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Monopoly Decoded
June 21, 2013 3:29 PM   Subscribe

How To Use Math To Crush Your Friends At Monopoly Like You've Never Done Before
posted by Renoroc (82 comments total) 32 users marked this as a favorite

 
This is great. I was just thinking I have too many friends. Like antibiotic-resistant bacteria, they have endured the other annoying aspects of my personality; me becoming a Monopoly pedant should take care of the remainder.
posted by thelonius at 3:34 PM on June 21, 2013 [22 favorites]


I think I'd rather lose than click 64 times.
posted by Drinky Die at 3:36 PM on June 21, 2013 [35 favorites]


This is some kind of satire, right? Basic probability applied to Monopoly and delivered via Powerpoint?
posted by eruonna at 3:37 PM on June 21, 2013 [11 favorites]


the only winning move is not to resist flipping the board over in frustrated rage
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 3:38 PM on June 21, 2013 [8 favorites]


Oh, one page!
posted by Drinky Die at 3:38 PM on June 21, 2013 [9 favorites]


When I was a kid I had two books about Monopoly that taught basically the same thing: the best monopolies to own are the Orange, Purple, and Red, and see if you can acquire the railroads and utilities to use as cash cows to fund your purchase of houses for whatever monopolies you acquire as quickly as possible.

I use to like to imagine back then that no one liked to play Monopoly with me because I was such a fearsome player (thanks to these amazing, geeky statistical secrets), but in hindsight it was because I was socially awkward and Monopoly is a long-ass, boring game.
posted by MoonOrb at 3:39 PM on June 21, 2013 [10 favorites]


Shortest Possible Game of Monopoly

Really, Really Shortest Game of Monopoly: 13 Seconds
posted by Celsius1414 at 3:40 PM on June 21, 2013 [5 favorites]


NO AUCTIONS, NO CREDIBILITY
posted by escabeche at 3:42 PM on June 21, 2013 [12 favorites]


Oh, and here's the explanation for the first of the videos.
posted by Celsius1414 at 3:43 PM on June 21, 2013


The only winning move is not to play.
posted by justkevin at 3:45 PM on June 21, 2013 [20 favorites]


The thing that's great about Monopoly is that, even though it is a poorly designed game on paper, in reality it's so sparse rule-wise and so dense entity-wise that you can extend it basically however you want. The last game I played, I went into it determined to not ever pay rent to anyone whose space I landed on. This led to us agreeing on some increasingly insane equity schemes that ended up benefitting me more than the other person,* and it was pretty glorious. I kind of want to play again, especially now with this information.

* Basically if you can get through a game of Monopoly without everyone having their own pencil and Steno pad then you're doing it wrong, is my view.
posted by invitapriore at 3:46 PM on June 21, 2013 [4 favorites]


I've also heard from friends of mine tales of dark covens of economists who have worked in insurance schemes and futures trading into their Monopoly games, but I think those are just campfire stories designed to scare the arithmetic averse.
posted by invitapriore at 3:50 PM on June 21, 2013 [14 favorites]


Jeesh. All I learned about winning Monopoly, I learned from the Playboy Winner's Guide to Board Games.

I... had an interesting childhood.
posted by mikurski at 3:53 PM on June 21, 2013 [4 favorites]


Really, Really Shortest Game of Monopoly: 13 Seconds

Don't miss the YouTube comments for a heated discussion of whether the rules as implemented in one of the PC adaptations or the rules as printed on the box take precedence!
posted by Copronymus at 3:59 PM on June 21, 2013 [5 favorites]


I do not think I have played one single game of either Monopoly or Risk by the "real" rules, in my whole life. In childhood, we at minimum all blew off mortgaging Monopoly properties. We didn't let other players buy a property if the player on move landed on it and didn't buy it (what do you do if more than one wants to do this? Auction it by bank?). And so on. There are, no doubt, Monopoly rules that I have never heard of.

