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Sunday, January 17, 2010

Enhance Monopoly Deal with "real time" play!

Monopoly Deal
Some time back, I was introduced to the card game, Monopoly Deal, by a colleague. Based on the traditional Monopoly game, the objective is to be the first to own three sets of properties. Along the way, you play cards that represent cash, properties, houses/hotels or actions (e.g. pay rent). Like Monopoly, it is a game that tests your property-owning capabilities (and luck).

Also like Monopoly, it is extremely slow to play. Like the board game, Monopoly Deal is a turn-based game. That means, each player gets a chance to play what he wants to play, before ceding control of the game to the next player, and on and on.

As a result, some players, including my colleague, came up with a fast way to play the game. Called the "one minute rule", each player has only one minute to make a decision on what cards he wants to play. If he doesn't play within one minute, he forfeits his turn.

That is all well and good. It certainly makes it faster to complete one round of the game, and thus more opportunities to play at a sitting. It also forces players to make snap decisions, much like in real life.

Robert Kiyosaki, author of the self-help series, "Rich Dad Poor Dad", also appreciates playing Monopoly for teaching him the importance of good debt vs bad debt. He claims that by playing Monopoly, he has been able to parlay that knowledge into real life wealth.

I was reflecting on this and realised that there's a fundamental flaw with Monopoly and its derivatives, including this card game. Life isn't turn-based. In making business deals, you don't make a move, then wait for the next person to move, then the next, then the next, till it's back to your turn.

In real life, everyone's turn occurs at the same time.

So if you want to make Monopoly Deal even faster and more realistic, remove the turn-based element of the game. This is "Monopoly Deal real time"! The basic rules of a turn apply, i.e. you pick two cards, play up to three cards, and must not have more than seven cards in your hand at the end of your turn. But instead of waiting for the other players to finish their turns, you just keep playing by these turn rules.

What happens next would be very chaotic. After all, when everyone's playing at the same time, you need to constantly keep track of what's going on. But then, the business world is chaotic but governed by rules. And it is the government that ensures that everyone plays by the rules. So ideally, you'd have a player who doesn't hold any cards, but keeps a sharp eye on everyone to make sure they play accordingly during each of their turns.

Aside: if the "government" player wants to play, he certainly can! In that case, it's called "Monopoly Deal real time (Singapore version)", since Singapore's government is well known to engage in commercial transactions, e.g. Temasek Holdings, Singapore Technologies, etc.

Besides the chaos, other complications could arise. One of these is when two or more players play a "rent" card at about the same time. Should one rent card negate another? If so, does this mean some players could skip paying rent?

As in the real world (unless you're dealing in a crooked system), you still need to pay your rent. So the first player who plays the "rent" card collects from the others first, then the next player, and so on. If player B doesn't have enough cash to pay player A, then he has to forfeit his properties accordingly, in line with Monopoly Deal rules.

Just because player B also plays a rent card (which could numerically negate player A's rent card) doesn't mean he doesn't pay rent. In the real world, the early bird gets the worm. If player B wanted to save his properties, then he should've played his "rent" card first. But he didn't, so he suffers. Just like in the real world.

And that's "Monopoly Deal real time". It's messy, it's confusing, but it reflects real world commercial situations.

Have fun dealing!