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The world's most popular board game, featuring the new sack-of-money token! Buy real estate, collect rents, build hotels--but don't go broke!
- 1 gameboard
- 11 tokens
- title deed cards
- play money
- Chance cards
- Community Chest cards
- 32 houses
- 12 hotels
- 2 dice
Average Rating: 2.6 in 16 reviews
The other day I played a game of Monopoly with two friends. Played strictly by the rules and with an understanding of the odds and values of the different properties, it was a close tight game. I lost, but it was a good night of gaming. Not bad for a game that hit the big time in 1938.
People can say that this game is luck dependent, I will counter that Settlers of Catan also has a high luck factor. Is it as strategic as some of the newer games coming from Europe?, maybe not. It is though a classic which should be seen as one of the best games ever produced.
Game snobs will prefer some of the newer products, I will always see this game as a standard which should be in any gamer's library.
Monopoly is in effect a rummy variant which is enlivened with some bidding and trading. Having lasted over 70 years, Parker Brothers need not fear the reviews below. This remains an excellent family game. It is highly luck dependent and more recent games have certainly an improved design, but Monopoly is part of the American and even the gaming culture. Yes, Acquire and countless German games are much more to a Gamer's tastes, but remember we are into games. There is a world out there that doesn't await the next release from some favorite designer. A gamer would say that Diplomacy is a much better multi-player conflict game than Risk. In the real world, (Even though I love Diplomacy) I've never seen anyone but gamers into the game. Well, let me leave these reviews, I have a meeting back on planet earth. The special effects in the old King Kong are laughable compared to what can be done today, but the old flick is still a great movie. Lighten up gamers!
Virtually 90% of the people I know have said at one point in their life that they hate Monopoly. Everyone is convinced that it is the most luck-based game, and that it is only popular because of how long it has been in existence.
But I would guess that 90% of those same people have never read the rules and followed them. Everyone thinks they know how to play because their parents or friends taught them growing up. But when you're a kid, parents make games easier to fit your capacity for understanding.
First of all, there is no Free Parking Jackpot. This "house rule" ruins many a game, causing it to last longer and changing the money leader in the matter of one turn. I never really understood this anyway, since when does the word "free" mean you get a five hundred dollar bill?
But more than anything else people ignore the auction rule. When you decide not to purchase a property it is supposed to go up for auction. By auctioning it off you give players an opportunity to purchase that property below it's retail value. Also the auction process allows someone who really needs that property to outbid his opponents and grab a monopoly without having to do any trading. This is where there is added strategy in the game. (i.e. "Should I purchase this property for $200 or can I put it up for auction and get it for cheaper?")
I challenge you to pick up this classic again (or one of the thousands of spin-offs that has a theme you might enjoy) and read the rules and follow them. Hey, it's worth a try to resurrect something you probably loved as a child.
An online review of MONOPOLY? Ed, are you out of your mind? Who doesn't know what Monopoly is... or how to play it?
For many, many years Monopoly has been called the world's most popular board game... and rightfully so. A member of the GAMES Magazine Hall of Fame, Monopoly is licensed or sold in more than 80 countries and produced in at least 26 different languages. It has been around, in its current form with almost no change, for more than 60 years.
One of the reasons for Monopoly's popularity is the fact that any age can play and enjoy the game and children can compete or a more or less equal footing with adults. Being the most popular game however, doesn't necessarily mean it is not without flaws....
The object of Monopoly is to bankrupt your opponents and become the wealthiest player. I won't discuss the mechanics of the game since I'm sure most players are already aware of them. Simply put, players take turns rolling the dice, traveling around a circular board, buying, selling and trading real estate, as they collect and pay rent, fines, and taxes.
