Resolved: It is impossible to lose at Monopoly and not be pissed.

A few days ago I was over at a friend’s place, drinking beer, watching some March Madness, and playing a game of Monopoly. I was having amazing luck. I worked a deal to get all three of the green properties and started building a bunch of houses. I landed on Chance and Community Chest almost every time I got near properties that someone else owned. I eventually let someone give me both utilities for the rent they owed me, and soon had Park Place and Boardwalk as well. At the end, I could tell that they were both kind of pissed, because it was obviously just a bunch of lucky rolls. They were over it pretty quickly, since we decided to drink more beer and watch more basketball.

I’ve been on the other end as well, where I watched someone just tear around the board, landing exactly where they needed and having all the luck in the world while I sit there with Baltic Avenue and a handful of small bills.

It seems to me that Monopoly is a very frustrating game to lose, since any skill is usually trumped by dumb luck. Tell me it’s not just me. Tell me losing this game pisses you off, too.

I think you’re onto something here: losing at Monopoly is very annoying because I find myself thinking “I can’t believe I just spent two hours playing Monopoly and I lost.”

Eh, Monopoly is like Candyland or Shoots and Ladders. Over the course of the entire game players are never really confronted with choices and so there is no room to improve ones play.

When I’ve lost at Monopoly I’m always pissed I wasted so much time on a pointless game of chance and wonder who wants to join me in a pick up card game of War.

It’s because an exciting (mind you, this is a relative term) game of Monopoly is one in which the players acquire fairly even amounts of property and wealth, thereby creating some drama regarding who will come out on top. But, games like these take about 27 hours to finish, so you end up quitting before anybody wins. The only Monopoly games that actually end are routs, and nobody likes losing in a rout.

In gaming psychology, the most frustrating games to lose are games that apparently reward skill but in fact are more influenced by luck. Think of it this way:

  1. You play the lottery and lose. Are you frustrated? No, because you know that your chances of winning are completely random.

  2. You play a game of tennis against Roger Federer and lose. Are you frustrated? No, because you know Federer’s tennis skills are vastly superior to yours, and that tennis is a(n almost) completely skill-based game.

  3. You play Monopoly, using the best strategy possible, and lose. Now you are frustrated because Monopoly is in theory a strategy-based game, yet forces outside of your control have overpowered the advantage your superior strategy should have granted you.

I think Monopoly, like most commercial board games, is often frustrating because they appear to be games of strategy but are in truth not. Of course we know that there is an element of luck to any game with a randomizing feature, but not all such games are created equal. Perhaps we fool ourselves into thinking Monopoly is more like backgammon than parcheesi, since various strategies have been shown to be more or less successful. But in truth all those strategies do is tilt the odds a little in our favor; they do not provide us with an automatic or even significantly more likely win. True, as well, is the fact that we cannot implement winning strategies in Monopoly at will–we are dependent on fortunate dice rolls to even start our preferred play. The result, of course, is frustration.

It seems to me a lot of what one could say about Monopoly is also true of poker. Listen to any “bad beat” story and the same story of “luck over strategy” often prevails. I think success at poker requires more strategy than success at Monopoly, but there’s still an element of luck.

Stop playing Monopoly with money on Free Parking!!! You’ll cut 25.5 agonizing hours out!

Which lends credence to the idea of Monopoly as an anti-capitalist screed. If every game merely had one winner and three or four losers, it wouldn’t say much… But with every game ending with three or four losers who are really pissed off about it, it drives home the point (to most players) that capitalism sucks.

At our house, we allow person-to-person trades at any time. Also, we offer the ability to waive future hypothetical rent payments, e.g. “immunity”, or “no rent on my properties until you pass Go three times”, or incurring debts to other players (as long as it’s done for in-game reasons, not “I’m tired of playing, I loan all my money to my wife, whoops now I’m bankrupt bye!”).

This does add an element of skill, though it’s really about working people over. I know the relative values of everything on the board, and which properties are landed on most, that sort of thing - and I share that with people at the table. I win most of the time, too, mostly out of luck and people making poor plays or trades. Hell, one game I had crap, like Oriental Avenue, St. Charles Place and B&O Railroad, when almost all the properties on the board were gone and every other player had a monopoly. I still won.

