How to Turn Monopoly Into One of the Best Strategy Games

How do you fix the board game held up as a paragon of what not to do? Mozart

If you love Monopoly, great! Don’t let anyone take that from you. It’s easy to learn and play, and obviously immensely popular so you probably have fond memories of it. Cherish them as you would cherish your memories of Pokemon or Super Mario or whatever. Also, if you love Monopoly, stop reading right here, because we’re going to go full board-game snob.

Now then, where to start? How about everywhere. Monopoly was published nearly a century ago — in light of the improved board game design since then, MP looks hideously flawed. The “Free Parking” house rule is an abomination. The Go space isn’t much better, as it adds money to the system everyone is trying to take money out of (pushing the leader ahead and prolonging, for the most part, the inevitable loss of the players who are behind). Like Charles Bronson, the roll-and-move is an old, dead mechanic. Jail is, perversely, one of the best places to be later in the game as rents skyrocket on developed properties. The playtime is too long to justify the tactically light gameplay. Player elimination isn’t inherently crappy but twiddling thumbs on the sidelines for hours is. Guess what it really comes down to here is fuck Monopoly.

So how do you turn this game into one of the best strategy games of all time, which an editor insisted as this headline? (Ed.’s note: Thank you, reader, for finding this story and proving that headlines work.) If we’re being flip but not really all that flip, sell it and use the money to buy Pandemic Legacy (at the moment, the best strategic cooperation money can buy!) or Codenames (best party fun!) or Star Wars: X-Wing Miniatures (make best “pew pew” sounds while playing!). Designing a game is like baking a cake in that starting from scratch is going to give you better results than rummaging through the garbage bin.

But no one wants to buy your Monopoly NFL 1998 edition? There are a few tweaks you can try to make this dumpster-cake of a game presentable. Be warned, however, if it still carries an aroma of trash. Redditor Nambot served up what seems like good fixes — with the caveat we haven’t played with them. You should go read them for yourself, but here are the essential nuggets:

  • Remove “safe” spaces and turn the railroads into taxes you pay as you pass through
  • Jack up the prices of properties, particularly increasing payouts on utilities
  • Combine Chance and Community chest into one deck with alternate cards — ones that present interesting choices and serve to take more money out of the game — and every player gets to draw from that deck at the beginning of his or her turn
  • Add the additional die from the Fast Play variant, the Speed Die, which makes moving around the board faster

Again, if you like Monopoly the way it is, peachy. For everyone else, give these a spin and then go buy something that doesn’t predate the Beatles by 30 years.

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