Monopoly players looking for a more serious game have been meeting three times a week at Cosi, on Broadway at 78th Street, for three years running. Claire Sabel, Bwog’s intrepid Advanced Board Games Correspondent, and a friend RSVP’d to their online invitation and joined the ongoing tournament earlier this week.
We arrived at seven, and were greeted by Wayne, the group’s founder and bookkeeper–like any serious Monopoly group, they record the statistics of every game. Many of the players draw their Monopoly skills from real-life experience: Wayne refined his money-counting prowess during his years working in a liquor store, while another regular has invested in multiple real estate properties in the city. “I play real-life monopoly, too,” he says.
Now retired, Wayne hosts his regular game in the back of the café. We came on a slow night and met most of the roster of regulars, but Wayne mentioned that interested passers-by drop in for a game or two on busier evenings. Another veteran, Mark, recalled one semi-professional ringer who joined in and left with $19,000 (in pink and green Monopoly money, we assume). “We’re pretty competitive,” he recalled, “but this guy was in another league.” But before we could start, Wayne, sporting an intimidating sweatband, had to take us aside and explain Monopoly Mega.
Basically, Monopoly Mega is your average merciless family game. Amped up on steroids. And Red Bull. The game is not for the faint of heart. With an enlarged board that adds a number of extra properties, utilities, and a few other spaces, an extra die is required. With sophisticated rules that resemble New York zoning restrictions–you can build skyscrapers atop hotels and depots on railroad stations–come more subtle disputes. Mark and Wayne, like any experienced and conscientious players, both carry the official rulebook.
The players, naturally, are real characters. You know the type: that one relative who takes family game night entirely too seriously, falls behind, and upends the board and all the pieces. But Cosi’s, well, cozy atmosphere, though, eases the cutthroat nature of the game, and all the players made us feel welcome. Wayne is always looking for new members, so if you find regular Monopoly pedestrian, you should consider moving up to the big leagues.