Death of culture, science and humanity forces people to do strange things. Strange habits, strange lives, strange currencies.
When society inevitably crumbles in 2018 – 2021, I like to think there will be a small amount of time where Monopoly money becomes legal tender. It’ll really mess with the dads who use the phrase “as good as monopoly money” in general speech.
There’s a stupid amount of Monopoly variants out there. Did you know there are also a good handful of unofficial, unauthorized versions?
It’ll be no surprise that both camps have hundreds of criminally terrible games. Deep below the generic garbage are a few facts that’ll make you treasure the non-disturbing Monopoly edition that you (ashamedly) own.
A History of Capitalism
According to BoardGameGeek.com’s listings, there are 1,007 official editions of Monopoly and 407 unofficial editions.
We found them by just looking for games with ‘Monopoly’ in the title (like Monopoly: Vancouver Canucks).
Then, we found games that just thew an ‘-opoly’ suffix on the end (like Homeschoolopoly, which, according to their website “combines all of the fun and educational qualities of the old-fashioned family favorite board game and celebrates the best of homeschooling”).
We’ve already documented the history of the first Monopoly game in 1933. The first knockoff-opoly game was released five years later in 1938, and was horse-racing game called Totopoly. The game is mechanically pretty different to Monopoly, but still borrows the namesake.
Almost four decades the later, the shabby-knockoffs emerged. In 1977, both Tryopoly (with triangular board) and Dogopoly (with a dog-emblazoned board) were released. Low marks for originality, team – there’s already a dog in vanilla Monopoly.
Remember the late 90s? Remember the ‘everything-is-collectible’ phase? That’s what caused the POG, beanie baby and obscure comic book fortune bubble. Companies sold special ‘limited editions’ of everything, knowing people would snap it up with false hope that it’d become valuable one day.
That’s what caused the acceleration of officially licensed Monopoly spinoffs by Hasbro. Isoteric editions like ‘NFL 1999 Gridiron‘ and ‘Monopoly: Alaska’s Itarod’ were created specifically be created. It worked too – that Alaskan edition is selling for $100 on eBay.
Licensing: For Better or For Worse?
Just because some games are really sought-after, it doesn’t mean they’re good.
Monopoly is a bad game – because it was designed that way. You can tell by the scores. 76% of all Monopoly and ‘-opoly’ games have a rating below 5. Which, at best, BoardGameGeek calls “Below average. Slightly boring, could be talked into it on occasion.”
(Note: we’re using the average rating here, not the weighted Geek rating. We discarded games with less than 10 user votes)
Knockoffs actually do slightly worse – they have an overall average rating of 4.7, where officially licensed versions have a rating of 5.1. Or, as the official rating rubric goes, “Average. No significant appeal, take it or leave it.”
Among the best knockoff games is Spaceopoly – which, at first glance, looks like a totally original game. But don’t be fooled. Even with a whacky board and an average rating of 6.1, it’s still a property-contructing mess that can be won in a handful of turns.
What Makes a Good Monopoly?
With identical gameplay, how does one Monopoly set itself apart from the rest?
The secret’s in appealing to fandoms. When you go niche, the votes reflect the adoration of the subject matter, not the game.
Take the GI Joe edition, for example. It’s one of the few games that has a 7.0 rating. On the other end of the scale there’s Monopoly: Hawaii Edition, with a 4.0 rating – because who the heck wants to recreate the laid-back vibes of Hawaiian beaches by constructing buildings on beautiful land?
Other than niche fandoms, there a few genuinely unique twists on the game from Hasbro that we didn’t even know exist. Take Mega Monopoly (scored 6.1), for example, which seems like it actually fixes the game.
By adding one more property to each colour group, it makes it much harder achieve the all-important first monopoly. Houses and hotels are joined by Skyscrapers, and a much faster movement system means most games are finished in 90 minutes. Most games of regular Monopoly I play are finished, well, never.
Monopoly Deal, a 15 minute card swapping, also performs well – but it’s technically a totally different game.
We don’t reccomend buying any edition of Monopoly. There are far better games out there.
For a start, try Machi Koro. Instead of building rent-extracting hotels, you’re construsting a lovely town of shops, houses, tv stations and fun fairs. When you’re done, flick through our list of the five best Monopoly alternatives. Unfortunately, none feature the Vancouver Cancuks.
What editions have you played? Was it mechanically different to the standard edition? Let us know below.