Friday, July 18, 2008

BC Advanced Strategies: Monopoly

This week’s BC Advanced Strategies section is on a classic that almost everyone knows, gamer or not: Monopoly. Click here if you don’t know/don’t remember the general rules of Monopoly.

Luck is a big determining factor in Monopoly but there are ways to increase your chances of success while bankrupting other players. Most of the tactics described here will require you be proactive and be able to really convince opponents that a trade will be profitable for them. Knowing basic probabilities will also help you decide when to buy and build on property. Here are just some tips to help you out next time you play this famous board game:

1. Seven is the most commonly rolled number. 16.67% of the time a seven will be rolled. The next closest numbers are 6 and 8, which each have a 13.89% chance of being rolled. If you have a Monopoly (all of the same color property) and you see an opponent 6, 7, or 8 spaces away, build up more houses on your property, you’ll probably see a big payoff on your adversary’s turn. Side note: It’s also a 16.67% chance that you will roll doubles of some sort.

2. Get a Monopoly, mortgage, and build. The minute you get a Monopoly, you need to build houses. Don’t have the money? Mortgage those other properties you don’t need. Maybe you have one Green property, one utility, and a bunch of other small payoff cards. Mortgage most of those off to get money and build up to at least three houses on each of your color’s property. The biggest jump in payoff is when you build three houses, so that is always your first goal. Be smart about what you mortgage though. If you have three or four railroads, you may want to keep those as you’ll get $100 or $200 respectively if someone lands on those spots. However, keep tip #1 in mind if someone is close to your Monopoly and you need the money to build up to enough houses.

3. Keep reserve money. Don’t leave yourself vulnerable. Some players get too ambitious when building houses, mortgaging all their un-Monopolized cards and spending all their money to get Hotels on three spots while leaving themselves with only $50 in cash. Remember that when trading down in houses you only get back half what you spent on those houses. If you build up to hotels and no one lands on them, you may have to strip down your hotels just to pay someone’s rent on Boardwalk. Keep $300-$350 in reserve just to be safe.

4. Jail sucks in beginning but rules in the end. At the beginning of the game, you want to gobble up as many properties as possible trying to gain Monopolies and trade bait. If you fall into jail early in the game, pay the $50 to escape and get back on the board. At the end of the game, many people will have houses and hotels on big properties and being stuck in jail will be a godsend. Under regular Monopoly rules, you can also trade and build while in jail, you just can’t move unless you get doubles, pay $50, or have been in jail for three turns. Also, if you get doubles while in jail, you’re supposed to move what you rolled, not re-roll without moving. If you play different though, more power to ya, house rules rock.

5. The most commonly landed on properties are the Orange ones. With two possible game cards (Chance and Community Chest) getting you into jail, a Go to Jail spot on the board, and possibly rolling three doubles and going to jail, you’ll likely end up in a jail at least a couple of times in any given game. When you roll out of jail, the most likely spot you’ll end up in is the Orange property. Hence, you really want to get your hands on these properties if you get a chance to do so and build four houses or hotels on them. Reds are very strong too, because if they miss the Oranges upon getting out of jail, they’ll probably land on the Reds in the first or second turn out of jail.

6. There are only 32 houses available. This is essential if you need to stop someone from building houses on big-time properties like the Oranges, Reds or Yellows. (I personally find that the Greens and Dark Blue take too long to get useful). If all 32 houses are built, no more houses can be built, simple as that. This is a great strategy to utilize if you have the “lesser” Monopolies of the Light Purples, Light Blues, and Dark Purples. If you have any combination of those two sets, you should build four houses on each of your respective colors and stop right there. With the Light Purples and Light Blues, you will have used 24 houses, leaving the bigger colors only 8 houses to deal with, effectively leaving them useless since they cannot build up to hotels.

7. Be nice. If you are mean when trying to make trades, people just won’t listen to you. A nicer person will probably get a better deal than a belligerent player. Being aggressive is one thing, but be nice to your opponents. Also, when making trades in general, try at let your opponent suggest ideas. When you let the opponent suggest things, often times you get deals that are better than what you might have offered. Instigate trades though, since that makes you look like your pushing the game along.

8. Intervene on bad trades and make counter-offers. This is where you need to think quickly and talk fast. Sometimes you’ll hear two other players trying to make a deal in which they both get Monopolies while you get nothing. Quickly intervene and show why that trade may be bad and stretch the truth if you need to. If possible, try sweetening the deal so that you get a Monopoly as well. If you see that someone is getting a bad deal, defend that player, explain why it’s bad, and they’ll be more likely to trade with you.

UPDATE: (courtesy of Mangus)
9. Use the Slumlord strategy. "You didn't talk about my favorite strat, Richard. Slumlord. The first 2 sets of properties can be DEBILITATING in the start. I always trade away good stuff to obtain the quick monopoly, and then you can just sap away the funds before anyone can retaliate. It works a LOT of the time. Think of it as a rush in a RTS."

Well, That’s all I have in terms of advanced strategy for Monopoly. If you have any situations you want to talk about, post it in a comment and maybe I can help you out. In addition, if you have other tips or disagree with my tips, tell me why! I always want to improve how I play as well.

I'll leave you one crazy fact I saw on the Wikipedia article I hyperlinked before.

"In 1978, retailer Neiman Marcus manufactured and sold an all-Chocolate edition of Monopoly through its "Christmas Wish Book" for that year. The entire set was edible, including the money, dice, hotels, properties, tokens and playing board. The set retailed for US$600."

That's just insane.


Anonymous said...

I remember reading a book about monopoly back in elementary school where I learned about the awesomeness of the Oranges.

One day back then I played Monopoly for like 12 hours in a row... good times.

Btw you should be careful when mentioning Monopoly; Oren could pop out at any moment.

Cinzia said...

I saw atypo, but i continued to read, and then i couldn't find it agian, maybe you fixed this. feel free to delete this.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for showing us a nice example of Muphry's Law:

Cinzia said...

good catch will, good catch

mangus said...

You didn't talk about my favorite strat, Richard. Slumlord. The first 2 sets of properties can be DEBILITATING in the start. I always trade away good stuff to obtain the quick monopoly, and then you can just sap away the funds before anyone can retaliate. It works a LOT of the time. Think of it as a rush in a RTS.

Richard R. said...

I never thought about the Slumlord strategy. That's a fantastic idea though, if people are silly enough to give you a Monopoly without getting one themselves.

Excellent analogy by the way to a rush in an RTS.

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