Donald Trump’s Board Game Corrupted Me In Under An Hour
Welcome to the first GOOD Family Game Night, hosted by America’s most arrogant orange peel
Walking around Los Angeles carrying a box printed with Donald Trump’s face incites many questions and raised eyebrows. I learned this while walking to the pizza place across the street from GOOD’s office to play Trump: The Game, an underperforming Milton Bradley release from 1989, with my co-workers Kate, Tasbeeh, and Jon. We didn’t even make it out of the building before someone from the 11th floor questioned our motives.
The game, best described as a dumbed-down, Monopoly-knockoff, entered this cold world riding the coattails of Trump’s first book, 1987’s The Art of the Deal. Designer Jeffrey Breslow pitched the idea for a board game to Trump in his office at Trump Tower in 1988. The current Republican presidential candidate reportedly cut Breslow off before he could even finish explaining the game’s concept, saying, “I like it—what’s next?”
Next, Parker Brothers rejected the game, then Milton Bradley bought the rights and promoted it with a commercial featuring Trump attempting to sit seductively on a desk. Trump predicted it would sell 2 million units and bring in $20 million, which he promised to donate to charity. Hasbro discontinued the game in 1990 after selling just 800,000 copies—though Parker Brothers rereleased the game in 2004 in an attempt to capitalize on the success of “The Apprentice.”
In 2016, an original copy was found collecting dust in Jon’s mom’s basement in Connecticut. After receiving this copy in the mail, GOOD played the game over beer, wine, and chicken tenders, in an attempt to find something nice to say about America’s most offensive Muppet.
Before playing, I asked my colleagues how America currently made them feel. Here are their responses:
- Tasbeeh: “It makes me feel sad and angry and scared.”
- Kate: “I feel like we ended up in a really shitty alternate universe.”
- Jon: “I feel that we’re simultaneously close to being in great shape and just burning in hell.”
The game consists of two phases. In the first phase, players take turns drawing “Trump cards,” rolling a die (with a “T” printed on the side normally reserved for the number six) and moving T-shaped pieces around the board. When you land on a property space, you pay rent. You can also land on “sale” spaces, which open up a bidding process for unowned properties. Each player starts with $400 million in bills that feature Trump’s face.
All four players reported that this first phase was boring. To make the purchasing process more interesting, some Trump cards offer the ability to include outside investment, boot someone from bidding, or rejoin the bidding after being booted. GOOD players auctioned most of the properties without much of a fight, although there was a battle over the “Tropical Island” property, which this writer mistakenly thought was a “Tropical Land” theme park until halfway through the game.
Things get more interesting in the second phase. Once all the properties are owned, players take turns offering deals to each other in an attempt to extract value from their assets. There are Trump cards that allow players to collect profit from the bank if they own specific properties; cards that offer the ability to steal from other players; and cards that allow players to force other players to sell their properties.
Advice from the game's instructions
The amount of money inside each property is unclear, so the trick is to negotiate purchases, sales, and loans that maximize your cards and cash while still attempting to control valuable properties at the end of the game—which occurs when players run out of cards or simply refuse to make more deals.
In this phase, Kate and Tasbeeh collaborated on several property loans that reaped hundreds of millions; Jon liquidated all of his assets; and this writer negotiated a deal to eschew responsibility for expensing the meal. By the time the last card was played and the last deal was negotiated, Jon accrued $600 million in cash, with no property holdings, and ended up the game’s richest player.
“The fact that a 40-something was better than his millennial coworkers at handling money,” Jon said after the game, “It would’ve been embarrassing had it ended up any other way.”
When the game ended, I again asked my colleagues about their emotional well-being. These were their responses:
- Kate: “Confused. Also I need to brush up on my math skills.”
- Jon: “I’m sort of bemused by the world.”
- Tasbeeh: “I’m still scared and sad and angry.”
After thoughtful deliberation, we rated Trump: The Game three out of five egotistical Trump dice.
Illustration by Emily Lin