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:

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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!

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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 electronic 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 “a.judson”, then the “at” symbol, then “cantab.net”).

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!

Author: Anna P. Judson

Classics researcher at Cambridge

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