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Kuildeous

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In defense of Monopoly
« on: April 16, 2012, 12:46:58 pm »
+7

Well, defense is a strong word, as Monopoly is not really that great of a game. On the other hand, I don't think it's quite as bad as some people claim. It's a negotiating game that relies on a lot of luck.

First, I'll address what I feel are valid criticisms of the game.

Swingy: Hoo boy, is it ever! Player A could roll well enough to land only on the card spaces without paying any rent, while Player B unluckily owes rent for hotels on Park Place and Boardwalk. If you thought that missing your Familiar in Dominion was bad, imagine when you cannot buy any properties because the other players bought them first.

Kingmaker: There are very few restrictions to what constitutes a trade in Monopoly. As such, you can see some wildly skewed trades. If Player A is upset at Player B, then he may offer to sell Boardwalk for $1000 while only $500 to Player C. Of course, there are tactical reasons to skew the prices, but this complaint is about arbitrary sale prices. Even worse, if Player A is a ruthless slum lord and Player B is on the losing end and ready to enter Player A's gauntlet of hotels, Player B can choose to sell off his property to Player C for a ridiculously low amount before getting knocked out. Now, a mediocre Player C suddenly has the capital to take on Player A.

Strategy-lite: In Dominion, you can look at the kingdom layout and choose to focus on a Double-Jack strategy or a Gardens strategy. This is nigh impossible in Monopoly. You don't really start off thinking that you'll grab the green monopoly or all the railroads. That's not always true, since you could devote your resources to trading for the entire orange set, but if one person already has the set, will it be worth it to trade for it? It's almost like planning a strategy for electric football.

Boring for Losers: In general, I wrinkle my nose at games where someone can be knocked out and made to twiddle his thumbs while everyone else has fun. This even applies to my cooler games like Robo Rally. Although, sometimes it's a blessing to be knocked out. How many multi-player Dominion games do you just wish would end because you got shafted?

Then there are criticisms that I feel are not deserved.

Tactics-lite: While I agree that Monopoly is not a strategic game, there are plenty of tactical opportunities. You cannot determine where the dice will take you, but there are actually a lot of decisions to make. You may choose to get out of jail as early as possible so that you can buy up the remaining property, or you may stay in jail and collect rent from others while taking no risk yourself. You can choose to buy more houses before a player rolls the dice, banking on the possibility that he'll land on one of those properties. And let's not forget the trading. How much should you sell that property for? What will the other person gain in the process? If that property you want will complete a monopoly, then expect the seller to ask for a hefty sum. Is the amount you're willing to pay going to be covered by the subsequent rent you will be collecting? Even the timing of the trade is important. If you have a chance where you gain a monopoly on orange while your opponent gets a monopoly on red, you may want to wait until your piece has cleared the red spaces before making that deal or you may find yourself paying outrageous rent that prevents you from developing your orange monopoly. Despite some complaints, this game is not determined solely by the dice. There is a lot of luck involved, but the skill in the game is your ability to weather that luck.

Too long: Really, this is the most fallacious complaint I've heard. I've run some Monopoly tournaments, and the official tournament length is 90 minutes. A lot of games conclude in less time than that. Usually, games run long because of weird house rules or rules omissions. Some examples that I've seen:
  • Money is not taken out of the game: Some people place Income tax and Luxury tax money in the middle of the board, to be picked up by landing on Free Parking. These spaces serve a purpose of removing money from the game. Sure, you have Go to give you more money. Generally, that evens out a bit. Also, buying and upgrading property is a way to remove money. If you don't remove money, then you have fat cats with large bankrolls throwing money back and forth. There is no tension in the game.
  • Money is added to the game: Who invented the concept of putting $500 in the middle of the board for anyone to pick up when they land on Free Parking? That person has no business naming house rules. This makes the previous bullet even worse. Even if people do lose money, they can gain it back again with this rule. The fact that it's $500 (it's usually $500) makes an already-swingy game even swingier. I refuse to play Monopoly with this house rule in play (or most any house rule).
  • Not auctioning properties: Most likely, the average Monopoly player does not realize that every property is sold once it's landed upon. If the person landing on it doesn't want to buy it, it goes to auction. The sooner properties are put into circulation, the faster the production. This results in people losing money sooner. 

