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Interviews by an Optimist # 90 - Ken Koury

Mr. Koury is an internationally known Monopoly player, having competed as a player and coach at the national and international tournament levels for more than 25 years.

Ken holds two world records in official tournament play for the fastest game (bankrupting 3 players in 15 minutes, 38 seconds) and the highest asset 4 player game ($20,882). He enjoys corresponding with fellow players via E-mail, and often plays socially with some of the top players in the country. He is also contacted several times each month over the Internet from players all over the world asking him to settle disputes over the rules and their interpretation, a service he gladly performs for free. The answers to some of your questions might be found in our Monopoly FAQ. (The Monopoly FAQ is a new page and a work in progress. It will be updated frequently over the next few weeks.)

On October 18, 2003, he was among the top 48 players in the nation chosen to compete in the United States Monopoly Championship where he took 3rd place. The event is held every 4 years. Included in the competition were a number of National Champions and the youngest player, Ken's 11 year old daughter Sarina who is currently ranked the 34th best MONOPOLY player in the United States. He is also the United States Monopoly Coach, having been retained by Parker Brothers to prepare the United States Champion for World MONOPOLY Championship in the fall of 2004. This is a role he has performed off and on since the 1970's. Among those joining Ken's coaching team are Lee Bayrd, the first World MONOPOLY Champion.


Tom: Monopoly is probably the most well known commercial game in the world. Why has it stood the test of time compared to other games?

Ken: I think it is because the game is so dynamic. The game is completely different every time you play. When I was in college more than 25 years ago a couple of us were training for our first United States Championship. We took the summer off and played on average 12 games a day for 3 months. During that time I never got tired of the game. I was always ready for the next one. I feel the same way even today?

The game is also very accessible. It is simple enough for a child to learn yet it allows for a great amount of skill to play at tournament level. Also, because of the random factor the dice add to the game and the personal dynamics of trading property, even a beginner occasionally has the chance to beat a world champion.

Tom: Do you think a lot of the reason for the popularity of Monopoly is simply that it's been around so long? With today's shorter attention spans, do you think Monopoly, introduced as a new game, would be successful?

Ken: No. I do not think that is enough to sustain a game for so long. I am sure that the fact that there are generations of adults that introduce it to their children because they have pleasant memories playing is a factor. However, the bottom line is that it is fun to play. People like you and your readers who enjoy gaming love trying new games every year but we are only going to continue to play the ones that are fun.

Tom: Besides Monopoly, do you enjoy any other games?

Ken: I do but not nearly as much. Stratego has always been a favorite game. I was completely addicted to the old Infocom text adventure games when they were around. Years ago I bought a couple of Avalon Hill WWII solitaire games which I enjoyed playing. I have thought about trying to find more like them but have not had the time.

My only exposure to role playing games was about 10 years ago when a colleague at work invited me over to his house after work to teach me how role playing games worked. All I remember was before I made any move at all, even taking a single step, he had to roll a large handful of 20 sided dice and spend 15 minutes looking over several charts to see if I slipped on a banana peel or suffered some other such fate. In six hours of play I was able to open the front door to my house, walk to the driveway and open the door to my spaceship. At the end of the evening he invited me to return the next night to see if I could enter the spaceship, and I said, "No thanks".

This year I made my first trip to Origins. I was invited to attend to judge a Monopoly tournament and put on some seminars on Monopoly. I also met some gamers and had a chance to see the variety of games on display. Many of the role playing games seemed so complex that I do not know if I would ever have the time to learn one.

Tom: There are many new board games that have been quite popular lately, commonly known as "German" games. These include games such as Ticket to Ride and Settlers of Catan. What is your opinion on these?

Ken: I'm sorry but I am not familiar with those types of games.

Tom: OK, then let's talk about Monopoly for a bit. Some people claim that Monopoly is too heavily dependant upon luck. What would be your response to that?

Ken: If that were true you would not see the same people dominating tournaments year after year. In the last 25 years I have played in hundreds of tournaments with anywhere from 50 to 300 players. I could probably count on one hand the number of tournaments where I did not place. Tom, I’m sure you remember meeting former World Monopoly Champion Lee Bayrd at Origins. He has the same kind of record. If I do not win a tournament, it is usually because Lee was there, and he won it. Another top player is Dr. Gary Heller. He has probably played in more National Championships than any other player. While he was growing up and going to college and later working as an adult he lived in a number of different states. He has been the State Champion in every state he has ever lived in.

