We at Gray Cat Games are not particular fans of a lot of the big box, “classic” board games. In fact, memories of these games sometimes cloud your perception of newer, fantastic designs! Here’s why we don’t like Monopoly and a few alternatives that might better tick those boxes that people enjoy.
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We don’t like Monopoly. This is blasphemy to a lot of people who grew up playing this classic game of property buying and slow, tortuous plodding to oblivion. Among seasoned board game players, our opinion isn’t really controversial. For those less familiar with what we call “designer” board games, the statement, “I hate Monopoly” leads to a lot of confusion.
So I’m happy to give a few reasons why Monopoly doesn’t work.
1. It’s entirely too long.
Games of Monopoly often last for longer than 3 hours, a time frame that should really make for an amazing game (otherwise, why play?).
2. You play too long knowing you can’t win.
A 3-hour game is not automatically a terrible thing. It’s NOT good when you get about an hour in, and it becomes clear who is going to win. And then it takes the next few hours to slowly go bankrupt as you fight and claw to survive.
3. It’s very random.
Randomness is an important component of a lot of American-style board games. In Monopoly, though, so much is riding on you getting just the right dice rolls, which is a problem when…
4. The game’s negotiation is broken.
How many times have you played Monopoly and almost gotten the set you needed to start building houses, only to have an opponent grab it up (because he or she happened to roll and land on it) and refuse to trade it? Basically, this clogs the whole game up unless you have the exact piece that they need.
There are other problems, too, like adding in house rules for Free Parking (extending the game unnecessarily). But those four points are the central issues I have with Monopoly. Why? Because we’ve now played a lot of games that do the same things Monopoly tries to do, except better.
Let me make a few suggestions!
1. Want a long game? Let’s play Arkham Horror!
Like I said before, if a game is going to take 3 or more hours to get through, it better be an epic, fun experience, not a slow drag.
Arkham Horror is a cooperative game that has you exploring a small Massachusetts town in the Lovecraft universe. You work together to try and solve a mystery that will prevent an elder god from emerging and destroying the world. It’s long. But it’s long for the RIGHT reasons! The game feels like a big, epic experience.
So if I’m going to play a long game, give me something like that.
2. You Play Knowing You Can’t Win – Let’s Play Lords of Waterdeep!
This issue of someone running away with the game is a pretty common one that’s being addressed in the euro-style games. In our collection, Lords of Waterdeep is the standard for “game you can’t forfeit.” You can be doing very well throughout, but then at the end someone jumps over you because they’ve been plotting well the entire game.
There are a lot of great games that take this idea further. One that comes to mind is Concordia, which doesn’t score a single point until the very end of the game. This creates an interesting dynamic that takes experience to figure out.
3. Monopoly Has Too Much Unfun Randomness – Let’s Play Machi Koro!
Randomness is not a bad thing in games. It’s the core of American board gaming. But in Monopoly, all of the randomness feels like punishment. You roll three doubles, you go to jail. You randomly land on Boardwalk with a hotel, you lose.
Randomness should supplement the tension of the game, not feel like you’re just waiting to see the next thing that will move you closer to losing!
That’s why I suggest you try Machi Koro instead, a game that relies heavily on randomness. But for the most part you’re rolling a die to see what reward you get (if any). You don’t roll the die to see if you’re going to jail or finally losing all your money. You’re seeing if you get to build!
4. Monopoly’s Negotiation/Trading Stinks – Let’s Play Cosmic Encounter!
Like I said before, there is nothing fun about trading and negotiating in Monopoly. You can’t get creative; you either have what your opponent needs, or you don’t.
Cosmic Encounter is a game that is very hard to win if you don’t bother negotiating with people. You need them to help your side win the galactic battles and establish colonies.
More importantly, by cooperating, you might find yourself in a situation with more than one winner. Sometimes, everyone gets to win! Sometimes, only you win!
Negotiation is an amazing mechanic that can really turn a game into a social experience, but it needs to be done well. That’s why I recommend Cosmic Encounter instead.
If you enjoy Monopoly, sorry! However, if you do like Monopoly, I’ll bet you’d like those other games we suggested way better. And if you don’t like Monopoly? We feel you.
Either way, we encourage you to check out some new games and broaden your horizons. You might be surprised at how amazing some of these games are!