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Subject: Review of Beyond Boardwalk rss

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Scott VM
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I recently found myself becoming interested in Monopoly again, and picked up a copy of the book Beyond Boardwalk and Park Place in very good condition. (via Abebooks.com)

The objective of the book, as defined by the authors is to address the following "problems" with the game:

1. It takes too long.
2. There's too much luck.
3. There's too much dead time.

In this review, I intend to examine each of the rules added or changed by Beyond Boardwalk to see how well they achieve the objectives.

Rule 1

The first rule in Beyond Boardwalk doubles the purchase price of all properties and sets a reserve price for auction. The intent of this rule is to make players considering more carefully what to spend their money on, and increases the odds of running out of money earlier in the game.

This could definitely address objective #1 of the game taking too long, though it would have been less confusing to simply reduce the amount of money given to players at the beginning of the game.

Rule 2

The second rule eliminates mortgages. If you need cash fast, you have to sell property. The intent of this rule is to keep title deeds in circulation.

This could definitely address objective #1 of the game taking too long and objective #3 of too much dead time. Every time you land on a property, money changes hands.

Rule 3

The third rule converts the utilities into additional railroads, which increases their value and return on investment.

This could possibly address objective #1 of the game taking too long because of the higher rental price, but the idea feels underwhelming in comparison to some of the others in the book.

Rule 4

The fourth rule allows each one player to declare bankruptcy once per game, receiving $800 cash and the two purple/brown properties.

This could be considered to address objective #3 of too much dead time, if you consider not playing the game as part of dead time. It runs completely contrary to objective #1 of the game taking too long by allowing a player who would normally be out of the game to continue playing, thereby extending the length of the game.

Rule 5

The fifth rule adds a stack of GO cards, which are drawn when landing directly on the GO space. Similar to CHANCE and COMMUNITY CHEST, an amount of money may exchange hands, or a player may get sent elsewhere on the board.

This is supposed to address objective #3 of too much dead time (although you collect $200, everyone else just sits there and watches you). If you compare the amount of time it takes to collect $200 versus collecting or paying an amount of money from or to each player, this rule runs contrary to objective #1 by making the game take longer.

Rule 6

The sixth rule eliminates the $1 bill from the game and rounds all transactions up to the nearest $5.

This is supposed to address objective #1 of the game taking too long, though I feel skeptical that doing the mental math of rounding up to the nearest $5 is that much faster than making change.

Rule 7

The seventh rule stops players in jail from buying property and building houses, and restricts rental income to half the usual amount. This is to incentivize players to get out of jail as quickly as possible instead of enjoying the safe haven.

This could address objective #1 of the game taking too long, as players will be spending their money more quickly. It could also address objective #3 of too much dead time, though it could be argued that players who stay in jail are doing so on purpose so it's not really dead time.

Rule 8

The eighth rule allows uneven building of houses on your monopolies. If you think that putting all of your houses on one property will yield higher profits, you're free to do so.

This runs contrary to objective #2 of too much luck. The odds of landing on one space in a color-group are less than the odds of landing on all of the spaces combined. As such, it's questionable whether this rule would address objective #1 of the game taking too long.

Rule 9

The ninth rule sends all taxes and assessment to Free Parking, where the person who lands on Free Parking is the lucky winner of a jackpot. Most people already play with this house rule, even if they've never heard of Beyond Boardwalk.

This rule runs completely contrary to objective #1 of the game taking too long, and objective #2 of too much luck. Parker Brothers went to the effort of adding a section to the official Monopoly rules about Free Parking because playing with a jackpot on Free Parking saves players from going bankrupt, thereby extending the game.

Rule 10

The tenth rule restricts you to building houses at the beginning of your turn, before rolling the dice. Short on cash? You might have to tear those houses down when you land on another player's property.

This rule runs contrary to objective #2 of too much luck. No longer can you wait on purchasing houses until you're certain you can afford it.

Rule 11

The eleventh rule allows you to add up your net worth when landing on the Income Tax space, instead of blindly choosing to pay 10% or $200.

This rule runs contrary to objective #1 of the game taking too long, and objective #3 of too much dead time. The option to pay a flat fee without being allowed to calculate your net worth was added to the game in 1935 for the purpose of speeding things up.

Other Changes

In addition to the rules listed above, Beyond Boardwalk allows you to trade more than just properties and GET OUT OF JAIL FREE cards. Waivers of rental fees (free rides), joint ownerships, rights of first refusal, insurance, promises to abstain from bidding, and all sorts of complicated, intangible things are now available for trade.

This change runs contrary to objective #1 of the game taking too long. This is potentially the worst change of all, because it can greatly increase the length of a game.

Variation 1

From the back of the book, the first variation allows players to pay double for building on properties which they do not hold a monopoly for. This allows you to start developing property right away, rather than waiting to obtain the complete color-group.

