We've all been there... a family gathering, a rainy Saturday afternoon... and everyone decides to play a board game.
In homes all around the world, that game is often Monopoly. But so many of us have played it so often -- and games can drag on for so long -- that one more game of Monopoly just might make us scream.
But there's a reason Monopoly has been so popular for so long: It's a good game. The problem is that most of us don't play by the rules.
Repeat -- we do not play by the rules.
I don't mean that we cheat -- just that we don't use some of the game's most important rules. In fact, most of us probably don't even realize what we're ignoring.
All of the ideas below and many others can be found at Mark Jackson's fabulous Game Central Station. They are used here with his permission.
The five Monopoly rules most often ignored:
- Property Auctions -- If a player lands on a property and doesn't want to purchase it, that property goes up for auction. Any player, including the one who initially landed on the square, can bid for it. The property may sell for any price.
- Limited Houses and Hotels -- There are only so many houses and hotels in the game. When they're gone, you can't build anymore. Period.
- Loans -- The only way to borrow money is to mortgage property. You can't borrow from other players, and you can't borrow from the bank (apart from a mortgage).
- Free Parking Means Free Parking -- You do not get $500, $5,000 or even $5 for landing on Free Parking. You get nothing. Nada. Zip. On a related subject, all payments required by Chance and Community Chest cards go to the Bank, not to the center of the board.
- Only Tangible Items Can be Traded -- Official tournament rules make it clear that cash, title deeds, and Get Out of Jail Free cards are the only items that can be part of a deal. Keep it that way.
The net effect of playing by the rules is to speed up the game, which goes a long way toward improving it. (Think about it: How many times have you seen a player come back from the verge of bankruptcy because of a big, unearned payday from landing on Free Parking? It's a completely random factor that adds a moment or two of excitement, but can also add hours of time.)
But, you say, just paying attention to the existing rules can't be enough to make Monopoly great?
Try these new rules:
These suggestions are all designed to speed play, reward good strategy, or both.
- Bid for Start Order -- Going first is a definite advantage because you can buy properties before anyone else gets there. So why shouldn't you have to pay for the advantage? At the start of the game, bid for the first position, then second, etc. In cases where no one wishes to bid, a die roll is used to determine the order. From R. Wayne Schmittberger's book New Rules for Classic Games.
- Once Around the Board -- As an alternative to bidding for player order, don't let anyone purchase property until they pass Go once. This will somewhat even out the advantage of going first. From Phillip Orbanes' book The Monopoly Companion.
- Movement Cards -- Give each player a set of cards numbered from 1 to 6. On each roll, a player uses one card and rolls one die. That player then moves the total of both. Each card must be used once before any can be used a second time. From Stephen Glenn.
- End After Two Bankruptcies -- Most (perhaps all) official Monopoly rulebooks offer this as a "short game" variant. After two players go bankrupt, the winner is the person with the most cash, property, and buildings.
- No Future Considerations -- This is really just a reinforcement to "Only Tangible Items Can be Traded." Don't allow players to trade for promises. For example, this should be a no-no: "You don't have to pay me the rent now, but you must give me $100 when you pass Go."
Now when it rains again and your family wants to play another game of Monopoly, you're equipped to play the game as it was meant to be played -- or maybe even better!