Game Night Blog Carnival: Monopoly

Welcome once again to another entry in the Game Night Blog Carnival organized by Roving Band of Misfits. This month, I will discuss one of my favorite games as a child, Monopoly. I realize that you may recoil when you hear the name, “Please, that game is old, boring and never ends!” While I understand that thought process about Monopoly, stay with me as I describe why it is better than you think and why the game means so much to me.

Monopoly has been on my mind for two reasons this summer. First, I was stuck on a flight alone and only had my laptop for entertainment. My laptop is not a gaming laptop, so I only had the basic options like Solitaire, Minesweeper and several free-trial games that I have never touched since buying the machine. One of the free games was Monopoly, so I booted that up and started to play.

Almost immediately, I realized something was wrong. During the first lap around the board, the CPU opponent declined to buy a property and the game initiated an auction for the property. I never played the game this way before. Every time a property was landed on for the first time, either the CPU or I had to buy it. After a few laps around the board, the flight started its decent and I had to power down. I forgot about the playing experience quickly, but then I stumbled upon a blog post recently that made me realize something . . . I’ve been playing Monopoly wrong all these years!

We’re Playing Monopoly Incorrectly

The title of the post, The Campaign for Real Monopoly, caught me eye because of the recent playing experience on the laptop against the CPU opponent. I figured it was just a default setting to speed the game up when it is only a 1-on-1 game. But I was wrong, and the Real Monopoly post addresses the issue:

Have you ever played Monopoly?

Of course you have. Everyone’s played it at some time in their life. It’s shared culture, a common element that weaves together our modern world.

But when was the last time you played it?

You can’t remember, can you? We’ve all played it sometime, when we were kids; but never recently, and why?

Because it’s crap. It takes ages to play, suffering long action-free periods in which the players endlessly circle the board in search of the streets they need to complete a set, and lacks the interaction between players that we look for in a game. In short, it’s boring and lacks skill.

Except that it isn’t crap. Actually. You just have to play it the way it was designed to be played.

You just have to read the f*&^ing rules.

It turns out that the rulebook, which is included in every box of Monopoly, states the following to detail the purchase of property.

BUYING PROPERTY…Whenever you land on an unowned property you may buy that property from the Bank at its printed price. You receive the Title Deed card showing ownership; place it face up in front of you.

If you do not wish to buy the property, the Banker sells it at auction to the highest bidder. The buyer pays the Bank the amount of the bid in cash and receives the Title Deed card for that property. Any player, including the one who declined the option to buy it at the printed price, may bid. Bidding may start at any price.

We have all been playing Monopoly wrong our entire lives! I will not tread any further on the Real Monopoly post I referenced, but read the entire article for commentary on how playing by the rules improves the game. The article also addresses some of the most likely reasons why we have all overlooked the published property rules.

Monopoly Basics

The game can be played with two or more players, each player has a token on the game board that starts on the GO space. Each player takes a turn, which begins by rolling 2d6 to determine the number of spaces their token can advance. To spice up the game a bit, I suggest each player use their personal d6s and select a roleplaying miniature instead of the included tokens. Although – I must say – I love the Top Hat token. But being able to charge Rent to this guy after he lands on Atlantic Avenue would be awesome.

You play to WIN the GAME!

Players cycle around the board in the hopes of collecting a “set” of properties. The properties are arranged by color; once a single players owns all properties of one color, they can improve the properties and then charge additional Rent. Every time an opposing player lands on another player’s property, he or she must pay them a specified amount of dollars. The winner of the game is the last person to have money while their opponents are crippled by bankruptcy.

There are two decks of cards included in the game to provide additional randomness into the proceedings. Some of the cards grant boons while others impose penalties. Other common houserules can increase the action, such as paying all fees that would normally go to the Bank into the middle of the board. The next player to land on the Free Parking space wins that pot of money, which can be a game-changing moment.

Monopoly Strategy

The most common complaint about Monopoly is that the game lacks any real player skill because the outcome is determined by die rolls. However, playing the game by the rules and using the auction system introduces a variety of strategy options to players. A player can decide to buy as many properties as quickly as possible, or could decide to be more selective and safe money for an elite “set” of properties. Players can drive up the cost of real estate with no intention of buying so their opponents are forced to spend more money on properties they desire. When played this way, the game is quite strategic, rather cutthroat and the die rolls are less of a factor.

