a rickety bridge of impossible crossing

diplomacy monopoly

Stuart (slowe@mastodon.me.uk) says:

I haven't played Monopoly for many years now. The last game was with three housemates at university. One housemate was winning and really enjoying his triumph over the rest of us. So I suggested to my other two housemates that we form a cooperative. We would let each other off rents on our properties. The standards rents would apply to anyone not in the coop. And you could leave the coop if you wanted. None of this is forbidden in the rules of Monopoly because it has little market regulation.

Within a remarkably short space of time the monopolist had lost his dominance and the rest of us had flourished. He went bankrupt and the rest of us agreed to end the game as joint victors. I felt as though we perhaps played it more to the spirit of the original game that Monopoly had been derived from and found a non-monopolist solution.

I love the idea of forming a co-op to take out a dominating player, and Stuart is correct that there's nothing in the rules that would prevent this strategy.1

I'd like to expand on the idea that the other three players are allowed to declare a "joint victory". If that's possible, then why play the game at all? Save a lot of time and propose that all players share a joint victory before you even take the board out of the box.

Of course, this is the best way to play Monopoly: don't. It's a bad game.2

If you have 4 prospective players, and 3 of them agree to form a co-op and one of them wants to play the game normally, you can skip the part where the one monopolist hopelessly tries to win. They're not going to, not when it's 3 against 1. Just declare the co-op the winners.

However, it might get interesting if you have two co-op players and two monopolists, or a bigger group of players in which the monopolists outnumber the co-op players. I expect the monopolists would need to form their own (temporary?) alliances to counteract the advantage gained by the co-op players. If three monopolists form their own alliance to take out the co-op players, would they end the alliance and try to finish the game by the book? Or, having formed the superior alliance, would they declare their own joint victory?

These Diplomacy-like meta-game situations are the only ways Monopoly could be an interesting game, but you have to find a group who all agree to play like this, and that's pretty unlikely --- any group who'd agree to this much tinkering would probably be savvy enough to want to play a good game instead. But if there are any online versions of Monopoly that don't enforce automatic rent collection, I'd be game 🦝

  1. "Note: if the owner fails to ask for rent before the second player following throws the dice, the rent is not collectible." Complete Annotated Rules for Monopoly (436kb PDF, compiled and edited by email_scott 🐌 yahoo.com)↩

  2. this isn't a criticism of Lizzie Magie's original vision for The Landlord's Game; it wasn't designed to be a fair and balanced game for everyone to enjoy, it was designed to demonstrate the inherent unfairness of land ownership, which is an idea with a lot of merit. See "From the Inventor" and "The Secret History of Monopoly" in the previous citation for more info.↩