Monopoly could be called The Great American Board Game. It’s got everything – money, power, and a man with a monocle.
Monopoly gets a bad reputation for taking a long time to play. However, if you find a group that is excited about the game, it can move quickly and stay exciting the whole time. Depending on how Lady Luck casts the dice, games can end relatively quickly – if she is feeling particularly devilish, the game can last as little as 21 seconds.
Despite all the cards, houses, hotels, multi-colored money, and unique game pieces (I claim the battleship!!), you can still pick up Monopoly – The Classic Edition for under $20.
Click here to shop for Monopoly – Classic Edition!
History of the Game
As usual, if you want the full scoop, there’s nowhere better to turn than Wikipedia. But here’s the short story. A lady named Elizabeth Magie invented the game in the early 1900s. She originally called it “The Landlord’s Game”. Her intention was actually to make a political comment – she wanted to show that the capitalist system of landlords extracting rent from tenants was BAD. However, a copycat version of the game made by a man named Charles Darrow (which the Atlantic City, NJ property names we’ve all come to know) was sold to Parker Brothers in 1934, and the rest is history. Of course, Darrow’s version of the game had one little difference – “GREED, for the lack of a better word, IS GOOD.”
Rules (And Rules Broken)
If you want to read the official rules, there’s a set in the box. That said, there are a few popular variations of the game which greatly affect gameplay, and should be agreed upon prior to the beginning of the game. Believe me – this avoids unnecessary squabbles later in the game, after the competitive juices start flowing and tensions are running high.
If you’re like many people, you learned as a kid that landing on Free Parking means collecting a (hopefully) big pile of cash that has been accumulating in the middle of the board.
In the official rules, however, the sources of funds that accumulate in the Free Parking pot, (usually Luxury Tax, Income Tax, and penalties from Chance and Community Chest cards), actually go back to the bank, not to a jackpot for some lucky roller.
The Auction Rule
When a player lands on an un-owned property, they have the right to buy the property at the price indicated on the board. If you play with the auction rule, this doesn’t change. What changes is the scenario in which the player who lands on a space chooses NOT to buy the property – this is where the auction rule kicks in.
When the Auction Rule is in effect, unowned properties initially refused by the person who lands on them are immediately sold to the highest bidder, as determined in an auction. The winning bidder pays the bank, and the property is theirs. One important note is that the person who initially refused the property can still bid – if his opponents are cash-strapped, he may even get the property for less than the sticker price!
To win Monopoly, the ultimate goal is to outsurvive the other players. Buying properties and building improvements are crucial in order to develop income streams which suck money away from your opponents and keep you rolling with fat stacks, as it were. A word of caution – be careful not to overextend your spending capacity. Keep an eye on your opponents’ holdings to get an eyeballed estimate of a “worst case” next couple turns rolls you could have, in terms of costs, and try to maintain enough cash that you won’t go bankrupt if you get unlucky.
Some people have gone to great lengths to develop sure-fire strategies to win Monopoly – read at your own risk, and bring a calculator. If number-crunching isn’t for you, there are some easy-to-remember takeaways. First, railroads are a great early investment, but only if you have more than one. Try to get a relatively cheap Monopoly – orange, light blue, and light purple are best, since they command decent rents but it’s cheap to build houses. Note that the highest rent jump happens when you build your third house – once you have a monopoly, getting up to 3 houses on each is almost certainly the best way to invest your money. After that, you can go back to exploring new conquests.
A final note – never forget that bargaining is on the table (though it’s polite to only initiate deals on your turn). If you need cash quick, remember that it doesn’t matter what your property is worth to you, it’s what the other guy will pay for it.