In Risk, we let you teleport armies to any continuously held territory, which does have the virtue of shortening the game, but it does not demand much in the way of strategic thinking. I think we massively amplified the value of turning in cards, too,
posted by thelonius at 4:00 PM on June 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


Very nice. Now do Arkham Horror.
posted by GenjiandProust at 4:07 PM on June 21, 2013 [7 favorites]


We didn't let other players buy a property if the player on move landed on it and didn't buy it (what do you do if more than one wants to do this? Auction it by bank?)

Yes. Yes, that is exactly what you do.
posted by baf at 4:08 PM on June 21, 2013 [12 favorites]


As. As you've never done before.

Mathematician.
posted by Pallas Athena at 4:11 PM on June 21, 2013 [2 favorites]


Invitapriore: the Itadeki Street series of games are similar to Monopoly, but add stocks into the mix, which changes the dynamic of the game heavily.
posted by NoxAeternum at 4:13 PM on June 21, 2013


We all make fun of Monopoly, but it is a better game if you play by the rules. Most people I know 1) give $500 to anyone landing on Free Parking and 2) complain that the game lasts forever. These two items are correlated.
posted by dfan at 4:22 PM on June 21, 2013 [10 favorites]



I've also heard from friends of mine tales of dark covens of economists who have worked in insurance schemes


A simple version of this might not be that hard to pull off actually--maybe collect a premium every time so-and-so player passes Go in exchange for the rent on your properties being a sort of deductible payment instead of the full penalty. I don't know how fun Monopoly would be without the risk of instant financial ruin though.
posted by Hoopo at 4:23 PM on June 21, 2013


MetaFilter: a better game if you play by the rules
posted by GenjiandProust at 4:24 PM on June 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


Can you show me how you use math to get ringworm? Because I'd rather do that than endure goddamn Monopoly.

(It isn't better if you play by the rules, just shorter. It's still a shitty game.)
posted by Legomancer at 4:29 PM on June 21, 2013 [4 favorites]


Or wait, sorry. Not just your properties, everyone's, so if your insured gets dinged with rent by another player's property you gotta fork it over minus their deductible. And I guess you'd have to maintain cash reserves, obviously with the Banker regulating an appropriate level to maintain solvency in the event of a catastrophic Pacific & Boardwalk roll scenario.

maybe let's not do this actually.
posted by Hoopo at 4:29 PM on June 21, 2013 [2 favorites]


Nope. Dude said Excel - I want formulas. What is this faux Power Point crap? 64 slides? really?
posted by PuppyCat at 4:30 PM on June 21, 2013


Why would you not buy every property you can and develop them as soon as you can? What other decisions are there to be made in monopoly? Is monopoly in fact super-boring?
posted by newton at 4:31 PM on June 21, 2013


Why would you not buy every property you can and develop them as soon as you can?

We were kids, we liked holding on to our Monopoly money. Or we only wanted to buy the ones we liked. Who knows? Watch little kids play chess, they make moves just because they like how they look on the board.
posted by thelonius at 4:36 PM on June 21, 2013 [4 favorites]


newton, the other decisions you make in the game are related to trading, but because each property is only going to be traded once or rarely twice during the entire game (discounting bankruptcy transfer), it isn't enough of a decision set to make for a good trading game.
posted by aeschenkarnos at 4:38 PM on June 21, 2013


This Geek Found One Weird Trick to Win at Monopoly

Mr. Pennybags Hates Him ! !
posted by blue t-shirt at 4:40 PM on June 21, 2013 [32 favorites]


I was going to read this article and try and learn something before thinking to myself, the odds of me every playing Monopoly again are slim to none. My cohort has all moved on to euro board games.
posted by exogenous at 4:45 PM on June 21, 2013 [5 favorites]


I'm trying to imagine someone who has played Monopoly often enough that they care at all about this article but who hasn't noticed these trends just by playing the game. These are all common-sense trends of the game.

Me, I spent this afternoon playing Galaxy Trucker, and I consider myself to be richer than all the Monopoly money in the world.
posted by Scattercat at 4:49 PM on June 21, 2013 [3 favorites]


the only winning move is not to resist flipping the board over in frustrated rage
posted by 445supermag at 4:50 PM on June 21, 2013


Buy orange and red properties.
Build three houses at once.
Buy all of the railroads, early.
Buy bail.