This rule addresses objective #1 of the game taking too long, and objective #2 of too much luck. There is still incentive to obtain the complete color-group, and creative players could add further incentive by limiting the amount of development permitted on non-monopoly properties.

Variation 2

The second variation allows players to purchase a property from the bank at triple its value without requiring a player to land on that space (limit of once per game). This enables players to complete their collection of a color-group by sheer financial force.

This rule addresses objective #1 of the game taking too long, and objective #2 of too much luck. By obtaining a complete color-group sooner, development will drive up rental prices and lead to earlier bankruptcies.

Variation 3

The third variation requires players to pay interest on mortgaged properties each time they pass GO.

This rule could address objective #1 of the game taking too long, and objective #3 of too much dead time. Players will be less likely to sit on a vast collection of mortgaged properties, because not only do they not earn income, they also cost money to hold on to.

Variation 4

The fourth variation tweaks the amount of money players receive upon declaring bankruptcy, depending on the total number of players in the game. The more players, the less money you receive. This is supposed to address what the authors think might be an unbalanced rule in Beyond Boardwalk.

This rule addresses none of the objectives. Although it may speed up the time it takes for a player to lose the game, it's speeding up a rule from Beyond Boardwalk which makes the game take longer. The game would end sooner if bankruptcy was left alone, whereby bankrupt players are out of the game entirely.

Variation 5

The fifth variation is entitled Robber Baron. It restores the ability to build houses at any time, adds the ability to conduct trades during an auction, and eliminates reserve prices.

According to the authors of the book, this variation makes the game take longer (which is contrary to objective #1) because the players spend much more time negotiating. This can be attributed entirely to adding the ability to conduct trades during an auction, as well as the fact that Beyond Boardwalk allows trading of more than just properties and GET OUT OF JAIL FREE cards. Being able to build houses at any time and no reserve price on auctions are official Monopoly rules which Beyond Boardwalk overrides; restoring these rules is merely a reversal.

Variation 6

The sixth variation allows players to send themselves to jail before rolling the dice, in order to escape the possibility of landing on a property they can't afford to pay the rental fee on.

This runs contrary to objective #1 of the game taking too long.

Conclusion

Most of the rules and variations listed above do not meet the objectives set out by the authors of the book. In reality, it lengthens the game in a way that some people will find more enjoyable. It becomes less about property development, and more about the social aspects of negotiation, blackmail, and eventually betrayal.

If players are interested in a shorter game, it would be worth considering some of the official rules variations published by Parker Brothers (which the authors of this book seem to be unaware of):

1. During preparation, banker shuffles title deeds and deals two to each player. Players purchase these deeds at their regular value.
2. Hotels can be purchased for the price of four houses instead of five. Property development proceeds directly from three houses to one hotel. Rental income is unchanged.
3. Game ends when second player goes bankrupt.
4. Game ends after a predetermined time limit.
5. Add another die (e.g. the official Speed Die).

Personal Opinion

It's interesting that some of the best rules were relegated to the appendix on variations, rather than being included in the rules proper. Of the rules and variations listed, the best are Rule 7 (limited abilities while in Jail) and Variation 3 (mortgage interest payable when passing GO). Variations 1 and 2 are moderately interesting, though some restriction may be required on Variation 1. Rule 5 (GO cards) is also interesting, though a few of the cards are not good (e.g. advance to free parking and collect the jackpot) and those cards which do have some merit could be better implemented as additional CHANCE and COMMUNITY CHEST cards, since the odds of landing on CHANCE or COMMUNITY CHEST are greater than landing on GO.
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sunday silence
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I dont know how you come to the conclusion that you're not sure getting rid of $1 bills speeds up the game. You said something about the mental math or something. it's not the mental math that takes too long. It's the sheer tediousness of making change in $1 increments that adds way too much time for no good reason as its unlikely that a few dollars will make or break you. Our experience has been that this does speed up the game a good deal, although it would be hard to quantify as tedious one dollar transactions occur so often in the original game.
 
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Scott VM
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Some people are worse at mental math than others, and some people are faster with their hands than others. I think it depends on the people you're playing with whether getting rid of $1 bills is faster or slower.
 
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again, to reiterate: the issue does not seem to be the math involved. It does not matter how fast you are with your hands, it still takes time to break down fives and tens.

Did the actual authors of the book actually say that it was the mental aspect that was tedious? It is unclear, at least to me, whether it was you that suggested this issue or the authors of the book.
 
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Scott VM
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The authors suggested that making change is a waste of time. The mental aspect is entirely my suggestion, and applies in situations where the rent is doubled. The example given in the book is Oriental Avenue: $6 x 2 = $12, rounded up to nearest $5 = $15. I've played with people who would need to count that out on their fingers. You only need to pick up two $1 bills in addition to the $10 bill. Is it faster to pick up $10 and $5? Sure, but the amount of time saved by doing this is extremely small compared to how much longer the game takes when playing with all of the Beyond Boardwalk rules.
 
