Fordyce Maxwell: Introducing the agrarian take on a board game favourite

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TOO LATE for this year but, with some fine tuning, a bit of luck and a bank prepared to support small businesses that show initiative without demanding security that includes property deeds, medical check, passport and the children’s piggy bank – there must be one somewhere – it could hit the board game jackpot next Christmas: Farming Monopoly.

I don’t know why I haven’t thought of it before. Probably for the same reason I didn’t make a fortune by inventing the Dyson vacuum cleaner or Facebook or writing Fifty Shades Of Grey – someone else got there first.

Just as some other genius had the idea for Monopoly about 80 years ago and it has had its enthusiasts ever since.

As almost everyone has been hauled into playing at least once over a festive season, we know that Monopoly is a mix of skill and chance, buying and selling properties, collecting and paying rents, good and bad luck from Community Chest and Chance cards, and that regular £200 for passing Go.

Compare and contrast with farming – including “Pass Go and collect annual single farm payment” – it’s a natural.

Here’s how I see the board layout. Instead of the top-end rent-earners Park Lane and Mayfair there would be, say, top-end rent-earners Buccleuch Estates and Seafield Estates.

Instead of knock down value Old Kent Road and The Angel, Islington, there would be, say, a croft on Lewis and the last 100-acre dairy farm in Ayrshire.

Instead of London railway stations on each of the board’s four sides, there would be four auction marts – say, Ayr, Lanark, St Boswells and Stirling. Buy those early and collect a regular commission.

Instead of the utilities – water,
electricity, gas and so on – there would be supermarkets. Strictly speaking, there should be at least two supermarkets along each side, possibly three in the case of Tesco, but while Farming Monopoly is a work in progress let’s settle for a single Morrison, Tesco, Sainsbury and Asda. The penalty for landing on these sites is high.

Right, layout more or less sorted. Properties lying on the board between the Lewis croft and Buccleuch Estates will be graded steadily upwards in value in the same way as Monopoly from, say, a hill farm in Peeblesshire to 1,000-acres of coastal Angus.

Value can be added by converting steadings to holiday cottages, opening a farm shop, starting a livery stable or putting up wind turbines. Some Chance and Community Chest cards will produce good or bad news on planning
application delays and local protesters.

I’m still toying with the idea of a game-changing card where a player trying to develop a wind farm suffers the same fate as Edward Woodward in The Wickerman at the hands of protesters.

Possibly too extreme for a supposedly friendly game, although not for those, naming no names, who have been known to kick over the board. However, I do see Chance and Community Chest cards – which have to be acted on when a player lands on these squares – as a vital part of the game.

When it comes to Farming
Monopoly, every farmer could compile a list of possible hazards, so I don’t claim that what is on our rules panel is definitive. More a starting point, with additions welcome before we go into production next year.

As I say, a work in progress and all suggestions welcome. We could be on a winner. Happy Christmas.