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Subject: The World's Most Popular Board Game... Unfortunately rss

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Ed Collins
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For many, many years Monopoly has been called the world's most popular board game... and rightfully so. A member of the GAMES Magazine Hall of Fame, Monopoly is licensed or sold in more than 80 countries and produced in at least 26 different languages. It has been around, in its current form with almost no change, for more than 60 years.

One of the reasons for Monopoly's popularity is the fact that any age can play and enjoy the game, and children can compete or a more or less equal footing with adults. Being the most popular game however, doesn't necessarily mean it is without flaws...

The object of Monopoly is to bankrupt your opponents and become the wealthiest player. I won't discuss the mechanics of the game since I'm sure most players are already aware of them. Simply put, players take turns rolling the dice, traveling around a circular board, buying, selling and trading real estate, as they collect and pay rent, fines, and taxes.

A 'typical' Monopoly game usually lasts SEVERAL hours... and this is because a typical Monopoly game is not usually played by the official rules. In most every Monopoly game I've seen, all sorts of 'house rules' are usually in effect, all of which almost always incorporate an extra amount of cash flow or 'income' into the game, thus making it much more difficult for players to bankrupt each other than it is supposed to be. For example, what Monopoly player hasn't heard of the 'Free Parking' rule, where one receives a cash reward for landing on the Free Parking space? The official rules, if you take the time to read them, spell it out clearly: FREE PARKING... 'A player landing on this space does not receive any money, property or reward of any kind. This is just a 'free' resting place.' Another house (or misinterpreted) rule is believing (incorrectly) that one receives $400.00 if one lands DIRECTLY on the GO square. Wrong again.

Players who play by these types of house rules, the ones that increase the structured cash flow of the game, contribute to prolonging it unnecessarily, probably without even realizing it!

Despite the large amount of luck in the game, experience is a small factor. Knowing how and what to trade, how many buildings and hotels to buy... and when, how much of a cash cushion you should leave yourself, etc., can only be learned after you've played a number of times. One must also be aware that property values change as the game goes on. For example, in the beginning and middles stages of most games, Boardwalk and Park Place are NOT the best properties to own. Give me the Oranges or the Reds instead any day. The reason is simple... these properties are landed on much more frequently than your beloved Boardwalk and Park Place. Furthermore, Boardwalk and Park Place, along with the Greens, are too expensive to properly develop in the early stages of the game.

Knowing the Monopoly Frequency Chart (a sorted table of the frequency that each square is landed on) is beneficial to know and often helps when making trades.

It is no big secret one should almost always purchase every property they land on. Even if you have no use for it yourself, simply by owning it you prevent anyone and everyone else from owning it and using it to complete their own color group. Also, by owning it you can always raise some cash by mortgaging the property if need be... for 1/2 the purchase price. This being said, if one was allowed to make just ONE rule change for the better, my choice would be this: Double the purchase price of all existing properties. Upon doing so, now it's not so easy to purchase everything you land on... in fact you'd probably go broke if you attempted to do so. NOW, a careful decision must be made upon which properties to purchase outright and which ones to decline... which, as per the rules, would immediately be put up for auction by the bank.

If that's not enough, try something a little more extreme. As soon as ANYONE lands on an unowned property, it immediately goes up for auction and all may bid on it. This eliminates one player getting "luckier" than the rest, who might otherwise have landed on the property by a fortunate dice roll.

Expert players and gamers will incorporate all sorts of other house rules that allow for more skill and more decision making. For example, normally one can buy buildings at any time... simply ask the next person to hold the dice and buy to your heart's content. However, I suggest changing the rules so that you can only purchase buildings PRIOR to your OWN turn. The reasoning is simple... with this rule change each player must now make a decision. For example, it's my turn... should I buy some buildings now, knowing that I might have to immediately tear them down a moment later (at half the purchase price!) if I throw a bad roll and land on my opponent's hotel, the hotel that's sitting just eight spaces away from my token? Or should I wait and purchase these building later, hopefully after I've missed landing on my opponent's hotel, but knowing someone else might have landed on my barren property in the mean time?

As with most games, the more decisions there are, the more skill is incorporated into the game. I could give several more ideas, rule changes, and variations, but I think you get the idea.