You're welcome.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 4:55 PM on June 21, 2013 [6 favorites]


The distribution of dice rolls is pretty obvious, especially if you're familiar with the central limit theorem, but I hadn't realized how common jail stays are, for example. On the other hand the most reasonable choice of units for my Monopoly frequency is games per year, so I can't say I've put that much thought into the game.
posted by invitapriore at 4:55 PM on June 21, 2013


Can we have a similar strategy for Mousetrap?
posted by panboi at 5:01 PM on June 21, 2013


I wonder how one would go about creating an online Monopoly game (Parker Bros be damned, unless they want to do it) that is built to encourage making up house rules for each game, and saving those rulesets for others to play... like, just add the "rules" of finance circa 2007 and a bunch of existing and theoretical economic systems culled from both respected economists and crazy forum screeds to a game creator toolbox and let the community go nuts with new versions.
posted by jason_steakums at 5:04 PM on June 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


A) The reason most people hate Monopoly is precisely because they don't play by the rules. House rules (specifically, ignoring the Auction Rule and earning money for landing on free parking) only serve to extend the game and tilt it significantly toward the luck-based end of the spectrum.

B) The article's charts are wrong. One slide says it's technically possible though unlikely to end on Short Line RR in one turn, and another slide listing probabilities on ending on a space when starting from Go doesn't list Short Line because it's only taking into account the dice and doubles, not the movement afforded by Chance and Community Chest cards. Sloppy at best. IIRC it's possible to land on any space but Mediterranean when starting from Go.
posted by brentajones at 5:14 PM on June 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


Buy bail. -- obiwanwasabi

Depends on the state of the game. Early when there are few houses and lots of properties to be bought? Yes. Late when the Oranges and Reds are a murderer's row of houses (that aren't yours)? Nope. Stay there as long as possible.
posted by brentajones at 5:15 PM on June 21, 2013 [2 favorites]


Why would you not buy every property you can and develop them as soon as you can?

You need a monopoly to develop property. You will probably not get one just from the spaces you yourself land on. You will have to get them by auction (not very likely) or via a trade. The game is mostly all building up for the trades where monopolies get made, then rolling through the fallout, with some chances of politics and fortune reversal. It can be fun.

I don't like Monopoly, but I don't consider it to be a worse game than, say, Settlers. For as fiddly and annoying as Monopoly is, you're better off playing Power Grid or Acquire or 18xx games etc.

Of course many people played it like it was Chutes and Ladders and hate it for the wrong reasons entirely.
posted by fleacircus at 5:17 PM on June 21, 2013 [4 favorites]


The only reason I carry a firearm is to protect against Monopoly games. I haven't played since 1981.
posted by orme at 5:20 PM on June 21, 2013 [2 favorites]


The reason most people hate Monopoly is precisely because they don't play by the rules

Sure, but go try asking people to give up their Free Parking money. They won't even consider it, and you suggesting this may actually lower their opinion of you as a person. It's like the third rail of Parker Brothers board games.

One thing they maybe like about it is, it gives hope to the hopeless, and makes the game more "interesting", because it can revive a defeated player. But now they say the game takes too long!
posted by thelonius at 5:20 PM on June 21, 2013 [3 favorites]


Here's how I play Monopoly: I don't. I've never won a single game of Monopoly, regardless of whether I manage to roll well enough to be able to buy even one red property. Pretending to understand math isn't going to help me. So fuck it. I stick to Trivial Pursuit. The answer is The Four Seasons. The answer is always The Four Seasons.
posted by Redfield at 5:21 PM on June 21, 2013 [2 favorites]


Monopoly is much faster to play when plying it on a video game console (which does not allow for "house rules"*) or with the calculator and electronic bank cards (which does). My friends and I usually play the Mega edition (which has several features to make gameplay faster) while using the calculator and bank cards from the Electronic edition, and games have a reasonable playing time of 45 minutes to 1 hour.

