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Anti-Monopoly II» Forums » Variants

Subject: Has anybody tried to play it with customized rules? rss

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Martin Hlawon
Germany
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Hello! I got this game as a birthday present and was quite thrilled by its concept. But the gameplay turned to be just as boring as stated in the review, mostly for the reason mentioned there: rents are too low, especially for the competitors.

The problems
Improbability of profits
When you are a competitor, the investments you make only pay off after the tenth time someone had to pay rents to you (e.g. if you invest 100 the rent will be 10). Seeing that collecting rent more than 10 times for every one of your streets is not very probable in the course of a normal gaming session, the only reason for the competitors to buy anything is to keep the monopolists from getting a monopoly. That's not a fun motivation.

Linear growth of rents
The rents grow in linear proportion to the investments: for competitors, the rent is always 10% of the global sum invested, for monopolists it's 20%. This keeps especially the competitors from building houses.



The solutions
I propose two rule variants. The first one is simple to apply, the second one combines with the first one and adds some complexity to the gameplay.

1 - Simple variant
A quick-and-dirty rent increase:
- For the competitors: Add 10 credits to the rent due to a competitor for every house he owns apart from the ones on the street the tenant is on (hotels counting as five houses).
- For the monopolists: Add 10 credits for every other street the monopolist owns.
This should even out the differences between rents, too much in favor of the monopolists, incite the competitors to build houses and reward both parties for behaving according to their roles: competitors provide living space, monopolists buy property, but don't necessarily put it on the market.

2 - Complex variant
This variant aims to flesh out the differences between competitors and monopolists.

Monopolists mods
Streets owned by monopolists can have a sort of "magnetic attraction", "drawing" players who would normally land near one of the streets into them.
There are two kinds of magnetic fields:
(1) The "internal magnetic field"
is activated whenever a player has two or three streets of the same colour and at least on one of them at least one house. Whenever another player lands on anyone of these streets, he is automatically drawn to the street with the highest number of houses built on it, thus being sure to pay the highest rent.
This would illustrate the monopolists' strategy to artificially raise demand for living space by deliberately not putting some objects on the market. People are thus forced to accept higher rents. (I don't know a good short english expression for it - something like "property speculation"?)
Players should be incited to buy all the streets of one city and to invest heavily in one street.
(2) The "external magnetic field"
is activated whenever a player owns all the streets of one colour and has at least one house built on every one of them. Whenever another player lands on one of the streets of one of the two adjacent cities, AND the total number of houses built in the monopolised city is higher than in the one he has landed in (all streets counting, even if not owned by the same player), he is drawn into the monopolised city, and there to the street with most houses built on it (according to the internal magnetic field rule).
This rule illustrates the rural exodus.
Players should be incited to invest like hell, competing with neighbouring cities.

Competitors mods
Competitors get two handy tools for disturbing the monopolists.
(1) Whenever a competitor lands on a monopolist's mortgaged street he can buy it off the bank for the price on the back of the card. It is then his street.
(2) While a monopolist is in prison, any competitor who lands on one of his streets can force the monopolist to sell the concerned street and its houses to the competitor for the original price, putting the monopolist out of jail. This would represent the busting of the trust as the outcome of the anti-trust lawsuit.


Conclusion
The aim of these variants is to incite investments and to increase the differences in gameplay between competitors and monopolists.
I have not yet had the occasion to try them in practice, though.
What do you think of them?
Has anyone experimented with customized rules?

Best wishes,
Martin

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Martin Hlawon
Germany
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Hi Hayley!
Thanks for replying to my post - I had already given up hope that there might be anyone else on this planet believing in the game's potential!
Two days ago I got to try my home-made rules - it took a certain degree of psychological pressure to convince three of my friends to give the game another chance ("It was you who gave it to me as a present, so now you'll have to stand up to it!")...devil

The game went like this:

We were four, two competitors, two monopolists (one of them me).
I won, because I was lucky and knew "my" rules of course better then the other players who had heard of them for the first time. My luck consisted in being quickly in possession of all of the three blue streets (Paris in the European version). One of them was a trade with the other monopolist player for one of the yellow streets (London). I quickly built one house on two and three houses on one of them, activating both the internal and external magnetic fields. So people kept constantly paying rent to me.
Second winner was one of the competitor players who had quickly grasped that it was a good idea to build a lot of houses on the cheap streets and was lucky enough to get all of the brown ones (Berlin). Like that he got 10 credits for houses which had cost him only 50.
The other monopolist player was third, being less lucky in acquiring all streets of one colour.
The first to bankrupt was the second competitor player, mainly because he was not lucky at all and didn't acquire and invest enough.
My overall feeling was that the rule changes made for a more balanced gameplay, since the competitors did actually get money out of their investments. If I had stepped once more on one of the first competitor's streets, he would have won.
But there were many things to refine and clarify and the luck factor was still too important.

