Well, folks, here we are — hip-deep in holiday gift-giving season. And now’s the time when everyone and their creepy online uncle tries to offer up
sponsored posts insightful recommendations for what frivolous objects you should purchase to demonstrate your affection for your loved ones. But not around here! Frankly, I don’t care if your loved ones enter the New Year thinking you either hate them or have terrible taste. You’re on your own with that. But I did find something that represents the worst that 2018 has to offer, and since I think we can all agree that this heaping tire-fire of a year needs to go the f*ck away already, I figured I’d warn you: Do Not Pass Go, Do Not Buy “Monopoly: Cheaters Edition” and for the love of whatever supernatural force is behind our daily f*ckery, DO NOT CEMENT OUR WORST INSTINCTS ON YOUR GAME SHELF.
Novelty themed editions of the Hasbro capitalism classic “Monopoly” are hardly new. You can find one specialized to nearly any entertainment property you hold dear. Star Wars, Batman, Rick And Morty — even Fortnite, so you can take that game your kid is playing all the time and twist it into a different game your kid will probably play once and hate forever. These days it seems harder to find the classic version than it is to find one all dressed up for Disney Theme Parks or our own National Parks. But for all of that, the essential mechanics of the gameplay remain more or less unchanged. Buy property, collect rent, try not to go to jail — all while making and spending sums of fake money that we could only hope to have in our pockets in the real world (OK, maybe that’s just me). What does change is the players who gather for this imaginary cash grab — and their own levels of relative sportsmanship.
Yes, cheating or at least ATTEMPTING to cheat is a time-honored part of the “Monopoly” experience. Come to the board with a hidden reserve of fun money up your sleeve, drop a hotel on Park Place when no one is looking, move an extra space with each roll. Rules are made to be broken, after all, and cutting corners is a natural fit for a game about greed (and capitalism in general). Which is why I have to question the wisdom behind “Monopoly: Cheaters Edition” — a game that sees your natural inclinations and sucks all the fun out of them by making that unspoken subtext just… text.
Make this wildly different Monopoly game a favorite go-to game for game nights and other fun get-togethers. Lean into those iconic (yet unspoken) Monopoly moments in which rules are bent, money is borrowed, and funny business is welcomed. The outlandish suggestions on the board, cards, and rules encourage players to express their inner cheater to own it all while they buy, sell, dream, and scheme. Fake a die roll, steal some bills from the bank, and even skip out on rent. Complete a cheat to get a reward, but fail a cheat and pay the consequences! No houses in this edition - only hotels - and pretend handcuff unit may leave players “chained” to the board.
In addition to the usual Chance and Community Chest cards, there’s an additional set of so-called “Cheat” cards — five of which get placed in the middle of the board. These cards offer up specific tasks to complete, like “Identity Theft” (move another player’s token instead of your own), “Bank Heist” (steal money from the Bank), or “Price Gouging” (charge higher rent than you’re supposed to). If you successfully pull it off, you get a reward — and if you fail you get punished. Maybe by getting handcuffed to the board?
Not to be pedantic but IT’S NOT CHEATING IF IT’S ALLOWED. And while I commend the game-makers for taking a big swing and actually overhauling the rules this time, rather than simply slapping on a movie logo and reissuing it, something about this just feels… well, uncomfortably real. Dirty real estate dealings and taking extra allowances? Cheats that ask you to pay players less than you owe, steal the deeds to other players’ properties, or “Instead of doing what’s written on your Chance card, do whatever you want”? Gee, who does that sound like?
The difference is that if YOU act like a cheating businessman, you probably have a higher likelihood of winding up in handcuffs rather than the White House — though even here, the cuffs are plastic and you’re allowed to break out. The only thing stopping this from being “Monopoly: Trump Edition” is that Hasbro didn’t get a license fee to make that a thing. At least, not anymore…
Look, I’m not saying you shouldn’t cheat while playing Monopoly. Go for it! Cheat during any board game or card game you want! It keeps things interesting. But paying real money for a game that tries to make cheating a legitimate aspect of fake business, in 2018 of all years, feels like an unnecessary dose of insult on top of our general injuries. Commentary about the state of our country is one thing, and I’ll even admit that politics has turned into a team sport these days, but for f*cks sake — let’s not literally make a game out of it.
Besides, if you want to teach your kids some life skills, you can just get them that bomb-diffusing game instead.