A 'typical' Monopoly game usually lasts SEVERAL hours... and this is because a typical Monopoly game is not usually played by the official rules. In most every Monopoly game I've seen, all sorts of 'house rules' are usually in effect, all of which almost always incorporate an extra amount of cash flow or 'income' into the game, thus making it much more difficult for players to bankrupt each other than it is supposed to be. For example, what Monopoly player hasn't heard of the 'Free Parking' rule, where one receives a cash reward for landing on the Free Parking space? The official rules, if you take the time to read them, spell it out clearly: FREE PARKING... 'A player landing on this space does not receive any money, property or reward of any kind. This is just a 'free' resting place.' Another house (or misinterpreted) rule is believing (incorrectly) that one receives $400.00 if one lands DIRECTLY on the GO square. Wrong again.
Players who play by these types of house rules, the ones that increase the structured cash flow of the game, contribute to prolonging it unnecessarily, probably without even realizing it.
Despite the large amount of luck in the game, experience is a small factor. Knowing how and what to trade, how many buildings and hotels to buy... and when, how much of a cash cushion you should leave yourself, etc., can only be learned after you've played a number of times. One must also be aware that property values change as the game goes on. For example, in the beginning and middles stages of most games, Boardwalk and Park Place are NOT the best properties to own. Give me the Oranges or the Reds instead any day. The reason is simple... these properties are landed on much more frequently than your beloved Boardwalk and Park Place. Furthermore, Boardwalk and Park Place, along with the Greens, are too expensive to properly develop in the early stages of the game.
Knowing the Monopoly Frequency Chart (a sorted table of the frequency that each square is landed on) is beneficial to know and often helps when making trades.
It is no big secret one should almost always purchase every property they land on. Even if you have no use for it yourself, simply by owning it you prevent anyone and everyone else from owning it and using it to complete their own color group. Also, by owning it you can always raise some cash by mortgaging the property if need be... for 1/2 the purchase price. This being said, if one was allowed to make just ONE rule change for the better, my choice would be this: Double the purchase price of all existing properties. Upon doing so, now it's not so easy to purchase everything you land on... in fact you'd probably go broke if you attempted to do so. Now, a careful decision must be made upon which properties to purchase outright and which ones to decline... which, as per the rules, would immediately be put up for auction by the bank.
Expert players and gamers will incorporate other types of house rules that allow for more decision making. For example, normally one can buy buildings at any time... simply ask the next person to hold the dice and buy to your heart's content. However, I suggest changing the rules so that you can only purchase buildings PRIOR to your OWN turn. The reasoning is simple... with this rule change each player must now make a decision. For example, it's my turn. Should I buy some buidlings now, knowing that I might have to immediately tear them down a moment later (at half the purchase price!) if I throw a bad roll and land on my opponent's hotel, the one sitting just eight spaces away? Or should I wait and purchase these building later, hopefully after I've missed landing on my opponent's hotel, but knowing someone else might have landed on my barren property in the mean time?
As with most games, the more decisions there are the more skill is incorporated into the game. I could list several more ideas, rule changes, and variations, but I think you get the idea.
Disadvantages of Monopoly are many:
- Players are eliminated one-by-one. This means the unlucky player who is eliminated first has to wait around, sometimes for hours, while everyone else continues to play.
- As mentioned above, it's no secret that one should almost always purchase every property they land on. This doesn't allow for much decision making.
- Going last, and next-to-last, in a five or six player game, is a big disadvantage. These players are landing on property, and now paying rent, on properties that were unowned just a moment ago.
- The game, even when played correctly and according to the rules, can still last a long time.
- Arguments over the rules often emerge.
- It doesn't play well at all with two, or even three players. At least four players (and preferably five) make for a much better game.
Despite these and other disadvantages, Monopoly can still be considered a great game. And when played between competitive adults, with slight rule changes as described above, Monopoly can be VERY fun indeed. The only problem is finding four of five other players who share your feelings....
When you first see it... You will be overwhelemed. But after playing it for a couple of months, it just loses its flavor and doesn't have that "touch" it had the first few times. More than likely it will end up in the attic or under your bed. It still is a great classic and I recommend that you buy it! Even if your only going to play it a couple of times!
