Further information: History of the board game Monopoly
The history of Monopoly can be traced back to 1904, when an American woman named Elizabeth (Lizzie) J. Magie Phillips created a game through which she hoped to be able to explain the single tax theory of Henry George (it was intended to illustrate the negative aspects of concentrating land in private monopolies). Her game, The Landlord's Game, was commercially published in 1924.
10 years later, in 1934, Charles Darrow presented his own version of The Landlord's Game, now called Monopoly, to Parker Brothers executives as well as to Milton Bradley. However, both game manufacturers rejected the game. Attempting to produce the game on his own, Darrow hired a friend who was a printer in order to get 500 sets to the Wanamakers Department Store in Philadelphia for the 1934 holiday season. They then made another 500 sets. Once all 1000 games had sold out, Parker Brothers reapproached Charles Darrow and struck a deal, and began selling the game under the Parker Brothers label in 1935.
In 1941, the British Secret Service had John Waddington Ltd., the licensed manufacturer of the game outside the U.S., create a special edition for World War II prisoners of war held by the Nazis. Hidden inside these games were maps, compasses, real money, and other objects useful for escaping. They were distributed to prisoners by secret service-created fake charity groups.
By the 1970s, the game's early history had been lost, and the idea that it had been created solely by Charles Darrow had become popular folklore. This was stated in the 1974 book The Monopoly Book: Strategy and Tactics of the World's Most Popular Game, by Maxine Brady, and in the instructions of the game itself.
Because of the lengthy court process and appeals, the legal status of Parker Brothers' trademarks on the game was not settled until the late 1970s. Ralph Anspach won a lawsuit over his game Anti-Monopoly on appeals in 1979, as the 9th District Court determined that the trademark Monopoly was generic, and therefore unenforceable.
The Monopoly game board consists of forty spaces containing twenty-eight properties (twenty-two colored streets, four railway stations and two utilities), three Chance spaces, three Community Chest spaces, a Luxury Tax space, an Income Tax space, and the four corner squares: GO, (In) Jail/Just Visiting, Free Parking, and Go to Jail.
There have been some changes to the board since the original: the colors of Mediterranean and Baltic Avenues (which changed from purple to brown), the adaptation of a flat $200 Income Tax (formerly the player's choice of 10% of their total holdings or $200), and increased $100 Luxury Tax amount (upped from $75). Similar color and amount changes are used in the U.S. Edition of the "Here and Now: World Edition" game, and are also used in the most recent versions of the McDonald's Monopoly promotion.
In the U.S. versions shown below, the properties are named after locations in (or near) Atlantic City, New Jersey. Atlantic City's Illinois Avenue was renamed Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. in the 1980s. St. Charles Place no longer exists, as the Showboat Casino Hotel was developed where it once ran.
Each player is represented by a small metal token that is moved around the edge of the board according to the roll of two dice. The twelve playing pieces currently used are pictured at left (from left to right):
- a wheelbarrow (1937b edition)
- a battleship
- a sack of money (1999–2007 editions)
- a man on horseback
- a car (racecar)
- a train (Deluxe Edition only)
- a thimble
- a howitzer, better known as a cannon
- an old style shoe
- a Scottie dog
- an iron
- a top hat
A koala is also added in the Australian version of the game.
Many of the tokens were created by companies such as Dowst Miniature Toy Company, which made metal charms and tokens designed to be used on charm bracelets. The battleship and cannon were also used briefly in the Parker Brothers war game Conflict (released in 1940), but after the game failed on the market, the premade pieces were recycled into Monopoly usage. Hasbro recently adopted the battleship and cannon for Diplomacy.
Early localized editions of the standard edition (including some Canadian editions, which used the U.S. board layout) did not include pewter tokens but instead had generic wooden pawns identical to those in Sorry!. Parker Brothers also acquired Sorry! in the 1930s.
Other items included in the standard edition are:
During World War II, the dice in the United Kingdom were replaced with a spinner because of a lack of materials.
- A pair of six-sided dice. (NOTE: Since 2007, a third "Speed Die" has been added for variation—see ADD-ONS below.)
