by The Beast!
(Boardgame Beast HQ)
Number of players:
Monopoly will not disappoint you if, somehow, you’ve never played it before! Although it can grow tiresome with repeated playings, its mix of simple gameplay and rewarding strategy shows why Monopoly the board game has never gone out of style.
The game and gameplay
The original Monopoly is hard to beat for a family boardgame experience. More or less on its own, the game has invented the collectable boardgame genre, with dozens, if not hundreds, of spin-off versions and geographical variations.
Many of the world’s major cities and sports teams now have a local version of Monopoly for tourists to buy. There’s also Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, The Simpsons Treehouse of Horror (see below) and countless other licensed versions. You can be pretty sure we won’t be trying to keep up with every single version!
For the most part, the game remains unchanged from its roots. Monopoly the board game describes itself as a property trading game, but although wheeling and dealing are important, luck does play a major factor in the outcome.
Players begin with $1500 and take turns to throw two dice and advance around the board. For the first circuit, property may not be purchased, but once passing GO for the first time, players may buy any property that’s still available.Income is derived from rent paid by other players landing on your properties. Property is arranged in street sets of two or three cards, identified by colour.
A player who owns all of a set has a huge advantage. Not only do the rents on that set double, he may build houses or a hotel to exponentially increase the rents payable when players land on his buildings.
There are special squares, including taxes, the infamous GO TO JAIL and two card stacks, CHANCE and COMMUNITY CHEST, which can both have positive or negative outcomes.
The way Monopoly pans out has much to teach the willing student about assets and cashflow.
Though most people will play happily oblivious to the lessons on offer, savvy observers will note that all players begin the game cash-rich but asset-poor, with almost no income. As they obtain property, income increases.
Luck has a large bearing on the outcome of the boardgame. It doesn’t take many turns for a player to build a substantial lead over his peers who were less fortunate in the early stages and didn’t land on the right squares.
Good or bad fortune is not the end of the story, though. Fortunately for the Monopoly boardgame and its long-lasting interest, perhaps the most important factor is what deals players strike with one another.
Winning players know when to buy and when to let a deal pass them by. Cash-poor players are often forced to sell or go bankrupt when a wealthy player waves money under their noses.
As with all games where player interaction, co-operation, alliances and feuds play a major part, there will be the occasional board-kicking tantrum and temporary falling-out, but that’s all part of Monopoly’s enduring charm!
Pros and cons
For a game which mostly concerns itself with random dice-throwing and attempting to collect limited resources on a very basic board, the Monopoly boardgame has surprising depth of gameplay.
This is almost exclusively because players are forced to adapt to survive, quite possibly being miserly tycoons one minute and begging paupers the next.
I suppose the greatest weakness of Monopoly is the luck element. A player can play the most perfect strategic game he can, given the dice rolls, and still be trounced by a lucky mug who got a set early on, built houses and had three people land on them in quick succession.
The CHANCE and COMMUNITY CHEST cards do lend an increasing element of danger as the game progresses, when their benefits (once so important) become far outweighed by the nasty surprises, such as the ADVANCE cards that send a player directly to one of the high-profile squares on the board, or Assessed for street repairs that force you to pay for costly maintenance on your properties.
Monopoly can last for several hours, depending on how many players take part and their experience, but typically it will be over within 2-3 hours.
Monopoly will give players aged eight to 80 many happy hours of play. It can sometimes feel too familiar, but that’s hardly surprising given the amount of time it’s been in all our lives. Educational in a stealthy way, too. Highly recommended.