How to Play Monopoly

By James Holloway
Many groups, a house rule, a player, who
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Over its decades in print, the property-trading board game Monopoly has been through many editions and familiarized more than a billion players with the streets of Atlantic City, New Jersey. In Monopoly, players compete to earn more money than their opponents by buying and developing properties. The hunt for riches has its perils, though; only one player will escape bankruptcy.

Setting Up the Game

Before playing, each player will choose a playing piece and place it on the "Go" square. Select one player to act as the Banker; she will be in charge of making change, collecting payments and handing out income. Shuffle the Chance and Community Chest cards and place them on the marked spaces on the board. Deal out $1,500 to each player. Finally, have each player roll the dice to determine who will go first; the highest-scoring player will begin the game.

Taking a Turn

Starting with the winner of the roll, each player rolls two dice and moves his piece that number of spaces along the board. If the piece lands on a property no one owns, the player may elect to buy it from the bank; the Banker collects the money and gives the player the deed to the property. If the player doesn't wish to buy it, the Banker then auctions the property to the other players. Should the piece end up on a property that another player already owns, the player must pay rent to the owner. If the player lands on another type of space, he must follow its instructions; these can range from drawing a Chance or Community Chest card to doing nothing at all.

Developing Properties

Each property is marked with a colored stripe across the top of its space and deed; once a player has accumulated all properties of the same color, the rent on each increases. Owning all properties in a set also allows the player to buy houses and hotels to place on properties. The more of these buildings are on a property, the higher the rent will be.

Winning the Game

A game of Monopoly ends when all but one of the players are bankrupt. Players can borrow money from other players or from the bank, but as soon as they have accumulated more debt than they have the ability to pay back, they become bankrupt and are out of the game. Because waiting for all players to become bankrupt can be very time-consuming, many groups instead end the game when it becomes clear that one player is far in the lead or when one player reaches a particular amount of money.

Monopoly Variations

Variant versions of Monopoly are numerous. Many simply change the names of the streets and locations; editions printed in the UK, for instance, use London locations. Recent editions of the game also include a Speed Die that adds special movement effects to speed up play.

About the Author

Dr James Holloway has been writing about games, geek culture and whisky since 1995. A former editor of "Archaeological Review from Cambridge," he has also written for Fortean Times, Fantasy Flight Games and The Unspeakable Oath. A graduate of Cambridge University, Holloway runs the blog Gonzo History Gaming.