Ignorance of the Public: I'm sure everyone has had the moment when he explains to family or friends that he likes to play board games and the response is, "Oh, like Monopoly?" It can be daunting. After all, you engage in some pretty complex and deep games, and this person just reduced it down to something as basic as Monopoly. It invokes rage in many a board gamer. This isn't Monopoly's fault, though. If your favorite band has a front man who happens to look like Hanson, do you hate Hanson because people keep comparing your band to them? No, you hate Hanson because they suck. Likewise with Monopoly. I can understand someone disliking the game for being too swingy or a giant kingmaker scenario, but direct your ire at the people who don't know better rather than the game. Actually, such a conversation can be an opportunity to redirect that ire into a moment of explaining the array of awesome games that you play.

I'm sure some people will disagree. I'd love to hear those points. Like I said, it's not a great game that requires huge amounts of planning, but it does require some thought behind your decisions. I won't place it in my Top 10 List or anything, but it does seem to get more gripes than I feel it deserves.
« Last Edit: April 16, 2012, 03:01:01 pm by Kuildeous »
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theory

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Re: In defense of Monopoly
« Reply #1 on: April 16, 2012, 12:57:47 pm »
+7

I think that Monopoly, as "typically" played, is a very poor game.  As it ought to be played, Monopoly is a decent game but an unremarkable one.
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Ozle

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Re: In defense of Monopoly
« Reply #2 on: April 16, 2012, 01:05:36 pm »
0

the problem with Monopoly is that its often peoples first thought when you mention board games, and thus is held up as a standard of board games to the majority of people who don't know better.

I think your 4 rules you agree with are completely true, and are more than enough to justify it to be a terrible terrible game, and I also think the Too Long complating is valid as well.

Sure, world championships only have a limit of 90 minutes, but that will be some hard core players not hanging about and making descisions instantly.

Try playing with a family of 4, two possible children as thats who the game is aimed at and try and see you get a game in. (although the random House rules people think are true rules is a valid point)

my main gripe with it is that the game is effectively over for at least half the players after the first 15-20 mins bar some sort of miracle come back, and then they get bored and dont really care any more. This isn'ta sometimes it happens thing, it will be EVERY game. If you can show me a game of monopoly where all 4 players are still competitive after 45 minutes I will show you a player who is sneaking from the bank (or using one of the house rules you mentioned!)

I agree that its not completely tactics light, but its not exactly 'a lifetime to master' is it. Do I buy this street I have landed on, and how many houses do I buy are pretty much the tactical side. So its more money(resource) management than tactics thinking about it (which is obviously a sub-set of tactics).

So my basic points are why I dont like monopoly are pretty much all the points you have listed, except you seemto have dismissed them as bad points for some reason?

I would rather play Tic Tac Toe against that machine in Wargames than Monopoly!

But mainly, I really hate it because of Board game snobbery, because thats what people assume when I say Board Games. If it was Cluedo I wouldn't mind too much, thats an awesome game!
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WanderingWinder

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Re: In defense of Monopoly
« Reply #3 on: April 16, 2012, 01:16:17 pm »
0

The problem with monopoly is that it's really high variance in a decently long game. Takes at least 45 minutes to play once, and there's so so much based on luck of the dice. Compare with dominion, where your game is much shorter, and yeah there's a lot of shuffle luck, but not AS much.

Thisisnotasmile

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Re: In defense of Monopoly
« Reply #4 on: April 16, 2012, 01:18:27 pm »
0

Well since joining BGG and becoming too good for Monopoly I've learned that I'd always played by many house rules which I believed to be official, most of which concern money being added to/not being removed from the game. Yet this post has still managed to point out two further rules I've been taught incorrectly and TBH I didn't believe it at first. I went and checked the rules and you are right. I never knew you could collect rent while wallowing in jail, and I thought you could only build houses at the start of your own turn. I wonder what else there is I still don't know?

