Sunday, January 1, 2012

Free Parking is not a Windfall, OR How to Actually Pass Go and Collect $200

Happy New Year and Welcome to 2012!

I'm starting off the year with a large dose of irony.  Yes, that's right, we're talking about Monopoly today, which you probably guessed from the title.  If you read my history sections, you'll know that I played a fair bit of Monopoly growing up.  So much that between the ages of 7 and 15 it was probably my favorite game.  Risk came in there a bit, but overall Monopoly was a classic.

Obviously, a game that is as widespread as Monopoly has to have something going for it.  I think it does at least.  First off, you've got property collection and trading, two fun concepts which make the game work.  Secondly, dice. Seriously, if you don't like rolling dice, go talk to your doctor, I'll wait for you.  That whole notion of rolling again on doubles, but if you do it 3 times in a row you're in trouble has a fun push your luck aspect.

Now, that's about where Monopoly stops being fun.  You go around, get properties, that much is fun, then no one has a set and trading must ensue, but no one wants to give you a monopoly.  This causes games to go into the 2,3,4,5, even 6 hour mark, at which point people stop caring, not to mention half the people you started playing with have been eliminated and are off doing their own thing.

I hold that if Monopoly is played firstly by the rules, and then as a cut-throat economic game, which I'll explain what I mean by that in a moment, then games take less time and people have more fun.  First, by the real rules.  FREE PARKING IS NOT A WINDFALL SPOT! It's a nothing spot.  No extra money, no $50 or $500 from the bank all the time.  Secondly, auction off properties if the person who lands on it doesn't buy it.  It keeps things moving and gets money out of the game which is the whole point.  Now, what I mean by cut-throat economic game.  Trade with your opponents, but if you give them property, make them pay for it.  Go ahead give them the monopoly they want, but make them pay way over the list price for it, that way they don't have the money for houses and hotels.  When you want a property, offer them a good deal, remember, you want it more than they do, so be willing to pay for it.

Remember, the goal of Monopoly is to bankrupt all the other players, so don't try to be nice and charge less, or give out loans.  Just take the money and run.

Now, if you were like me and enjoyed Monopoly growing up, or even if you still do(I do by the way, it's just not ever my game of choice, though it is fun with the right people) take a look at two different games.  The first is Acquire.  It's an older game, first published in the 60's, but it's been through a bunch of editions and printings.  It's a game about stocks in hotel chains and mergers.  It doesn't have dice, but it is still fun.  The second game to look at is Settlers of Catan.  You get to roll dice - Yay! and the dice yield resources to you some of the time, but not all, much like Monopoly.  Catan has a lot of trading, so much that you probably can't win the game without trading to your opponents every so often.  The great part about both of these games, the playtime is a pretty controlled 1-2 hours.  Also Catan can now be found in Toys R Us and Target stores in the US. Perhaps a nice way to use one of those giftcards you got for the holidays this year.

P.S. Do we really need 300 different versions of Monopoly? Sure it's fine that they exist, but please try to keep it to 1 or 2 versions, 4 if absolutely necessary.

Yes this does follow the rules, except for auctions, but that's ok.  The point is, the game can end quickly. Though, do not try this at home.


  1. I definitely never played by the standard Monopoly rules when I was younger. My family let people start building on properties before they had bought the entire set of properties, which made the game a lot less frustrating for a kid, but definitely confused my friends when they came to play.

  2. In my opinion the biggest missed rule is that if you don't buy a property, it goes up for auction. That forces the money out there and gets more chances for trades to make both players a monopoly.

    1. And often times the auction will lead to more money going out for the purchase price. It also leads to monopolies being created quickly