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I am talking about the time it takes to make change from a five or a ten not just grabbing two ones you already have. This often takes a few seconds, say 4 or 5; and often times you have to take someone's fifty and break it down for them, so they can in turn break down for another person to give them change. How often in regular monopoly do you pay something not a multiple of 5? I would say maybe 100 or more. I think most players go around the board what maybe 25-30 times? Im guessing. How many times do you pay rent? 2 or 3? in the early stages most of the rents are odd numbers. I'd bet you could easily have spent 10 or 15 min. just making change. in an entire game. Just a rough guess.

What did you think about the bank simply buying back your property instead of being allowed to mortgage it? Mortgaging seems unrelated to anything in real life, at least not the way it's done in monopoly. We have tried playing a variant like this and it will free up a lot of property for making monopolies later in the game. I think its really interesting, not everyone likes it.

ANother interesting idea that came up in another thread was to allow players to build say up to two houses, if they have two of a color group. This really opens up the game for the same sort of risk/reward that comes with the later monopolies/houses/hotels. Only it happens earlier in the game. This is similar to paying double for houses on a non monopoly that you mentioned above. I like the two houses on a two member color group, and we frequently play with that.
 
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Scott VM
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sundaysilence wrote:
I am talking about the time it takes to make change from a five or a ten not just grabbing two ones you already have. This often takes a few seconds, say 4 or 5; and often times you have to take someone's fifty and break it down for them, so they can in turn break down for another person to give them change. How often in regular monopoly do you pay something not a multiple of 5? I would say maybe 100 or more. I think most players go around the board what maybe 25-30 times? Im guessing. How many times do you pay rent? 2 or 3? in the early stages most of the rents are odd numbers. I'd bet you could easily have spent 10 or 15 min. just making change. in an entire game. Just a rough guess.


Even at multiples of 5, you'll have situations where you need to break down bills of large denominations. I think we've thoroughly exhausted this topic.

sundaysilence wrote:
What did you think about the bank simply buying back your property instead of being allowed to mortgage it? Mortgaging seems unrelated to anything in real life, at least not the way it's done in monopoly. We have tried playing a variant like this and it will free up a lot of property for making monopolies later in the game. I think its really interesting, not everyone likes it.


It's an interesting idea. In my own experience, people tended to hold onto properties because they didn't want anyone to get a monopoly. If you're trying to complete a color-group, getting rid of mortgages is nice because it improves your chances to getting the properties you need. On the flip side of that, it makes it hard to hold onto properties you don't want others to have. I personally prefer the variant where mortgage interest is due each time you pass GO; it retains to ability to mortgage properties if you need some quick cash, but adds incentive to pay off the mortgage as soon as possible. This should have a similar effect of keeping properties active.

sundaysilence wrote:
ANother interesting idea that came up in another thread was to allow players to build say up to two houses, if they have two of a color group. This really opens up the game for the same sort of risk/reward that comes with the later monopolies/houses/hotels. Only it happens earlier in the game. This is similar to paying double for houses on a non monopoly that you mentioned above. I like the two houses on a two member color group, and we frequently play with that.


Yes, I was trying to hint at that above when I referred to placing some kind of restriction on Variation 1. I think that two houses is a good maximum, though I might lean towards allowing only a single house. The rate of return with a single house is less than 100% for all properties except Boardwalk, which maintains incentive to collect complete color-groups. The rate of return on two houses is greater than or equal to 100% in 5 out of 8 color-groups.
 
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if you only allow one house to be built, this variant doesnt seem to put enuf reward into the investment to create interesting choices. The two house variant does though.

If you do play this, you probably should auction off at least some of the deeds. Our preference is to auction off the Reds and Golds at start; these are the two colors most likely to break a game open (the dark blues occasionally might, be we prefer to let those ones up to chance; and if someone does corner then its up to the others to find a way to deal with them. Same goes for light blues which might on rare occasion prove troublesome)
 
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William Hoyt
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I recently grabbed this book and find a lot of it very interesting and worthy of dusting off my well worn copy. (Used to play this more than Cards in College).

One thing I find curious, especially where the author said the original took to long, is that he adds a variant rule (almost everyone uses) that does increase the games length and can create larger gaps in the competition... that's Free Parking Jackpot. We did away with this and prefer the game better, in that it doesn't over stay its welcome.

~Will

 
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David Albin
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I also own a copy of the book. You give an excellent review, and I have only one quibble. Your discussion of Rule #4 includes the following:
"The fourth rule allows each player to declare bankruptcy once per game" (italics mine).

Not quite correct: "Voluntary Bankruptcy", as the book calls it, may be declared only once per game; only one player may do so. This means that when to declare voluntary bankruptcy becomes another strategic decision in the game; wait too long, and someone else may beat you to it.

Other than that, I agree with your analysis.
 
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Scott VM
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I re-read the section on bankruptcy, and you are correct. I'm not sure why I misunderstood it, as it seems pretty clear.
 
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