The rule changes had the following effects:

Rent increase for the competitors
One of the players invested heavily in the cheap streets, where houses cost only 50 credits. He bought one street of the second row, so every time someone landed on it, he would get cash for all the houses on the cheap streets. This led to an argument about whether it was necessary to have at least one house on the street the rent-payer is on in order to profit from the other houses. I think yes. Regardless of this question, the rule leads competitors to build ONLY on the cheap streets and to leave their more expensive streets empty (or just build the required minimum). I didn't want them to be that focussed on the "50-credits-row". Even raising the rent per house to 15 wouldn't help much, because then the 50-credits-houses pay off even better. The reason for the plain 10-credits-per-house increase was to keep the necessary calculations simple. But even so it was not always evident.

Rent increase for the monopolists
We were playing with the "magnetic field" rules. Once I had one, every round there was at least one of the other players being pulled onto my one heavily equipped street. The rent flow was nice and constant, so that the 10 credits rent increase per street was an unnecessary advantage and didn't give me an extra motivation to buy streets. I was motivated enough to do so by the prospect of having an active external magnetic field.

Magnetic fields
This was the part of my rules that the other players (mainly the competitor players) disliked the most. They were expressing their feelings in strong words. angry I still like it.
At first, the others thought the external field would only exerce its attraction on the two streets which are directly bordering the metropolis, and not, as I had intended, on the whole of the two neighboring cities.
The other thing to be criticized was the fact that the attraction should draw away not only from "inhabited" streets, but also from streets that didn't even belong to anyone, so no-one could buy them. So we agreed that the external attraction should only work on streets where the player would pay a rent and only if he will then pay a rent in the attracting city. That way, streets in the range of a magnetic field can still be bought, and the attraction does not work in favor of the owner of the metropolis (which would save him from having to pay rent in a neighbouring city), and it does not work when the owner is in prison.
These modifications would dampen the strong effects of the magnetic field a bit, but I haven't tried them in play yet.

Competitor mods
These seem to be the weakest point in my propositions, because the competitors never got to actually force-buy a street off a monopolist. I never had to mortgage anything. The other monopolist player did, but always managed to buy it back before a competitor could make a grab. He also went to prison twice, and once a competitor would have wanted to buy a street off him, but it would have cost 500 credits which he couldn't afford. The second time the monopolist preferred to pay the 50 creds for getting out of prison quickly.
For the moment, I cannot think of a simple and elegant way to effectively empower the competitors...

Original game rules
What I dislike most about the original rules is the "200-credits-tax"-field, because it makes you randomly loose a lot of money AND forces you to do strange calculations (by the way, why is 1% 10%?). I would strongly suggest to make it a plain 100 credits tax, no calculating.

Conclusion
There are adjustments to be made, but I don't want to interfere too much with the original game rules and the figures printed on the cards.
I like your idea of simply increasing the rent by rolling a die. My original idea was to multiply the rent printed on the card with the number of houses, thus creating an exponential rise. But this would impart constant calculations on the players (like 164 times 4).
What about halving the price of houses for the competitors?
Well so long, and I am eager to read about your experiences with the modified rules!

Take care,
Martin
 
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Dani Tollemache
Netherlands
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I quite like your customized rules - I actually really like antimonopoly as it is - but I find it's a daunting game as it takes forever to play, the reason it takes forever? is because competitors and monopolists are so perfectly evenly matched that no one can win, unless that get lucky (like my mother, who is just one of those lucky people)

Anyway, your additions to the rules are interesting - I completely agree that the external magnetic field should only work on neighbouring streets and not entire cities, maybe they could work on entire cities if there was a hotel in each of the streets of a city (and therefore it's drawn to the highest price lot)

it seems to me that your rules are still slightly in favour of monopolists, and therefore leaning away from the basis of the game being so incredibly even that it's luck that makes you win. So maybe halving the price of houses for a competitor would encourage more building earlier, making it slightly easier on them

Oh, and isn't it a lot more realistic to have taxes that are percentages? and you could argue that it's more realistic just to ignore the tax rule since you SHOULD be taxed every round, but then you get paid money every round so what's the point at all? but my point is that it's more likely that a monopolist would only get caught not paying taxes every now and again and have to forfeit his 10%/200credits while a competitor would be honest hehehe

Anyway, thanks for the additional rules! I shall try to employ them when I find some willing players
 
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Roy Nobody
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A few friends and I have tried changing various rules, mainly with the aim of making the game fair for both teams... and the last idea my friend came up with was sheer genius: make houses cost half as much as it says on the card when it's a competitor player building them.

The good side of this rule change was that it made the game vastly more fair for the competitors - in fact, it appeared to give them a slightly unfair advantage over the monopolists, since they had CHEAP houses springing up on every property they owned, whereas the monopolists could only build on their monopolies. Still, it was very close to a fair game - the advantages and disadvantages of each side were so nearly perfectly balanced that the game dragged on for nearly 6 hours with no one getting the upper hand until we just stopped giving out money for passing go because we were bored with nothing happening and ready for things to end.

