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It seems likely that I may be involved in a game of Monopoly soon. I'm not a big fan of Monopoly for a number of reasons, one of which is that part way through the game someone will reveal that they assumed we were playing with a house rule that no one else has heard of.

Obviously the most straightforward way to deal with this is to collectively read through the rule book before the start of the game. In practice this is going to be very unpopular, and will add a significant amount of time to an already long game.

What house rules have you encountered and what set makes for a better more well rounded game?

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House rules vary from place to place, group to group and can be made up on the fly. It might be hard to try and satisfy every single or even most house rules mainly because there's no concrete rule for house rules, them being what they are. –  Jonn Oct 23 '10 at 13:04
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I agree with @jonn. This is almost an impossible question to answer. A better question would be to list the rules that you have encountered, and ask what makes a well rounded, fair game of monopoly. –  Codemwnci Oct 23 '10 at 13:19
    
Ok - good suggestion. I have edited the question above. –  tttppp Oct 23 '10 at 14:25
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I sympathize. One of the main reasons I can't stand Monopoly is that most people I play with don't actually know the true rules of the game but assume they do. Then they get mad when I show them they're doing it wrong. –  Mag Roader Oct 23 '10 at 21:49
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9 Answers

up vote 17 down vote accepted

While the free parking rule mentioned by LittleBobbyTables is quite common, there are a lot of other house rules people use in Monopoly. I know we never used the auction rule when we've played Monopoly, and that keeps property available much longer, since when someone lands on a parcel, it isn't necessarily sold.

Wikipedia has a great list of house rules people use

More house rules you can use

If your looking for a shorter game, try out some of the rules that help shorten the game. My second link has a the original rules for a short game that can help alleviate some of the boredom of longer Monopoly games.

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The Wikibooks link is fascinating! Excellent answer - thank you. –  tttppp Oct 24 '10 at 17:40
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You don't need a laundry list of house rules, just agreements on the three or four most contentious issues. Examples:

1) Free parking: Do fines, etc. go to the bank or into the middle for someone who lands on free parking?

2) Auctions: Can a player refuse to buy a property without putting it up for auction?

3) Buildings: Are there a limit to the number of houses and hotels? In some versions, we played "unlimited buildings," as much as money can buy (usually in conjunction with the Free Parking Lottery),adding new ones from a second set if necessary. In another variant, you could "free up" an opponent's four houses per property by paying for his upgrade to hotels. Again, a "good" rule for someone who came into the money later, especially if those houses are on the Med or Baltic Avenues.

4) Legal tender: Is a get out of jail free card "legal tender" for $50. Is a mortgaged property "legal tender" for half its original value?

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I like buying up houses to block other's development as a good bit of strategy. But it does catch some other players off guard, so best to get agreement on this. Have allowed player's to sell the get out of jail free card, but only to another player and usually at a significant discount from $50. –  Lee Dec 12 '11 at 2:34
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Auction all locations before the start of the game.

In my view offering an auction if the current player doesn't buy a property is good, not only because it reduces game time; but more importantly because it reduces the element of chance.

Going around the board and auctioning each property before the beginning of the game (with the reserve price as listed) massively emplifies these pluses.

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+1 Auctioning everything before the start of the game sounds like a very interesting idea. I think it might change the game significantly from Monopoly, but that might be good :-) Presumably there isn't enough money to sell all properties at their reserve price. –  tttppp Mar 7 '11 at 8:21
    
Yes, please clarify how you can auction off everything; there's not enough money at game start for that. –  Adam Wuerl Mar 7 '11 at 15:27
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When auctioning a property, there is no reserve price -- you can bid less than the printed price. –  Chris Dodd Mar 8 '11 at 23:05
    
If you were to do this, I'd suggest auctioning properties in random sequence, otherwise I see a scenario where everyone has a dollar left and key properties to form monopolies were auctioned for $1499 each :-p –  tekiegreg Apr 22 '11 at 20:01
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A while back some friends and I had played a few long, boring games of Monopoly in a row. Before we gave up on the game entirely we decided to try one more game with strict adherence to the rules. Not only was the game fun, but it was over in 45 minutes. Two common house rules break the game in the following ways:

  1. Free parking money (free $500 and/or using it to collect and redistribute fine revenue are popular alternatives) leads to inflation in the same way it does in a real economy; except that in Monopoly prices are fixed which leads to a shortage of property/improvements because everyone can typically afford anything they want. Without free money it's easy to over-extend buying property or hotels and go bankrupt. Too much money eliminates the tension between cash flow and assets. Trying to walk that balance is part of the fun.

  2. No auctions. Development is the key to victory, but development requires monopolies, and monopolies require property to be bought from the bank. Actually having to land on all two or three tracts in a single group is statistically unlikely; this extends games as people try in vain to hit that last property. It also means more trips around Go before the development phase of the game starts: more Go means inflation (see #1).

The best house rules are no house rules, both because they break the game and because the easiest set of rules to explain are the ones that are already written down in black and white. If they don't know what they are they can read the book. It's also worth a quick comment that strict rules mean auctions and no cash in Free Parking.

