MAD Magazine may not be quite as familiar to those of us here in the UK as it is in America, but it is probably best known to British readers from the numerous references to it in The Simpsons over the years. The magazine was first published in 1952 (albeit in comic form) and provided readers with a humorous look at life. At its peak in the 70s circulation was over 2 million for each edition and it became a highly influential magazine, with numerous mentions across all different forms of media. It’s no surprise therefore that The MAD Magazine Game came to be created in 1979.
There were many “in jokes” for readers of MAD Magazine. Several involved Alfred E. Neuman, MAD’s frequent cover star and mascot, and it’s therefore no surprise that he frequently appears on the board game version too.
Lose all your money
The aim of The MAD Magazine Game is incredibly simple – to be the first player to lose all your money – all players having started with $10,000. Although that’s obviously not as simple as it sounds.
How to play the MAD Magazine Game
There are a few slightly unusual rules when it comes to the game. Firstly, you go around the board anti-clockwise and players should always roll the dice with their left hand. The latter not a rule we managed when we played the game!
The main track of the board goes round the outside edge and players roll two dice to move around. There are also two smaller internal tracks (reminding me a bit of the board in Careers) which players enter when they land on one of the three double arrow squares. For these smaller tracks players just roll a single die.
The game has moments that feel very much like Monopoly, with players sometimes being sent to the Tough Luck square where they have to collect any money tucked under it. Much as some people do with the Free Parking square in Monopoly. There’s also the chance to be sent to “Anywhere” which is somewhat akin to being sent to jail.
As you play, instructions on the squares are relatively straight-forward, but as it says in the rules, if there’s anything that you don’t understand then players should simply take a majority agreement on how to interpret the rules and get on with play.
Some squares tell players to take a Card Card which can be found in a pile on the table. Instructions on these are likes those found on some squares; comical, sometimes unexpected and meaning you can either lose money (good) or win money (bad!)
Everybody swap seats!
The bit that gets a bit more interesting is when players get the instruction to either move seats (leaving their money behind for whoever takes their seat next) or just swap money with another player. You could be down to your last $500, but then with just one card you’re suddenly lumbered with another player’s huge pile of money and another player takes advantage of your losses.
What we thought of The MAD Magazine Game
We first played the MAD Magazine Game as one of our lockdown online board games and before we started we were slightly hesitant as we weren’t sure whether or not the remote players would be bored without much to do. This couldn’t have been further from the truth though, and in actual fact this was one of the funniest games we played so far.
Watching one player have to cross his legs, sit on his hands and do his best chicken impression to lay and egg and lose money was particularly memorable. As was the moment when one of the remote players had got up to make a cup of tea whilst he was missing a turn, only for me to land on a square which said that if another player was stood up at the time I would lose $2000 instead of just losing $1000 if all the other players were seated. We certainly laughed more than we have in other games.
The first game we played was incredibly quick – only lasting about ten minutes. We felt like we hadn’t really warmed up properly so promptly set off on a second trip around the board. I’m glad we did as otherwise the chicken incident may never have happened!
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