For some it is 100% luck. If all you do is travel around the board waiting to see what properties you are lucky enough to land on then the dice will control your fate entirely. For the rest of us the game is full of opportunities to exercise our skills with new ones appearing almost every time the dice are rolled. Basically every time a decision needs to be made in the game you have an opportunity to exercise your Monopoly skills. Let me give you a couple of examples.

TRADING

Trading is really an essential part of the game. Good people skills are vital. There are a handful of top players I see over and over again at tournaments. I know their playing style, and they know mine. However, the vast majority of players I am meeting for the first time. I am in competition with the other top players for their heats and minds. I want them to like me, and I want them to take the deal I am offering them, and I want to stop them from trading with the other player. There is a lot of psychology in the game.

You also need to make decisions on what properties you are going to target in your trades. This varies depending on the property distribution in your game and everyone’s cash position. If you cannot successfully trade your way into the position you initially want then you need to be able to adapt and trade yourself into the best position you can with what is available.

Most would agree that the most skilled trader in the world is probably a top tournament player by the name of Geoff Ellis. Geoff and I compete against each other at least once a year, and we also play socially when we happen to be in the same city. I have seen this guy in tournament take an initial position that seems absolutely dismal and trade his way into a winning position in one game after another. A couple of years ago I saw him in a tournament game outside of San Francisco where after all the property was sold all he had was electric company. I was laughing at him and asking him if he needed help packing his bags, and he started brokering a series of 3 and 4 way deals where he ended up with 2 completed color groups and won the game. It was like you turn away to sneeze and when you turn back he has traded you right out of the game. The guy is phenomenal.

BUILDING HOUSES AND HOTELS

Managing your assets is a critical part of the game. It costs money to develop your property with houses and hotels. If you overdevelop and then later get into financial trouble, you can only sell your buildings for half of what you paid. If you under develop and keep too much cash in reserve, the other players may be too strong to beat later in the game. Once players begin to develop the game, it gets very dynamic and things happen very fast. Again, there are decisions that need to be made, and those are the opportunities where your superior knowledge, experience and skill can really give you an edge.

THE LUCK FACTOR

Obviously, Tom, any game that has dice or another random factor in its play is going to have an element of luck to it. As I said earlier, I think part of Monopoly’s popularity is that because of the dice; no matter how good you are, occasionally a first time player can beat you. I would estimate that the luck factor can be anywhere from 10% to 100% depending on your own level of skill.

Tom: How much of your time do you spend playing Monopoly? Do you spend any time studying it?

Ken: The amount of time I spend playing varies. I never turn down an opportunity to play. I try to put together at least one afternoon a month where we can get 3 or 4 games in. If there is a tournament coming up several of us will try to play several times a week if we can to get in shape.

When I was in college and first starting out in tournaments, we studied the game a lot, including computer simulations. Now if I am playing socially with other tournament players, we will usually spend 10 or 15 minutes after every game discussing what happened. We look at the different moves and decisions that took place in the game. If something did or did not work out we discuss whether it was a smart move or not and whether there was some extraordinary good or bad luck with the dice that might have influenced the outcome. In social games I sometimes like to experiment with moves that might be a little more risky and see how they work out.

Tom: What's the biggest mistake most people make when playing Monopoly?

Ken: There are many, and there is probably no one mistake that the experts would agree on, but in my opinion the biggest mistake would be that players are too timid. Inexperienced players are not aggressive enough and tend to be afraid to initiate or participate in property trading. They tend to wait too long to build houses; and when they do build, they are not aggressive enough in their building. When you just sit there and wait for something to happen, your fate is totally controlled by the dice.

Tom: What do you think of the scores of variants people use when playing Monopoly? Such as auctioning off all the properties at the beginning of the game, etc.

Ken: I only play straight rules. One of the reasons Monopoly has endured for so many decades is that it is the perfect game. Of all of the different variations I have seen I have never seen one that makes the game any better. Most of them just make the game longer.