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Like the post currently above yours, very well said. –  Matthew Doucette Jun 15 '12 at 14:43
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It's important to note that there's a direct relationship between the near-ubiquitous Free Parking and no-auctions rules and people's perception that Monopoly is a game that takes forever to play. The playing time of Monopoly is a function of how fast people run out of money, which is a function of a) how quickly all the properties get sold and developed and b) how slowly new money enters the game. If you don't auction properties, it takes a lot longer for all the properties to get sold. If you put fines in Free Parking, they come back into the game. You've now turned a 60-90 minute game into one that takes 3-4 hours to play. The next step in this process is getting on boardgamegeek.com and telling everyone how terrible a game Monopoly is.

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Very well said. I wish more people knew this exact fact and did not improperly judge Monopoly on what is only house rules. Play with the official rules and you'll see how well those rules really work. –  Matthew Doucette Jun 15 '12 at 14:42
    
I didn't even know about the auction rule until I was about 17 or so. I had never seen it before. Knowing that properties could go up for auction made the game much more understandable. –  Joe Z. Feb 25 '13 at 21:11
    
Also the fact that you could build on properties when you weren't on their square. Nobody I played with knew about that rule until I played an online version of the game. –  Joe Z. Feb 25 '13 at 21:17
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We always play with a quick start house rule: In the beginning of the game we shuffle all the properties and everyone draws one. They have to pay for it but have an asset from the get go. We sometimes exclude the most expensive and the cheapest properties from the draw.

We never once played with the auction rule.

Oh, and ever since that last time where my father got his mother to essentially give him all her properties for a bit of money I'm insisting on the No favors for friends, families or significant others rule.

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Some rules not mentioned:

  • give other players a cake (preferably self baked) if caught cheating.
  • don't pay rent to a owner that is in jail.

Edit Ok, the three times a double roll lands you in jail rule is from the original rules. It was always presented as a counter measure for a player with a lucky roll.

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Errr...going to jail for three consecutive doubles is actually an official rule. –  user21 Oct 25 '10 at 15:36
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I find rule #2 intriguing - a rule about not adhering to the rules. I assume playing with that rule means that attempting to cheat is considered socially acceptable (since it is dealt with by your rules). What happens if you are caught cheating, but you decide not to bring cake - is that simply another cheat punishable by cake, or is the cake rule considered higher level and inescapable? In the first case, can you indefinitely evade bringing cake by continuously cheating on the cake rule? –  Erik P. Oct 26 '10 at 0:32
    
@Erik P, lol, we have had some experience with cheating bankers. (They always had a secret stash of cash somewhere). –  Toon Krijthe Oct 26 '10 at 5:57
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The cake is a lie? :) –  GalacticCowboy Oct 26 '10 at 13:40
    
cake? .. cut to your other points, why would you remove the rule form the book that says owners in jail should be paid rent? –  warren Oct 26 '10 at 19:57
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Whenever we played, we used the following house rules:

  • No auctions. You have to land on a property to buy it.
  • Free parking jackpot. Any taxes, payments from chance or community chest, or payments to get out of jail get put in the middle of the board. Anyone who lands on free parking gets it.

That's the way I played it with everyone growing up. I also played it once or twice with some people who played the same way, but added in the "landing on GO gives you 2x the money" rule. That didn't change the balance of the game too much.

You should make sure to bring up these rules, and others, and make sure that all house rules have been discussed before you begin. If someone brings up a house rule halfway through the game, it's unfair, and shouldn't be allowed. Everyone should know the rules of the game before you start, and it's the homeowner or game owner's responsibility to know exactly which house rules are being used and fill everyone in before the game starts.

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The "2x payday" is borrowed, if I recall correctly, from the game "Careers". –  GalacticCowboy Oct 26 '10 at 13:38
    
out of curiosity, why is it that folks who play with Free Parking being a lottery don't contribute the interest paid on mortgages to the "pot", while they will contribute all other monies that should have been paid to the bank to the pot? –  warren Oct 26 '10 at 19:56
    
Removing the auction rule removes pretty much the most strategic element of the game. –  aslum Mar 12 '11 at 23:14
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I don't understand your complaint -- you don't want to read the rules before playing a game?

If you're worried about time spent reading the rules, everyone can download the rules from Hasbro here and read it any time before coming over and playing (the rules say "Deluxe Edition", but there's no difference in the rules).

We really can't tell you what house rules you should play with; before playing, simply ask everyone if there are any house rules they want to play with, and agree on those. If someone forgets to bring something up, or assumed it was a rule, that's too bad. Whoever is hosting should have final say, hence the term "house" rules.

The only house rule I have ever seen is putting money paid for Community, Chance or Luxury Taxes put into the middle of the board, and whoever lands on Free Parking gets it. I'm not really a fan of that.

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Appologies for the original question. I have now edited it as per the suggestions in the comments. –  tttppp Oct 23 '10 at 14:25
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Agree on all points. Start with the official rules. Money on Free Parking is the most common "house rule" that I'm aware of as well. –  GalacticCowboy Oct 23 '10 at 14:52
    
+1 I will just add that I don't like the "Money on Free Parking" rule because it just make an already long game longer. –  DavRob60 Oct 23 '10 at 22:37
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