Monopoly is considered one of the most popular board games of all time, having been translated into 37 languages and licensed in more than 100 countries around the world.
Originally published in 1935, Monopoly can be played by two or more players, with each aiming to become the richest player in the game by making others go bankrupt through buying many properties where the players have to pay rent each time they land on the ones you own. All properties are placed in almost every space on the board, and players can build houses and hotels in the properties to double or triple the amount that other players have to pay for rent.
Before it became known as Monopoly, it was first called The Landlord’s Game by Lizzie Magie, the inventor of the board game.
Magie conceptualized The Landlord’s Game in 1903 as a way to simplify teaching Henry George’s single tax theory, which is an economic ideology stating that all members of society should benefit from the value of any land. The Landlord’s Game was supposed to represent the negative implications of having a private monopoly own all land or properties.
The inventor of the game established two sets of rules, with the first set requiring players to own as many properties as they want and force other players to go bankrupt, while the other set rewards all players when wealth is equally distributed. The first set of rules became the much more popular set out of the two.
Ironically, the Monopoly we now know today symbolizes the complete opposite of the ideology that Magie believes in, as the game rewards players for owning almost all properties and having a monopoly, a term used for a single entity or company that is dominating a specific market, which is in the game’s case, the entire board.
The Landlord’s Game evolved into having different rules and variants from its creation up to the 1930s. Other boards based on her rules and concept also came to be between that period, prompting Magie to patent the game for the second time in 1926 after first applying for it in 1904.
Magie’s creation only became known as Monopoly when Charles Darrow sold the copyright of his version of the game to the Parker Brothers in 1934. Interestingly, it was first believed that Darrow was the inventor of Monopoly, but thanks to the research done by economics professor Ralph Anspach, who also created the Anti-Monopoly board game in 1973, it was revealed that Darrow copied The Landlord’s Game’s concept after playing the game with his wife’s friend named Charles Todd in 1932.
However, because of the improvements that Darrow added to the game, he was still given a patent for his ideas in December 1935, but the design was assigned to Parker Brothers with the help of F.O. Alexander, who drew the iconic mascot for Monopoly.
Years after Parker Brothers acquired the rights for Monopoly, it became even more popular, with the board game being played in other countries besides the United States during World War II.
Hasbro then held the rights for Monopoly when they bought Parker Brothers in 1991. It was after Hasbro acquired Monopoly that many variants and special editions were released. The game reached its peak popularity because of the company, thus becoming a global icon in the board game industry.
As previously mentioned, the goal of each player is to become the richest in the game and make other players go bankrupt if they spend all of their cash on hand and if they don’t own any more properties.
Before the start of the game, the players should choose one banker to distribute or collect money for other players. The banker should then give participating players, including him or her, $1500 each. In the US version, the banker will give each player two $500 bills, two $100s, 2 $50s, six $20s, five $10s, five $5s, and five $1s. Players may be able to ask the banker to exchange the larger bills for smaller bills that have the same value.
After receiving the in-game money, players will then choose their game piece to move in the board game. Iconic game pieces in Monopoly include the cat, the racing car, the battleship, and the top hat. The game pieces, along with the names of the properties, are sometimes changed in special editions.
The players will then have to roll one dice to know the one who will move first on the board. The player who rolled the highest number in the dice goes first. All players should start at the GO space and move clockwise on the board.
Players should roll two dice to know how many spaces they have to move on the board. The number that shows on the top portion of the dice indicates the number of moves. If the player gets a double, which means that the two dice show the same number at the top side, then he or she will have another chance of moving.
If you have landed on a property space, you can buy it for the price indicated below its name. Once you buy the property, you will be given a card that stated the renting prices that other players would have to pay each time they land on that property. The price for renting will increase whenever you buy a house for that property, and you can place up to four houses in that space. However, you will only be able to place a hotel if you have achieved a monopoly.
There are properties that have the same colors shown at the top of their spaces, and if you were able to purchase them all, then you will get a monopoly. The monopoly allows players to double the renting price for each of their properties. If you want a hotel, you would have to surrender the four green houses in the property and buy the red hotel piece first become you can place it on the space.
If you have decided not to buy the property, then the banker will start the auction so that you and the other players can bid to own the space. The auction bid will start at $1. This auction rule is often not used at home since it can slow the game down and can become tedious.
