Everyone says a game of Monopoly lasts forever but they’re wrong; improperly played games of Monopoly last forever.
You know, I manage to put together cheap Wal-Mart furniture without instructions and I never take very seriously the warning labels on OTC or prescription drugs, but I would never, ever play Monopoly without consulting the instructions. Come on people, Monopoly is serious stuff!
In fact, this is my #1 pet peeve. When someone tells me that they don’t like Monopoly because “it lasts forever,” I immediately either
1) think less of their intellectual capacity
2) assume they have a short attention span.
Next, I ask, “Do you play with a free parking pot?” and almost immediately they say, “Duh.” And then what do I do? I shake my head, then I revisit any conversations I had with this particular person about money, business, or general economic events and throw out anything they may have told me. Creating your own rules for Monopoly on a whim means a severely fractured game layer. Just don’t do it.
When you play Monopoly with a Free Parking pot you bring the 1970’s inflation and price controls to the twenty-first century. The dynamics of Monopoly are structured so that he who is best at evaluating risk to reward wins 99.9% of the time (most games are), but 100% of the time, people who play with the Free Parking pot create such an obscene insurance policy that no one can lose, at least not quickly.
The community chests, tax spaces, and mortgaging/home sales are the only cash drains in the game, and since prices are not set by market dynamics—the price of Boardwalk doesn’t rise with each $200 pass of Go, though it should—you have only mitigated risk at the cost of time. With your goofy rules, everyone has so much cash and so little exposure to risk that we can just waltz around the board without drawing down sufficient amounts to have to exit the game–and that means games that last hours, if not days.
What I find funny is that very rarely does anyone create new Monopoly rules that would disadvantage the average player. How many people do you know play so that property prices are the same, but rents are…uhh, doubled? How many people do you know play Monopoly with $100 payments for passing Go? None? Yeah.
How many play with a Free Parking pot? Tons. I’m sure there’s some behavioral/cultural experiment to be done here, but I’m not Freakonomics–I don’t have that kind of budget! However, I can tell you how not to suck at Monopoly because advice does fit in my budget:
How not to suck at Monopoly:
- Buy spaces that are structurally advantaged. Any of the orange spaces are excellent, since the jailed crew falls most often on this set. The nearly-broke jailed crew lands on them often, too, since two of the oranges are placed on even numbers, six and eight. Two dice means rolling 6, 8, and 9 is common.
- Reading Railroad and Boardwalk also fall into the structurally advantaged category. The value of Boardwalk depreciates exponentially after the community chest card prompting a player to proceed to the space is removed from the game. If the card hasn’t been played yet, load up on this space. You’ve an X-1/X chance of mauling someone, where X= the number of players including yourself.
- The light blues are awesome spaces since they require some of the smallest amount of cash outlay for improvements (save for the not nearly as attractive purple spaces). Smaller minimum investments = more accurate risk management strategies, especially in a game where houses sell on the secondary market for half their purchase price. The rigidity in financing creates inherent dangers that are easily avoided by those who understand the system.
- Don’t invest all your cash in houses right before you roll your way through a side of the board loaded with opponent owned houses and hotels. Should you leverage up before your roll, you face losing 50% on liquidation and even more paying rent to another player. If I had a dollar for every time I saw someone do this…I’d have so many dollars.
- There are only so many houses so by owning several inexpensive properties you can effectively restrict every competitor from ever developing their properties. This is the best way to lock down a game. Dollar for dollar, the best return on your investment is achieved with three houses. Rental income rises from $300 to $750 with two to three houses on Illinois, the space most often landed on.
Of course, none of the above matters if you don’t play by the rules. Mr. Hayek has some classic words for people like you:
“The curious task of economics is to demonstrate to men how little they really know about what they imagine they can design.”