I do sympathize with Monopoly detractors, I understand and agree with their arguements about how bad this game is. We now have many good games available to us in the new millenium and yet this relic hangs on.
I really want to hate Monopoly, but when I play it I always have fun. Granted, I only play it once every five years. The right group of people (usually people who are afraid to try anything new) needs to be assembled before I will even consider playing Monopoly, furthermore there can be no one in the group who dislikes Monopoly, nor anyone who takes it too seriously.
Given these relatively narrow parameters Monopoly is fun - if I don't have to do it too often.
There's know arguing Monopoly's status as one of the most popular games of all time. It's one of the first serious boardgames that many people play.
And for as long as people have been playing the game, there have been innovations and 'house rules,' all attempts to increase the challenge and the excitement. The game's publisher hasn't changed any of the rules in order to rekindle interest with veteran gamers; it merely cranks out endless 'theme' versions of the old game (e.g. NASCAR, DISNEY, STAR WARS, MARVEL COMICS, POKEMON, etc.) and sells them for $40.
(By the way, the change to the rules suggested by Dominic -- twice -- is totally unnecessary, because it already is one of the rules of Monopoly, and has been for as long as I've been playing it since 1960. It's explained in the rulebook under 'Buy Property.')
Yet despite it's universal popularity (which includes a World Championship), the game has two major flaws which are evident once compared to popular contemporary strategy games.
1. Play continues through a gradual elimination process until there is just one winner. Since a rigorous game can last hours, the first players eliminated sit around watching while the game slugs on. The best contemporary games work from point scoring and keep all players in the game until the end vice eliminating them.
2. The most interesting phase of the game is over when the last property is purchased -- usually less than half way through the entire game. Rolling the dice, moving to an unowned property, and buying/auctioning/trading properties is fun. Once that phase ends, the fun is virtually over, and the game grinds down, becoming more reliant on luck than strategy. The players who are unlucky enough to hit the expensive properties more than the opponents have little recourse but to mortgage property to pay off debts, or transfer property to the creditor, which just makes the board even more dangerous for the poorer players. The end game can be one long boring swap of same fortune back and forth between two players until one is unlucky enough to land on the other player's expensive property twice in a row.
With so many better games available these days, Monopoly just doesn't rate any higher than average these days. Settlers of Catan is a far better game for families and serious gamers than Monopoly. Retire Monopoly to the Hall-Of-Fame spot on your game shelf.
Perhaps it is because children love the idea of earning money and this game is their first experience with money. Perhaps it is because the game is random enough to appeal to non-gamers (giving everyone a chance of winning regardless of their strategy). Who knows. More than likely it is because the game is promoted by the biggest game company in the world which keeps the price down (through large print runs) and allows for many cross marketing opportunities. With all this said, I think one rule change turns Monopoly into a pretty good game:
~ Anytime a player lands on an unowned property, it goes up for auction.
With this rule change, a lot of the random elements are mitigated and can be overcome by a smart player. The game can still be long (especially to players who go bankrupt early) but I think it becomes quite engaging. Also, make sure you stick to the real rules, not the popular 'house rules' which puts too much money in the game and turns it into a never ending lottery.
Monopoly's flaws are widely publicised by keen gamers, and they're fair criticisms. But (and it's a very big 'but') just about everyone knows how to play it, so you very rarely have to explain the rules. Sitting through rules rather than getting on with things can be a huge turn-off to a non-gamer. For that reason alone, Monopoly deserves a place in a game collection.
I actually quite enjoy playing it. I enjoy playing other games (mostly German ones) far more, but a choice of Monopoly or nothing (which often is the choice if people don't want to learn rules right that moment), I'll take Monopoly.
NOTE: I’ve often wondered how Monopoly would be viewed if it were released in 2005. Would it garner the same popularity/negativity that it does today? Therefore I’m writing this review, trying to depict how I would play Monopoly if I had played it for the first time, current year.