Maybe there's a playable game in there afterall. Not gonna try to get it out at my games club though. With a name like Beyond Monopoly! I don't think I'd find many willing opponents.
« Last Edit: April 16, 2012, 01:21:12 pm by Thisisnotasmile »
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jonts26

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Re: In defense of Monopoly
« Reply #5 on: April 16, 2012, 01:18:51 pm »
+1

A decent video discussing some of the problems with monopoly.

But mostly I agree with Theory. House rules like free parking and whatnot kill the game.
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Robz888

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Re: In defense of Monopoly
« Reply #6 on: April 16, 2012, 01:53:18 pm »
0

Good analysis. I maintain that Monopoly's worst fault is the "Kingmaking" problem. Maybe it's just me and my friends, but Monopoly leads to yelling and anger, like, "Don't trade with them! OMG don't give them that! You're throwing away the game!" And eventually, some people are ALWAYS mad enough to trade all their stuff away to the non-winning player, just for spite. Oh, and the game is remarkably imbalanced. The orange properties right before free parking are so much much better than the others it's not even funny.
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Kuildeous

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Re: In defense of Monopoly
« Reply #7 on: April 16, 2012, 01:57:45 pm »
0

Try playing with a family of 4, two possible children as thats who the game is aimed at and try and see you get a game in.

This is true for any game. Even Dominion can take longer if you throw in a couple of children. I tend to avoid any game with children (unless they're really mature and focused) and people who suffer from analysis paralysis. Those groups of people can lengthen any game that you play.

I can't argue with the claim that Monopoly takes at least 45 minutes. A by-the-rules game won't take much over an hour unless you have argumentative/stubborn players, indecisive players, or luck on the scale of redistribution of wealth. The first two factors can be influenced by who you choose to play with (and they will lengthen any game). The last factor certainly happens, but it's not that common.

I would say that a game could easily take more than 90 minutes if you try to play a real game with players who played for years with the wrong rules. Some people don't adjust that well to the change. I think the best players for Monopoly would ironically be the diehard board gamers who eschew Monopoly. But then, I can't fault them for choosing to play Power Grid and Puerto Rico over Monopoly. I make that choice all the time too.
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jonts26

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Re: In defense of Monopoly
« Reply #8 on: April 16, 2012, 02:13:06 pm »
+10

Good analysis. I maintain that Monopoly's Settlers of Catan worst fault is the "Kingmaking" problem. Maybe it's just me and my friends, but MonopolySettlers leads to yelling and anger, like, "Don't trade with them! OMG don't give them that! You're throwing away the game!" And eventually, some people are ALWAYS mad enough to trade all their stuff away to the non-winning player, just for spite.

FTFY
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Thisisnotasmile

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Re: In defense of Monopoly
« Reply #9 on: April 16, 2012, 02:19:23 pm »
0

Good analysis. I maintain that Monopoly's Settlers of Catan worst fault is the "Kingmaking" problem. Maybe it's just me and my friends, but MonopolySettlers leads to yelling and anger, like, "Don't trade with them! OMG don't give them that! You're throwing away the game!" And eventually, some people are ALWAYS mad enough to trade all their stuff away to the non-winning player, just for spite.

FTFY


Reminds me of the opening to this review:
http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/593386/monopoly-a-very-short-entirely-necessary-review
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Kuildeous

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Re: In defense of Monopoly
« Reply #10 on: April 16, 2012, 03:22:49 pm »
0

The orange properties right before free parking are so much much better than the others it's not even funny.

I wouldn't consider that a problem with the game. Most games thrive on difference in power (Goons is unbalanced compared to Wishing Well). It's more of a disparate knowledge about the game. Not everyone knows that orange is the prime real estate. So, you have some Monopoly-savvy player trying to trade for oranges from people who don't realize their full worth. In MtG terms, it's like a newbie trading away his Force of Nature for a Craw Wurm (I haven't played in over 15 years so forgive my outdated analogy). 