- A Title Deed for each property. A Title Deed is given to a player to signify ownership, and specifies purchase price, mortgage value, the cost of building houses and hotels on that property, and the various rent prices depending on how developed the property is. Properties include:
- 22 streets, divided into 8 color groups of two or three streets. A player must own all of a color group (commonly mistaken for being called a monopoly) in order to build houses or hotels. If a player wants to mortgage one property of a color-group, not only must any houses or hotels be removed from that property, but from the others in the color-group as well.
- 4 railways. Players collect $25 rent if they own one station, $50 if they own two, $100 if they own three and $200 if they own all four. These are usually replaced by railway stations in non-U.S. editions of Monopoly.
- 2 utilities. Rent is four times dice value if player owns one utility, but 10 times dice value if player owns both. Hotels and houses cannot be built on utilities or stations.
- A supply of paper money. The supply of money is theoretically unlimited; if the bank runs out of money the players must make do with other markers, or calculate on paper. Additional paper money can be bought at certain locations, notably game and hobby stores, or downloaded from various websites and printed and cut by hand (one such site has created a $1,000 bill for the game; it is not one of the standard denominations). In the original U.S. standard editions, the supply generally starts with $15,140. The winner of the quadrennial Monopoly World Championship receives the same amount in United States dollars. [NOTE: This base money amount has changed—see below.]
- 32 wooden or plastic houses and 12 wooden or plastic hotels (the original and the current Deluxe Edition have wooden houses and hotels; the current "base set" uses plastic buildings). Unlike money, houses and hotels have a finite supply. If no more are available, no substitute is allowed.
- A deck of 16 Chance cards and a deck of 16 Community Chest cards. Players draw these cards when they land on the corresponding squares of the track, and follow the instructions printed on them.
Hasbro also sells a Deluxe Edition, which is mostly identical to the classic edition but has wooden houses and hotels and gold-toned tokens, including one token in addition to the standard eleven, a railroad locomotive. Other additions to the Deluxe Edition include a card carousel, which holds the title deed cards, and money printed with two colors of ink.
In 1978, retailer Neiman Marcus manufactured and sold an all-chocolate edition of Monopoly through its "Christmas Wish Book" for that year. The entire set was edible, including the money, dice, hotels, properties, tokens and playing board. The set retailed for $600.
A Victorian gold sovereign, a modern £1 coin, and a vintage Monopoly money note, for comparison Monopoly money is a type of play money used in the board game Monopoly. It is different from American currency in that it is smaller, one-sided, and different colors until a redesign by the United States Treasury Department of U.S. paper currency in the first decade of the 2000s, when the Bureau of Engraving and Printing adopted a very similar color scheme for the background color of U.S. paper currency.
The colors used by Monopoly money, by denomination, is:
- $1 - white
- $5 - pink
- $10 - yellow (blue in some recent editions)
- $20 - green
- $50 - blue (purple in some recent editions)
- $100 - gold
- $500 - orange
- (Monopoly: The Mega Edition has $1000 - brown)
The modern Monopoly game has its Monopoly money denominated in $1, $5, $10, $20, $50, $100, and $500, with all but the last paralleling the denominations in circulation in the United States (the U.S. $500 bill was withdrawn in 1969). Monopoly does not include a $2 bill; however, Monopoly Junior does include the $2 in addition to $3 and $4 currencies (which do not exist in U.S. currency).
A fan has created a website which has a pdf file containing four realistic $1000 Monopoly bills that can be printed out for players who want a larger denomination for longer games. However, these bills closely resemble older Monopoly bills made prior to the 1990s, which do not feature the word "MONOPOLY®" printed on them.
Monopoly money is also a derisive term used in multiple senses. The most common is by countries that have traditionally had monochromatic money (such as the United States) to refer to countries that have colorful money (such as Canada). This has been used in places such as the "Weird Al" Yankovic song Canadian Idiot.
It can also be used as a derisive term to refer to money not really being worth anything, or at least not being used as if it is worth anything. This has been used when large companies trade securities amongst various entities to create fraudulent profits, and when governments such as Burma issue special currencies to foreign aid organization that cannot be traded on the free market and are therefore not really worth anything.
Players take turns in order, with the initial player determined by chance before the game. A typical turn begins with the rolling of the dice and advancing their piece clockwise around the board the corresponding number of squares.
