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There been a fair bit of Monopoly played at our house since Christmas, what with the post-apocalyptic weather and all.
Santa brought the 70th Anniversary Limited Edition, authentic in every detail to the original, except for a few additional playing pieces to go with the hat, the terrier, the iron, the race car and what Ive always believed to be a member of the RCMP Musical Ride.
If only I had known about Vancouver Island-opoly.
The Island version of the classic board game, marketed by the Victoria board game purveyor Outset Media since 2004, is among hundreds or perhaps thousands of Monopoly knockoffs world-wide.
There are games patterned after more than three dozen French cities and more than two dozen cities in Germany. Theres a Frisian edition in the Netherlands and one for every major city in the U.S.
The local version has novel appeal, to be sure, but I think the designers could have added a little more realism. In Island-opoly you can buy the Empress Hotel for $400. In real life, thats high tea for a family of four.
Inflationary issues aside, Im not sure Craigdarroch Castle and Hatley Castle deserve to be the two cheapest properties when the Chemainus Murals and Coombs Country Market are worth more than twice as much. How about Sombrio Beach Hut and Port Alberni Trailer Park instead?
Avid Monopoly players will tell you that buying up the railways is a good way to generate income for further development. In Island-opoly, the railways have been replaced with ferry routes. The Crofton to Vesuvius run could only be profitable in a fictional context.
If they were looking for an economic cash cows on Vancouver Island, why not the marijuana grow-op?
They could have a Langford Grow-Op, a Cowichan Grow-Op, an Errington Grow-Op and a Black Creek Grow-Op. If you own all four, the price of pot doubles.
There would be no point in making the four railways spurs of the E&N system. Players would have to spend millions repairing the dilapidated line before charging a single penny of rent.
Instead of Jail, Island-opoly has the End of the Line, You have to roll doubles or pay $50 to join the ferry lineup (Just Visiting), but then you get to keep playing. It would be more authentic if every player in the ferry line-up had to wait an hour and 15 minutes before rolling the dice again.
The Go to the End of the Line square (Go to jail, go directly to jail. Do not pass go, do not collect $200) could be simplified to Youre busted.
But instead of going to jail, players are charged and released. Your court date doesnt come up for two years and eventually you get off with a fine and community service.
The utilities, Electric Company and Water Works, have been replaced with a grey whale and an orca. Players can charge rent and even mortgage the whales. What kind of message does that send to kids?
These spaces should have remained as utilities, with the proviso that the owners can raise the rates at will, as long as they are approved by the B.C. Utilities Commission, which never says no.
Theres no Free Parking in Island-opoly, a revealing clue that its creators live in Victoria. However, they did include PST and GST on the board. GST costs $200 and PST costs $80. Why not drop the pretense and make the players pay 14 per cent on everything?
But its the Chance and Community Chest cards called Contingency and Big Fun in Island-opoly that really need a shot of realism.
In Island-opoly, Advance Token to St. Charles Place would become the much more awkward Advance Token to the Courtenay Museum and Paleontology Centre. Instead of a Get Out of Jail Free card, Island-opoly has a card that says You made a reservation for the first sailing of the day. Get out of the End of the Line free. Since reservations cost money, I would change that to pay $17.50 and go to front of line.
Here are a few other Chance and Community Chest suggestions:
Income-tested PharmaCare issues failing grade. Pay $150 for prescription.
Smart car crushed by semi. Pay ICBC $500 deductible.
Sea lice infestation plagues your salmon farm. Spend thousands on high-priced PR firm.
Massive Garry oak crashes through your roof during freak storm. Lose one house.
Hippies picket your development. Spend $10,000 on solar panels and bicycle racks.
Government signing bonus. Collect $3,700.
Meth addict steals your bike. Go back three spaces.
Pro-D day. Do not pass Go, but collect $200 anyway.
From sale of pot you get $45.
Universal Child Care benefit arrives in mail. You get $100.
Harper government cuts subsidies to day cares. Child care fees go up $120.
City council actually makes a decision. Costs each player $50.
Above all, Island-opoly needs a special rule to reflect the regions red-hot real estate market. Property values would increase 20 per cent every time you go around the board, but so would the cost of new construction. That way theres massive inflation but nobody really comes out ahead.
Brennan Clarke is a Victoria News reporter.