It’s too long.
I’ve played lots of board games, several longer than Monopoly, yet somehow Monopoly feels too long to me, too. It’s the only board game that I know of that has many mods added by players for generations, but the rules advise against it because they can make the game longer.
Here’s my crazy theory: there is no perfect length, there is only a bad fun/time ratio. Monopoly is too long, compared to how much fun it is.
Monopoly is too boring.
You roll your dice and you pray you land on good spots. You buy every property you can, and then jockey to make big trades with others. On a turn, the only decisions you really can make are:
- Buy Houses. If you do the math, getting to 3 houses is the key, so this isn’t really a choice.
- Make trades. I think you can usually count these on 1 hand for all players.
- Mortgage Properties. Usually, you’re doing this to pay off a big rent, at which point the game is basically over and wasting your time.
Basically, the only part of the game is trades, and you usually pull off 1 or 2 before the game is decided. Everything else is luck and on auto-pilot.
What Makes Monopoly Fun?
I think most people think the best part is having tons of money, which can explain the origin of the house rules around Free Parking and landing on Go giving more money. However, remember that the game ends when folks run out of money, so adding more money makes the game longer. More money makes the fun/time ratio worse.
I figured, why not turn the knob the other way? So I tried starting with $1000 instead of $1500. I think it got longer, but the game got waaaay more interesting.
- You run out of money almost immediately, so unowned properties go up for auction all the time. Finally, player interaction.
- You’re still out of money — all tied up in properties — so you mortgage lots of properties very carefully. Sometimes, you buy properties at auction at below half price, so you can mortgage it immediately and turn a profit.
- Players realize the value of liquidity in trades, can loosen up stubborn traders who have the properties you need if you offer cash.
The game transforms into a wheeling-and-dealing game with harder choices. It feels more like a brawl with other real estate magnates to get a gasp of air. The dice control less, the players control more.
Try it out, let me know what you think.