Things you may not know about Monopoly

The game of Monopoly is derided on BGG. It represents a “roll and move” game with few real decisions for a player to make on each turn. It is a step above Candyland, where you decide nothing, but not much. You simply roll the dice, move your token, and take your lumps. The board games I like to play are different. In these games, turns involve making decisions rather than the dice dictating what’s next. Instead you usually have to choose something to do from numerous things you can do. What you decide to do may initially hurt you but may pay off in the long run, it may provide immediate results but at the expense of the long term, it may weaken another player, it may be the lesser of two evils you’re facing at the moment, etc. Dice may or may not be used to resolve situations where some degree of randomness is needed but rarely is the game boiled down to simply rolling dice and moving tokens.

So Monopoly is boring right? It lasts too long and it’s just not fun…right? However, when was the last time you read the rules? I suspect 75% of the US population has not read the rules to Monopoly and play by the rules obtained during their childhood from friends and family. Most people, in the US at least, actually don’t play by the written rules. Instead, play is carried out using commonly used house rules and instead of enhancing the fun, they actually diminish it.

Here is a table of lesser known rules taken from the Hasbro site and reasons why playing with them may enhance the game for you and your family. Now, don’t get me wrong, Monopoly is not nearly as fun as most of the games in my collection. But maybe you should try playing with the actual rules next time to see if it makes it better.

Rules Notes
When you land on a piece of real estate you choose if you want to purchase it at the price listed on the deed. However, if you choose not to buy it, the property is immediately put up for auction and sold to the highest bidder. The bidding can begin and end at any value. Monopoly has an auction? I never knew that. Playing with an auction makes a huge difference in play. Players can know buy properties that they don’t land on. The richer you are, the faster you’ll be able to gobble up properties and the shorter the game will be. Since everyone thinks the game is too long anyway isn’t this a good thing?The auction aspect also introduces another level of decision making that goes into your turn. Should you buy the property just so that it doesn’t go to auction?
If you have a Get Out of Jail Free card and don’t want to use it, you can sell it to other players at any price. Monopoly has negotiation? I never knew that. With this rule, I can potentially keep from mortgaging some property by raising some quick cash by selling the card. Again, more decisions in your hands means more control on how well you play.
If you roll doubles three times in a row, you go to jail. I’m not sure if I knew this or not; it’s been too long. However, with the auction in play, I’m not sure this carries as much weight as it would without the auction. Seems mostly a way to let everyone have a chance at the dice without letting any one person dominate the rolls.
Players don’t receive anything for landing on Free Parking. It’s just a neutral place to land. Nothing happens. We always played that any time players were forced to pay money to get out of jail or to pay for taxes and other card-driven items, the money went to the center of the board and would be “won” by the next player landing on Free Parking. Nope…that’s not the rule. In fact, playing with this rule may lengthen the game when weakened players receive an influx of cash. Although serendipitous, you really want weakened players to remain weakened by their own play and not random events.
A player pays double rent when landing on a property when any property in that color group has been improved. Say what?! Yep. Say Player A owns all three properties in a color group and builds one house. Player A can now collect double rent when players land on any of the properties in that color group not just when they land on the property containing the house.
When two or more players wish to build houses and/or hotels in numbers higher than the bank can provide, the houses and/or hotels must be sold at auction to the highest bidder. Really?! Normally, when no houses remain available in the bank, players must wait until players cash them back in when building a hotel. But this rule sounds like at the moment when the houses are running out, players must enter an auction to win the right to purchase the remaining houses forcing other players to wait from that moment forward.
You can’t mortgage a specific property until all buildings are sold back to the bank and removed from all properties in that color group. Basically, you’re required to sell away all improvements you’ve made to the entire property group.
You are allowed to sell a mortgaged property to another player at any agreed upon price but the new owner has a decision to make: lift the mortgage immediately by paying off the mortgage plus 10% interest or just pay 10% interest and leave it in a mortgaged state. However, if you leave the property mortgaged the new owner must pay another 10% when lifting the mortgage later in the game. This rule doesn’t ring a bell with me and I doubt we ever played this way.
If you go bankrupt and cannot pay the Bank after selling back all hotels and houses, your property is forfeited to the bank which immediately puts it up for auction to the highest bidder. There’s that auction again.
Money cannot be loaned between players and the Bank only loans money through mortgaged properties. Again, playing this way reduces the playing time by prohibiting drawn out negotiations, removing any need for record keeping outside the confines of the game, and keeping the weak in a weakened state driving them more quickly into bankruptcy ending the game.

So, I have a few questions:

– When was the last time you read the rules (if ever)?
– When was the last time you played Monopoly?
– Which of the rules above was a surprise to you?

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