*Growing up, my family determined that all the payouts "to the bank" for things like "Make repairs on your properties" Chance cards should go into a kitty in the middle of the board. That was the reward for landing on Free Parking. So, if you landed on Free Parking immediately after someone else, you got a big goose egg.
posted by dhens at 5:41 PM on June 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


justkevin: "The only winning move is not to play." Samizdata.

FTFY. I don't need math. I win without it. And if I don't? You meet the boys in the alley behind where we played.

(Why, yes, I DO play the Godfather soundtrack while I play Monopoly. Why did you ask?)
posted by Samizdata at 5:46 PM on June 21, 2013


Monopoly has a major element of chance in it, and the best part about games of chance is that people with Microsoft Excel can basically solve them.

That's the grasp of math terminology that I'd expect from a business magazine! That is to say, a bad grasp. To solve a game means to find the sequence of moves that results in always winning. Thus, you can't solve games with non-trivial chance factors.

I've decried Monopoly for its many faults (and, once in a while lauded it for some good points) so many times that I feel like a broken record. In summary:
- It's too long.
- There's too much chance.
- Too much of the game depends on a handful of decisions and rest of it is just an over-elaborate test if those decisions were good ones.
- Too many people play with bad house rules. Note, however, the game is still bad without them; by now everyone knows what the best properties are, so good luck getting them.
- It really is too damn long.

Good points:
- It's sometimes not obvious what the best choices are.

You could make Monopoly into an interesting game if you compiled a list of the chances of landing on each space into a table. Pass out all the properties randomly at the start of the game. Have a trading round where everyone has a chance to trade with everyone else. Then, everyone rolls once on the probability chart and pays rent for that space. Repeat until someone wins or everyone's bored. The latter might still happen with the same frequency, but at least the players will arrive at that moment after 15 minutes instead of three hours.
posted by JHarris at 5:47 PM on June 21, 2013 [5 favorites]


Very nice. Now do Arkham Horror.

DO NOT ATTEMPT TO REVERSE ENGINEER HYPERSPACIAL MATHEMATICS.
posted by Artw at 5:50 PM on June 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


Are there any modern European board games that are like Monopoly but not boring and stupid? Racetrack design, strong random element with cards, and then player choice in investing in parts of the board and building it up?
posted by Nelson at 5:52 PM on June 21, 2013


Very nice. Now do Arkham Horror.

Upon this very question I once assisted an esteemed professor.

The tale -- from rumors of strange happenings, through those I witnessed, into the momentary hope at what seemed to be a solution, followed by the terrible end -- is a long one, chilling both to relate and hear, so I will not repeat it in its entirety here. Nor will I give any account of the mathematics.

But I will say that the metalogic was clear: while an implicit path to a dominant strategy exists, the very definition of victory itself twists and transforms in the process of making it explicit, and even to comprehend it will transform the student into a kind of horror themselves.

Dabble if you must in these petty games, but do not attempt to master them. The compulsion to do so may mask itself as harmless recreation or intellectual curiousity, but the unfortunate conclusion will be as it was for my professor.
posted by weston at 6:07 PM on June 21, 2013 [14 favorites]


Sure, but go try asking people to give up their Free Parking money. They won't even consider it, and you suggesting this may actually lower their opinion of you as a person. It's like the third rail of Parker Brothers board games.

One thing they maybe like about it is, it gives hope to the hopeless, and makes the game more "interesting", because it can revive a defeated player. But now they say the game takes too long!


I think you just accidentally wrote the intro to a paper called "Do Not Pass Go: Monopoly House Rules as a Template for the Modern American Political Landscape".
posted by jason_steakums at 6:11 PM on June 21, 2013 [9 favorites]


I would have just said "Stick and move, don't forget to work the midsection. Foot strikes to the upper thigh- if you take away their legs, you take away their will to fight."
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 6:21 PM on June 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


When my 3 kids were younger, they'd beg to play my "special" version of Monopoly where the game lasted exactly 12 minutes, we were all allowed to steal money from each other (no punching, though), and passing GO meant having to dance.

It was the only way I could get through that godawful game.