There is another more practical reason for playing straight rules. I compete in tournaments. I keep in shape by playing every chance I get. Playing by anything other than the official rules does nothing for me because only the official rules are played in tournament, and I need to play that way, so I can try out different techniques and strategies.

Tom: Does it bother you that a majority of casual Monopoly players play with many of the rules wrong, such as getting money when landing on Free Parking, etc.?

Ken: Yes, especially that rule. A normal game of Monopoly with average players takes from 60 to 90 minutes. By constantly injecting large sums on cash into the game you make it nearly impossible for the game to end and will go on for hours or even days. Most players who play that way buy into the myth that Monopoly takes hours and hours to finish, so it can be difficult to get people to agree to play a game.

Tom: What is your opinion of the many, many themed versions of Monopoly? Do you play with/prefer any of them? Is there a version of the original (20th anniversary, etc.) that you like the best?

Ken: I wish I could get people to stop giving them to me as gifts. I do not collect them, and I don't even have enough room to store the stuff I do want. When I get them as gifts, I just give them to a charity that will distribute to needy children.

I have a couple of themed sets; but if you offered me a dollar for them, you could have them. The first one I bought (it may have been a gift, I cannot remember) was a UCLA set that I got when I was in college. I never played it. It is in storage somewhere. Also, while in college, a friend of mine who worked in a game store and knew I spoke Japanese special ordered a rare Japanese version for me that I still have. It is pretty cool; but I never played it, and it really only takes up room now.

I do not like to play on the themed sets because I am so used to the standard set that I find the other games distracting to play. In tournaments, even the United States Championship, they always use the basic, most inexpensive game that you see in toy stores for $10. When I have a chance to play a social game, it is often in people's homes where they have the family set they grew up with.

I do have a few other special edition sets that I like and occasionally play with. A few years ago Toys R Us, a large toy store chain in the states, had a very nice set specially produced for their stores only that came in a very nice fitted wooden case, and the whole set was very plush. I occasionally play on that one. For a long time I wanted the Franklin Mint Monopoly set, but I could not afford it. A couple of years ago I found one for a good price on Ebay. I played on it once. I am very happy I have it, but I still prefer playing on the standard set.

Like I said, I am not a collector, but I will occasionally buy a set that I find online that is very unusual or rare. For example, I have a complete pocket sized game in Japanese and a Monopoly game incased in a book. I recently bought the 70th anniversary set which is pretty nice. I did not buy it to collect. It comes packed in a very compact metal time, so I thought it would be nice to keep it in the car in case I was visiting somewhere or someone did not have a game available to play.

Tom, you may remember meeting Lee Bayrd, the first World Monopoly Champion, when we saw each other at the GAMA convention last year. Lee does something very cool. He collects foreign language Monopoly sets but in an unusual way. For years Lee and his late wife Sandy traveled the world, and he buys a Monopoly game in the local language in each country he visits. Many foreign language Monopoly sets are available here in the US, but Lee will only add a set to his collection when he travels to a country and buys it there. Over the years he has collect dozens of sets.

Tom: How fast do you wear through a set? How many Monopoly sets have you played through (worn out) over the years?

Ken: They do not really wear out. I have been to many homes where they are still playing on a set that has been around since the 1960's or 70's.

Tom: What advice would you have for someone who wants to start playing Monopoly on a more serious level?

Ken: Study the rules of the game. Know them inside and out. I was at a tournament last year in San Francisco, and I saw one of the top players in the world take a large hit and go from first place to third place because he was not aware of the rule that you cannot go from hotels down to 9 houses if there are only 9 houses in the bank. Hotels can only be sold all at once or one house at a time. He need a couple of hundred dollars to pay a rent and was forced to tear down hotels on the yellows and then buy back 9 houses at full price.

Only play by the official rules. Most house rules only make it easier for lesser players to win. When there is no money in Free Parking, it requires you to develop certain skills in managing your assets that people who play house rules will never acquire.

Play as many games as you can. Like anything else, you will never rise to the top if you do not practice. This is most important. Most top players are very good at predicting what is going to happen. Obviously you cannot predict the dice and the dice will affect the game. But, every time a decision is made by a player the game changes. With practice you get a feeling for things like how much money people have and how fast they can raise money. You use that to predict how soon a color group they receive in a trade will be useful to them and damaging to you.

