I am 99% sure that I will still lose at Monopoly with these rules
July 25, 2012 3:09 PM   Subscribe

I am devising a revised Monopoly ruleset for my friends and family to follow, with an Occupy Movement theme. Can you suggest interesting rule variations to attempt?

While teaching my kids to play Monopoly, I considered that it might be fun (or at least more relevant to my day-to-day existence) if we altered the ruleset to reflect the day-to-day life of "the 99%". To that end, I am playing around with "Occupy Monopoly" rules that stack the deck significantly against the player (and perhaps towards the bank) from the get-go. As an added side-effect, any rules that drive a shorter game are (to me) a good thing.

Variation one:

- Players choose tokens for each other, instead of their own (we don't get to choose our lot in life);

- All players start with no money (no trust funds), so a player can lose the game on their first roll;

- Rolling a double does not let you roll again (no entitlements);

- If a player lands on a property, but chooses not to purchase it, the property does not go up for auction (no discounted property purchases);

- You can win by bankrupting the other players (1%-er approach), or by having the most money in cash when all players have at least $2000 in cash (99%-er approach.)

Variation two, same as variation one, plus:

- The bank owns all the properties at the start of the game, so the bank collects rent from the first roll of the dice -- when players land on such a property, they can either pay the rent or purchase the property at full price;

- After each round of play, the bank places one new house on one bank-owned property, sequentially starting clockwise after "go", and rents are raised accordingly;

- If a player is purchasing a bank-owned property at full price, that price must include the property improvement costs (that is, the land price plus the per-unit cost of any houses or hotels);

- Last player with at least $1 in cash wins.

So far, the first variation is quite playable, and I suspect the second variation (which I haven't yet played) would be a short and somewhat fatalistic experience...which is in some ways the point of all this.

What I want to hear from you is any other rule variations on this theme that might flesh out the playability somewhat, or amuse without disrupting the flow of game play...and if you decide to give these rules a try, let me know if they work for you or not (because more play-testing makes for a better set of rules.)
posted by davejay to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (17 answers total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: Oh, I should mention that in variation two, all players start with some amount, like $50, to make it at least possible to get around the board once.
posted by davejay at 3:11 PM on July 25, 2012

I need to warn you that someone will come on here and tell you that your first mistake is playing Monopoly to begin with. It's a very frustrating game in its original format and I wonder if the amendments you suggest will make it an extremely frustrating one with kids.

It might be worth running this past the folk at BoardGameGeek.com, who will be well-versed in coming up with variants to existing games, but I'm afraid there is a lot of snobbery (whether it's justified or not I'm not sure) about Monopoly as it's considered a poor design of game.
posted by mippy at 3:17 PM on July 25, 2012 [1 favorite]

Also, I find that every household seems to have its own variant on Monopoly - some of these rules we never played. In our house, you got money, but there were no double-rolls or auctions. It was probably quite similar to version 1 and I used to enjoy playing it (my sister would suggest 'going into partnership' if I went bankrupt, and took my property - so you could introduce an asset-buying version).
posted by mippy at 3:19 PM on July 25, 2012

You might be interested in Anti-Monopoly, something my hippie parents had around the house when I was a kid. I recall it being fun, though the politics sailed over my eight-year-old head.
posted by drjimmy11 at 3:24 PM on July 25, 2012 [2 favorites]

Skip a turn to gain $X
(Can only be used 3 consecutive turns)

((It's been too long for me to suggest an appropriate value for X, but maybe $10 or $20))

Protestor mode: elect to roll only 1 die. Either Move that many spaces, or discard 5x that many dollars to keep squatting there.
You cannot buy property or collect rent, but you don't have to pay rent either.

If a player in "protestor" mode is on your property, it's rent and value are cut in half.

Oh, limit the funds the bank starts with. if nobody buys property, and everyone just works/protests the whole game, you all win by bankrupting the bank.

Hm, there's a step missing in there, but I'm at work and should be marketing, not designing games.

Fun experiment, though!
posted by itesser at 3:40 PM on July 25, 2012 [2 favorites]

Hmm, the metaphors you are using are a little opaque to me and I'm not sure they're really useful lessons in how the world works. No rolls again? (Even the 99% gets to roll the dice again sometimes if they make a mistake, and asserting otherwise is just a lesson in futility). sometimes). No discounted property purchases? (That's exactly what happened after the housing bubble crashed).

I'd suggest keeping it simple. How about you simply provide grossly unequal starting money to each player, as a metaphor for the overriding influence of social class?