I thought about adding that to my list, but I guess that's really an inherent problem in nearly all games. I would say that groupthink is stronger than ever in Monopoly, though. The average player doesn't know that orange is so strong and tends to focus on Park Place and Boardwalk. This can cause some really unbalanced trades. If everyone knows the true value of the various colors, then trading becomes more intense.

After reading some responses, I did add Ignorance of the Public to the list. I can understand the rage, but that's not technically a reason to dislike the game.
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Rhombus

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Re: In defense of Monopoly
« Reply #11 on: April 26, 2012, 03:43:11 am »
0

I'll preface my response by saying that competitive Monopoly play is completely different than "friendly" Monopoly play.

"Friendly" Monopoly games have the inherent problems listed above - house rules, kingmaking, and slow play.  Almost any game can have slow play (and many games, some extend of kingmaking or incorrect rule interpretation).

Competitive Monopoly however is more like poker.  You play following a fairly standard basic strategy in a group of 3 other competitive Monopoly players that understand how the game works.  In a competitive game, you either get very very lucky, trade, or lose.  Over a set of games (just like shuffle luck in Dominion), this evens out.

Competitive play should be fast - most of the decisions are fairly simple.  A game should take 10-25 minutes, occasionally lasting a bit longer.  10/15 minute games are common online.

If you want an upgrade from the basic Monopoly - try Triopoly.  It's Monopoly, but with 3 levels of boards and multiple building options.  A while back I even wrote a supplemental Triopoly rulesheet including joint venture businesses and contracts that functioned correctly and were fully playable.  Triopoly is definitely a long game, especially with supplemental rules, but absolutely wonderful.
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Davio

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Re: In defense of Monopoly
« Reply #12 on: April 26, 2012, 04:09:44 am »
0

I once played a 10 hour session of Monopoly Stock Exchange all through the night.... and it still wasn't over...
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Ozle

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Re: In defense of Monopoly
« Reply #13 on: April 26, 2012, 07:30:37 am »
0

The very fact that so many people (and i would say most people have) have made up house rules does seem to imply that the original rules are not brilliant to start with does it not?

Also, quite a few of those house rules are actually listed in the rule book!

And holding up ultra competitive world championship play as an example of the only time games are done right doesn't really work for me, that's not how 99.9% of monopoly games are played.

Also Hasbro themselves have acknowledged that it's slow to play, which is why new versions are specifically stated as faster (or contain 'speed dice')

However, I have never played it online, I would imagine that does improve the experience immensely
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Ratsia

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Re: In defense of Monopoly
« Reply #14 on: April 26, 2012, 07:43:22 am »
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The very fact that so many people (and i would say most people have) have made up house rules does seem to imply that the original rules are not brilliant to start with does it not?
Which also explains why there's a separate sub-forum for house rules in this forum?-)

Coming up with house rules (and using them) tells more about the people who do so than it does about the game.
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Ozle

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Re: In defense of Monopoly
« Reply #15 on: April 26, 2012, 07:48:01 am »
0

The very fact that so many people (and i would say most people have) have made up house rules does seem to imply that the original rules are not brilliant to start with does it not?
Which also explains why there's a separate sub-forum for house rules in this forum?-)

Coming up with house rules (and using them) tells more about the people who do so than it does about the game.

I don't believe most people play with the house rules mentioned in dominion, would reckon that's a small minority.

And the original argument in defence of monopoly was that too many people use house rules and this was the problem....
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Kuildeous

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Re: In defense of Monopoly
« Reply #16 on: April 26, 2012, 09:19:21 am »
0

Also, quite a few of those house rules are actually listed in the rule book!

I'm a little confused by this. It can't be a house rule if it's in the rulebook. Which house rules are you referring to? Granted, I haven't opened a Monopoly board that's newer than 20 years, so I cannot dispute your claim. I can only say that prior to 1995ish, Monopoly has never made official the house rules about money in the middle and skipping auctions.


