Designer: Charles Darrow
Publisher: Parker Brothers
Date Released: 1933
Number of Players: 2-8
Age Range: 8 and up
Setup Time: 10-15 minutes
Play Time: Up to 180 minutes (if you’re lucky)
Players take on the role of land owners, buying and then developing land. Each player earns income from other players visiting their properties.
On their turn, a player rolls two six-sided dice and moves that number of spaces around the board. If the player lands on an unowned property, they have the opportunity to buy the property and add it to their portfolio or allow the bank to auction the property to the highest bidder. If a player owns all the spaces within a color group, they may then build houses and hotels on these properties, generating even more income from opponents who land there. If a player lands on a property owned by another player, they must pay that player rent according to the value of the land and any buildings on it.
If a player can’t pay rent for a property, they can mortgage a property they own to broker money. If a player can’t pay rent or mortgage a property to pay rent, they’re eliminated. The last player standing wins.
Let’s face it. If Monopoly was released today, it wouldn’t do well.
Roll/Spin and Move mechanics don’t fare well in today’s tabletop game market. Player Elimination is too austere, potentially wiping out hours of game time, when most games engage all players for the duration of the gaming session. It also takes a long time to play. Sure. Professional Monopoly players – yes, there are professional Monopoly players – can end a game in next to no time, but most of us will use three hours or so to finish a game.
But even so, Monopoly holds a special place in cultural history. It harkened the modern board game, and it’s unusual in that most people don’t learn how to play the game by reading the official rules as much as learning from other players. This leads to the cultivation of house rules. The best of these house rules reduce the playing time, and you earn money from landing on “Free Parking.”
Most people don’t even play the traditional version of the game because there are countless Monopoly tie-ins. You’re bound to find an entire shelf of licensed Monopoly or Monopolyeque games at a store. And some of these versions – like Star Wars Monopoly – have become popular in their own right.
Verdict: While deserving of its evergreen status, Monopoly wouldn’t be as popular today if it was first released in the modern tabletop game market.