Monopoly (when it is not known as “that game I will never play with *him* or * her* again”) is known as “The Real Estate Trading Game”. The importance of negotiation is much of what separates Monopoly from other games. Unfortunately, luck is also important in Monopoly, which may appeal to some less knowledgable players, but can be frustrating to those more experienced.
Taking luck out of the game forces players to rely on their negotiation skills, strategy and understanding of the various property values. While the nostalgia of playing the regular rules is appealing, especially when laced with family-based “house” rules, what makes Monopoly unique–negotiation and people skills–can be lost to mere chance.
There are many strategies for taking luck out of Monopoly. They can be added piecemeal to a regular game, or used in toto, to create a truly intense personal dynamics experience.
Rather than rolling dice to determine playing order, auction the order. Starting with who goes first should work best, then auction the other positions in order. You should probably rearrange seating according to the results.
Moving Around the Board
This is the most important aspect of taking luck out of the game. Rather than throwing dice, allow each player to decided, with limitations, his or her moves. One way to limit such moves is to distribute playing cards to the players to record their moves. The number of spaces moved would correspond to the card value: Ace = 1 through King = 13. A card played cannot be played again, until all cards are played, at which point, the sequence starts again.
Cards distributed might be limited, e.g., to only one suit, or taking out Aces and Kings, to more closely simulate rolling dice. Note this also eliminates “doubles”, an important element of chance in the regular game.
Depending on the number of decks you have, you can approximate dice rolling even closer: one 2, two 3s, three 4s . . . one Queen. If you have only one deck per player, the closest approximation of dice rolling is one 2, two 3s, three 4s, four each of 5s, 6s, 7s, 8s, and 9s, three 10s, two Jacks and one Queen. If you have plenty of decks, you can use five 6s, six 7s, and five 8s.
The ability to choose one’s moves makes playing order particularly important; indeed, each move might be auctioned as the game proceeds, or playing order might be re-auctioned at various intervals, determined, e.g., by time passage, when the last player passes Go in a particular round, or after an established number of turns.
Chance and Community Chest, Luxury and Income Tax
Apart from memorizing what cards have been played, Chance and Community Chest are entirely random, i.e., based in luck. While it is possible to take the cards from the board, the spaces remain. They can be treated the same as Free Parking, or for a faster game, they can be skipped, as if they aren’t even on the board.
The Taxes are non-negotiable, i.e., they are irrelevant to Monopoly’s primary activity: negotiation; therefore, they can be treated the same as Chance and Community Chest. Similar consideration might be given to the other non-property board locations, Just Visiting/Jail, Free Parking, Go To Jail, and Go.
Implementing one or more of these rules may shorten the game, perhaps more than some players might like.
To enhance negotiations, some players allow for “free passes” and “immunity”. Under such agreements, players agree to discount or refrain from collecting rent on a property or monopoly for a set number (including fractions) of landings (free passes) or permanently (immunity) for a certain player. Such agreements are usually associated with trade negotiations.
Another strategy for shortening the game is rounding rents to a certain amount, e.g. $20. Anything less than $10 is not collected.
Adopting one or more of these strategies should reduce some of the frustrations of playing a regular game, while maintaining or even enhancing the aspects of Monopoly that make it popular.
If you reference this post elsewhere, I will appreciate an acknowledgement. John R. Harding, Jr.