If a player lands on Chance or Community Chest, they draw the top card from the respective pile and obey its instructions. If the player lands on an unowned property, whether street, railroad, or utility, he can buy the property for its listed purchase price. If he declines this purchase, the property is auctioned off by the bank to the highest bidder. If the property landed on is already owned and unmortgaged, he must pay the owner a given rent, the price dependent on whether the property is part of a set or its level of development. If a player rolls doubles, he rolls again after completing his turn. Three sets of doubles in a row, however, land the player in jail.
If a player is in jail, he does not take a normal turn, and may either pay to be released from jail, or attempt to roll doubles on the dice. If a player fails to roll doubles, he misses his turn. If he fails to roll doubles three times, he must automatically pay the fine to be released. While a player is in jail, he can still buy and sell property and buildings, and collect rents. If a player does roll doubles, he may immediately move according to the roll, but he cannot roll a second time after exiting jail. During a player's turn, that player may also choose to develop properties, if the player owns all the properties of the color group. Development involves the construction of houses or hotels on properties, for given amounts of money paid to the bank, and is tracked on the board by adding plastic houses and hotels to the square. Development must be uniform across a monopoly, such that a second house cannot be built on one property in a monopoly until the others have one house.
Although houses and hotels cannot be built on railroads or utilities, the given rent also increases if a player owns multiple railroads or utilities.
Properties can also be mortgaged, although all developments on a monopoly must be sold before any property of that color can be mortgaged or traded. The player receives money from the bank for each mortgaged property, which must be repaid with interest to unmortgage. Houses and hotels can be sold back to the bank for half their purchase price. Property may not be given away to another player.
A player goes bankrupt, and is thus eliminated from the game, if he cannot pay what he owes. If the bankrupt player owes the bank, he must turn all of his assets to the bank. If the debt is instead to another player, all the assets are instead given to that opponent, but the new owner must still pay the bank to unmortgage any such properties received. The winner is the remaining player left after all the others have gone bankrupt.
Parker Brothers' official instructions have long encouraged the use of house rules, specific additions to or subtractions from the official rule sets. Many casual Monopoly players are surprised to discover that some of the rules that they are used to are not part of the official rules. Many of these house rules tend to make the game longer by randomly giving players more money. Some common house rules are listed below:
- No Auctions: Should a player choose not to buy an unowned property they landed on, no auction is held, and the turn passes to the next player. This lengthens the game by increasing the amount of time necessary for all properties to be bought and developed, and by reducing the speed at which money is exchanged.
- Free Parking jackpot, which usually consists of an initial stake (typically $500, or $5 million in the Here and Now Edition) plus collections of fines and taxes otherwise paid to the bank. A player who lands on Free Parking wins the jackpot, which may then be reset with the initial stake (if any). The jackpot is usually put in the center of the board. Since the jackpot forms an additional income for players in this set of house rules, games can take a much longer time than under normal rules.
- A bonus for landing directly on Go by dice roll (commonly an additional $200 or $500). This may or may not include cards that send the player to Go.
- In trades, players may offer "rent immunity" from their own properties (someone does not have to pay rent for landing on that property) as part of a deal (this can be good for a certain number of landings or the entire game).
House rules, while unofficial, are not wholly unrecognized by Parker Brothers.
From 1936, the rules booklet included with each Monopoly set contained a short section at the end providing rules for making the game shorter, either by setting a time limit, or by ending the game after the second player goes bankrupt. As well, an additional rules booklet or sheet was included giving the rules for a short variant with several changes, such as starting each player out with two properties selected at random. A later version of the rules included this variant, along with the time limit game, in the main rules booklet, omitting the second bankruptcy method as a third short game.
One common criticism of Monopoly is that it has carefully defined, yet almost unreachable, termination conditions. Edward P. Parker, a former president of Parker Brothers, is quoted as saying, "We always felt that forty-five minutes was about the right length for a game, but Monopoly could go on for hours. Also, a game was supposed to have a definite end somewhere. In Monopoly you kept going around and around." However, the problem of time can be resolved by playing with a time limit and counting each player's net worth when the time is up. In fact, tournament play calls for a 90-minute time limit. Two hour time limits are used for international play. The Lord of the Rings edition gives players the option of creating a random time limit using the included One Ring token and specialized dice. The SpongeBob SquarePants game board includes a Plankton piece that moves every time someone rolls a 1 with the dice (if a player rolls two 1s, the Plankton piece moves two spaces), and the game is over when it reaches the end of the board.