Mycenopoly

It’s been an unashamedly nerdy ambition of mine for quite a long time to make a Bronze Age version of Monopoly, themed around the Mycenaean palaces of Bronze Age Greece – so now that I’m PhD-less, I thought I’d finally give it a go. Allow me to present: Mycenopoly – or, in Linear B, mu-ke-no-po-ru:

Mycenopoly 2.jpg

I should state right away that this game makes no pretence to exact historical or archaeological accuracy (which are not particularly compatible with the rules of Monopoly). The aim of Mycenopoly is to gain control of different sites in order to extract contributions of goods from visiting players, the winner being the person with the largest quantity of goods at the end of the game. Two or three sites of the same colour make up a territory or kingdom – so, for instance, the green group consists of the palace of Pylos and two settlements within its territory, Nichoria and Iklaina, while the orange group represents the Argolid (Mycenae, Midea, and Tiryns). Controlling a whole ‘kingdom’ allows a player to start constructing palaces – first of all by building four pillars, then a megaron (the most important room of a Mycenaean palace, characterised by four pillars around a central hearth, as well as the throne). You can also gain control of four ports and two important Mycenaean industries – perfumed oil and textiles production. Here’s the game board with all the associated cards, pieces, etc:

P1070138.JPG

Since Bronze Age Greece didn’t have money, I had to devise a barter/exchange system: the value of any site is expressed in terms of the amount of olive oil required in exchange. It’s a bit of a pain transporting all those jars of olive oil around, though, so other commodities are deemed to be equivalent to certain quantities of oil – e.g. a sheep is equivalent to 5 units of oil, a horse 10, or a suit of armour 100. All quantities of goods, by the way, are expressed in Linear B, using an ideogram (a symbol standing for an object) plus a numeral – fortunately, Linear B has a nice decimal system of numbers (vertical line = 1, horizontal line = 1, circle = 100…), and the game comes with a handy guide to exchanging goods:

P1070141

Drawing cards from the ‘Fate’ pile (tukha in Mycenaean Greek, spelt tu-ka in Linear B) may mean that you have to offer up some of your goods to placate an angry god/goddess, or that you receive a gift due to being appointed as a priest(ess); drawing an ‘Archives Complex’ card (named after the location in the palace of Pylos where most of the Linear B tablets were stored) might mean receiving a gift from the wanax (the king, i.e. the most important person in a Mycenaean palace – in Mycenopoly, therefore, the ‘Bank’), or a requirement to contribute troops for coastal defence (most of these cards are – at least loosely – based on real Linear B tablets). Oh, and on your way around the board, be careful not to get lost in the Labyrinth!

P1070143copy.JPG

UPDATE: there’s been an unexpectedly large amount of interest in acquiring copies of Mycenopoly. As I said in the comments below, I am happy to make copies available free of charge to those wishing to use them specifically for teaching purposes (since this falls under ‘fair use’ in copyright terms).

If you are a teacher/lecturer/other form of educator and want a copy to use in teaching, please send me an email, including some details of where/what/who you will be using it to teach (my address, in non-spammer-friendly format, is “apj31”, then the “at” symbol, then “cam.ac.uk”).

If you have a friend/colleague/family member who you think would like to use this in teaching, please send them this post and ask them to get in touch with me if they would like one, rather than emailing on their behalf – I prefer to send copies directly to the people who will be using them!

If you are a non-teacher who would just like a copy to play/to give to a friend/etc, I appreciate your interest, but I will unfortunately not be able to send you a copy. Sorry to disappoint, but please understand that I can’t simply distribute the game to absolutely everybody.

Finally, thank you all for your interest, it’s amazing to see so many people appreciating what really just started as a personal nerdy project!

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Author: Anna P. Judson

Classics researcher at Cambridge

59 thoughts on “Mycenopoly”

    1. Sadly at the moment there is only the one copy in existence…If there’s a lot of interest I could look into making the files available to download for educational purposes!

      Liked by 2 people

    2. I’m not a Greek scholar, but I feel like nit-picking the ending of mu-ke-no-po-ru. Wiktionary, at least, gives the etymology of _monopoly_ as: From Latin monopōlium, from Ancient Greek μονοπώλιον (monopṓlion, “a right of exclusive sale”), from μόνος (mónos, “sole”) + πωλέω (pōléō, “I barter, sell”). Therefore I would expect something like mu-ke-no-po-ri-jo. (Of course, it’s a portmanteau anyway, so this may be unimportant for naming purposes.)

