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The CIA Uses Board Games as Training Tools

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Working for the CIA is serious business. But that doesn’t mean the agency’s top operatives don’t know how to have fun while sharpening their skills. As Ars Technica reports, the CIA uses specially designed board and card games to train its officers. They unveiled the activities at this year’s SXSW festival in Austin, Texas.

Unlike other exercises that focus on the individual, success in these games depends on teamwork. "This game is really about value of collaboration," David Clopper, the CIA senior collection analyst who launched the game program in 2008, told Ars Technica. "We saw [game sessions] where people took the time to talk to one another ... They tended to win. The tables where someone would go on their own and do what they wanted, or do their own thing, or didn't collaborate until too late, they couldn’t catch up to the crises. It was a simulation of what we do, but also teaching the importance of working together."

The games played by CIA agents look similar to some titles on store shelves. Collection, for instance, is like Pandemic in that players collaborate to solves global crises. There’s also Collection Deck, a card game that Clopper compared to Magic: The Gathering. Only instead of mythical creatures, participants work to collect government intel.

Another game, called Kingpin: The Hunt for El Chapo is "about finding a fugitive from justice who, if not found sooner than later, will likely do harm to innocent people and harm U.S. interests," according to CIA intelligence educator and game co-designer Volko Ruhnke.

Government agencies have used board games as strategy tools for centuries. Before Risk was published in 1957, Kriegspiel was a favorite war game of the Prussian army in the 19th century. A similar tabletop game was used by Japanese forces to plan the attack on Pearl Harbor.

Whether or not hunting El Chapo sounds like your idea of a good time, you won’t be able to do so with these games. They were briefly shared with members of the public during a special event at SXSW. Now that it’s over, the only way to play games like Collection is with government clearance.

[h/t Ars Technica]

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Pop Culture
The Most Expensive Properties in 11 Special Edition Monopoly Games
Amazon
Amazon

The board spaces on the original Monopoly game—which was released on February 6, 1935—were based on locations in Atlantic City, New Jersey. Through the game, the hoity-toitiest spots for property development in there, Boardwalk and Park Place, came to symbolize the uppermost reaches of real estate value.

Since Parker Brothers (and later, Hasbro) began licensing the game for alternate versions, there have been hundreds of Monopoly offshoots, and they all have to pick something to serve as their own Boardwalk and Park Place. If it’s a city, they will usually correspond to the fanciest intersection. If it’s a country, they’ll be the two most powerful cities. But Monopoly special editions cover a whole range of areas beyond simple geography. You want to know what’s considered valuable in a particular area of interest? Look to the Boardwalk and Park Place of its Monopoly edition. Here are the most valuable spaces from 11 special edition Monopoly boards.

1. THE .COM EDITION

Monopoly: The .Com Edition
Amazon

In 2000, just before the end of the dot-com boom, Hasbro published .com Monopoly. Boardwalk was Yahoo! (costing $400 million) and Park Place was Excite@home (costing $350 million). Anyone remember what that was? (Didn't think so.)

2. THE PHINEAS AND FERB EDITION

Monpoly: The Phineas and Ferb Edition
Amazon

Naturally, the most valuable properties are Phineas and Ferb’s backyard and The Tri-State Area.

3. ELVIS 25TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION


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Of course Graceland is going to be Boardwalk, but what about the number two spot? Viva Las Vegas, baby.

4. NATIONAL PARKS EDITION


Amazon

How do you determine the value of a National Park? Yellowstone and Yosemite are the Boardwalk and Park Place of this version of the game. Sure, those are great parks, but there’s something unsettling about developing properties in some of the country's most famous stretches of unspoiled land, and raking in profits!

5. BASS FISHING EDITION


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If you know bass fishing, you know it’s gotta be Lake Fork and Lake Champlain.

6. SEINFELD EDITION

Monopoly 'Seinfeld' edition
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A show about nothing still needs to take place somewhere. Jerry’s Apartment and Monk’s Restaurant are the center of this world.

7. MY LITTLE PONY EDITION


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Friendship is magic, but it won’t pay the rent. Stake your claim early on Canterlot and Crystal Empire.

8. SOUTH PARK EDITION


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Cartmanland and Imaginationland, where else?

9. A CHRISTMAS STORY EDITION


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The properties in this version are important objects from the movie, like a frozen flagpole, a bar of soap, and a pink bunny suit. But in this world, BB Gun and Leg Lamp get top position.

10. KISS-OPOLY


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What is true value? A KISS Platinum Gold Box Set and a Japanese Vinyl Box Set.

11. MONOPOLY HERE & NOW: THE WORLD EDITION


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If you’re going to make a World Edition of Monopoly, you’ve got to be diplomatic about how you decide what the two most valuable places in the world should be. Hasbro decided to let the world decide for itself, holding an international vote in 2008 to determine which cities would be included on the board. That’s how it came about that Montreal, Canada, and Riga, Latvia—the two cities with the most votes—became the Boardwalk and Park Place of the world.

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A New Edition of Monopoly Encourages You to Scam Everyone
Hasbro
Hasbro

Anyone who has played Hasbro’s Monopoly knows that it's easy to be victimized by unscrupulous players. People can and will swipe money from the bank, move forward or behind one space to land on a more favorable square, or outright lie about the rules to someone unfamiliar with the game.

Previously, such actions might make you reconsider your friendships. Now, you may have to go to the same extremes just to stay competitive. According to Insider, Hasbro's newest version of the game, Monopoly: Cheaters Edition, actually rewards unethical behavior.

The Cheaters Edition game board will look similar to classic Monopoly, with one significant change: Five “cheat cards” will be in play during each game. These cards are designed to encourage players to undermine each other through deceptive tricks like quietly adding hotels without paying, stealing currency, and collecting rent on another person’s property.

The board and cards for 'Monopoly: Cheaters Edition'
Hasbro

And there’s one other significant change: This version of the game doesn't have a designated banker, making the redistribution of your illicit funds that much easier.

If you succeed at pulling off a cheat unnoticed, you'll be rewarded with extra cash or property. But there are consequences if you get caught—including being forced to wear a plastic handcuff affixed to the game board.

According to Jonathan Berkowitz, senior vice president of marketing at Hasbro, the new edition was inspired by surveys of players who admitted to dishonest game strategies.

"A recent study conducted by Hasbro revealed that nearly half of game players attempt to cheat during Monopoly games,” Berkowitz told Insider. “So in 2018, we decided it was time to give fans what they've been craving all along—a Monopoly game that actually encourages cheating.”

Monopoly: Cheaters Edition is due out this fall and will retail for $19.99.

[h/t Insider]

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