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Courtesy of Charles at Beneath The Tangles I was alerted on twitter to this article about changing the tokens in Monopoly [1].

I haven’t played Monopoly in years [2], but there was a hilarious quote in the article attributed to Gerrick Johnson, “toy analyst for BMO Capital Markets”:

“Newness always helps, and there has not been a lot of newness,” Johnson says. But Monopoly is a classic, elegant game, “and it will be around for another 100 years.”

So as a public service today I thought I’d point out 10 things about modern board games that are more innovative than changing the monopoly tokens:


catan (Photo credit: ivva)

1)      Variable Maps such as the hex maps of Settlers of Catan, or the haunted house layout of Betrayal at the House on the Hill

2)      Cooperative games such as Pandemic or Lord of the Rings where ALL the players win or ALL the players lose

3)      Competitive games that require negotiations and/or trading and encourage (sensible) players to maintain good relations with each other. Examples here include Settlers of Catan, Serenissima, Traders of Genoa

4)      Deck building games like Dominion where a player has to balance buying cards that do stuff with cards that are worth stuff

5)      Collectible card games like Tragic: The Marketing [3], or Illuminati: New World Order.

6)      Network building games like On the Underground or the monstrously successful Ticket To Ride (not to mention several other types of train games)

7)      Resource management games like Agricola, or Le Havre. Get rich, try not to starve.

8)      The amazingly creative Dixit which is like Baulderdash with pictures

9)      Opportunity cost games. There are three or more types of things you can do. Pick one. The other players will pick the ones you don’t. Examples of this include Princes of Florence, Puerto Rico, and Seven Wonders

10)   Staged or Phased Games where the rules change to reflect alterations to technology – Seven Wonders again or the 1870 family of train games.

Note that I limited the above list to board and card games. I didn’t stray into war games (including borderline cases like the fabulous Wings of War) or role playing games.

It is also more or less off the top of my head, and limited to games less than 20 years old.

Hopefully this makes it clear why claiming that “there has not been a lot of newness” in board games struck me as so hilarious.

[1] Apparently the Wheelbarrow is the favourite to go at 2-1, and the Cat is likely to be the new addition.

[2] It has quite possibly been decades since I played Monopoly.

[3] Magic: The Gathering in case that wasn’t quite obvious. To be honest though although MtG isn’t a game that appeals to me, I’m quite happy for it to exist: it saved Dungeons and Dragons when TSR was going under.