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  1. Well done! It is an amazing adaptation and it also looks great and professional! Of course (bit of nagging) I am no a huge fan of using christian nameplaces as I think it takes something away but it’s not easy to find alternatives every time. It would be great if it could hit the shelves at some point in the future but I know it’s very difficult! Congratulations again!

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    1. Thank you! I agree it would be great to be able to use only Bronze Age names, but the evidence just isn’t there unfortunately – I decided I’d rather use the names attested archaeological sites are known by than names of places we know from the Linear B tablets but whose location we don’t know. One of many anachronisms, not the least of which is the “money” system!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. This is just genius. Given the other niche versions of Monopoly that have been produced this so should be a real version.

    Brilliant stuff, well done.

    If only Hasbro would produce this (and a Sumerian version 🙂 )

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  3. Absolutely amazing ^___^ You really have to publish this as a downloadable version!

    If you’re afraid of copyright problems still after some research of those, maybe you can do something like change the name of the game/make the board of different shape so it’s not so obvious copy of any existing game. Anyway, even if the company should find out of this, I don’t understand why they’d be angry, it’s after all almost like an advertisement to them. (I’m nothing like an expert here, just babbling!)

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  4. A downloadable version would be marvellous for my students as well – this looks an excellent example of gamification for education!

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    1. The tokens I have made so far are the snake goddess (pictured in the post), the Knossos throne, a Linear B tablet (my choice of playing piece, of course), a boar’s tusk helmet, horns of consecration, and a psi figurine. No reason why there couldn’t be a mythological set as well, though!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Hi all, so I don’t really want to get involved in the complications that would arise from selling this (I’m not even sure how legal that would be) – but it seems there’s a lot of interest in using Mycenopoly for educational purposes which as far I can see comes under “fair use/fair dealing”. I’m therefore happy to make copies available for those purposes, although rather than posting files publically for download, I’d ask any teachers/lecturers/etc who’d like a copy to email me (address below) so that I can send you the files to print out. It would be good to know a bit about where/what/who you will be using it to teach, as well! I won’t be able to provide copies straightaway as I will need to do some file conversions, scan in some stuff I made by hand, etc – also as this wasn’t really designed for teaching I may add some extra explanatory information! But I would hope to be able to send it out relatively soon. Thank you all for your interest, it’s amazing to see so many people appreciating what was really just a personal nerdy project!

    My email address is “apj31”, then the “at” symbol, then “cam.ac.uk” (trying to give it in non-spammer-friendly format!)

    Liked by 1 person

  6. This is wonderful. I want one. And I want one in Sumerian too, like another commenter suggested. The Monopoly set that I own is the Alan Turing set, which amazingly is an official one.

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    1. Amazing, I didn’t know you could buy copies of the Turing version! I would also love a Sumerian version too but I think I’ll have to leave that for a Near Easternist to create…

      Liked by 1 person

    1. As I said above in reply to another comment, we don’t always know what sites were called in the Bronze Age. Only 8 of the place-names on the board are actually found in the tablets (ones like Knossos, Phaistos, Kydonia, Thebes – but Mycenae itself isn’t), so we have to refer to them by the modern names for their locations – that includes ones named after Christian saints, as a huge number of towns/villages/etc in Greece are, as well as plenty of others like Iklaina.

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  7. I need this in my life! I’m bagsie-ing the Snake Goddess … I’d also, as an ex-LBA Aegean person, love a copy of this, though I no longer have students. I have children to teach Linear B to, though – that surely counts as educational use?

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I imagine that parker brothers have streamlined the licensing process, because there are a ton of licensed spin offs such as Virginia Wine-opoly . Probably the licensed versions sell more than the original.

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  9. I absolutely love this. Sorry to hear you are not going to be marketing it but totally understand. Just know if you ever do I will surely purchase one. Brilliant just brilliant.

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  10. Nerdy lovers of Bronze Age Greece unite! You have nothing to lose but your boar’s tusk helmets! A great idea, goodluck with marketing – I have shown your post to several Facebook chums and it is clear that many people, including myself, would be interested in buying Mycenopoly!

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  11. This is really wonderful. I wonder if you might be overestimating the problems in producing this for sale. Certainly I’ve seen lots of Monopoly-inspired boardgames sold in legitimate places (I’m thinking, for instance, of Penn-opoly) sold in my university bookstore, and there are companies that you can hire to make a prototype. The support you’ve gotten on this site and on Facebook could convince a company that there’s a market for this product, even if it’s a “niche market.” Anyway, just something to consider.

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  12. I hope that you will let us know when (or if) you decide to make the game COMMERCIALLY available; as a present to my archaeology-buff friends, it should make quite a splash!

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