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Most of us will be familiar with the classic property game Monopoly. Anti monopoly aims to provide a game which is more realistic and claims that by multiplying the amounts in the game by 1000 then it reflects real world prices.
Anti monopoly was developed by economist Ralph Anspach in 1973. The story behind the game is fascinating, Anspach faced considerable opposition and court wrangles to be allowed to sell his game as it infringed copyright rules. He took Hasbro to court claiming their monopolisation of the toy market was unfair and was eventually allowed to use the name under license, a case of the little man taking on the establishment and winning.
Players are split evenly between monopolists who aim to take over cities and then charge high rents but also face higher penalties when things go wrong and competitors who play fair, their rewards are smaller but they also face less risk of losing it all.
The board layout will be familiar to those who have played the classic game but with a few tweaks. The community chest and chance cards have been replaced by monopolist and competitor cards, jail has been replaced with price war for competitors where they can still collect rents and prison for monopolists. Overall the board is not nearly as attractive as traditional monopoly because of the dull colours and plain wooden playing pieces. Game play is on an Atlantic City board and the currency is US dollars.
We sat down as a group of kids and adults to play this game, the kids wanting to be competitors and play fair and the adults loving the opportunity to let our nasty sides show. Game play is more complex that traditional monopoly as each property has differing rents charged according to who owns it for example the parking fine has been replaced with an anti monopoly foundation, monopolists pay $10 and competitors collect up to $25 on this square. The transport companies owned by a competitor are subject to low fares due to regulation but a monopolist doubles the fares with each additional company they own. The complexity of the game meant we had to constantly check the rules during the game which was annoying.
The main problem with Anti Monopoly seems to be that the game has been weighted to allow both sets of players an equal chance of winning. I was led to believe that as a competitor you would either win by a huge margin or lose miserably but that just did not happen. It was impossible for any player to win outright within a reasonable timeframe and we always ended games by counting up the money and property to see who had the most assets. The main problem seemed to be that the rents charged were so low that they never made much of an impact, in traditional monopoly when hotels are built then that makes a massive difference but in this game a street with a hotel may only charge $100 rent compared to $50 with no properties.
Monopoly is a classic game for a reason and while I like the concept and story behind this game it just can't compare to the original. It may be more realistic to have players who are almost impossible to bankrupt but it just doesn't make as good a game. The game also seems a bit worthy for my liking, an example being the moral tale in the rules asking you to imagine what would happen in the real world if a monopolist really owned all the transport options and raised the prices. I think we all know that would be a bad thing without having a board game lecturing us about it. The monopolists always won in our games by a small margin but that may be because it was the adults and not kids who played this way but after a few games we were all bored with this game and ignored it in favour of traditional monopoly.
Anti monopoly is available for £19.99 from Amazon.co.uk and other toy retailers.
In the real business world, competitors and monopolists work hard to increase their incomes - but they go about it in different ways.Competitors sell more goods at a fair price to make a fair profit.Monopolists, on the other hand, destroy their competitors first so that they can fix prices above fair, competitive levels to make excessive profits.In Anti-Monopoly players are divided into two groups before the game starts: competitors and monopolists. The players follow different rules (depending on their status) in their quest for big money. This method of play is a revolutionary idea for games. In all other games players follow one set of rules. It is this idea of movement and choice which allows Anti-Monopoly to be the first and only game in history which clearly distinguishes between the actions of competitors and monopolists!Are you for free enterprise?You charge fair rentYou can build on any streetYou can create supply and demandYou can end a price warAre you for building monopolies?