Negotiation games certainly depend on the group. I’ve played negotiation games with hard-headed, fun-loving groups and have had a blast the entire time. However, I’ve also played negotiation games with folks who were having problems outside the game, didn’t want to trade with a particular person, didn’t want to trade at all, etc. With these people, any kind of trading and bartering can fall flat, destroying the fun in a game. Monopoly (Parker Brothers - designer debated) seems to add a twist on negotiation games - adding luck and “rent” to the equation.
At first, the board appears to be that of the “roll-and-move” variety, where one simply follows the roll of the dice. And this is indeed true, but the crux of the game is in the fact that players attempt to minimize their chances of landing on a poor space, and maximize their opponents. Dice are not the only randomness in the game, as some cards are also drawn during game play, contributing to the luck. But players cannot make any real headway in the game unless they dicker with the other players - so the luck only holds so far. I enjoy a good game of Monopoly, but only every once in a while. Even though negotiation is a mechanic I enjoy, the randomness that comes along with it doesn’t elevate Monopoly over other, better trading games.
A board consisting of forty spaces in a square track is placed on the table, with two stacks of cards - “Chance”, and “Community Chest” - shuffled and placed down on it. Each player chooses a playing piece and places it on the space marked “Go”, and receives $1500 from the bank. The remainder of the money is placed in the “bank”, as well as a pile of green house pieces and red hotel pieces. Twenty-eight property cards, each associating with a specific space on the board, are also placed in the bank area. One player is chosen to go first, with play proceeding clockwise around the table.
On a turn, each player must roll two six-sided dice and move their piece clockwise around the track that many spaces. Depending on what space they land on, they then take an action:
- Chance: The player draws a card from the Chance deck and follows the instructions on it (gaining money, losing money, going to a specific space, etc.)
- Community Chest: Same as above, but with the Community Chest Deck
- Free Parking: The only space on the board where nothing ever happens - a breather.
- Luxury Tax: The player must pay the bank $75
- Income Tax: The player must pay $200 or 10% of all their monetary value (must be decided before the player counts up their money)
- Unowned property space: There are twenty-eight spaces on the board that are property spaces. Twenty-two of these properties are divided up into “color-groups”, two or three properties of the same color. Four other spots are “railroad” spaces, and the final two properties (the Electric company and Waterworks) are utility properties. A player landing on an unowned property space may immediately buy it for the asking price (from $60 to $400, depending on the property). If they decide not to (or can’t), an auction occurs, and the highest bidder gets the property.
- Owned property space. If a player lands on a property space they own, nothing happens. If they land on a property another player owns, they must pay that player “rent”. Each property has a small amount that is charged to the player landing on that space. If a player owns all the properties in one color group, the rent on those spaces is doubled. Players may also increase their rent on their properties by building houses and hotels on them.
- Go to Jail: A player landing here must immediately head to the jail space.
- Jail: A player landing here is put in the part of the space marked “just visiting”, and ends their turn. A player who is stuck here must either roll doubles to get out, or pay $50 to the bank. (Some cards also allow a player to escape). If a player does not roll doubles in three turns, they MUST pay the $50 to escape.
When a player rolls the same number on both dice (“doubles”), they must immediately roll again. If the player rolls three doubles in a row, however, they immediately go to jail. When a player passes “Go” normally, they receive $200 from the bank.
On their turn, or in the short downtime between other players’ turns, each player may trade/sell their properties to one another for whatever deal they can get. Players also have the option of buying houses for their color-properties, if they have all of one set. Players can buy up to four houses for each property, for the price specified on the card, and then build a “fifth” house - which is actually a hotel piece that replaces the four houses on the property. Houses/hotels must be built evenly on both/all three of the color properties.