The Stock Exchange comment earlier gave me a rueful smile. I remember being excited about that expansion. But it mostly adds money to the game, which was the same problem as the Free Parking house rule. At least it had a component of loss, but I seem to recall that it generally added money. I'd have to take a look at it again.

Competitive play is of course faster than friendly play, but there are plenty of degrees in between. To use Dominion as an example, there are plenty of times with inexperienced players where a turn can take minutes to resolve, lengthening the game to close to an hour. These games are friendly. But the games with my closer gamer friends are also friendly, but they go quickly. There is usually an amused comment when one of us shuffles our deck and realizes it's our turn again before the shuffle is even done. These games can wrap up in under 10 minutes, but it's not any less friendly.


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Captain_Frisk

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Re: In defense of Monopoly
« Reply #17 on: April 26, 2012, 09:30:24 am »
0

I would like to know the orgin of the $500 on free parking "rule".  As a kid we played with it, and my wife confirms (growing up 1000 miles away), but I know it isn't in the rulebook - and I predate the internet!
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Davio

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Re: In defense of Monopoly
« Reply #18 on: April 26, 2012, 09:38:46 am »
0

A rule that was quite common to us and a lot of people we played with is that whenever you end up on tax income that money goes in the middle.
When you end up on free parking, you get whatever is in the middle.
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Kuildeous

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Re: In defense of Monopoly
« Reply #19 on: April 26, 2012, 10:35:00 am »
+1

I would like to know the orgin of the $500 on free parking "rule".  As a kid we played with it, and my wife confirms (growing up 1000 miles away), but I know it isn't in the rulebook - and I predate the internet!

As I was posting my reply earlier, I did have the thought of, "How did these house rules come about?" Usually, house rules happen because of a perceived lack in the actual rules.

The Free Parking (and its companion, No Harmful Taxes) rule probably came about due to the inherent meanness of knocking players out of the game. It's easy, whether through shrewd trading by the opponents or dumb luck, to lose your shirt and sit out early. When a game is marketed towards kids, this can be a real downer. So, maybe this came about in order to keep kids from getting knocked out too early. I actually think the rules-as-written are kinder; if you're losing that badly, then you want the game to end. Imagine a house rule in Dominion where you think you're doing a favor for the kids in a Curse game by doubling the number of Provinces and changing the end game to five piles. Ugh, imagine how tedious that game could get.

I'm guessing that the lack of auctioning properties is due to not analyzing rules. "Family" board games were not really heavy on rules. Take a look at Sorry! or Trouble. They have very basic rules. Monopoly is actually considerably more complex in comparison. Of course, Monopoly rules are a breeze compared to the games that we all play, but I remember that they were daunting when I was a kid. Hell, I didn't even fully grasp the mortgage rules back then.

As far as how these house rules spread, that is an interesting concept. Skipping a rule is easy enough to explain. The introduction of Free Parking? A rule so universally recognized that households across the country (globe?) used some version of it? That could be fascinating to map out.
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Ozle

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Re: In defense of Monopoly
« Reply #20 on: April 26, 2012, 11:04:02 am »
0

I would like to know the orgin of the $500 on free parking "rule".  As a kid we played with it, and my wife confirms (growing up 1000 miles away), but I know it isn't in the rulebook - and I predate the internet!


The Free Parking (and its companion, No Harmful Taxes) rule probably came about due to the inherent meanness of knocking players out of the game. It's easy, whether through shrewd trading by the opponents or dumb luck, to lose your shirt and sit out early. When a game is marketed towards kids, this can be a real downer. So, maybe this came about in order to keep kids from getting knocked out too early. I actually think the rules-as-written are kinder; if you're losing that badly, then you want the game to end. Imagine a house rule in Dominion where you think you're doing a favor for the kids in a Curse game by doubling the number of Provinces and changing the end game to five piles. Ugh, imagine how tedious that game could get.

.

Except that doesn't happen in dominion because the game is well balanced and not a total snooze fest for much of its length that people are often dragging about unable to win for 30+mins!

I believe These rules have gained popularity because of the way the game is played means that for long periods of time they are just going through the motions.


