Thursday, January 1, 2009

Last Game of the Year: Monopoly

Gathered the family unit for the "Official Last Game of the Year." We were going to nominate and dice for the result until Mom announced she'd play if the game was Monopoly, so the prospect of mom playing brought out the old classic by acclamation.

We played using the tin-box deluxe anniversary set.

Given the wide disparity of ages and experiences the official game poobah (me) made a couple of house rulings. The first was that we'd only play until the second bankruptcy (to avoid the dreaded drawn-out end game death throes) . I chose the second bankruptcy just to make sure some fluke bankruptcy by one of the young players didn't end the game prematurely. The second house rule was to spot the younger players some extra cash in order of age, youngest with the most $500. Mom insisted on her cut of the 'youth' bonus, so she got $5.

There were seven of us, ranging from youngest daughter 5, first-grade daughter, fourth-grader son, pre-teen daughter's friend, pre-teen herself, mom and poobah.

With seven players it was hard for anyone to quickly build up a property group and Boardwalk-owning pre-teen's covetousness of first-grader's Park Place provided quite a bit of drama as she tried to cajole sis out of her blue property, Unfortunately her reputation preceded her and little sis may not have understood exactly why she should sell to big sis, she knew big sis well enough to know if she wanted it so badly it couldn't be a good thing. Generally nobody was all that willing to trade much, being content to cruise around the board collecting small rents. Grand Poobah had been lucky enough to land on two RRs and bought a third from son during a slight cash-flow problem. Pre-teen also eventually ran into a cash shortage and offered it to Poobah as well.

In game with no property groups, having the four Railroads makes you the top dog. And with six other players on the board there was a steady stream of income coming in.

The game was starting to drag a bit, though, so Poobah decided to try to break things open. Flush with cash he was able to offer very attractive terms to the two separate owners of Mediterranean and Baltic (like five times the purchase price). It doesn't cost much to build up those properties and now there Hotels on the board. This juiced things up as everybody but the littlest realized that they needed to get a property group developed. Only son and pre-teen daughter were successful , but in both cases it cost them so much to purchase the land they could barely afford more than a house or two. (First Grade little sis was finally persuaded to give big sis her blue for $1,000 when mom assured her that it actually was a good deal for her).

As it turned out, Poobah's head start was too much to overcome as the Railroads kept pumping in cash and a couple of visits to his hotels drained competitors of cash they needed for construction. Finally pre-teen sis readjusted her goals and decided her new goal was NOT to be bankrupted out of the game and make sure she had more money than her friend at the end, so she offered to sell her barely developed blues to Poobah for $1,500 in walking around money rather than risk landing on a hotel and being bankrupted out of them anyway. Poobah obliged and immediately built up those properties to the max.

Pre-teen's new strategy soon succeeded as her mom and her friend both bankrupted out in short order, bringing the game to a merciful close.

Poobah's railroad wealth was evident as he ended up with more than $11K at the end of the game. The only other surviving player with a profit was First Grade sis, who had more than $2.

Everyone had a good time. Making a couple of house rules can fix some of the game's potential downsides for family play. When the playersget a little older no doubt more competitive urges will kick in.

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