Monopoly Socialism, A Surprisingly Nuanced Game of Wits

There is a lot of talk about the game Monopoly Socialism from Hasbro. Leftists are upset and folks like me are delighted that the game pokes fun at Socialism, but let’s forget that for a moment as a gamer and ask the basic questions one might ask about a game, namely.

  1. Is it playable?
  2. Is it challenging?
  3. Is it fun
  4. Weaknesses
  5.  Is it worth your time?

 

1.  As to the first question the game is very easy to play, the setup is not complicated because only the community fund gets any cash, the mechanics of the game are relatively easy and it tends to move quickly, sometimes VERY quickly.  The one real issue with the game is that you’re a monopoly player you have to make sure you don’t use a monopoly mindset because that’s an easy way to lose.  Which brings us to question 2

 

2.  Is it Challenging.  I was quite surprised that this game take a lot of thought.  you are playing both against your opponents and the game itself.  the nature of the game means that you have to take advantage of community handouts early to get power,

but to rely too much on it leads to everybody losing.  In addition while wealth can help make a difference in winning, it’s not really the determining factor, particularly when there are so many cards that can counter you.  Furthermore if you are too far in the lead it’s an incentive for the others to let the community fund run dry and everyone loses.  Like socialism you have to boil the frog so to speak to make sure that those who can bring you down don’t understand how you are manipulating the system.  Against strong players it takes an awful lot of skill to come out ahead…just like in socialism.

3.  Is it fun?   Well this depends.  if you are a person of the right you will likely find it fun and funny right from the start simply because of the cards and effects like this one:

The fact that the game is challenging and requires wits is a bonus extra.

Now if you are a person on the left who has made socialism and politics their religion then you are likely going to be so pissed off that no amount of challenge and nuance will compensate for the great insult to your religion, however if you are a person with an open mind who likes a skillful challenge then you might still enjoy this game as it takes quite a bit of wits to win.

4.  Weaknesses.  Three come to mind, firstly it’s actually fairly easy to rumble the game in one respect.   If the players right from the start decide not to take advantage of the system to get ahead in theory you can build up the community fund to a point where it might possible to advance on your own.  However that might take a half hour of not trying to win, so depending on who you are playing with that doesn’t work.

There are some ambiguities in the rules, ,for example, while it suggest that all should contribute to the general fund it’s not clear that people can do it voluntarily.  If you are a rich player it might be worth while to pay off the debts of the community to keep the game going and I think there should be a mechanism to do that.

We have also added a house rule that would be a good addition to the game in general.  There are cards that remove your chits from project due to offenses against socialism, however in real life what tends to happen in real life that such a person commuting such an offense can usually be shaken down to buy forgiveness, so we added a rule where a person can buy forgiveness from the community with a contribution to the community fund and a partial payment to the person playing the card.  Basically it’s the Al Sharpton rule and it adds another aspect to the game, both interesting and real.

Finally I’d like it if  you could play with six rather than just four, because my gut tells me a larger group would be more interesting but much harder to win.

 

5.  Finally is it worth your time.  I think so, it’s a challenging game that can be finished in under an hour, even quicker if people aren’t careful.  I don’t know if I’d pay the prices I’m seeing on Amazon right now but if you want a game that is fun to play, well designed, requires some wits and has just enough luck to not make it a forgone conclusion this game is it.

My congratulations to the design team, well done  4 1/2 out of five.