Analyze your play. Do a mental debrief after every game. Look at every major move any player made during the game and give some thought as to whether or not it worked for them or it hurt their position. After you answer that, give some thought as to what effect the rolls of the dice had. If something worked or did not work was it because there was some unusually good or bad luck with the dice, or was it because a move was particularly smart or dumb? As you play practice games experiment with different moves and strategies and do the same type of analysis.

Develop your people skills. Trading properties is vital. You need to be the nice guy in the game that people will want to trade with.

When trading make sure you look beyond the trade and anticipate what will happen next. Many players do not look past the one trade. For example, if you are giving someone a property or color group that is perceived as having a high value, ask for a few key deeds to be included in the deal to put you in a better trading position for the next trade.

Tom: What are the educational benefits of Monopoly?

Ken: I'm sure there are some, but for me it is just fun.

Tom: Ken, thanks for taking the time to answer these questions! Do you have any final thoughts for our readers?

Ken: Just to let your readers know that one of the things I do for free is answer questions about Monopoly rules for anyone who needs help in solving a rules dispute. Please feel free to contact me (Ken@Koury.com if anyone has any questions about the game. Thank you, Tom.

Edited by Tom Vasel
"Real men play board games"
www.tomvasel.com
February 15, 2006
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Philip Yaure
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Tom: There are many new board games that have been quite popular lately, commonly known as "German" games. These include games such as Ticket to Ride and Settlers of Catan. What is your opinion on these?

Ken: I'm sorry but I am not familiar with those types of games.


I'm probably just being short sighted, but GAK!
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jbrier
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Re: Interviews by an Optimist # 90 - Ken Koury (Monopoly Cha
jl4130 wrote:
Somebody please buy a copy of Settlers and smack this guy upside the head. He'll thank you.


For some reason I highly doubt it - from his attitude in the interview I would gather that he's uninterested in exploring any other games seriously since Monopoly is already "the perfect game". This happens often with Chess, bridge, or GO players, among others, where they only find their game to be of any interest.

 
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Tom - this is an awesome interview - you must have grinned ear to ear before posting it here, knowing the comments that were to follow!

What is so funny to me is here is a guy that is so clearly earnest and serious about his devotion to Monopoly and who clearly feels this is the best game in the world - I believe he said it's the perfect game. It would be very easy to imagine him thinking that it's the German gamers that are the ones in need of a revelation, not the other way around as is so commonly belived around here. I'd pay real money to see this guy meet whoever around here is the biggest Euro-geek face to face and have a discussion about the relative merits of Monopoly and Puerto Rico - it would probably start much the same as if a man who speaks only Greek would attempt to start a conversation with one who speaks only Japanese - and would probably end with a fist fight!
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Chris Shaffer
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Re: Interviews by an Optimist # 90 - Ken Koury (Monopoly Cha
desertfox2004 wrote:
I'd pay real money to see this guy meet whoever around here is the biggest Euro-geek face to face and have a discussion about the relative merits of Monopoly and Puerto Rico - it would probably start much the same as if a man who speaks only Greek would attempt to start a conversation with one who speaks only Japanese - and would probably end with a fist fight!


Actually, given Ken's demeanor during the interview and his emphasis on developing people skills, it would probably end with a friendly "it's been nice talking to you" or a beer at the local pub.
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Jay Borden
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I'm wondering how many of the 50-300 players that enter the tournaments are serious gamers (monopoly or otherwise). How much money is to be made for 1st place? Is there any incentive to actually become a serious Monopoly player? Are the 10 real players just burning through 40 - 290 other players who had nothing better to do one afternoon.

You have to see the exact situation, but how can one guy trade into 2 complete colors with only 1 property to start? Notice the guy being interviewed was watching the game...and not in it. I'm thinking someone (if not more than one) playing in that game had to be a casual gamer getting used.

