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A recent Board Games with Scott episode [Breaking Up the Monopoly] has brought up an interesting question: When someone that you know asks to play Monopoly with you, what game do you suggest playing with them? I assume that you don't end up playing Monopoly with them. If so, that's cool, just tell me why you do that instead (alternative rules, versions, etc.).

Try to limit your answer to one game, and explain the mechanic or "hook" that you use to entice them away from the dreaded Boardwalk, Park Place, and Free Parking.

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It would be nice if there were more boardgames out there that were "a lot like Monopoly" (buying properties, making money off them) while being, you know, actually good. There's a game by respected Eurogame designer Wolfgang Kramer called "The Market of Alturien" which is a lot like a Euro version of Monopoly. Only one problem: it's an absolute stinker that doesn't really work on any level (the best I can say about it is it might be quite good to play with children). Looks like even Kramer couldn't make a good game out of Monopoly! –  thesunneversets Nov 22 '10 at 23:47
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closed as not constructive by Pat Ludwig Aug 21 '11 at 6:20

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12 Answers

up vote 17 down vote accepted

Settlers of Catan

For adults, I would suggest Settlers of Catan, since it's a much better game to me and a lot more fun to play. If your willing to play a full game of Monopoly, then Catan is a prefect fit since it's actually shorter. There's also a much more nuanced trade mechanic, and a board to stack our your share of. I see it as a great chance to introduce them to Euro games if they haven't played one before.

For young kids, if they want to play Monopoly, I wouldn't dare be a spoil sport and suggest something else.

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What do you classify as "young kids?" If they're old enough to play regular Monopoly, as opposed to some simplified kids' version, I would still suggest a decent boardgame instead. There are a couple of reasons for this: 1) If you enjoy yourself, you'll be more likely to play with them again next time instead of resenting the hours of your life wasted on Monopoly. 2) You might be responsible for introducing them to more interesting, challenging, and entertaining games than Monopoly. –  gomad Aug 1 '11 at 17:41
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Monopoly Deal

A card game based on the board game, everyone wins here -- they get to play something in the spirit of Monopoly, and you don't have to deal with a long, drawn-out game of landing in Jail and haggling for properties, or worse, reaching a stalemate where no one will budge.

The card game is fun, very inexpensive to purchase, and plays quickly. It works better with multiple players, but is just as fine playing with two players.

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I have it; I never played it, but quickly reading the rules just once, it seemed promising. –  Lohoris Nov 23 '10 at 13:04
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Pandemic

The cooperative nature, quick play, and ease of play (especially without the expansion) makes it an instant shoo-in for me.

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I like Pandemic, but is it in any way related to Monopoly? –  Michael Mrozek Nov 23 '10 at 19:23
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Not particularly. I am a big fan of it for just that reason - often people who are asking to play monopoly (in my experience) don't have a understanding of what other options there are. Giving them a cooperative board game experience that is fast and fun is often eye opening. Although if you are looking for a similar experience, then I second Catan. You could also look at Reiner Knizia's Palazzo, or other games by him. They tend to focus around market-style systems. –  aperkins Nov 23 '10 at 20:55
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Vegas Showdown

I like the limited resources and bidding to get different rooms. It can get pretty competitive, depending on the group, but I enjoy the mechanics and think of it as Monopoly only a little more fun and with a definite endgame.

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Top Shop

So sue me, it's technically a videogame (for the original Playstation), but it's basically monopoly set in a mall, translated to Japanese and then back into English. It's a heck of a lot of fun, and plays pretty much just like a boardgame. Up to six can play at a time.

If you land on an empty square you can open a store. If you land on an opponent's store you have to buy at least one item, but can buy two. If there are no items in a store you've landed on you can take over it. If you land on your own store you can restock ANY one store you own. There are random events, and points you get that will let you do various game changing events.

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Easy Money / Money Money

Faster Pace - Everyone plays the same pawn. Everything that happens concerns all players.

Shorter Play - No stalemates. The game ends when the bank runs out of money, which takes a more or less predictable amount of time.

Moaaar Money - In the middle of the board are stacks of bundles worth one million, half a million, 200k and 100k a piece!

Granted, there is no buying or building properties, auctions or event cards. Basically it trades some of the complexity and duration for fun and more action.

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Monopoly by the rules

I'd suggest playing Monopoly with no house rules to keep the game competitive and short.

  • No bonus given for landing on Free Parking
  • No restriction on when properties can be bought, e.g. not until one trip around the board.
  • No building houses or hotels if the bank has none to sell. They're meant to be a limited resource.
  • Auction properties. If someone doesn't want to buy a property, then it will be auctioned to the highest bidder.

Playing by the actual rules makes Monopoly a much shorter and more enjoyable game.

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-1 I'm sorry, but I really think it would still totally suck (even if less than with random custom rules) –  Lohoris Nov 23 '10 at 17:35
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I've suggested this in the past. It works surprisingly well. –  Pat Ludwig Nov 23 '10 at 21:51
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Yeah, when I've done it with friends, they're always surprised that that Monopoly is supposed to be that quick, and they end up enjoying it a lot more. –  joshdick Nov 23 '10 at 22:22
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Another person in favor of Monopoly by the rules. "Tricked out," it's tedious. By the book, it's actually pretty fast. –  invisiblejon Dec 20 '10 at 20:21
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You can play the "speed" monopoly from the original rulebook. This is where you deal all the properties randomly to players before you begin the game, essentially saving you the first ~30mins of the game and start with less starting cash. –  Nick Feb 21 '13 at 18:13
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Power Grid

For me, it has to be Power Grid. It has many of the attributes of Monopoly, such as bartering of which power station to buy and is economically driven, plus the rules are pretty simple. Furthermore, it is such a great game, it is a brilliant introduction to the world of strategic board games, and I have known a few players hooked in this way.

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Acquire

I am surprised no one has mentioned this classic (back in print as of 2008) which is quite thematically similar (paper money, real estate). Except, it is shorter, more strategic, and has no dice rolling (but still some randomness from tile drawing). It is also pretty easy to learn.

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+1 - it has been so long since I played it, I didn't even think about it. Hats of to you. –  aperkins Nov 23 '10 at 21:16
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I like to play Monopoly with this rule - properties automatically go up for auction when they are landed on. This speeds up the game considerably and adds an extra layer of strategy.

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The Questioner is asking for alternate games to Monopoly, not for variants. –  Pat Ludwig Dec 20 '10 at 6:19
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The questioner says "alternative rules". –  fred Dec 20 '10 at 9:17
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Perhaps Monopoly Express? It's got the Monopoly theme, but it's a dice game that takes about 25 minutes to play.

In that vein, Risk Express is actually quite fun (but hard to find in the USA). It's another dice game version of a Hasbro board game that keeps the flavor, but plays quickly.

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I came across a board game called Anti-Monopoly. The concept's a little different from Monopoly , its just the opposite :)

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