The pain of watching people misplay monopoly – and an embarrassing display of geekdom

Monopoly tactics

Monopoly tactics

Picture it… you’re sitting on a train, three twentysomethings are playing travel monopoly next to you, you glance over and one is within easy reach of smashing the others out of existence. Yet he’s completely unaware of what he should do – the game drags on…

It’s pure pain

That may sound like no big deal to you, but it gnawed away at me like a woodpecker on an oak. Regulars will know I love my board games, and before my current scrabble obsession, (see 158 point single go scrabble joy, I hate Stoozers (17) and Scrabble – an easy way to win) it was monopoly.

In fact I was once close to agreeing with my publisher to write a book on ‘Money lessons from Monopoly’ though time meant I ended up not getting there (and I would need a snappier title).

So I found myself itching to interfere and explain what he should do (I’ve similar issues when I hear people talking about their money products and making obvious errors) and while I know I shouldn’t, embarrassingly I did. Mrs MSE rolled her eyes at me, she’d seen me itching to do it but they’d opened a conversation by asking about plug sockets and then mentioned they knew who I was.

So in a blush of enthusiasm the door was whammed open to monopoly tips-ville…

I hope you don’t mind, you own all the yellows and no one else has the ability to get any house or hotels. If you mortgaged all your other properties and used the cash to buy houses on the yellows, and barring any freak dice roll anomalies you should win the game quickly.

Just ensure you keep a small emergency fund if you pay rent. This is a much more efficient use of your cash than simply relying on rents for all the non-developed properties.”

Luckily they were good humoured about it, and intrigued to know a little more so we got onto more tips such as which were the best properties to buy and my nerdiness came in (after all, we are a nation educated into playing monopoly but never an education about playing monopoly)…

“For me, the orange properties probably just tip the scales as best-buy. That’s because the return on capital employed is high (i.e. the amount of cash you can get back compared to outlay for both the initial property and developing it) and there’s a very good chance of landing on them.”

“That’s because the jail square is the most visited on the board, and 7 is the most likely outcome of throwing two dice – and the orange properties are 6, 8, and 9 away from the jail board.”

With slightly gawping faces at my ridiculous geekiness they then played on. Very quickly the yellow owner, who’d started following the ‘mortgage all but yellow’ system started to rocket into the lead, so the other two teamed together, which extended the game somewhat, but it was already too late – a “you’ve unleashed a monopoly monster” was flung back at me.

Thankfully I didn’t kill their enjoyment completely – they then went on to start to play again…

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