It makes you wonder how much it would take for the average geek to become a state champion in Monopoly.
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Leo Zappa
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TheCat wrote:
desertfox2004 wrote:
I'd pay real money to see this guy meet whoever around here is the biggest Euro-geek face to face and have a discussion about the relative merits of Monopoly and Puerto Rico - it would probably start much the same as if a man who speaks only Greek would attempt to start a conversation with one who speaks only Japanese - and would probably end with a fist fight!


Actually, given Ken's demeanor during the interview and his emphasis on developing people skills, it would probably end with a friendly "it's been nice talking to you" or a beer at the local pub.



Chris:
Agreed, but the Jerry Springer alternative would just be so much more entertaining. devil

Seriously, though, Tom, you might consider a follow up interview with Ken where you bring him up to speed with the German game scene and get his response to the most common Monopoly criticisms seen around here. Essentially give the other side a chance to challenge the negative views of the Euro-crowd concerning Monopoly.
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Re: Interviews by an Optimist # 90 - Ken Koury (Monopoly Cha
In all fairness I think a large part of the animosity towards monopoly amongst euro-gamers stems from the fact that monopoly is so wildly popular for no "legitimate" reason (the rules aren't easier to assimilate and gameplay isn't really more interesting than your average euro), it just seems to be a matter of tradition, and so it has the doubly negative effect of type-casting the boardgame hobby as well as indirectly preventing other "better" games from becoming mainstays of popular culture. I think these factors are all much more influential of the negative attitude euro-gamers have towards monopoly than anything to do with the game as a game analyzed in a vacuum.
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Tom "Snicker Daddy" Pancoast
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Wow, Tom! I have missed alot of your interviews, but this might be my favorite interview yet. Personally, I am rather ambivilent towards Monopoly, but I have seen an unreasonable amount of hate for the game. Its nice to see a different perspective.
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Chris Shaffer
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Re: Interviews by an Optimist # 90 - Ken Koury (Monopoly Cha
desertfox2004 wrote:
Seriously, though, Tom, you might consider a follow up interview with Ken where you bring him up to speed with the German game scene and get his response to the most common Monopoly criticisms seen around here. Essentially give the other side a chance to challenge the negative views of the Euro-crowd concerning Monopoly.


I think he's already halfway on our side. Notice that he doesn't like or play the many variants that extend the game duration. He also enforces all the rules, including the ones regarding building limitations (32 houses, 12 hotels, no skipping levels). While I don't think this puts the game in the "very good" category, it certainly goes a long way toward moving it out of the "abysmal" category.
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Nello Cozzolino
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i do not like heavy games..but at least..i played once:
tikal,asl,settlers,FAVORITEN..TICKET TO RIDE,poker lost cities...
razzia..limits...
30 years of MONOPOLY ..ONLY... (i understand is a PROFESSIONAL PLAYER)
..but ..well..what can i say
 
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Michael Tagge
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PlanetSmasher wrote:
I'm wondering how many of the 50-300 players that enter the tournaments are serious gamers (monopoly or otherwise). How much money is to be made for 1st place? Is there any incentive to actually become a serious Monopoly player? Are the 10 real players just burning through 40 - 290 other players who had nothing better to do one afternoon.

You have to see the exact situation, but how can one guy trade into 2 complete colors with only 1 property to start? Notice the guy being interviewed was watching the game...and not in it. I'm thinking someone (if not more than one) playing in that game had to be a casual gamer getting used.

It makes you wonder how much it would take for the average geek to become a state champion in Monopoly.


I have to agree with most of PlanetSmasher's sentiments. Monopoly is very similar to SoC for skills needed to excel. There is never any such thing as an even trade. There are trades that both parties are happier with, and there are trades that benefit two players, but at the end of the deal one side is benefitting more.

This is the reason I am getting very tired with SoC, besides luck, the better trader should always win. Usually the player than can intuitively understand the advantage of building now, relative placing, and all other factors.

If I were playing a game of monopoly with two other average players and Ken Koury (who almost always wins) it would be in the average players interest to never trade with Ken. Then we would each have 25%-33% chance of winning.

