Better Deals than Monopoly

What better game to start this series with than with the marmite of boardgames. Monopoly has been around for nearly 9 decades at this point. So obviously there are people out there buying it and enjoying it. However, most boardgamers are of a different opinion, mainly that it’s the worst game ever made (or according to boardgamegeeks rankings it’s the 6th worst game). The truth is, it’s not really that bad, however, the problem is that for most people, Monopoly is their only experience of boardgames and have been turned off boardgames completely as a result. Which to me is a shame.

There is certainly fun to be had in Monopoly, from negotiating the best deal to the satisfaction of taking the last bit of someone’s money and knocking them out of the game. I will examine some of these aspects and suggest a different game that I believe will lead to a much more entertaining game night. All of the games have also been priced on Tabletopfinder and at the time of writing will cost similar to a standard game of Monopoly.


Fundamentally Monopoly is a negotiation game. After a few laps around the board each player has a handful of cards and you must start trying to trade some of these with your fellow players so you can gain a monopoly in a certain area. Allowing you to build houses and eventually hotels to earn more money.

If the art of negotiation is what excites you, then Catan is the most obvious alternative for Monopoly. In Catan players place towns on the board to earn resources to build up a network of roads and towns. Each turn the dice are rolled and resources are given out to players based on the number and the placement of their towns. Players end up needing to trade the different resources with eachother and thats when the negotiation begins. Catan has quickly become a modern classic and will probably have articles like this written about it in 60 years.

However, for me both of these games have flaws in their negotiation system. Despite Catan being a better game overall, if people are resistant to any trades, just like in Monopoly, then the game gets bogged down and drawn out. If you are willing to spend more cash then Chinatown is the negotiation game you really want to get. The game board is divided into 6 districts with plots for new shops to be established. To make money you want to have the same type of shop next to each other. At the start of each round players are dealt out random shops and plots. Then the trading opens up and becomes a free for all as players look to get the best plots of land or collection of shops they need to start their businesses making money. What makes this shine for me is that the game lasts for only 6 rounds and then most money wins. This gives a sense of urgency to striking deals and with the pace at which the board can change, you want to make sure you strike the best deal at the right time, to late and the plot loses all it’s value or too early and you’ve given the advantage to your opponent.

Player Elimination

For me this is one of the biggest flaws in Monopoly. Player elimination is in general not something I usually enjoy in a game. (Why invite people over to play a game only to kick them out of the game before it’s even over?) This issue is then compounded by Monopoly’s game length. Take for example, the game played in this video which asks the question, “Is Monopoly Actually Good?”. One player was actually out of the game longer than he was playing and the game lasted nearly 3 hours.

One game however, that for me nails player elimination is Tsuro. All players start the game by placing their dragon token along the edge of the board and are given a hand of tiles. Each tile has lines on it that the dragons can move along. On your turn you place a tile from your hand in front of your dragon and follow the line until it’s end. If you move off the edge of the board or into another dragon you are eliminated. Any other dragons that are next to the tile you played must also follow the line until the end and this is where the game gets interesting. The goal is to be the last Dragon standing, and so the tile you play is very important. You want to maneouvre yourself into clear space while sending your opponents off the board. Giving players the same satisfaction of bankrupting someone in Monopoly. Why play elimination in Tsuro works for me is that a game only lasts 15 minutes. Anyone eliminated will only have to wait a few minutes before starting a new game. It’s also more compelling to watch the board shrink as the remaining players jostle for position as a spectator than watching a game of monopoly unfold from the sidelines.

Real Estate Theme

Perhaps what draws you to Monopoly is the theme of real esate and climbing the property ladder? In that case perhaps For Sale is the game for you. This quick card game is broken into 2 different phases. In the first phase players bid against eachother on various buildings with a value of 1 to 30. Each round a number of buildings equal to the amount of players are laid out in numerical order. In order everyone bids for the highest value building, any time you wish to pass from the auction you take the lowest remaining valued home from the auction. Players are trying to get the most desirable properties at the best price to sell for the most profit in the next phase. Similar to the first phase, in the second phase a number of cards are drawn equal to the number of players. This time they have a money value on them and each player now picks one properity from what they bought in phase one. The highest valued property will take the highest valued money card. Once all properties are sold the player with the most money wins. For Sale incapulates the cut-throat world of real estate, you can cause people to spend too much money on the bedsit apartment. However, time it right and you might just find a buyer to pay you much more than what your property is worth.

You could also check out Machi Koro, if you are missing out on dice rolling. Machi Koro is quite simple, you own a number of establishments in your city which give you various bonuses. Each turn a player rolls one or two dice, if the number on the dice you rolled match any of those on the players establishments then they gain the benefit. However, sometimes it also benefits the other players too. Machi Koro also gives the same feeling of expansion as monopoly. At first you start off with only a wheat field and a bakery but soon you are expanding your town to have Cafes which steal money from your opponents on their turn or a Sports Stadium which lets you take money from everyone on your turn. Soon you will be raking in money every turn allowing you to construct various landmarks. These landmarks that give you special powers such as rerolling dice or earn extra money for certain types of buildings. The player who builds all their landmarks first wins.

Both of these games are quick, simple and are available at a fraction of the price of Monopoly. You could actually pick up both of them for the same cost.

Let me know in the comments what game you would like featured in the future or if there is anything I’ve left out of this list.


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