Disadvantages of Monopoly are many:

Players are eliminated one-by-one. This means the unlucky player who is eliminated first has to wait around, sometimes for hours, while everyone else continues to play.

As mentioned above, it's no secret that one should almost always purchase every property they land on. This doesn't allow for much decision making.

Going last, and next-to-last, in a five or six player game, is a big disadvantage. These players are landing on property, and now paying rent, on properties that were unowned just a moment ago.

The game, even when played correctly and according to the rules, can still last a long time.

Arguments over the rules often emerge.

It doesn't play well at all with two, or even three players. At least four players (and preferably five) make for a much better game.

Monopoly CAN be considered a good game... as long as it is played between competitive players, with some of the slight rule changes as described above. The only problem is finding four of five other players who share your ideas and feelings. As played by the actual rules, the luck element is too high and the other disadvantages, (as described above) make the game only so-so by today's standards.
 
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Mojo Jojo
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Going last, and next-to-last, in a five or six player game, is a big disadvantage. These players are landing on property, and now paying rent, on properties that were unowned just a moment ago.

I'm fairly sure that by the official rules you cannot purchase property on your first board lap (I'd be quite suprised if that was a houserule although I can't remember the last time, apart from to look up starting cash, anybody looked at the rules).

This way it isn't the last players to move who are a disadvantage it is however takes the longest to lap (Which can be a very long time for some, I've personally been in jail twice while attempting to complete my first lap).
 
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Nick West
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[q="Mojo Jojo"]
Quote:
I'm fairly sure that by the official rules you cannot purchase property on your first board lap (I'd be quite suprised if that was a houserule although I can't remember the last time, apart from to look up starting cash, anybody looked at the rules).


Prepare to be surprised.

This does not appear in the official rules. Just goes to prove the Reviewers point as regards houserules becoming official rules via the folklaw mechanism
 
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Mojo Jojo
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Just dug out my old dusty set that we used to play when I was little. You're right. How very strange.

No mention of having to make a full lap first but the propety auctioning thing was there (which I've never actually seen used in a game.)

I wonder how the addition of one rule and the removal of another became so
popular that every group seems to play them as the actual rules without asking any question at the beginning.

Very, very strange.
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David Lindsay
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MrEdCollins wrote:
For many, many years Monopoly has been called the world's most popular board game... and rightfully so. A member of the GAMES Magazine Hall of Fame, Monopoly is licensed or sold in more than 80 countries and produced in at least 26 different languages. It has been around, in its current form with almost no change, for more than 60 years.

[Now 70 Years since Magie assigned her patent rights to Parker Brothers on November 5, 1935 DL]

One of the reasons for Monopoly's popularity is the fact that any age can play and enjoy the game, and children can compete or a more or less equal footing with adults. Being the most popular game however, doesn't necessarily mean it is without flaws...

[This rule of Fixed prices was set and designed by the Jesse Raiford when the Atlantic City Quaker Friends School got the game from Ruth Hoskins who learned the auction folk game of monopoly in Indianapolis Xmas 1929-1930]

The object of Monopoly is to bankrupt your opponents and become the wealthiest player. I won't discuss the mechanics of the game since I'm sure most players are already aware of them. Simply put, players take turns rolling the dice, traveling around a circular board, buying, selling and trading real estate, as they collect and pay rent, fines, and taxes.

A 'typical' Monopoly game usually lasts SEVERAL hours... and this is because a typical Monopoly game is not usually played by the official rules. In most every Monopoly game I've seen, all sorts of 'house rules' are usually in effect, all of which almost always incorporate an extra amount of cash flow or 'income' into the game, thus making it much more difficult for players to bankrupt each other than it is supposed to be. For example, what Monopoly player hasn't heard of the 'Free Parking' rule, where one receives a cash reward for landing on the Free Parking space? The official rules, if you take the time to read them, spell it out clearly: FREE PARKING... 'A player landing on this space does not receive any money, property or reward of any kind. This is just a 'free' resting place.' Another house (or misinterpreted) rule is believing (incorrectly) that one receives $400.00 if one lands DIRECTLY on the GO square. Wrong again.

Players who play by these types of house rules, the ones that increase the structured cash flow of the game, contribute to prolonging it unnecessarily, probably without even realizing it!