I have to think that with Monopoly he wins not because of his quality, but because of the low quality of his opponents.
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Mark Ballinger
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Re: Interviews by an Optimist # 90 - Ken Koury (Monopoly Cha
TheCat wrote:
desertfox2004 wrote:
I'd pay real money to see this guy meet whoever around here is the biggest Euro-geek face to face and have a discussion about the relative merits of Monopoly and Puerto Rico - it would probably start much the same as if a man who speaks only Greek would attempt to start a conversation with one who speaks only Japanese - and would probably end with a fist fight!


Actually, given Ken's demeanor during the interview and his emphasis on developing people skills, it would probably end with a friendly "it's been nice talking to you" or a beer at the local pub.


Yep. And you'd end up giving him your bank account number and deed to your house. He's good.
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Leif Norcott
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Re: Interviews by an Optimist # 90 - Ken Koury (Monopoly Cha
Quote:
It's really popular and easy to bash on Monopoly here, but there ARE decisions to that game, as he said, and he makes a good point about the same people showing up at championships. Still, how can any serious gamer not know what a German game is?! Settlers is like Monopoly (build and conquer via clever negotiating), only with so much more flexibility and no tedious money-counting. If he hadn't mentioned playing Avalon Hill's old games, I would have blown a gasket. Somebody please buy a copy of Settlers and smack this guy upside the head. He'll thank you.



The problem is there are also slot's and blackjack tournaments where the same people keep showing up. This is not to say that these tournaments shouldn't exist for fun, but it also shouldn't be assumed tournaments justify the skill in a game.
 
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A Derk appears from the mists...
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Re: Interviews by an Optimist # 90 - Ken Koury (Monopoly Cha
One of the things that I found fascinating about the interview was that he seemed to have a very negative reaction to learning new rules. Perhaps I'm just projecting on him, but I find the single biggest claim to fame that Monopoly has is that everyone 'knows' the rules...
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Richard Pardoe
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Ken: For some it is 100% luck. If all you do is travel around the board waiting to see what properties you are lucky enough to land on then the dice will control your fate entirely. For the rest of us the game is full of opportunities to exercise our skills with new ones appearing almost every time the dice are rolled. Basically every time a decision needs to be made in the game you have an opportunity to exercise your Monopoly skills. Let me give you a couple of examples.

This was the part of the interview I was most interested in. But for the examples, I found general strategic commentary. What I would really love to read is a roll-by-roll annotated synopsis of a couple of games explaining and probing the depth of knowledge and skills necessary to do well at the game.

Why a trade was offered?
What was the strategy behind the trade?
Does one trade to avoid giving another player a triplet?
Or is it all trading to complete sets only?
When are properties auctioned instead of purchased at list price?

As each move is "fixed" in that you roll the die and move exactly that many spaces - I would like more exposition on the other parts of the game that would elevate it above a simple roll-and-move game.

Or is there a list of "championship" games listed somewhere that detail the moves behind those games?
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Mike Giro
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Tom: There are many new board games that have been quite popular lately, commonly known as "German" games. These include games such as Ticket to Ride and Settlers of Catan. What is your opinion on these?

Ken: I'm sorry but I am not familiar with those types of games.


I weep for humanity.

I do find it fascinating that someone can be a champion in a game I consider extremely luck driven. Apparently there are some strategies that I am not familiar with.
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Less snark is my goal.
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PlanetSmasher wrote:
You have to see the exact situation, but how can one guy trade into 2 complete colors with only 1 property to start? Notice the guy being interviewed was watching the game...and not in it. I'm thinking someone (if not more than one) playing in that game had to be a casual gamer getting used.


I remember being at a con once with a guy who picked up a few dozen M:tG commons from the floor (discarded by people who had too many commons already I guess). He began trading them and wound up with a winning deck in a tournament the following day. I'm sure there were a few noobs who got caught in trades, but I do think some people are very good at trading and organizing trades.
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Mike Giro
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I remember being at a con once with a guy who picked up a few dozen M:tG commons from the floor (discarded by people who had too many commons already I guess). He began trading them and wound up with a winning deck in a tournament the following day. I'm sure there were a few noobs who got caught in trades, but I do think some people are very good at trading and organizing trades.