Note, though, that I don’t disagree with the OP. Everyone’s always pissed off by the end of the game.*

*That last game where I had crap was started by everyone having a cabal to get me out of the game at all costs, due to winning all of the family’s games in recent memory. They were still pissed about losing! Eventually my brother-in-law traded me one low-value property out of pity, and I managed to (with some lucky rolls) swing that into a massive victory over 6 other players. Guess how people felt after that game?

Putting fines on Free Parking goes all right for the most part - there just are not enough high cost fines in the game to matter in endgame. However, I played with someone once who insisted you had to put $500 on Free Parking if there ever WASN’T money on it. That was an agonizing game.

I don’t think I’ve ever played a game to the point of having a winner. We usually get bored long before then and just stop.

This. Every game of Monopoly I’ve played in the last 20 years has ended one of two ways. The game goes on way too long and everyone just agrees to stop, or one player builds such an insurmountable advantage in properties/money that everyone else finds something more interesting to do. I suppose that counts as a win.

That’s certainly how you can extend this game of chance to a knock-down drag-out 10 hour ordeal.

But how is what you described different than Craps? Other than being less fun that is.

I find the more players there are, the less luck plays a role. Also, putting money on Free Parking is awful for the gameplay. Absolutely awful. It increases the role of luck and makes the games last for fucking ever.

You want pissed?

Try losing at *Diplomacy *… . :slight_smile:

This. I haven’t played in years, but it was never really worthwhile to play with fewer than 6 players as far as I’m concerned. I remember years ago going to my grandmother’s house and having a bunch of relatives around, and we always had a lively (and sometimes heated) game that would last 4-5 hours with 8 players.

My brother and I did that a few years ago, after we had been ruthlessly (and traditionally) eliminated from a game of Life by our sisters. Also following tradition, I palmed all the aces. Boy, was he pissed.

I’d say 4 is the minimum for a reasonable game, five is better, six is ideal. (Two players is pretty much pointless, and three isn’t that much better.) I don’t think I’ve ever played with as many as eight. Seems a bit unwieldy at that point, but should make for interesting wheeling and dealing.

You’re playing it wrong, then. The whole skill in the game is, the properties are more-or-less randomly distributed among the players, then the players have to use their negotiation skills in order to improve their lot while minimizing the improvement to the opponents. Sometimes, when you play with too few players, you get somebody who acquires a natural Monopoly through chance, which does throw the strategy of the game off balance–this is why I think four is the minimum for an interesting game, although five will pretty much guarantee you that nobody gets a natural Monopoly by chance.

After this, the skill is creating monopolies by negotiating with other players, managing your cash flow, knowing when to improve your properties, knowing odds on the dice rolls, knowing what the most landed on areas of the board are, etc. An experienced Monopoly player should consistently beat a group of relatively casual players. People who don’t play the game a lot are terrible at judging the relative worth of the properties. As a simple example, a Boardwalk and Park Place monopoly is difficult to improve and maintain in the beginning to middle parts of the game, yet many treat it as if it’s gold. I will pretty much always trade that away early in the game (if I have the opportunity) for the orange, red, or even pink monopolies and, with inexperienced players, it’s pretty easy to talk them into a deal involving a monopoly swap AND them giving you cash, thus fueling your ability to immediately improve a monopoly, and minimizing their ability to do the same.

Now, that is a simplistic example, but that’s one example of the thought process and skill involved in Monopoly.

Or play Texas rules. Anyone who gets sent to jail is executed and out of the game. That speeds things up.

This is probably true but my experience has been that 99% of the people willing to play freaking Monopoly aren’t exactly well versed in the intricacies of economic negotiations.

My usual play goes something like this…

Jihi’s Friend: Woohoo I just landed on Boardwalk bitches! How much does that cost?

Jihi: You know without Park Place that’s not doing a whole lot for you friend… Do you want to maybe auction that or negotiate it? You could make a tidy profit…

JF: Hell no! I just won! You’re just afraid!

J: Okay, here’s 20 fake dollars. Go get me another beer you moron. :smiley: