Monopoly: A Critical Analysis

Ok, we are going to talk about the biggest economic game in the world, and why it gets so much hate from the gaming community. That’s right, it’s Monopoly.

Monopoly game. Credit to Google Images source.

Everyone knows the jokes about families fighting over a game, and one person flipping the table in absolute frustration. There is some truth to that, it actually is one of the most cutthroat games there are. When the objective is to bankrupt everyone else and be the richest of all, that’s not a very friendly or bonding type of game.

There are a great many gamer elitists who put it down for other reasons as well. Some gamers actually put people down when they see others playing at a cafe or game shop. Way to encourage others to play something else!

There is more vitriol on Monopoly on the gamer boards than any other game: But why? Let’s take a look into this further.

In addition to being a brutal annihilation of your opponents, it has some very simple mechanics that are entirety luck driven. It does have some strategy, (deciding what properties to buy, and what to develop) but the main mechanic is rolling to move. This is completely based on luck, if you get the right role, you land on the right spot, roll wrong, and you end up paying up, or worse, go to jail. Having a core mechanic like this creates extremely randomized play and of course frustration for the player whose dice rolls mostly turn out bad.

In addition, the market is flooded with almost every type you can imagine. Whether it’s “Star Trek,” “Pokemon,” or even cat or dogopoly, the game never changes. The pieces, currency, and locations are different, but it is still the same basic game as going to Walgreens and getting the original version. I don’t know about you, but I really don’t need 15 different versions of the same game.

So what is good about monopoly? It is the most popular board game ever made. It does make a great bridge to the gateway games, like Splendor or now Century Spice Road, or even say wits and wagers, and eventually to incredible economic strategy games like Brass Birmingham. Taking a non-gamer and sparking that interest from Monopoly to a game with less luck is a better way to grow the hobby than to say, ” I’m too good for Monopoly.” I am happy if someone wants to play a game period. In the end, it’s why we play games, to connect with other people in a non-threatening way. Where differences are put aside and everyone is equal at the table. That to me is the heart of gaming, and why I still play Monopoly.

If a person wants to play Monopoly, I’m just fine with that. Then maybe the next time, I can introduce Century Spice Road, an economic game that I like to say is “elegant in its simplicity.” I feel that it is a great bridge to introduce a less luck-driven, and more strategy based economic game. The object is still to gain the most points in contracts and coins, but it is more based on your decisions than luck. Much like Scythe, you want the most money in the end, but how you achieve it is based on your choices and not the dice.

Ed Carter. Hi there! My name is Ed and I am your guy for all things tabletop. I look forward to sharing with you the amazing world of board gaming. Drop me a note if you have any specific you want to know about. Until then. Happy gaming!

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