If a player needs to pay more money than they have - they can sell their houses/hotels back to the bank for a loss, and sell properties to other players or “mortgage” them to get the funds they need. If this still is not enough to cover their debt, the player is out of the game. The last player still in the game is the winner!
Some comments on the game...
1.) Components: Probably the most distinctive part of Monopoly is the playing pieces, which are different tokens (iron, dog, ship, etc.) rather than colored pawns. For some reason this is easier to identify (Why don’t more games do this?) and the pawns do usually elicit a positive reaction. The money included with the game is fairly thin and forgettable, as I much prefer poker chips or better quality money; but it works. The green houses are made of plastic, as are the red hotels; and they offer a good, quick visual of the dangers of landing on a particular property. The properties on the board themselves are arranged in order of value, starting with the cheapest property (Mediterranean Avenue - cost $60, highest rent - $250), and going to the most expensive property (Boardwalk - cost $400, highest rent - $2000). The board itself is a little bland, with a lot of wasted space in the middle; but when the houses and hotels are added, everything looks pretty neat. The property cards have a lot of info on them, and since almost every property is different, quite necessary. I’m not sure how the property cards and money will hold up to repeated plays - they look a little beat up after only a few.
2.) Rules: The rules are fairly simplistic to learn and only take a few pages. There are tournament rules that can be found online - and clarify some of the gaping holes in the original rules. For example, the original rules don’t clarify timing issues - as there are only a limited amount of houses and hotels to go around, who gets to buy them first? Also, is rent something that MUST be paid, or can a player who is not paying attention miss the money due to them? These seem like innocuous questions, but I’ve seen all of them greatly debated at games I’ve played.
3.) Money and theme: The game revolves around money - if you lose it, your out! Money changes hands frequently during the game, so I’m sure that the game could help children learn how to handle money. Oddly enough, while the game seems to promote monopolies, all I’ve ever seen was how it showed the negative sides of them. In the beginning of the game, the money amounts being handled are fairly small; but near the end, they can get rather enormous. If players aren’t staying on the same level as other players, they can be eliminated quickly. And this does add some interesting decisions to the game - how many houses/hotels should one buy? If you buy a lot of them quickly, your chance to make a lot of money is increased, but your available cash is low. Also, should players buy every property they land on? At first, it seems like the answer is generally yes, but occasionally it doesn’t help a player to buy everything - besides, you just might get it cheaper in auction?
4.) Elimination: Monopoly’s biggest problem, in my opinion, is the fact that the game has player elimination in it - something that usually doesn’t go over well, especially in a game of this length (usually around two and a half hours). The rules include a variant that ends the game after the second player is eliminated - and I’ve found that this works much better - even though it still causes one player to be eliminated.
5.) House Rules: I’ve played the game with many people, and several people have invented their own house rules, such as awarding money to people who land on Free Parking, auctioning off all properties, etc. Some of these rules really bog the game down, and a few (minute, actually) improve the game. So far it seems that most variants don’t do much to help the game - and some of them actually make it quite dreadful - so I personally tend to ignore them.
6.) Variations: I’ve already seen several variations on Monopoly - Star Wars, Loony Tunes, etc. A few of them add minor rule changes, but it is interesting how the theme of the game can be cut and pasted at will. Since most of these themes change little to, or nothing, I would tend to look for one with the highest quality bits when buying the game (Star Wars Episode I version so far has the best I’ve seen.)
7.) Problems: The game has two problems other than elimination. For one, there is a high luck factor. A player who lands on all of one group of properties (all the railroads, all the reds, etc.) can have a huge advantage at the beginning of the game. A player who lands on very few can also be in a bit of a jam. The Chance and Community Chest cards range wildly from being slightly annoying (pay $50) to extremely hurtful (go to a property that just happens to have a hotel of an opponent’s on it). Still, skillful negotiation and clever purchasing can mitigate (not eliminate) the luck factor to the point where it is palatable. The other problem with the game is smaller, but the fact that every property and every combination of houses/hotels is different causes players to often look up prices. After dozens of games, I’m sure that the numbers can be learned, but it does slow the game down a bit.
