The Economist is offering a board game called "Credit Crunch" in its holiday double edition. The winner is the "last solvent player" -- in other words, the one who eliminated the competition.
This is way nastier than Monopoly. As a press release explains it, Credit Crunch players are encouraged to "pick on the weakest, kick opponents when they are down and generally manifest all the characteristics that bring success in the financial world. Winner takes all!"
You start by entering the subprime mortgage market and if you play the game well -- that is, ruthlessly -- you finish as "Deemed Too Big To Fail." Here are a few of the rules (stop us if they sound familiar):
• Players may conceal their assets from each other.
• Players who cannot pay fines may borrow from other players at any rate -- "for instance, 100% interest within three turns."
• Players who cannot borrow must either go into Chapter 11 or be taken over.
• The takeover purchaser and subsidiary are technically a team, but the purchaser gets to call the shots (including using the subsidiary's assets to pay his fines).
"As though our readers have not suffered enough already in 2008, we are proud to offer them the chance to be crushed, humiliated, and impoverished all over again," game designer Kevin Kallaugher said in a press release.
We fondly recall Monopoly's famous game pieces: the dog, the top hat, the car, the iron and all the rest. Credit Crunch goes you one better: You can download game icons such as "bull market" and "stock market ticker," but it's suggested that a player instead use "diamond cufflinks, or any other mementos of your former wealth, to represent you on the board."
In these rough economic times, you can't argue with the cost: game board, risk cards and currency are all free for the downloading. You can also find the game board in the holiday issue.