The Red Bull Diary   Recent Posts
RSSRSS Friday Free Games
"Your 'reality', sir, is lies and balderdash and I'm delighted to say that I have no grasp of it whatsoever."
— Karl Friedrich Hieronymus, Freiherr von M√ľnchhausen

A Panoply of "Opolies"

As a follow-up to my earlier post about the "Campaign for Real Monopoly", I figured I'd completely contradict myself and post some Monopoly variants, and there are a lot of them, running the gamut from simpe thematic makeovers to deep and complex rulesets. The game is so well-known and compelling, that there is no lack of imitation.

And according to Dr. Ralph Ansbach, creator of Anti-Monopoly, this is as it should be. In his book, The Billion Dollar Monopoly Swindle, he tells of his courageous fight against big business and how he uncovered a fascinating history behind the game. In winning a Supreme Court battle to market his game, Ansbach proved that the game of Monopoly had been played in various forms since at least 1910. He claims that it was originally invented by a Quaker woman, Lizzie J. Magie, and took on a number of forms until Charles Darrow, an unemployed salesman from Germantown, Pennsylvania, began creating sets and selling them on his own, claiming the game was his "brainchild". Parker Brothers bought the rights to the game from him and then ruthlessly protected the goldmine game.

But now, thanks to Ansbach's work, we're free to legally make all sorts of "opolies". And there are a lot of them.

First, there are the legions localized versions of the game produced by Parker Brothers. Wikipedia lists around 60 different themed versions of the classic game, including Star Wars and Family Guy Monopoly games. The Monopoly Lexicon lists 147 versions and counting, and the Monopolybase is an online compilation of Monopoly board layouts representing 26 countries.

If you want to go a little farther afield, there's a company by the name of Late for the Sky that produce a huge range of specialty-themed Monopoly variants including Bibleopoly, Milleniumopoly, Booo-opoly, and Cat in the Hat-opoly (that last one's a stretch, isn't it?). They even produce custom games.

Then there's Ghettopoly, which caused a bit of a stir when it was released. Instead of Community Chest, it has "Ghetto Stash" cards that read, for example, "You got yo whole neighborhood addicted to crack. Collect $50 from each playa." And if you remember the Whitewater scandal, then you might like Clintonopoly, a satirical play on an earlier presidency that doesn't seem so bad in hindsight.

And if you leave the realm of packaged products into the realm of homebrew games, you find some really wild stuff. Play Again Games offers an online set of rule variants that you can use to "make Monopoly a whole new game for you". Or you can go further and play Transopoly, a complete Transformers-themed variant with printable cards and everything. Or you can take the game to a whole new level, such as in Illuminopoly, created by Dave Van Domelen of Ohio. In this version of the game, each token represents a secret society that will try to control the board through sabotage and political intrigue, a la Steve Jackson's classic card game, Illuminati. A hat-tip to Emphyrio from bgdf for this one.

And the list goes on. Hmmm... I wonder if there's an Amberopoly....

Comments on A Panoply of "Opolies"

Pandora: My Favorite New Songs
LibraryThing: What I'm Currently Reading
Archive Links
Friends of the Red Bull


Sinfest by Tatsuya Ishida

Order of the Stick by Rich Burlew
The Red Bull Diary Is
The Red Bull Diary is the personal pulpit and intellectual dumping-ground for its author, an amateur game designer, professional programmer, political centrist and incurable skeptic. The Red Bull Diary is gaming, game design, politics, development, geek culture, and other such nonsense.