HOW ANTI-MONOPOLY PLAYS
Players are assigned one of two different, unalterable roles before the game starts. They have to play either as competitors or as monopolists. When a competitor buys a property, he or she can build up to five houses on it immediately without having to monopolize the color grouping. But, disciplined by competition, he or she can only charge fair rents. Monopolists, on the other hand, can build only after monopolizing a color grouping, and then they can build no more than four houses on their property because monopolists, like OPEC, must conspire to restrict supply in order to keep prices high and earn monopoly profits.
But once the make-believe monopolists corner their markets, they can really stick it to the tenants and utility users. Accordingly, the title cards list two columns of rents. The fair rents are the same ones which Jesse Raiford first worked out for Atlantic City monopoly and which Darrow swiped. On the other hand, the monopoly rents are so high that the ripped off tenants might as well look for something they can afford real fast. And the utility and railroad users, they will end up in the poor house for sure.
Instead of the COMMUNITY CHEST and CHANCE cards of the Atlantic City folk game, I decided, Anti-Monopoly would have MONOPOLIST and COMPETITOR draw cards with light-hearted cartoons, each of which teaches other economic principles – if you do not watch out. Being the creator, I had the privilege of commemorating in the cards some of the experiences I had undergone during the ten-year litigation war. Take two MONOPOLIST cards for example. One reads: “You claimed you invented an ingenious shovel you saw in an Aztec museum. The fraudulent patent you obtained on it has now been invalidated by the courts. Pay $75.” Another one says, “A new judge thinks what’s good for giant business is good for the country. The courts are smiling on you. Collect $100.”
In addition, monopolists can end up in jail, just as may happen in the real world, and there they cannot collect rents. Competitors go to PRICE WAR for a stint, but at least they are still able to collect rents while on PRICE WAR because they have not broken any laws.
The skilled game player will shake his head and say nice try but no cigar. The game play is no fun because the only sure way of leveling the playing field is forcing each player to play by the same rules. Right but not to worry. I teamed up with the mathematics professor who had first worked out the probabilities of the moves in monopoly play which maximize the chances of winning, luck aside. With the use of higher mathematics and probability theory checked with computer iteration, Professor Hentzel created the prices in the game which balance the win chances for competitors and monopolists. We got a patent for that innovation.
The reader who has not suppressed her or his experiences in the most dreaded of college freshman courses, Microeconomics 101 or 1B, will surely recognize these principles, which also means that younger Anti-Monopoly players will not only have fun but will also be a little better prepared for this college rite of passage.