Thermopoly

Thermopoly is a proposed alternate rule set for Monopoly that combines the classic board came with the laws of thermodynamics (together at last!). It started as a misunderstanding of Thermopylae, but an idea like this can’t be allowed to go to waste.

The rule set of Thermopoly follows naturally by adapting the three laws of thermodynamics to the rules of Monopoly:

First Law of Thermopoly: Assets can neither be created nor destroyed. They can only be moved from one player to another or be converted into another form (e.g., buying property converts cash to a title deed).

Second Law of Thermopoly: Transfer of assets is never 100% efficient. Some amount of assets is always converted into an unusable form and thus effectively taken out of play. Asset conversion cannot be reversed without incurring a loss (e.g., you get less money back from selling a house than you paid to buy it).

Third Law of Thermopoly: Once a player’s assets drop to zero, they lose. (OK, this really isn’t any different from regular Monopoly, but it fits, doesn’t it?)

All Thermopoly rules that differ from standard Monopoly can be justified by at least one of the above laws. Since Thermopoly has yet to be play tested, it is quite possible that the rules that follow are incomplete. Some of the following rules are provisional and probably need to be adjusted somehow to maximize playability; comments to this effect will appear in italics.

Thermopoly is played the same as standard Monopoly, with the following differences:

  • Before starting, remove all Chance and Community Chest cards whose only effect is to give money or other assets (e.g. Get Out of Jail Free) to the player. Cards that transfer money from one player to another (e.g. Chairman of the Board) are OK, though their effect will be modified as described later.
  • Every player starts with $15,000 instead of $1,500. (Note: The dollar amount probably needs to be adjusted. However, since assets are continually taken out of play, it’s obvious that players need to start off with a lot more money than in Monopoly, or else the game would be too short.)
  • You don’t get $200 for passing Go. (I don’t care if the Chance card says “Advance to Go (Collect $200)”; you aren’t getting that money.)
  • Whenever a payment is made from one player to another, an additional 5% of the total amount, rounded up to the nearest dollar, is paid to the Bank. For example, if Player A lands on Illinois Ave. owned by Player B, and there are no houses or hotels on it, Player A pays $20 to Player B and $1 to the Bank.
  • A trade between two players is treated as two simultanous payments, one in each direction. The listed purchase price of a property (half if mortgaged) is used as its value for these purposes. For example, if Player A gives Player B Boardwalk in exchange for Mediterranean Ave, Player A pays $20 to the Bank and Player B pays $3 to the Bank.

I think these rules are sufficient to handle all the necessary cases. It’s worth noting that purchasing property and mortgaging property are the same as in standard Monopoly, since you can’t sell property and unmortgaging already incurs a 10% additional fee. Similarly, buying and selling houses and hotels are unchanged, since you only get back half of the purchase price when you sell them. There are no other instances where the Bank pays money to a player.

Intuitively, the Bank’s assets are like waste heat. All asset transfers add to it. It’s possible to get value out of it, but there’s always an additional cost for doing so. And since the game will eventually encounter heat death, the game will eventually, and inevitably, end. The last player standing wins.

If anybody out there actually tries to play this game, I’d love to hear how to goes.

2 Responses

  1. I dunno, s/bank/IRS/ and it sounds too much like real life to be fun.

  2. It’s even worse than that. s/bank/IRS/ still makes it possible for new money to come into existence. Thermopoly doesn’t even give you that.

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