Recommend
1 
 Thumb up
 Hide
7 Posts

Monopoly» Forums » Reviews

Subject: User Review rss

Your Tags: Add tags
Popular Tags: [View All]
Aaron Potter
United States
Riverside
California
flag msg tools
Avatar
Game Review: Monopoly

The Quick and Dirty:
Roll-and-move capitalism.

Rules/Mechanics:
At the beginning of play, each player is provided with a single pawn and a specified amount of play money. In addition, one player is elected to act as “banker” and organizes the distribution of money and preoperties, but gains no other special benefits. Players’ pawns move around a track printed on the surface of the game board, which is divided by color, and occasionally by thematic elements, into various groupings of “properties,” generally located adjacent or near-adjacent to one another. In turn, players roll a pair of dice to move around the track. Other squares on the track require players to draw cards which randomly assess penalties or rewards, usually in the form of funds. Other squares function as a “jail” from which players may not escape until a set condition is met, a trap-square which sends players to that jail, a free space labeled “free parking” without official function, and the starting square itself, which awards players $200 more every time they circumnavigate the board.
While not explicitly divided into phases, as are some games, Monopoly’s play nevertheless seems to divide itself naturally into two phases: acquisition and improvement.
During acquisition, players who land on properties not currently owned by other players may opt to purchase those properties from the bank, if they have sufficient funds. If players land on properties owned by other players, they must pay the owner an amount of “rent” specified on that property’s card, with rent amounts increasing dramatically over the course of the track, reaching their highest peak right before the “start” square.
If all properties of a certain color grouping have been acquired by a single player, that player has achieved a “monopoly,” and charges higher rents on those properties. In addition, he or she now has the option to improve the properties with ‘houses’ and later with ‘hotels,’ all of which significantly increase the rent which other players must pay if they land on those properties. Players deficient in funds for any reason may ‘mortgage’ properties to the bank in return for temporary loans, and cannot collect rent until the mortgage is repurchased. Players who run out of funds are declared “bankrupt” and are eliminated from play. The last remaining player wins.
A note: in addition to the official rules, many players incorporate house rules into the game. Among the most common is the placement of penalty payments under the corner of the board nearest the “free parking” space, with the proviso that any player landing on that space gets the funds.

Strategy:
While many players decry Monopoly for its dependence upon luck over skill, there are still significant strategies to keep in mind. In the first place, there is a slight advantage to going first, since this allows you to purchase properties before other players. This minor advantage is quickly eliminated, however, as the board is typically circumnavigated several times by all players before all properties are distributed.
The next key decision is whether or not to purchase any particular property which one lands upon. While it might seem obvious that, since only players with property can collect rents, the more properties owned the better. However, the initial distribution of cash is quite small, often necessitating that players hold some funds in reserve, particularly in the early stages of the game, in order to afford later purchases of more expensive (and thus eventually more lucrative) properties. Other properties, such as those approximately seven spaces away from the “jail” space, have a higher chance of being landed upon than others. In the later stages of the game, similar calculations must be made regarding improvements, which can be much more expensive than the original property.
The chance of actually achieving a monopoly by simply landing on the necessary properties, however, is rather slight, particularly as the number of players increases. This means that it often turns out that player 1 will have no monopolies, but will possess properties necessary to the monopolies of players 2, 3, and 4, and vice versa. In this case, players must trade or attempt to purchase properties from one another, which can be a very ticklish proposition. It is possible, for instance, to award a quite expensive monopoly to another player without much risk, if you know that the player doesn’t have the funds necessary to improve those properties and increase their rents. In general, most players will not willingly trade properties which will give others a monopoly unless it is for properties which also complete their own monopolies.

Components:
Monopoly has been in (continuous?) production since the early 1900’s, and there are therefore a wide variety of editions available, created with a variety of production values. While the standard edition available in any department store offers a board of thick, stiffened card-board, almost onion-skin thin paper money, and hollow plastic pieces, even these ubiquitous versions usually sport metal pawns, molded in a variety of shapes. More expensive, commemorative, anniversary, or limited editions sport thicker paper, glass, wood, or etched-metal boards, and pawns up to and including crystal and gold-plated versions.

Remarks:
Why the arguable best-selling, most popular board game in all history has not had a BGG review until now is one of the mysteries of the age (note -- I JUST got beaten to it). While many detractors note the game’s dependence on luck over skill, they likely rate Settlers of Catan, a game with many similar mechanics, much higher. Perhaps Monopoly is a victim of its own popularity in this regard, as other games possess the cachet of rarity. Regardless, when viewed for itself, there seem to me to be significant reasons that Monopoly has stood the test of time as well as it has. The successful player depends on some degree of resource management in order to keep from over-investing in properties which will never return their cost in rents, and a good deal of player interaction is often necessary in order to achieve a monopoly in the first place. At the same time, the game depends upon luck – much as capitalism itself does – to a degree which makes it accessible even to quite young gamers.