Despite the large amount of luck in the game, experience is a small factor. Knowing how and what to trade, how many buildings and hotels to buy... and when, how much of a cash cushion you should leave yourself, etc., can only be learned after you've played a number of times. One must also be aware that property values change as the game goes on. For example, in the beginning and middles stages of most games, Boardwalk and Park Place are NOT the best properties to own. Give me the Oranges or the Reds instead any day. The reason is simple... these properties are landed on much more frequently than your beloved Boardwalk and Park Place. Furthermore, Boardwalk and Park Place, along with the Greens, are too expensive to properly develop in the early stages of the game.

Knowing the Monopoly Frequency Chart (a sorted table of the frequency that each square is landed on) is beneficial to know and often helps when making trades.

It is no big secret one should almost always purchase every property they land on. Even if you have no use for it yourself, simply by owning it you prevent anyone and everyone else from owning it and using it to complete their own color group. Also, by owning it you can always raise some cash by mortgaging the property if need be... for 1/2 the purchase price. This being said, if one was allowed to make just ONE rule change for the better, my choice would be this: Double the purchase price of all existing properties. Upon doing so, now it's not so easy to purchase everything you land on... in fact you'd probably go broke if you attempted to do so. NOW, a careful decision must be made upon which properties to purchase outright and which ones to decline... which, as per the rules, would immediately be put up for auction by the bank.

If that's not enough, try something a little more extreme. AS SOON AS ANYONE LANDS ON AN UNOWNED PROPERTY, IT IMMEDIATELY GOES UP FOR AUCTION AND ALL MAY BID ON IT!! This eliminates one player getting "luckier" than the rest, who might otherwise have landed on the property by a fortunate dice roll.

Comments:

[The original version of Landlord's Game / monopoly as played on the universities and Berks County was called AUCTION monopoly or monopoly and before the Quakers Friends School of Atlantic City eliminated this Auction rule and Jesse Raiford fixed all the prices on Quaker/Darrow monopoly before Darrow presented it to Parker Brothers in fact was just that very rule mentioned above here.

Dr. Ralph Anspach uncovered these facts and more as he won a landslide court case against Parker Brothers in 1984. According to Anspach it was the fixed prices that turned the game from an adult level auction monopoly game played widely on the universities and Berk County group into a family game which children could now play.

As for another rule change, how about this:

You land on an unowned property

Here are your options:

a] Pay the Bank your rent [DL rule only if no one actually buys it adapted from Lizzie Magie 1904 patent of the Landlord Game]

b] buy it at the mortgaged Price just like we do in real life mortgage Interest payments due on every Go payday [$200 minus 10% of boarwalk mortgage is $20 so you get $180 back from the bank and the bank still collects double the rent payments too]

c] buy it outright at double the list price [from Beyond Boardwalk and Park Place]

d] auction it off and the one who landed on it still pays double the rent to the player who wins the auction if
he didn't win the auction.

Now, listen to this proposal:

And anyone who lands on the mortgaged property pays double the rent to the bank. This is after all "paying the MORTGAGE", see? DL]

Expert players and gamers will incorporate all sorts of other house rules that allow for more skill and more decision making.

[Some of the house rules could be eliminated if all properties were offered for auction first when you land on unowned property.

For example, normally one can buy buildings at any time... simply ask the next person to hold the dice and buy to your heart's content. However, I suggest changing the rules so that you can only purchase buildings PRIOR to your OWN turn. The reasoning is simple... with this rule change each player must now make a decision. For example, it's my turn... should I buy some buildings now, knowing that I might have to immediately tear them down a moment later (at half the purchase price!) if I throw a bad roll and land on my opponent's hotel, the hotel that's sitting just eight spaces away from my token? Or should I wait and purchase these building later, hopefully after I've missed landing on my opponent's hotel, but knowing someone else might have landed on my barren property in the mean time?

As with most games, the more decisions there are, the more skill is incorporated into the game. I could give several more ideas, rule changes, and variations, but I think you get the idea.

Disadvantages of Monopoly are many:

Players are eliminated one-by-one. This means the unlucky
player who is eliminated first has to wait around, sometimes for hours, while everyone else continues to play.

[Comment:

[A rule found in Beyond Boardwalk and Park Place allows the 1st player to go bankrupt a second chance to get back in the game with $1000 and Mediterranean and Baltic Avenues. DL]

As mentioned above, it's no secret that one should almost always purchase every property they land on. This doesn't allow for much decision making.

