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Property Improvements | Wheeling and Dealing | Debt and Bankruptcy | Variations | History | Conclusions

How to Win at Monopoly

Monopoly: Variations and House Rules

Few people actually play Monopoly by the rules that come in the box. House rules have developed over the years that tailor the game to the tastes of the many people who enjoy the game. Probably the most common house rule allows money to accumulate in the center of the board from taxes, fines and street repairs, and is ceremoniously turned over to any player who lands on "Free Parking". This adds an element of the lottery to the game and allows players to get unexpected income that can change the course of the game, especially if considerable amounts of cash accumulate in the center of the board.

In another interesting variation all of the property is dealt out at the beginning of the game. There is no race to buy property. There is much bargaining up front and plenty of money available to develop properties. This considerably speeds up the game. However, it does take a bit of the skill out of the game as well as some of the satisfaction of struggling to put together a good monopoly.

To really spice up the game try putting each property up for auction as it is landed on. The player landing on the property makes the first bid. You will quickly find out what types of property other players value. Be careful on this scenario that you do not spend too much too early, making it difficult to acquire property later on and letting other players get property on the cheap.

To infuse even more cash into the game you can award players money for special unusual dice rolls (for example: snake eyes - two ones - gets $100 or even $500). This rule increases the roll of luck and thus should be opposed by players hoping to win by the dint of brains and bravado.

Some players do not like to be limited by the number of houses and hotels that come in the box, using upside down hotels as houses or even wadded up pieces of paper, if the green houses run out. This keeps an artificial limit on building from interrupting the flow of the game. Truthfully, the limit is usually not reached, but when playing with people you have never played with before, you should query them on how they normally handle this situation, as when it does arise it can cause a discordant note in what might otherwise have been a pleasant afternoon's game.

A common house rule does not allow players to collect rents or improve properties while in jail. This has the benefit of keeping jail from becoming a sanctuary later in the game. It keeps players on the board and moving around unless they are in a fairly tough situation.

An interesting variation was submitted by Keith Roberts called Capitol Hill Monopoly. It allows players to make governmental rules that affect the game in the same ways that government rules affect a real economy. The rules are a bit complicated, but they certainly are an eye-opener.

There are many other house rules that have been concocted over the years, allowing property improvements without monopolies, allowing property improvements beyond hotels, allowing players to loan money to each other and more. But at a certain point they begin to distort the familiar game to a point where it becomes unrecognizable. Better to stick by the rules in the box, they can be exciting enough.

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