Oh, and every now and then I'd yell, "Move!" and everyone had to get up and play as the person to their left.
posted by kinetic at 6:35 PM on June 21, 2013 [8 favorites]


Setting aside jokes, I once looked through the Arkham Horror event cards and made the discovery that the locations for gate openings are very far from evenly distributed. Three possible opening locations each have only two cards between them, while several other locations have lots of cards.

The best thing that can happen for the players is for a card to be drawn with a location that's been sealed, as opposed to merely closed. If you prioritized those spots that can turn up many times for sealing, and being content just to close the other places, you could keep the number of doom tokens down, and substantially increase your chances of winning the game.
posted by JHarris at 6:38 PM on June 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


I don't want to encourage anyone to play Monopoly ever, but this seems like an opportune time to link the Deslidifier. I'm pretty sure I saw it on here somewhere but can't remember where.
posted by valrus at 7:50 PM on June 21, 2013


Wouldn't it be uh-mazing, if all this money was real?!
posted by NailsTheCat at 7:53 PM on June 21, 2013 [2 favorites]


I admit I took some notes (starting at slide 59). The last time I played (TS Sandy, by candlelight) we were beaten by a 9 year old. The time before that, when he was six, we also lost but we were playing with only one die; that might have had something to do with it.
posted by TWinbrook8 at 8:36 PM on June 21, 2013


It's still talked about in my family even though it was decades ago...one Christmas day a new Monopoly set was opened up and 7 or maybe 8 cousins and siblings sat down to play. All participants were grades through early high school. With that many players, it was impossible to get a monopoly and build momentum. The game went on and on for HOURS, until my cousin Karen cornered all four railroads and the two utilities because hey, everyone thought those were worthless compared to Marvin's Gardens. Once she cornered those, the last hour was bankrupting everyone else. There were tears.
posted by Ber at 8:48 PM on June 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


My cohort has all moved on to euro board games

Bingo. And Settlers gives you the probabilities on the board.
posted by dry white toast at 8:53 PM on June 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


Monopolyball
posted by dry white toast at 8:53 PM on June 21, 2013


I am part of a boardgame loving family to whom math is easy. My brother and son love Monopoly. My son collects versions of Monopoly. Every year we gather to play Monopoly on some new version. I neglect to apply math skills on principle because it is work to me. I am an old hippie who just wants to have a good time. I always pay the $200 IRS penalty... I always lose (except for one time! it was a fluke!!) My brother usually wins because he is the most capitalistic member of our family. He also hates to lose (because he is a risk-taker, he loses big... IF he loses... which is rare.) ha!
posted by maggieb at 9:08 PM on June 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


Drew Carey and Penn Jillette talking Monopoly rules and strategy is pretty good. Sunday Service podcast
posted by stuartmm at 10:41 PM on June 21, 2013


Tim Vandenberg, 6th grade math teacher, uses the game as a teaching tool for his class. He was featured in the documentary Under the Boardwalk: The Monopoly Story. He's the author of the Methods, Maths, and Myths of Monopoly bonus DVD content.

In the 2009 World Monopoly Championships they introduced the Speed Die into the game. Here are the 2007 rules featuring the third die. Here's a recap of the final world championship game (SPOILER ALERT: don't watch if you haven't seen the documentary) featuring Russia, USA, Norway, and New Zealand.
posted by plokent at 11:41 PM on June 21, 2013


Monopoly is a great game for kids who have nothing else to do during vacations.
posted by Cranberry at 12:45 AM on June 22, 2013


I remember one of the most evil ideas I started in Monopoly games with friends was when I knew the end was coming, instead of going bankrupt and having to see all your properties broken off, I would open up negotiations to allow the second place rival in the game to acquire my company. Of course this involved me nearly giving away my remaining assets and property in exchange to stay for free at the newly merged company. The best part was seeing the first player fume at having now to deal with a much larger rival.
posted by FJT at 3:21 AM on June 22, 2013 [2 favorites]


Monopoly is a great game for kids who have nothing else to do during vacations.

