Sunday, October 02, 2016

Monopoly Board Game

Note:  This review was originally posted to my Epinins account.

There was a catchphrase or slogan I heard once:  Easy to learn, difficult to master.  Monopoly definitely fits that bill.

It's a relatively easy game to learn.  You have a square board with a variety of properties as well as Free Parking, Jail, Go to Jail, Go and the Chance and Community Chest spaces.  You also have two dice and several game pieces to represent the players.  You go around the board by rolling the dice.

If you land on property that's unowned, you can buy it.  If someone else owns it, you have to pay rent.  (The amount of rent depends on several factors, which I'll get to later.)  If you run out of money, you can mortgage your properties.  If you run out of property to mortgage, you lose.  If you run out of opponents, you win.

If you land on one of the Chance or Community Chest spaces, you take a card that tells you what to do.  You might get money or lose money.  You might have to go to Jail or you might get a Get out of Jail Free card.  They can add another random element to the game.

There are variations.  For instance, you can deal out all of the property at the start.  Free Parking can simply be a space where you do nothing or a space where you can get money.  (Some people use a set amount while others put any tax money in the center and use that as a pot.)  When you pass Go, you usually get $200.  Some people let you collect twice as much if you actually land on Go.

I would say that 90% of the game is random, as the dice are the sole determinant of how you move.  You don't get to chose direction.  You can't pass.  You just do what the dice tell you to do.  Thus, you have no real control over which property you land on.

For this reason, I've found the game to be very frustrating.  As I mentioned before, rent is controlled by several factors.  Properties are divided into groups.  You have railroads, utilities and 8 color groups.  Rent on the railroads goes up the more you own.  The rent on utilities goes up if you own both.  Rent on any given color group doubles if you own the entire set.

Also, if you own an entire color group, you can put improvements on the properties.  This is why Boardwalk and Park Place have become somewhat well known.  If someone has both properties and has done the maximum improvements, they can charge $2000 in rent to someone that lands on boardwalk.  (If I recall, that is.  I haven't played in a while.)

I've found that it's very easy to spiral downwards because you can't charge rent on a mortgaged property.  Without any property to charge rent on, your only income will be passing Go and hopefully getting some income through Chance and Community Chest.  If all of your property is mortgaged, it becomes a matter of time before you land on something that takes you out of the game.  Conversely, if you own an entire side of the board or two, you'll just keep collecting money,

One of the reasons I've come to not like the game is that there's no real strategy.  Sure, there are things you can do that will help you a little.  For instance, don't sell or trade any properties to anyone unless you have to.  Especially don't give up any property that would give them a complete set of anything.  Also, if you wind up in Jail and the side of the board following Jail is owned by someone other than you, stay in Jail as long as possible.  There's no good reason to want to leave Jail unless you roll a twelve.  Other than that, it all comes down to a roll of the dice. 

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