It’s All the Same, Only the Names Will Change

Monopoly is my home. I was born on Pacific Avenue, less than a block away from Park Place. I lived in Atlantic City, NJ during the early years of my life before moving 15 minutes away to the mainland. I do not believe most people realize that the properties in Monopoly are based on locations in Atlantic City, NJ. Maybe it states that in the rulebook, but we already covered that the rulebook is routinely ignored when playing the game! As a result of living in and around Atlantic City, Monopoly became a special game since it represented real places. It wasn’t until I moved away from South Jersey for graduate school that I learned many people had no clue it was based on actual locations in and around Atlantic City. You can scroll through a map of Atlantic City to see most of the properties if you do not believe me.

And you thought Bruce Springsteen, Bon Jovi and Jon Stewart were the best things from New Jersey? Shame on you!

Summary

  • Monopoly is a classic game that means more to me since I grew up on the streets is lists on the game.
  • Play Monopoly the right way, and you’re in for a fast-paced, ruthless experience with friends and family.
  • Spice up the game with houserules and use RPG dice and miniatures instead of the dice and tokens provided in the box.

Continue on to the next post in the Game Night Blog Carnival at Undergopher Central!

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About The Id DM

The Id DM is a psychologist during the weekdays. He DMs for a group of fairly loyal and responsible PCs every other Friday night. In the approximate 330 hours between sessions, he is likely anxious about how to ensure the next game he runs doesn't suck.
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10 Responses to Game Night Blog Carnival: Monopoly

  1. Psynister says:

    My wife and I play Monopoly quite a bit, off and on. With just the two of us, we don’t use the auctioning feature because it can very quickly unbalance the game if one person is snatching up all of the properties.

    The thing we don’t like about Monopoly is how you have to completely destroy all of the other players in order to win, which can sometimes make the game take several hours to complete. With both of us being highly competitive in gaming, Monopoly is really one of the worst games for us to play 1v1.

    And then we bought the Lord of the Rings version. With this version one of the dice has the Eye instead of a 1, and every time it’s rolled you move the One Ring around the board from one colored-property to another (so skipping trains/utilities), and once the ring reaches Board Walk (Mount Doom) the game immediately ends and whoever has the most money (Power) wins. We rarely have a game take more than an hour, and the people that lose don’t have to feel like they were brutally beaten.

  2. The Id DM says:

    I have not played the Lord of the Rings version, but that sounds like a fun mechanic to speed up play and add some drama to the proceedings. Plus, you get to talk like Merri and Pippin for an hour or so, and that’s always fun. Or Gandalf . . .

    “Boardwalk. A hotel of the ancient world. This place is beyond any of you. Pay!”

    You make a good point that the game – if played properly – is incredibly competitive as the other players must “die” to leave one person left standing. The article I referenced goes in to detail about why we overlook the rules as written.

  3. Kilsek says:

    The best version of Monopoloy I’ve ever played is honestly the Lord of the Rings version.

    Why? Because you literally get the One Ring in the box that steadily travels around the “properties” or locations of Middle Earth, and the game actually ends when the One Ring reaches Mount Doom (Boardwalk)!

    Quite awesome, I must say. My family loves it too because it’s a version of Monopoly that actually ENDS in a reasonable amount of time!

  4. Kilsek says:

    Haha, I just noticed Psynister gave the LotR version the same props! It’s true, a simply fantastic version of the game, check it out.

  5. nick says:

    Has anyone ever heard of monopoly master? If so, do you know where I could find one. We had one when I was a kikd and am looking for one.

  6. Pingback: Game Night: Monopoly Deal | Roving Band of Misfits

  7. Pingback: The Transparency of Damage Dice Irrelevance | The Id DM

  8. I haven’t played the Lotr edition, it does sound like a great way to shorten the game time. I have seen the monopoly master sold on http://www.amazon.com.

    http://Www.funcollectiblegames.com

  9. Pingback: The Friendship Shore

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