...and who want to spend infinite hours arguing over who gets to be the hat.
posted by kinetic at 3:26 AM on June 22, 2013


"Hey, have you played Settlers of Catan?"

"Yeah, I used to play it when I was a kid. I hate that game."

"What? Can I ask why?"

"All the scripture reading slows it down soooooo much."

"Come again?"

"Well, I think it's technically not in the rules but my parents were very religious and they told us that we had to read a Bible chapter aloud before each move."

"... But that is nothing like the game rules."

"So you say, but I have never read them. And I hated that my sister always got Psalms 117. That is the shortest chapter, you know."

"You really should try playing it the regular way. Ryan and Maia and Tom are coming over to my place Friday for a game. Want to join us?"

"No, I'd rather stay home and watch my freezer defrost. That game sucks."

"But really it's not --"

"The game is awful! Shut up about it already!"
posted by ricochet biscuit at 6:27 AM on June 22, 2013 [3 favorites]


Monopoly is a great game for kids who have nothing else to do during vacations.

No, not especially. However, the game you think of when you believe you are thinking of Monopoly is, because it was invented when much of the country had nothing else to do during "vacation."
posted by ricochet biscuit at 6:35 AM on June 22, 2013


"Hey, have you played Settlers of Catan?"
"Yeah, I used to play it when I was a kid. I hate that game."
"What? Can I ask why?"
"All the scripture reading slows it down soooooo much."


Could it be that what your friend played was The Settlers of Canaan, a punny, but officially-licensed, variant of Settlers of Catan? I don't think it has a Bible verse reading rule, but it sounds like a more understandable addition to that than standard Catan.
posted by JHarris at 7:31 AM on June 22, 2013


You guys are missing the most interesting thing, by far, about Monopoly; namely, its origin as The Landlord's Game. Landlord's was designed as a way to teach people about the evils of raging capitalism. This is in striking contrast to the goal of Monopoly and makes for really interesting cultural history.
posted by LastOfHisKind at 7:40 AM on June 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


In Risk, we let you teleport armies to any continuously held territory, which does have the virtue of shortening the game, but it does not demand much in the way of strategic thinking.

I actually just played Risk last night and this is an official rule in the newer editions.
posted by asnider at 7:46 AM on June 22, 2013


There are so many better games for vacationing kids to play than Monopoly, or indeed most games Hasbro makes.

First there's "Hey, That's My Fish," which is both a whimsical game involving penguins and a fairly complex test of strategy. And it's not long, either!

When I was a kid I played a bit of a game called Survive, then made by Parker Bros., which involves escaping from a sinking island. A couple years ago I found out that it's not only well regarded in board gaming circles but has gotten a remake, called Survive: Escape From Atlantis.

Kids who are familiar with video games, and so are used to the idea of playing "against the game," might like Forbidden Island, which is a lot like Pandemic Lite. It's a cooperative game; the players all win or lose together, so it's less likely to start fights or hurt feelings. It's short and inexpensive ($20), but its challenge level is adjustable from leisurely to nearly impossible.

Mixed young and old kids would probably like a random-ish game like Fluxx, Guillotine or Munchkin. Larger groups might consider Are You A Werewolf.

Slightly older kids (preteen to early teens) would be well-served, I think, with a copy of Ticket To Ride, which is a solid introductory-level Eurogame. I'm sure there are other good board games for kids out there, and of course motivated kids can and will play up to and including Puerto Rico, Agricola or Arkham Horror, although they are longer. (Arkham Horror, I find, can last longer than Monopoly if the players are all new.)
posted by JHarris at 8:09 AM on June 22, 2013


I actually just played Risk last night and this is an official rule in the newer editions.

GROAN. It's like Hasbro sees properties that have a modicum of interest in it and says to themselves "We can't have that!" (Collaborating evidence: Equestria Girls.)