Caveat:
while all efforts have been made to correctly represent factual information, all comments and opinions are solely representative of the article author, and not necessarily the views of Board Game Geek, its hosts, editors, or moderators. Please send corrections directly to the author.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Jasen Robillard
Canada
Calgary
AB
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Re:User Review
potterama (#37806),

Good review Aaron although I'm really unclear as to why you included the caveat at the bottom. Seems like a not-so-subtle jab.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Mary Weisbeck
United States
Black Hawk
South Dakota
flag msg tools
"Blow up the damned ship, Jean-Luc!"
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Re:User Review
potterama (#37806),
A very exact and unbiased review, Aaron. Well done.
I think the last time I played this I was about 10-12 years old and I don't remember ever finishing a game. The main problem is getting a monopoly. Of course, at that age no one wants to trade unless they get a HUGE benefit from it and even as kids we weren't that gullible. So you sit with your pitiful properties and get the snot beat out of you by the other players who are improving their properties. You take this as long as you can then yell, "That's not fair!" and go home. I think even as adults we want to do that sometimes.

The long-standing popularity of this game, I think, stems from the fact that there just wasn't anything else like it out there that seemed like an adult's game. (I'm not including party games, of course.) Money, property cards to show you're a property owner, and moving around a board with dice was the only mechanic out there then. And let's not forget the shoe and hat tokens! Cool.

All this is, of course, only my view of a game I have no fond memories of from childhood.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Aaron Potter
United States
Riverside
California
flag msg tools
Avatar
Re:User Review
sodaklady (#37908),
"The long-standing popularity of this game, I think, stems from the fact that there just wasn't anything else like it out there that seemed like an adult's game."

Granted, but, does that explain its continued popularity now that there are other games available? I am still uncertain as to whether the failure of Euro-style boardgames to make much entree into the American market is driven by a real public preference for (arguably) "simpler" fare like Monopoly or some other factor. I think you're right that the game's primary flaw is that it does depend so much on someone 'bending', to their disadvantage, in the trading phase, simply in order to get the stalled game going again. I was always that person in my family, willing to practically hand monopolies over to others if it would only get me the heck away from the agonizingly slow-paced gridlock of the early game. I'm sure there's got to be a potential fix for that problem in some house rule or other.

And the 'caveat' at the bottom was intended sincerely, not sarcastically...it seemed a useful note since this is such a popular game that this review might be stumbled across by people who are not BGG regulars.

 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Michael Webb
United States
Western Mitten
flag msg tools
designer
badge
GET A SILK BAG FROM THE GRAVEYARD DUCK TO LIVE LONGER.
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Re:User Review
Aaron,

Solid review, the comparison you make with Settlers has some merit, but I think the reason why Settlers has maintained it's level of popularity here in comparison to Monopoly is that one *does*, at the initial stage of the game, have a degree of control which is never present in Monopoly.

After having played untold numbers of Settlers games, I feel safe in saying that having a good initial placement in that title is the path to victory more games than not. Other factors include knowing when to save for cities, when to dig into the development card deck, and knowing who to deal with at the table.

Beyond that, yes, the dice are fickle, and strange things can happen (i.e.: someone draws too many victory point cards out of the deck which could be compared to avoiding the uber expensive house / street repairs 'spoiler' cards in Monopoly) but by and large Settlers tends to reward people who set themselves up well for the rest of the game.

Settlers has many more decisions to make on a given turn though as well, and again, rewards experienced players, who will have a sense of when to cash resources in for a development card, when to race to an intersection, when to help out an opponent, when to go for that 3:1 Port as opposed to a new settlement on intersection y, and so on.

Monopoly really offers very little in the way of meaningful choices in that regard, in the first stage of the game, played by the proper rules, you have the strategy of sitting back and trying to scoop up valuable properties in the auction, and the additional hope for getting the lucrative orange properties along the jail death road, but a lot of these strategies are dependent on particular rolls coming at particular times.

Contrast that with the luck element of Settlers, wherein you're also depending on certain rolls, and a certain series of numbers in the right sequence can be very good, but by and large as long as your rolls are hitting on occasion you should be fine.

I think it's harder to compare the trading mechanisms in the two games than it appears as well, Monopoly is all public information in regards to property, and that makes cutting deals very dry and mathematical (reminds me of Chinatown in that regard actually). Monopoly also has this tendency to degenerate, as you say, into everyone needing something, with one person being forced to break the stalemate just to get things rolling again.

Settlers can never completely break down into that kind of kingmaking, eventually the dice will give *someone* what they need, and the game can progress. Additionally, things like 3:1 ports, or even the 4:1 base trade provide enough hidden information to make trades easier to swing.

Once everyone at the table is at an equal experience level, and can 'see' where the best locations are, then I think Settlers does manage to devolve into a Monopoly-esque experience of trying to screw people with deals, and praying for a run of needed rolls, but generally I think it rewards good play much more consistently than Monopoly ever will, and that's just because there are many more meaningful decisions to be made over the course of a 45 minute game of Settlers than usually present themselves in a 2 hour (if you're lucky!) game of Monopoly.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Crazy Bob
Philippines
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Re:User Review
Gee, we just buy everything we on, Mortgaging previous property to buy new stuff. We've never run out of money that way in a *2* player game.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Warren Adams
Australia
Mt Lawley
Western Australia
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Re:User Review
Quote:
During acquisition, players who land on properties not currently owned by other players may opt to purchase those properties from the bank, if they have sufficient funds.


As most people do, one rule (as I understand it) is always overlooked - if you elect not to buy a property it goes up for auction and anyone can bid on it and buy it (including the player that originally declined the purchase).

This speeds up the game considerably, moving into the trading and building period quite quickly.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Front Page | Welcome | Contact | Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Advertise | Support BGG | Feeds RSS
Geekdo, BoardGameGeek, the Geekdo logo, and the BoardGameGeek logo are trademarks of BoardGameGeek, LLC.