There are also spaces in the board game that are not properties, and these are GO, Community Chest, Chance, and Go to Jail, In Jail/Just Visiting, Income Tax, and Free Parking.
Each time a player lands or passes through the GO space, he or she will collect a $200 salary from the bank, but if a player landed on Income Tax, then he or she must pay $200 or 10% of the total amount of his or her cash on hand.
If a player moves to the Community Chest or Chance spaces, then he or she will get one card and will need to accomplish the task written on the card. These tasks include getting money, paying for some event, or “get out of jail free.”
You will be able to keep the “get out of jail free” card, and you can use it if ever you land on the Go to Jail space. If you have been sent to jail, you will not be able to collect $200 on the GO space, and you will also not be able to move in that space unless you use the “get out of jail free” card, but if you don’t have that card, there are still other methods of getting out of jail. You can pay a $50 bail or roll a double on the dice to get out. If you have rolled a double, not only will you be able to get out of prison, but you can also move your game piece according to the number indicated on the dice.
But take note that if you have rolled doubles three times in a row, then you will automatically be sent to jail.
If you wish to buy properties that other players own, then you can ask them to trade your property to one of theirs. But most opponents refuse the offer if they see that you are trying to build a monopoly.
There is a chance that you wouldn’t have any more money on your hand, and the GO space is still far away. During this instance, you can exchange one or more properties to the bank for cash. This mechanic is called mortgage, and once you have mortgaged your properties, you would have to pay the amount of mortgage along with a 10% interest. Once you have mortgaged a property, then you are not allowed to collect rent for it any more if players landed on it.
You have the option to sell your mortgaged property to other players, but they usually wouldn’t want to buy from you unless they need that property to create a monopoly.
If there are no more properties or money in your possession, then you must officially declare bankruptcy. The winner of the game will be the last one standing after all the other players become bankrupt.
Popular Variants and Special Editions
Besides the standard edition of the game, there are many variants of Monopoly that are available online, in toy stores, or hobby shops. Here are some popular special editions for Monopoly.
An improvement over the standard edition, Monopoly Voice Banking comes with an electronic device that can act as a banker during your gameplay.
The electronic banker, which is shaped like a top hat, has a voice recognition feature that you can activate by pressing a special button on the device. Once activated, it will be able to understand commands related to the game. For example, you can say to the device that you will pay rent for another player, and it will automatically register the task you did.
There is no need for money to be held by the players anymore since the device will already keep track of how much cash you and the other players currently have after spending and earning money.
Along with the banking device, the board game now has a forced trade space that allows players who have landed on it to trade properties with opponents even if they don’t want to.
This edition of Monopoly incorporates several elements found in the popular Disney movie Frozen 2 on the board and the game pieces.
The game pieces bear a resemblance to the main characters in the series like Elsa, Anna, Kristoff, Sven, and Olaf, while the houses and hotels look like the structures found in the Kingdom of Arendelle. The board replaces the names of properties in the standard edition with iconic moments and scenes in the film.
Similar to the Frozen 2 edition, this variant of Monopoly features characters, scenes, and locations found in The Avengers, a well-known movie that has characters from the Marvel Comics brand.
Famous Marvel heroes like Captain America, Thor, Hulk, and Iron Man are the game pieces in this edition, while other heroes not included in the game pieces serve as the properties in the game.
The objective of the board game is to assemble a team of heroes to defeat Thanos and his minions, hence the reason why the properties are the heroes in this edition. In addition, there are spaces that belong to the powerful servants of Thanos and other menacing enemies that you must fight if you have landed on their area. You can defeat them by paying the amount indicated at the bottom of their spaces.
This collector’s edition showcases characters and locations seen in the classic Super Mario Bros. game that was first released for the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) in 1985.
For this edition, the game pieces are the 8-bit representations of Mario, Luigi, Toad, Princess Peach, Super Mushroom, and 1-Up Mushroom, while the houses and hotels are the flags and castles seen at the end of each level in the popular game.
The board features iconic items and enemies seen in the game like Question Blocks, Green Pipes, Goombas, Bullet Bills, and Bowser.
Despite its complex nature of tackling taxes, mortgages, and monopolies, the board game is still relatively simple to play.
Its accessibility for players of all ages is the reason why it became a very popular game, and to further increase its immense popularity, Monopoly spawned dozens of special editions and variants featuring franchises like Harry Potter, Toy Story, and Game of Thrones, to entice people who have other hobbies or interests to play the board game.