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Most Monopoly players would want to buy at least ONE property in a color group, for defensive purposes. Money is usually tight though, so it often pays to "cut corners" somewhere.

Could this "corner" cutting come in declining to buy a SECOND property in a group in which you are not interested? (That is, as opposed to buy it now and mortgage it later for half price.) Does it matter whether or not "house rules" say that it will be put up for auction? Does it matter whether or not someone else also owns a property in the group, so it is effectively a "third?" And is this as true for railroads as for "color" monopolies?

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I think the properties are underpriced in monopoly, so my strategy has always been, buy EVERY property you land on, even if it means mortgaging everything you have (well, except the utilities, don't buy those). This plus my aggressive trading has won me a reputation with my board-game friends as being too good at Monopoly... so they won't play it with me anymore (and the rare occasions they do, no one will trade with me, for any reason, ever) :( –  BlueRaja - Danny Pflughoeft Jun 27 '11 at 21:28
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it's not a "house rule" to auction the property –  warren Jun 29 '11 at 1:18
    
@BlueRaja - Danny Pflughoeft - why would you not buy the utilities? –  warren Jun 29 '11 at 1:19
    
@warren: The "official" rules say that a property will be auctioned--unless a "house rule" says otherwise. Sometimes a "house rule" will establish a minimum, or other parameters for an auction, rather than ruling it out altogether. –  Tom Au Jun 29 '11 at 1:22
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@warren: They're simply not worth the investment. Whereas the railroads can give you lots of quick cash at the start ($200 when someone lands on any one of four squares, evenly spread out across the board), especially with lots of players; and properties can give you lots of cash later on, when you can afford houses/hotels, utilities do neither. –  BlueRaja - Danny Pflughoeft Feb 20 '12 at 23:53

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up vote 16 down vote accepted

According to Kaz Darzinskis' Winning Monopoly:

Buy from the bank any property that will give you ownership of two properties in any monopoly group, unless you already own a killer monopoly.

(I believe he refers to a killer monopoly as being the New York group and up, though it's been a long time since I read the book and could be wrong.)

The theory here is that if you do not already have a strong monopoly, angling to get a weak monopoly to bootstrap your future endeavors is not a waste of time. If an opponent gets the third of the color group, then you have a much stronger trade platform with that opponent rather than if the power is dispersed amongst three players.

Darzinskis frames purchasing the third of a group as having "veto power" over trades in that color group, and gives the following rule:

Buy the third remaining property of a color group owned by two different opponents when those same opponents share complete ownership of one other killer monopoly.

If you can devalue the trade pieces between the two players who could come together and form a strong monopoly, it's obviously in your best interest to prevent that from happening. If not, then it's safe to let it go up for auction.

Railroads and Utilities are special cases, as they cannot be developed and so the upsides for monopolizing them are lessened. As such, having only one of a group will, on average, return more than the face value over the game, so there should not be a reason to not buy them.

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