Going last, and next-to-last, in a five or six player game, is a big disadvantage. These players are landing on property, and now paying rent, on properties that were unowned just a moment ago.

[A fix for that might be no rent collected until all have went around the board once, or the auction first ...
as was done in the pre Parker Brothers Quaker/ Darrow monopoly.]

The game, even when played correctly and according to the rules, can still last a long time.

Comment:

[You might decide to end the game at a certain time or anumber of complete circuits around the board say 10 times [see LIZZIE MAGIE rules in 1904 patent] and the richest person wins To determine who the richest person is you count up the cash and either the mortgaged value plus 1/2 the house/hotels values.

One thing I noticed from the rules itself that people who are in tournament do is create housing shortages by refusing to buy hotels and using the maximum 8/12 houses per developed property. There are only 32 houses available under official rules, so if they are all sold there is no way you can build a hotel on Baltic and Mediterranean even if you have $500 for the hotels plus 4 houses to pay the bank until someone else builds a hotel on one of the 4 house properties.]

Arguments over the rules often emerge.

It doesn't play well at all with two, or even three players. At least four players (and preferably five) make for a much better game.

Monopoly CAN be considered a good game... as long as it is played between competitive players, with some of the slight rule changes as described above. The only problem is finding four of five other players who share your ideas and feelings. As played by the actual rules, the luck element is too high and the other disadvantages, (as described above) make the game only so-so by today's standards.


For another approach I suggest you look at Thomas Forsyth's Landlord game to Monopoly website, Dr. Ralph's Anspach's website, Adina's Monopoly website ...
The monopoly/Finance Game from Dan Layman.

Historically many of the Changes the author suggested are already found in the older rules mentioned in these documents.

 
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Barry Figgins
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The whole point of Monopoly is that the game leaks money. Rent money is passed from player to player, but the only money that actually comes from the bank is passing Go, and a few Chance or Community Chest cards. As a group, the players are going to be losing money to the bank, not gaining it.
That's why house rules tend to ruin the game - they give the game an injection of extra money, throwing off that balance (or, you might say, balancing that lopsidedness). At my local gaming club, they played a 5 player game of Monopoly with some awful house rules - the $400 for landing on Go, as well as ALL money the Bank collected going to Free Parking. The game went on for 6 hours, and never finished - the players got in a stalemate, where they were all making money rather than losing, and ended up running the bank out of money. (The bank has infinite money, I know, but they ran out of paper.)

I was fortunate enough that my copy came with an insert of 'frequently misunderstood Monopoly rules' that clarified things. My favorite rule that almost nobody knows is there is housing shortages. You're limited to the 36 houses and 12 hotels that come with the game - if the bank has no more houses or hotels, nobody can build more. My favorite strategy, once I've got a monopoly on a color group, is to build 4 houses on each location, but not upgrade to a hotel. I can often lock up 24 houses or more. This reduces the rent for me all around the board, as others can't build houses, but keeps my rent nice and high.
 
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Philip Thomas
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Pointing out house rules is all well and good. They are annoying.

But it should be stressed that even if you free Monopoly of house rules, it is an apalling game. The Roll-and-Move Mechanic is bad. The Auctions and trading parts are infrequent at best. The whole thing is a conspiracy to make people have a low opinion of board games.

Also, I think Chess is more popular- sure loads of monopoly games are sold, but well over 50% never get played (the relative syndrome, and actually it is part of Hasbro's marketing plan...).
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Barry Figgins
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I actually enjoy a good game of Monopoly, and I know that makes me a minority on the Geek ^_^ I think there are some good game elements - trading occurs frequently in our games, with players charging exorbitant prices for the properties others need to finish their monopolies. Everyone has a different opinion on just how much a monopoly is worth. The roll-and-move mechanic adds an element of risk, which is important when people are trying to decide on how to build, and how much money to leave in their hand as a buffer. I could buy 3 houses, which player 2 will probably land on at least once, but that will take me down to $300. I probably won't end up landing on that hotel, but...what if I do? Some people will choose to play it safe and keep enough money so they won't have to mortgage anything, and some prefer to be risky.
 
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Justin S.
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Hehehe... you hit it right on the head
 
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