8.) Fun Factor and Negotiation: Much of the fun of Monopoly comes from the fact that you can trade almost anything for anything. You can trade Illinois Avenue and a get out of Jail free card for Oriental Avenue, Pennsylvania Railroad, and $200 - or whatever combination you’d like. This is my favorite part of the game, as the shrewdest dealer frequently (barring terrible luck) wins the game. It’s possible that one person can bog down the game if they refuse to trade, ever; but I just skip those people when playing this game. And it certainly is satisfying to see someone land on your Boardwalk when you have a hotel placed there. The game is fun - I’ve seen a lot of people enjoying it - but only if you don’t mind a healthy dose of luck.
I find it hard to determine whether I should recommend Monopoly or not. The idea is innovative and interesting, but the roll-and-move mechanic is sure to put off a lot of people. At the same time, I’ve seen the game played with great success, especially in a group of extraverts. There are some tremendous negotiation games out there, such as I’m the Boss and Dragon’s Gold, that have a lot less luck and provide the same bargaining feel. But I do realize that there are quite a few people who enjoy seeing thousands of dollars gained and lost on the roll of a die. If luck is your thing, and you also enjoy bartering, then pick up a copy of Monopoly. Otherwise, I think I’m going to have to say pass it up for something a little tighter in the rules - and a little less lucky.
“Real men play board games”
When I was a kid, my mother used to nag me incessantly if I spent so much as an hour on my Super Nintendo. She would complain about "what a waste of time it is" and then take away Yoshi's Island (noooo!) and pull out Monopoly. Of course, it's not a problem if you waste three times as much of your life on THAT.
Personally, I'm not a huge fan of board games (unless they happen to be Chess, checkers, reversi, etc). But I can play them if I have to. The one game that I currently refuse to play ever again is Monopoly. Though everyone "knows and loves" Monopoly, the game is actually extremely over-rated. It has almost no redeeming qualities and several major flaws:
- The game is based almost entirely on luck. Roll the dice; that is it. If you are unlucky, you cannot use any of your business skills to outsmart your competitors. Those two damn cubes are what decide everything.
- Very little strategy is involved. Basically, the only strategy is 'buy as many properties as you can". I'm sorry, but this is very shallow. Even the most simplistic computer games involve much more logic and thinking.
- It takes too long! Whenever I play Monopoly, the games last upwards of 2 hours. Once I had a game that lasted nearly 5. I've asked many people, and they say that 3 hours is the average time it takes to complete a game. This, however, would not be a problem if the game wasn't...
- Ridiculously Boring. Monopoly's repetitive gameplay, simple strategy, ridiculously long completiion time and lack of logical thinking all combine to make it become more mundane as you play.
I really did try to give Monopoly a chance. But the more I played it, the more I loathed it. I used to think I was alone, but many people dislike Monopoly- just Google 'I hate Monopoly", and you'll get about 600,000 hits! The only reason why it is so popular is because of its extremely long tenure, and because all the diehards are completely unaware that other, better games exist. Do yourself a favour: go out and buy a chessboard or, if you've got more cash to spare, a Nintendo DS.
I've played this one many times, and almost every time I get dissapointed. I remember having fun with the game in my "early years", but that was mostly (have I realized later) because I didn't know many other games then.
The main problems are:
- Too luck dependent.
- Too childish. (ok not a problem for kids!)
- Too little variation.
- If one player gets a monopoly (three streets, same color) and no one else gets it, that player always wins.
Only famous because most people haven't heard of newer (and better) games. Everyone has an old monopoly game in the closet so theres no reason to go get another game in the store right?
Everyone has played Monopoly, and most people, even people who aren't into games know the gripes...
'It's all luck!'
'The game takes forever!'
and so on down the line.
And I could't agree more.