No doubt! I see this a lot in MMORPGs such as World of Warcraft where people do nothing but play the market and buy low sell high. These people become in-game powerlords controlling the market on the servers. It really is a trait that some people have mastered.
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Michael Sosa
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It is amazing that this guy can go to Origins and not discover the wealth of other board games out there. Saying Monopoly is nearly a perfect game is equivalent to marrying the first woman you meet and then claiming she is the perfect wife. Well, you wouldn't know any better now would you?!

And I am particularly surprised at his insult to roleplaying games. Now I no longer play them but my experience tells me that they can be quite enjoyable. He is not bright enough to realize that perhaps he didn't have a good or experienced DM in his little session.

Unfortunately I can't help but think that this guy is an idiot...
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Adam Deverell
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I really enjoyed the last game of Monopoly I played - about ten years ago!

Seriously, it's a good game and this one was great. I remember doing a complicated two-way deal in which I agreed to trade my orange property in exchange for 50% of the profits from orange rent AND trading all three to which ever player bankrupted the other. Or something like that. Anyway, I went from having no decent properties to coming second in an eight player game. It was the first, and last, time I actually discovered Monopoly had some decent tactics.

What put me off Monopoly was the stupid houserule where money is placed on free parking. EVERY person plays with this rule. It means the game goes on too long as it saves players from bankruptcy. Why do people hate Monopoly? Because it goes on too long! It's a vicious circle.

Thanks Tom, because this article has got me inspired to play Monopoly again. I really admired Ken's passion and I agree with a lot of what he said. I ESPECIALLY liked his claim that Monopoly should be over in 60-90 minutes.

My only regret re Monopoly? Working in PR in Dublin I was given two sample Monopoly sets by a prospective client - both custom made sets on Wales and Yorkshire. To lessen my travelling load I threw away the boxes. Result? They go for big $$$ on ebay.

Oh well, I'm just happy I've been encouraged to get the game out again.
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Neil Carr
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Re: Interviews by an Optimist # 90 - Ken Koury (Monopoly Cha
It should also be noted that Monopoly Champions win $15,140US, the same amount of money that is in the game itself. While I'm sure the regulars at this competition find some kind of magic in the game, they are also putting themselves in pretty good odds (1 in 300ish) to win a nice chunk of money.

This is something that I think the hobby itself needs to do. Pick out some solid classics such as Settlers and Ticket to Ride and do a championship where the winner walks away with $10,000. If we want the mainstream to take notice then big cash prizes will make the general population perk up a lot more.
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Hunga Dunga
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Great interview!

I saw Monopoly for sale at the local Toys 'R Us.

Maybe I'll give it a try.
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Chris Shaffer
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Re: Interviews by an Optimist # 90 - Ken Koury (Monopoly Cha
red_gamster wrote:
I remember doing a complicated two-way deal in which I agreed to trade my orange property in exchange for 50% of the profits from orange rent AND trading all three to which ever player bankrupted the other. Or something like that. Anyway, I went from having no decent properties to coming second in an eight player game. It was the first, and last, time I actually discovered Monopoly had some decent tactics.


Note that this trade is illegal, as you're not allowed to make trades for future considerations. Even if you made this trade, it would be illegal for the other player to hand you money when they collected rent, as according to the rules their handing you money would be a second, separate trade of "money for nothing" which is against the rules. You're also not allowed to trade properties when going bankrupt, unless the trade will save you from bankruptcy.
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Jay Borden
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Quote:
I remember being at a con once with a guy who picked up a few dozen M:tG commons from the floor (discarded by people who had too many commons already I guess). He began trading them and wound up with a winning deck in a tournament the following day. I'm sure there were a few noobs who got caught in trades, but I do think some people are very good at trading and organizing trades.


The difference I see here is that you're playing in the same game. To give an example: I brought Settlers with me on a week long drill when I was in the military. None of the other players saw the game before that week. I played over 15 games that week without losing. With my regular gaming buddies at the time...we'd split wins almost even.

I'd say I am a decent trader, but when somone else knows the value or power of what I am giving and trying to get....the gains are much lower or even (and sometimes at a face value loss, but for a possible gain playing the odds or luck).

I see Monopoly as whoever takes the most advantage of the least experienced player wins (pretty much the same as settlers). Once all players are on even skill level...it becomes more luck based since the non-random factor of the game (trading) will be much closer to even.
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