(Of course, to accurately reflect the global distribution wealth you'd need to give one player all the money and the rest nothing or almost nothing.)
posted by dontjumplarry at 3:46 PM on July 25, 2012

The thing that stands out to me is that you are trying to teach a lesson based on the luck of a roll of a die. Maybe try modifying The Game of Life - where you at least get to make some decisions about what you do with your life. Not everything is a crapshoot or left to TPTB, having choices make a difference.
posted by NoraCharles at 3:46 PM on July 25, 2012

Oh, following up on "protester mode": if you have too much money or property, you can't do it.

And on the bank's turn, it can roll to kick protesters off its properties. Even: protester stays
Odd: protester loses half their money and goes to jail.
posted by itesser at 3:52 PM on July 25, 2012 [1 favorite]

You could create an underclass of Monopoly pieces, exempt them from "Get out of jail free" cards and double their incarceration penalty.
posted by DarlingBri at 3:56 PM on July 25, 2012 [2 favorites]

(Non)community chest cards:

Congratulations! You have Freedom of Speech! You also have MS. All of your money and assets are now forfeit. Hand them over to the player who has the most of both at this time.

You live in the greatest country on Earth! This means you must fund its wars on behalf of the player with the most assets at this time. Pay $100 to this player for each dot on the dice you roll for the next three turns. This player is exempt from all fines and rent for the next three turns.

You own your own home! Oh, whoops, no, you don't. The stock market crashed, you've lost your job and the bank forecloses on your mortgage. Hand over your assets to the bank. The bank will now award the player with the most holdings $200 for the next two turns. Just because.

(was going to do the jail routine, but DarlingBri has that covered.)
posted by likeso at 3:59 PM on July 25, 2012

If you roll snake eyes, the player must spend 24 hours sitting and staring at the board, contemplating the futility and hopelessness of life. When night falls, do not turn on the light.
posted by skewed at 4:05 PM on July 25, 2012 [2 favorites]

Simulate the housing bubble:
When a player lands on a property it is sold at auction to all players. They may borrow money from the bank at (say) 10% for up to 30 turns to pay for any property or improvements. Improvements can be bought at any time.
posted by Rock Steady at 4:07 PM on July 25, 2012

Best answer: Monopoly's original design was actually to teach the evils of capitalism, not to extol its virtues. The point of the game is that once one player starts to win, they quickly become a monopoly and starve everyone else. It's nearly impossible to make a come-back if you're losing at Monopoly.

If you want to make that more apparent, don't play with all of the pseudo-rules that keep losing players afloat: No "free parking", no altruism -- make it illegal to give other players money. Decrease the mortgage value of properties. You could do away with community chest and chance, but those don't really affect the game very much. Oh, and make the $200-pass-go money proportional to the number of properties owned: $50 + 20 * number-of-properties-owned

Now designate one player as "1%", and this player begins the game owning all the properties on the most expensive side of the board and twice as much starting capital. That will make the game go a lot faster, but maybe too fast.
posted by qxntpqbbbqxl at 4:25 PM on July 25, 2012 [3 favorites]

It seems worth bringing up that Monopoly was originally designed to make exactly the points you seem to be trying to make. (Well, okay, not exactly, but pretty close.)

From the Wikipedia page on The Landlord's Game (the precursor to Monopoly):
Magie designed the game to be a "practical demonstration of the present system of land grabbing with all its usual outcomes and consequences"... Magie also hoped that when played by children the game would provoke their natural suspicion of unfairness, and that they might carry this awareness into adulthood.
posted by TonyRobots at 4:52 PM on July 25, 2012 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Not intended to make a point, but merely to make the game more playable:

When a player lands on a property - they can buy it outright for triple face value - if they decline, it goes for auction starting at face value. This puts more strategy in purchases instead of 'buy everything!'.

I found this in a book long ago that had several variations including, I believe, new cards for the two decks.
posted by nightwood at 8:40 PM on July 25, 2012 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Community Chest: "Bank error in the bank's favor. Pay the bank $100."
posted by EndsOfInvention at 2:44 AM on July 26, 2012 [3 favorites]

Response by poster: Some really good stuff here, and I appreciate the backstory context.

For what it is worth, my focus here is to make the game shorter and more fun, via rules wrapped around the theme. Teaching a lesson is not a goal (beyond the usual learning good sportsmanship aspect), but I do find it intriguing that there is backstory about the game teaching the evils of capitalism from the get-go.
posted by davejay at 3:06 PM on July 26, 2012

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