Do You Know the Rules of Monopoly?

A family favourite

Do You Know the Rules of Monopoly?
Dog, introduced in 1937, is a popular favourite

Millions, possibly billions, of people will say they know how to play Monopoly. I won't dispute that, but I wonder how many know the actual rules.

Families refuse to play because someone cheats or refuses to read the rules. People get together and dare not get out the Monopoly for fear of starting a feud.

But is it really that bad? Is Monopoly something we love to hate or is it a true traditional favourite? I'm in the 'traditional favourite' camp. Surely, I can't be the only one!

History of Monopoly

Monopoly has changed over the years from its earliest origins as 'The Landlord's Game' to its multitude of modern versions.

The Landlord's Game was designed by Lizzie Magie. It had been purported that Charles Darrow, an unemployed man, had come up with the idea of Monopoly in the 1930s but Magie's game pre-dates this by three decades. Magie first patented her game in 1904. This patent expired in 1921 but Lizzie was awarded a patent on a new version in 1924.

Magie was an eclectic character, working as a stenographer, entertaining with stand-up comedy routines, and an anti-monopolist among other things. She created The Landlord's Game to illustrate economic privilege.

According toi, Magie created two versions of rules for her game—one 'monopolist' version and one 'anti-monopolist' version. It was the monopolist version that caught on and is played today.

Charles Darrow may not have invented the game but he was certainly responsible for marketing it. Lizzie Magie held the patent until 1935 when she sold it to Parker Brothers. This was the same year that Charles Darrow offered his idea to the same publisher. Parker Brothers purchased Magie's patent because they did not want her to sue them for selling Darrow's much similar game.

The Battleship

One of the first tokens to be included in Monopoly

Image courtesy of ABPMedia

In earlier versions of Monopoly, there were no playing pieces. Players were, instead, advised to use common household items such as buttons. Eventually, chess-style wooden pieces were used. There is a 1936 version that included rubber playing pieces but it is not clear as to whether these were original pieces or home-made.

In 1937, wooden pieces were replaced with metal. These metal pieces were: car; lantern; iron; purse/bag; rocking horse; shoe; thimble; top hat. The dog and battleship were introduced later the same year.

During World War II, Parker Brothers reverted to wooden pieces due to metal shortages. As we see in modern versions, there was a return to the use of metal, although plastic is sometimes used.

In the 1950s, the purse, rocking horse, and lantern were replaced with a dog, a horse and rider, and a wheelbarrow. This stayed the same until the game's acquisition by Hasbro in 1991.

Parker Brothers had only two versions of Monopoly—standard and deluxe. Since Hasbro took over, new tokens have been added and there are now well over 1000 different versions. These include editions based on television shows, computer games, different countries and cities, and even a 'make your own'.

My personal collection, along with the 'standard' board game, includes Doctor Who, Zelda, and Star Wars editions. There are many more. Some keep to the same idea as the original—the differences being the property names e.g. Hyrule and Potions Shop in Zelda Monopoly, and the use of characters for the tokens e.g. a dalek, a TARDIS, and K-9 in Doctor Who Monopoly. Other games differ slightly in how to play them.

Screenshot from CD-Rom Star Wars Monopoly

Image from Wikipedia

Monopoly can now be played in different ways. As well as the traditional board game style, there are electronic, digital, and online versions.

Common Rules

When I was younger, playing the game with family, we had the rule that you had to travel once around the board before you could buy any property. This is, apparently, quite a common 'extra' rule that people think is a rule. In fact, there is a rule that says a player MUST purchase property when landing on it otherwise the property goes to auction. I'm sure the game could be far shorter this way.

Another 'extra' that seems rather common is to have a collectible wad of cash on Free Parking. The idea is that Super Tax, Get Out of Jail money, etc. is paid into the Free Parking pot. Anyone landing on Free Parking gets anything in there as a bonus. The actual rule here is that monies are paid to the bank. The Free Parking space is just a space where nothing happens.

Actual Rules

You can find the rules, along with a review and some further information about the game here.

'Fast' die - this recent addition has been included to offer a more speedy game

Another thing about Monopoly is the time it takes. Get out the box on Christmas Eve and you could still be playing on New Year's Day.

Thanks to the new 'fast' die, you can now choose a shorter game. Of course, there's still the option of setting a time limit. Instead of playing until one person bankrupts everyone else, simply see who has the most cash and owns the most assets after an agreed amount of time.

Some modern versions of Monopoly have begun to include a clause within their rule book. That clause is: it's OK to add/exclude/alter the rules provided that all players are in agreement before play commences.

That's far less entertaining, though, than waiting to see who flips first over a rule-related argument.

table top
Sapphire Ravenclaw
Sapphire Ravenclaw
Read next: Pitch Ya Game Round 2
Sapphire Ravenclaw

I am, among other things, a freelance writer and mother. I enjoy writing poetry and articles. Currently, much of my spare time is spent working on a book about Paganism (one of many subjects which interests me).

More of me:


My Poetry

See all posts by Sapphire Ravenclaw