Monopoly continues to persist more out of habit than anything at this point. As mentioned previously, everyone knows it, and most every kid growing up in the States has a dusty copy of it sitting in a closet somewhere that they invariably drag out once a year to play.
This does not a high quality game make.
There's really very little you can do that's 'strategic' in this game short of attempting to scalp your opponents in lop-sided trades, and that usually doesn't work if everyone is familar with the game.
Everything else largely is up to the luck of the dice, and the cards, as I've seen more than one player bankrupted by the dread street repairs card at a critical point in the game.
If you're really a fan of Monopoly though, I recommend looking up the Illuminopoly variant rules online. Years ago at a gaming convention I happened across the game, and it's a riot. Basically you take a standard Monopoly game, add combat rules for destroying property, bribery, encourage cheating, have different objectives for each piece (including a spoiler piece, the Anarchist) and suddenly you have an interesting, though still very casual minded variant.
In short though, Monopoly is a classic, but you can do much, much better in the wide world of board games that exists today.
I have never like Monopoly, since the first time I played it. I was young at the time so I don't think I understood all the rules, which may have contributed to my disdain for the game. Since all my friends seem to like the game so much, I figured I'd give it another try, and humor them. Well guess what I found out, I still hate this game. The entire game is almost completely based on luck, and once someone has hotels on their properties, there is no point in playing the game anymore. You may as well just declare him/her winner and play a fun game.
Now some people believe that there are always ways to get back in the game, but I have yet to see anyone do this short of landing on the Community Chest so they can get the money they have to fork over to the tycoon who owns half the board. There just isnt enough balance, and there are so many better games out there now, why bother with this one?
Don't get me wrong, I have 10 sets or so and I don't begrudge Parker Brothers (do they still own it?) the money they make; they and the inventor have added a lot to American culture. I even send Monopoly greeting cards to people because I think they're great.
But let's face it, as a game it's a snoozer. The only thing it has going for it is that everybody knows how to play it, even if they 'know' a lot of wrong rules.
Luck of the dice is not the problem; many fun and exciting, even strategically-oriented games, use dice and mix luck with skill.
But Monopoly gives an advantage to cheaters--people who 'team up' to drive everyone else out of the game, selling each other property for $1 and 'forviging' rent when someone lands on a property they owned but traded. The rules prohibit such deals, but what are you gonna do? And creating your own 'house rules' is bound to offend some from other houses...it ends up being a free-for-all, and all because it's virtually impossible to collect 3 of a color and rare to be lucky enough to buy 2 of a 2-property set, without wheeling and dealing.
Yes, I've played it a lot, and will no doubt play it again...but whenever it's open to debate, I vote for Risk, Clue, Careers...ANYTHING that doesn't offer so much opportunity for 'team play' (and Risk has its own risks!).
I have played probably 30 or more German games now, and now am coming back to try and write a review of Monopoly that gives my honest opinion on it from this new (enlightened? =) ) perspective. The difference between many German games and Monopoly highlights what's to like about the new German games, and why so many who try the new games can no longer stomach Monopoly.
In Monopoly you roll dice to determine how far you move, thus reducing the most important element of the game (buying and renting out real estate) to pure chance. (Suppose you were one turn ahead of me and everytime we rolled, we rolled identically. You would have bought all the property one turn ahead of me, and by pure bad chance, I would be forking over money to you with no opportunity to do anything else.) In many German games you make a DECISION about what to do on your turn. That decision may be trading cards or keeping them ([page scan/se=0027/sf=category/fi=stockall.asc/ml=20]Bohnanza), saving cards to use them all at once, or using them one by one for smaller points (Big City), choosing what areas of the board to put your pieces on ([page scan/se=0040/sf=category/fi=stockall.asc/ml=20]El Grande), even rolling a die or choosing to inch along one space at a time (Samarkand), but you get to chose! Thus bringing more of the human personalities into the game, and giving gameplay far more flavor. It also tends to reward some planning ahead, something that can hardly be said for Monopoly.
