Make it rain, Mr. Monopoly!!
I’m a huge board game person and play with my friends on a regular basis. We try strategy games, trivia, and every once in a while a drinking game version of Chutes and Ladders. Yet I realized my friends and I have never played Monopoly ever and that is gonna have to change.
I think everyone has a love/hate relationship with Monopoly.
Monopoly is the classic board game where your goal is to become the greatest capitalist ever and bankrupt all your friends. Chances are you love the game when you’re winning and hate the game as you are two and half hours into playing, mortgaging your colorful properties and internally praying to pass go to collect $200. But as the documentary Under the Boardwalk: The Monopoly Story points out, we all have Monopoly memories.
My best Monopoly memory: playing against someone who never played before, forming a secret alliance with someone, and then bankrupting the first time player into oblivion. I’m evil.
It seems all board games have World Championships, reminding me that it’s time to get practicing. Under the Boardwalk (narrated by Zachary Levi of Chuck fame) profiles competitive Monopoly players from across the country (and world) as they compete in the National Championship, with that winner moving onto the World Championship in Las Vegas. I enjoyed the background of the players and their connection to the game, but I was even more interested in the history and strategic discussions of the doc. The history of the game dates back to an original anti-Capitalism game called The Landlord’s Game, which after years of passing from one person to another eventually got into the hands of Charles Darrow, an unemployed guy who turned the game into what would become a worldwide cultural icon.
Fun fact: originally the game didn’t include pieces, but Darrow mentioned his daughter used charm bracelet tokens. That’s what the game tokens are inspired by.
Now the reason I want to play Monopoly immediately is for all the game tips. First off, if you want a fast game don’t use Free Parking. I know, it’s my favorite too but it makes the game last forever. Three houses is a good level for properties and Orange properties are an extremely popular area to acquire for winning. Most of all, I want me a Monopoly speed die. Used in competition and now some fancy editions, it makes the game go faster by allowing players to move where they want when they get triples or advance to the next open property. Best part of the doc: in tournaments when players eventually must advance to the next property where you’d have to pay rent and they get screwed.
Bankrupting people is family fun times!
Another quirky documentary in the fantastic repertoire of Netflix Instant, Under the Boardwalk has a good balance of the history of the game and the competitive championships. Perhaps not as emotionally satisfying as last week’s Make Believe where you become very invested in the kids, this documentary gave me a different feeling: nostalgia. I watched the 90 minute documentary remembering old times playing, trying to determine my favorite piece (top hat or wheelbarrow), and my property of choice (I’m a sucker for the greens). Most of all this documentary made me want to call all my friends and get a game started immediately and that’s why Monopoly has lasted this long: bringing people together.