviation Monopoly on Kickstarter. Simply knowing that the modern gaming community is smart enough to not let such a monstrosity happen on our dollar makes me proud to be part of such a group.

Until next time,


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