In Monopoly, players can be eliminated. We may start with six players in Monopoly, but in an hour, three of those player may be out. What do they do then? Sit there and watch everyone roll dice for 2-3 hours??? In many German games, you play the whole game out with everyone being involved to the end. It's true that halfway through, you may be in such a bad spot you can't possibly win, but at least you can be part of the game and affect the outcome (which is also very fun). Some German games do have player elimination, but it's rare, and even when it happens, it's usually near game end so there is little time to wait. (In fact, player elimination in a German game is so rare that I can not think of any game off the top of my head that does have player elimination.) Games are fun when everyone gets to play them!
Monopoly can go on for hours and hours. Some games can be fun for a few hours, but many, epscially those involving a lot of luck, drag on forever. German games almost invariably fall between 45-120 minutes. Some games are 90-120 minutes, some are more like 45-60 minutes, but they are all designed to end, not simply to drag on. This makes planning a game night easier, it means no one should get tired of playing the game as the game progresses, and it means you can play 2 or more games in one night.
Monopoly has very little player interaction. It basically consists of bidding on a property against other people or making a trade (both of which are relatively rare and certainly aren't integral to the game). But the engine of the game itself is basically 'roll dice, hope for the best, and buy nearly everything you land on.' That doesn't make for much fun. German games (and yes, there are some exceptions) tend to have a lot of player interactions. Whether it's bidding against other people every round for objects that you all need quite badly ([page scan/se=0899/sf=category/fi=stockall.asc/ml=20]Princes of Florence), or trading your resources with other players (Chinatown / Settlers of Catan), or discovering islands together and trying to have the biggest presence on them ([page scan/se=0908/sf=category/fi=stockall.asc/ml=20]Entdecker), players interact!
Monopoly was invented by whom, exactly? German games are designed by people--people with names who have a great deal of talent. People like Wolfgang Kramer, Klaus Teuber, Alan Moon, Reiner Knizia, Richard Borg, Gunter Burkhardt. If you play a game by Alan Moon and really enjoy it, perhaps you'd like to try some of his other games. He has made quite a few, many of them fantastic. But the point is that these guys work hard at their craft, and are rewarded with their name on the box (just like an author, or an actor), and as such they can attract a fan base.
What can you say about Monopoly's artwork? YUCK! Some of the German games are worth buying for the artwork alone! (And again, the artists get credit for their artwork!) Franz Vohlwinkel and Doris Matthäus are 2 prolific board game artists. Franz did the gorgeous art for Tikal: lush South American jungles with ancient ruins and treasures. Doris Matthäus did the art for Elfenland: a beautiful fantasy fairy-tale setting with mountain-top villages and lake cities. The art is really a huge part of the atmosphere in the game.
Monopoly is a game of buying real estate, improving it, and trying to extort vast amounts of money from your competitors who really have no choice about where they move to. (I don't even like the theme of the game, never mind the game itself!) I just don't enjoy playing it at all. It feels flat.
If you want player interaction, everyone involved in the game until the end, intelligent decisions, good artwork, and a stated game duration, Monopoly falls short in every category. You should probably try some of the new German games. Monopoly is not really bad, so much as it is old. If I had one of those really old bikes where the wheels were wooden or metal and the pedals were placed on the front wheel, and then I had a brand new mountain bike with a top of the line 21 speed gear system, shocks, and front and rear brakes--which would you rather ride? The old bike would be cool to own and talk about, but you wouldn't want to ride it--it would be uncomfortable, slow, and derelict. And these are the problems with mass-market American games.
German games have progressed and are more fun than ever before. They make board games fun again. Try some! Settlers of Catan, Tikal, Entdecker, Elfenland, Bohnanza, Chinatown, Frank's Zoo etc., etc. Check the top seller lists in this website, read about some of the games, and then make a purchase. You'll probably be glad you did.