It happens to all of us. We’re sitting around the house with friends, when suddenly, one of the dimmer house guests says “Let’s play Monopoly!”
If things were just in the world, it would be legal to shoot them dead with malaria. Instead, everybody meekly decides that, yeah, Monopoly sounds good, let’s do it.
And you start setting up the board, and somebody insists on being the car, because reasons. And then somebody else gets the bright idea of putting a $100 in the middle. This person should be shot dead with rabies.
Yes, I know what you’re thinking. The $100 in the middle is for Free Parking. When you can find me an official rulebook that tells you to do that, I’ll take the rabies needle out of your arm.
There is no benefit from Free Parking. It’s just Free Parking. That’s it. This universal house rule should die, and Monopoly should die with it.
It’s not that it’s a terrible game, provided you can get people to stop using the house rules they grew up with. Everybody complains about how long Monopoly takes, but then they add these rules that makes it take longer. The logic is simple:
- In Monopoly, the last one standing wins
- This means people have to drop out of the game for it to end
- When you can get a big wad of cash on Free Parking or by some other unofficial house rule, it tends to keep people in the game who should have dropped out
- If people are staying in the game, it takes longer. QED.
You can have your money on Free Parking, or you can have a game that doesn’t take all night and into the next day to finish. You cannot have both.
The most genius thing in recent Monopoly variants is the electronic banker. This might seem like a cheap gimmick, but it isn’t to me. The reason is that without physical pieces of cash, there’s nothing to stuff into the center. If you wanted to follow the Free Parking house rule, you’d have to keep track of it separately, and people tend not to want to bother.
But still, don’t play Monopoly. Like I said, it’s not a terrible game, but there are million better ones.