And there were definitely house rules in my manual when I played growing up, but it has long since been thrown away! There is a history of monopoly site, but at work at moment so will link it later
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Re: In defense of Monopoly
« Reply #21 on: April 26, 2012, 12:33:12 pm »
0

Honestly I don't see how Settlers of Catan and Monopoly are even different tiers of strategy:

1) Both usually have obvious pathways forward (buy properties... build roads/settlements/cities)
2) Both heavily involve trading, and include kingmaking problems
3) Both have clearly winning strategies (taking the purple-yellow instead of green through light blue, versus... counting dots and 85% of the time building towards wherever has the most dots, with slight emphasis on card type.
4) Both are incredibly swingy (you landed on boardwalk while he passed you, you say? Oh look, in this game 10 somehow got rolled more frequently than 8

Trading is Monopoly, IMO, is actually probably more strategic than trading in Catan. Why? Because theres really less of 1) clearly set values of cards and 2) clearly set goals to trade for

and this is coming from someone who must win 65% of catan games I play and lose 70% of monopoly games (not that I play much monopoly)
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Robz888

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Re: In defense of Monopoly
« Reply #22 on: April 26, 2012, 01:44:35 pm »
0

Honestly I don't see how Settlers of Catan and Monopoly are even different tiers of strategy:

1) Both usually have obvious pathways forward (buy properties... build roads/settlements/cities)
2) Both heavily involve trading, and include kingmaking problems
3) Both have clearly winning strategies (taking the purple-yellow instead of green through light blue, versus... counting dots and 85% of the time building towards wherever has the most dots, with slight emphasis on card type.
4) Both are incredibly swingy (you landed on boardwalk while he passed you, you say? Oh look, in this game 10 somehow got rolled more frequently than 8

Trading is Monopoly, IMO, is actually probably more strategic than trading in Catan. Why? Because theres really less of 1) clearly set values of cards and 2) clearly set goals to trade for

and this is coming from someone who must win 65% of catan games I play and lose 70% of monopoly games (not that I play much monopoly)

I maintain that Settlers is more strategic. It takes a series of rolls not going your way to lose Settlers. It takes, like, one bad roll to lose Monopoly.

There's also sort of a couple different paths to victory. Longest Road/Largest Army, building mostly Cities, settlement expansion, etc. I mean, most Settlers games I play tend to be sort of close in the end. Monopoly games are usually not.

The swingiest thing about Catan, ironically, is the development card named Monopoly.
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Kuildeous

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Re: In defense of Monopoly
« Reply #23 on: April 26, 2012, 02:26:38 pm »
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There's also sort of a couple different paths to victory. Longest Road/Largest Army, building mostly Cities, settlement expansion, etc. I mean, most Settlers games I play tend to be sort of close in the end. Monopoly games are usually not.

Well, the two games do have wildly different victory conditions. In Settlers, it's a race to 10 Victory Points. You never go backwards (in the original, anyway), so having a score of 10-9-9-8 is quite reasonable to expect. In Monopoly, it's king of the mountain. Unless you're playing with a time limit (like in tournaments), you're going have a score of X-0-0-0. And since money usually flows between players, X is going to be really, really huge. Even if you have a time limit, the game is designed such that you're going to see a pretty big gap between players.

But there is pretty much one way to win in Monopoly. You may have the luxury of choosing which properties to focus on, but the win condition is pretty much to knock everyone out.
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Re: In defense of Monopoly
« Reply #24 on: April 26, 2012, 10:08:38 pm »
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There are multiple paths to win in Monopoly - one of the major decisions is railroads vs streets, and these goals are accomplished [typically] only through trading.

Just like almost any game, it's a set of games that determines who has higher skill.  Would Dominion tournaments work as single-elimination matches?  No, because of the inherent luck.  You could be lucky the majority of the games, but the more games played, the more skill will shine through.  Monopoly is no different.

I'm in no means saying that Monopoly is on the same level of strategic play as Dominion, but Monopoly is a strategic game that the better, more informed player will win a higher percentage of the time.
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