This makes the game fair, but more tweaking is needed to spice this version of it up - we were deadlocked for hours, trading paltry sums of money back and forth and not coming even close to bankrupting anyone.
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Ben Gilbert
United States
Houston
Texas
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Our group turned it into a true team game. The "Competitors" essentially become Socialists b/c they normalize all profit and loss. The costs are all the same, but money is liquid amongst the Competitors. The game is over when the Competitor teamhas eliminated all of the monopolists from the game. The Monopolists can still work together, too, but they still ultimately represent individual interests and thus must obey the rules as the rulebook dictates.
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Last Socratic

Rochester
Minnesota
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I just got this game and played one game with a friend. He was a competitor and I was a monopolist. I pretty easily beat him (a little luck and really terrible strategy on his part). It was pretty clear only 45 min. to an hour in that I was going to win, but he wouldn't quit until he was bankrupted so the game dragged out 3+ hours. The small sums of money are discouraging. I had also considered the need to halve the house costs for the competitor due to the lack of return on investment otherwise. At the same time rent for the monopolist needs increased, but I'm not sure what a good proportion would be. 50% seems steep though that might depend on the intensity of the competition. Maybe 25%?

Another rule variant thought I had, going along with the concept of encouraging more teamwork among competitors and competition and backstabbing among monopolists, is that any time a monopolist is bankrupted by a competitor their properties would be turned over to the bank (as if unowned) and the total value of those properties would be divided up equally and paid to the competitors from the bank as a dividend from opening the market up a little more. Further, any time any player was bankrupted by a monopolist, the bankrupted player would turn over his properties to the bank (again to become as if unowned) and the total value of that property would be paid as a dividend to the monopolist that bankrupted them for increasing their own market share.

Some considerations and potential modifications to this variant:

A) To keep things competitive and prevent players from making one-sided deals to get themselves out of trouble trade between monopolists and competitors may need to be prohibited entirely. Monopolists and competitors may trade among themselves and that is it. The primary concern for this modification is that a competitor about to be bankrupted by a monopolist might be let off easy by turning over all or significant portions of his leftover properties to get out of debt and stay in the game despite no longer having much of a chance to survive with nothing to create income. The monopolist gets an advantage s/he can use to beat the others at the expense of prolonging the inevitable for the nearly bankrupted player.

B) It might be fun (not sure how fair) if the above variant includes the monopolist being able to buy from the bank any properties from a player they just bankrupted at original market value. If that presents too much of an unfair advantage for the monopolist maybe limit it to buying properties with their cash on hand (i.e. they can't mortgage properties or sell houses to buy things they can't afford otherwise).

C) To encourage teamwork among competitors and give the competitors a way of neutralizing the influence of powerful monopolists, a competitor may negotiate with other competitors trades of properties, money, services, loans or whatever else the players can imagine to help out a competitor in danger of significant loss of economic power (going bankrupt or nearly bankrupt from having to pay a particular bill to a monopolist). The idea being that the competitors might temporarily collaborate to protect their collective interests. If a monopolist gains too much from bankrupting a competitor the other competitors may individually choose to loan or grant another competitor the funds to pay off a debt to the monopolist.

D) Receiving payment from knocking a player out of the game may seem like a pittance in many cases depending on the total number of players. It may be advisable to modify the amounts. For example, monopolists properties are worth 150%-200% of the original value or also include the starting $1500 in that pot.
 
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steve brown
United States
Lowell
Massachusetts
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I love this game for its balance, and do not have a problem with a competitor having to buy things only for the monopolists from getting a monopoly, nor do I have a problem with the linear growth of rents. What I wish to improve on the game is 1. To make the monopolist and competitor more different, in a thematic sense, in their respective deck of cards, and 2. To speed up the game.
1. I noticed that the amounts of money lost or gained is the same on both decks of cards; in fact, within each deck, the total losses and gains cancel each other out, so that if you played through an entire deck, your net gain would be $0. So, I've tried doubling the amounts gained or lost on the monopolists cards. This still results in the some total or the money figures is still $0, but that the monopolist cards have a bigger impact on the turn they are played. The monopolist position become more volatile, as they are characters who risk more for more gain, having really good days or really bad days sometimes.
2. I've always wondered why Anti-Monopoly doesn't have the auctioning rule that standard Monopoly has. Where in the original game, if someone lands on a property, but cannot or does not wish to purchase it at the listed price, the property goes up for auction, in Anti-Monopoly, there is not such mechanic. In a recent play session, the last row of properties remained unpurchased for a inordinate amount of time. If we bring in the original auction rules, the game will be sped up, because more properties owned means more rent charged, and the skill of winning an auction replaces some of the chance of whether one lands on a particular property or not.
What do you all think?
 
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