Instead of Risk, why not just use the board to play Dice Wars?
posted by JHarris at 8:12 AM on June 22, 2013


Between this and the metadata analysis of Boston's social groups circa 1773, I really need to bone up on my matrix math.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 10:11 AM on June 22, 2013


I don't want to crush my friends. I mean, I only have two.
posted by Decani at 11:34 AM on June 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


But you'll see them driven before you! It's fun.
posted by thelonius at 2:08 PM on June 22, 2013


Yeah, but you have to hear their women lamenting all the time, and it sounds like it'd be fun for a while but it gets old fast.
posted by JHarris at 2:17 PM on June 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


I've also heard from friends of mine tales of dark covens of economists who have worked in insurance schemes and futures trading into their Monopoly games

That just gave me a thought. Has anyone started or tried to do a "Get out of Jail" insurance scheme in Monopoly? Like, instead of paying $50, each player pays the insurer a set amount per turn or per "Pass Go". If a player ends up jail, the insurance company pays the $50?
posted by FJT at 4:22 PM on June 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


A. That would require a house rule, since Monopoly doesn't allow you to pay fees on another player's behalf, or trade money for game objects not recognized by the rules. (You could sell a Get Out Of Jail Free card, but you aren't guaranteed of getting one of those.)
B. The bail fee, $50, is small even in the early game, and there's a decent chance you won't even have to pay it, if you roll doubles on the next three turns.
C. Once most of the properties have been purchased, being in jail is a desirable state, so there's no reason to pay for insurance.
posted by JHarris at 4:40 PM on June 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


Late when the Oranges and Reds are a murderer's row of houses (that aren't yours)? Nope. Stay there as long as possible

You have to come out after three turns anyway, and have a 42% chance of springing yourself before that. Get it over with, enjoy a couple of extra chances at Chance or Community Chest or passing Go or buying more properties of your own.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 5:02 AM on June 23, 2013


You have to come out after three turns anyway, and have a 42% chance of springing yourself before that. Get it over with, enjoy a couple of extra chances at Chance or Community Chest or passing Go or buying more properties of your own.

If you're to the point in the game where it makes sense to stay in jail, it's likely there aren't any (or many) properties left to buy. Three turns in jail is three turns where you have 0 chance of having to pay anyone anything, and three turns where your opponents could land on your properties and pay you.

Not taking into account any properties you might own, when you roll to get out of jail you have an 8% chance of landing somewhere absolutely safe (Free Parking), a 20% chance of landing somewhere that's a gamble (Community Chest and Chance), and a 72% chance of landing on a property. Your chance of landing on one of the three orange properties is nearly 40%.

An extreme example: Your opponent has $50 to his name and is on St. James. You have $50 and you're in jail. He owns the maroons and oranges with four houses each. You own the reds and yellows with four houses each. It's your turn. Do you pay?

I'd rather stay in jail and have my opponent take a turn or two. Landing on one of my properties won't bankrupt him (though two might), but it would break down the housing complex I'd have to face when getting out of jail.
posted by brentajones at 7:25 AM on June 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


Listen you little stoat, I own PARK LANE. I can borrow as much bloody money as I like.
posted by gorgor_balabala at 11:39 AM on June 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


I call the hat.
posted by kinetic at 4:45 AM on June 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


Not taking into account any properties you might own, when you roll to get out of jail you have an 8% chance of landing somewhere absolutely safe (Free Parking), a 20% chance of landing somewhere that's a gamble (Community Chest and Chance), and a 72% chance of landing on a property. Your chance of landing on one of the three orange properties is nearly 40%.

It's worth noting here that this is probably Monopoly's best design characteristic: the several little things that "unbalance" the board and make landing on some properties more likely than others, and thus make room for player strategy. Things like doubles getting you out of Jail, the Chance and Community Chest cards and Go To Jail space sending you to specific but arbitrary locations, and from there the bell curve of probability of the dice producing sequences of landed-on spaces, representing first opportunity, later danger. Those things give import to your trading decisions, and help establish, unintuitively, the Orange and Red properties as being the most valuable to own, instead of Green and Dark Blue.

However, once the effect of these different unbalancers are known, the board still resolves down to a fairly static probability set for the locations. A "fixed" Monopoly would probably include cards and spaces that send you to different locations depending on property ownership or other game variables.
posted by JHarris at 11:43 AM on June 24, 2013


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