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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.
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 =============
Alas, like anything else these days, as time goes on, I’ve always thought that the price of the game has increased, whilst the quality of the board and pieces has gone down. A standard Monopoly set will normally set you back around £17.99, which buys you the basic board, paper money, plastic tokens, metal playing tokens and plastic backed deed and wild cards. When you’ve played the game a few times, you will quickly start to see the paper money get rather creased, but the other pieces last relatively well, with normal wear and tear. A deluxe version is also available, on a wooden board with solid silver pieces, but this is much more expensive (though probably worth it for avid players). Nonetheless, I still think the game offers decent value for money.
The Web Site ==========
Monopoly is a serious business to many people – there are world championships held every year. It will therefore come as nothing of a surprise to learn that there is an official web site (www.monopoly.com) with a wealth of news, historical information, related merchandise and strategy tips. The layout of the web site is firmly in keeping with the style of the board, and is extremely eye-catching to browse through. The tips and tricks section is well worth a look through – some of the stuff contained is quite obvious, but you can also pick up some sneaky tricks.
Gift Ideas =======
One of the most interesting developments in the game has been the advent of Collector or Regional editions. Within the UK, the game is licensed to Waddingtons, who now sell a considerable range of different games, including town or city editions (e.g. Manchester, Bristol), football teams (e.g. Manchester United) or characters (e.g. Disney, Pokemon). In each instance, the basic layout of the board remains the same, but the actual properties change according to the design.
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.
I luuuuuuuuuuuuRVE the title!!! I am undefeatable at this game!!! 'fight to the death' !!!
jackiechan 25.01.2004 02:14
This to is my favourite game I have played it since I was 5. I know all the costs and how much hotels cost an all that, (bit sad really). O well, great review thanx.
Eggwin 07.10.2003 16:25
wow...could you put more info in it? I'm very impressed, the op was really good and I love the way you've incorporated all the subjects even the background. Also glad that someone else loves monopoly as much as me! x