Advantages Addictive game play, suitable for all ages
Disadvantages When you lose, you really lose!
For as long as I can remember, my absolute favourite of all board games has been Monopoly. As children, my sister and I would spend hours playing the game, and even now as an adult, I thoroughly enjoy a game with my mates (albeit accompanied by a bottle of beer or two). As a game, Monopoly is essentially timeless – it is a tribute to the longevity of the game that this is still the best selling board game in the world today, 67 years after the game was originally designed. Currently, Monopoly is sold in over 80 countries, in 26 different languages, and you can buy a vast selection of special editions, tailored to your own personal interests or geographical location. If ever you were stuck for a perfect Christmas present, then you may just find the inspiration you’re looking for, further on in this opinion.History of the Game
In 1934, during the height of The Depression, a man named Charles B Darrow of Pennsylvania presented the design of a game he had constructed to the executive board of Parker Brothers. Despite Mr Darrow’s inventiveness the game was rejected, on the grounds that it had 52 different design errors. Firmly believing that he was onto a winner, Darrow carried on nonetheless, and with the help of a friend, he went on to sell 5,000 handmade sets of the game. Needless to say, when he couldn’t keep up with the demand, he represented his case to Parker Brothers – and the game has gone from strength to strength ever since. An estimated 500 million people world-wide have played Monopoly at some time during their life.The Board
The Monopoly board has remained largely unchanged since the first game was designed back in 1934. The four sides of a square board are laid out with 40 different squares. 22 of the squares contain coloured “properties” with monetary values, and the other 18 squares house a selection of wild cards, miscellaneous commodities, fines and lucky squares. The properties are colour coded, and grouped in sets of two or three, and increase in value as you proceed around the board. In the standard version, the properties are named after actual streets and places (the standard UK version locations are all in London). The centre of the board is empty, and remains largely unused, except as a storage point for the wild cards (and for somewhere to roll the dice of course).Who Can Play?
There are eight different character tokens in total, although I have never played the game with more than five people. The box states that the game is suitable for ages 8 to adult – the game probably wouldn’t appeal to younger children, as there is a (limited) requirement for basic numeracy and financial acumen. That aside, this game is very sociable, very addictive and will appeal to a variety of different types of people.The Aim of the Game
Put quite simply, the aim of the game is to acquire properties and build houses and hotels on them (represented with little plastic tokens) so that you can charge your rivals increasing rental payments, and acquire a vast fortune. Players will gradually drop out of the game as they become bankrupt, and the winner of the game is the last person left playing – essentially the richest player on the board. The game is a perfect blend of skill and luck – where you land on the board seriously influences your ability to thrive or fail, but you are also required to make some shrewd financial decisions that may dictate your fate. The money is administered by one of the players, who acts as the “banker” and controls the cash flow.Ease of Understanding
The game is relatively easy to pick up from new – though this process is speeded up greatly by playing alongside other people who already know how to play. There is a very thorough set of rules included with each game, that outlines the exact protocol for the game, and you will often find that variants of the game spring up, where people decide to adopt or reject particular rules in favour of their own preferences. Suggestions are also provided by the game makers for rules for a short game, as once a game of Monopoly gets going, it can last for quite some time – particularly if more players take part. Monopoly is not a complicated game, but to ensure fair play you do need to concentrate quite hard.Strategy
Like any game, every player will have his/her own particular method of game play. You may decide to concentrate on the higher value properties, so that you can command higher rents – but these take longer to develop, as the houses and hotels are more expensive. There is often a tendency to rush round the board buying everything in sight, but this can lead to early bankruptcy, so you have to watch those pennies right from the start. I’ve always found that the lower value properties are very useful, because you can build hotels quickly and cheaply, and start charging rent sooner.It’s probably a good idea to play this game with as many people as possible. With small number of players, one player will often dominate the game very quickly and wipe the floor with you. Like real life, in this game it is inevitable that the rich get richer and the poor just get poorer!
Value For Money
The Web Site
The best versions are available from the United States. New designs are always being released, but you can get some vivid, imaginative sets themed on famous television shows or movies, including The Wizard of Oz, Scooby Doo, The Simpsons and Star Trek. Alas, these versions are quite hard to get hold of in this country – certain editions such as Star Wars now fetch serious sums of cash (£100), but science fiction shops (such as Forbidden Planet) will often stock one or two different ones. The official merchandise web site can be found at www.usaopoly.com – definitely worth a browse.My Verdict
A classic game – every household should have a copy. The collector editions are a great way of combining the game with personal interests, and would make a great Christmas present.Highly recommended!
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