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I recently had remembered that at the end of the rule book of Monopoly that it says the rules for a short game and then says (60-90 minutes) in the header. At the back, it says the rules for a game that has an hour of termination decided. And there are "house rules" and I have no clue what those are. Bt in the instruction booklet, it doesn't state how long a regular game of Monopoly last, with the normal rules.

I used to watch my family play and they normally had 4 players. And they didn't use house rules (granted I was 6 so I don't really remember but no one in my family knows what those are.)

My question is, how long does a normal game, with 4 players, last without a definite hour of termination and without house rules?

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    The problem with house rules is many people play with what they think are the standard rules but are in fact house rules. I would think that 60-90 minutes is an accurate time but I can't back that up which is why this is not an answer. – Joe W Oct 7 '20 at 23:44
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    I don’t know if I’ve ever know box estimates for length of a game be accurate. I’m designing a game a timing playtests. One 3 player group took 55 mins and other Took 1hour 55 mins for the same thing. Game length very much depends on the people, how well they know the game and how prone to Analysis Paralysis they are. – StartPlayer Oct 8 '20 at 7:39
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    If a game is taking longer than 90 minutes or so you're not playing Monopoly - you're playing House Rules - most likely also with Free Parking Cash and Illegal Financial Instruments. – Forget I was ever here Oct 8 '20 at 20:00
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    According to Official Rules, the only valid financial instruments are: Title Deeds (Mortgaged or not) and Cash. Anything else of value is an illegal "financial instrument": free passage agreements, inter-player loans, etc. All they do is slow the game down. it's important also to play with just the original set of 32 houses and 12 hotels, as "housing shortage" is a key strategy in forcing opponents into bankruptcy. – Forget I was ever here Oct 8 '20 at 20:37
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    @RobertMiller: Examples of absurd strategies: "3. Players never bid on properties that are up for auction."; "1. Players maintain a reserve threshold of cash that is easily varied but we set to the maximum of $200 and the maximum rent on a property owned by another player"; and "8. Players do not trade properties." – Forget I was ever here Oct 20 '20 at 21:02
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In my playgroup (using the base rules, no house rules), our 4-player games take about 90 minutes depending on how intently we're focusing on the game instead of just hanging out.

In addition to the common house rules that extend the game, certain strategies favor long, drawn-out games. Anecdotally, if everyone plays "not to lose" and refuses to make deals or bid on contested properties, the game can drag on. But if people are playing to win, the game goes much more quickly because of how much Monopoly snowballs. Most moves made to win are high-risk, high-reward. These games end rather quickly, with a player eventually just dominating the board and snapping up property at bankruptcy auction.

Here are some play style adjustments that can lead to shorter games:

  • Put more property up for auction. This will often lead to players draining their resources more quickly, which will allow for faster bankruptcy.
  • Make aggressive deals to get monopolies, even if you think you're getting a "worse" monopoly. The key thing to remember is that a deal that gives two players monopolies helps both of them overtake the remaining two opponents. You go from ~25% to win a slow game to ~50% to win a two-player slugfest.
  • Build houses aggressively. The best way to bankrupt others is to get the cashflow snowball started by building houses. The first and third houses are particularly important. The first house greatly makes rent cost a relevant amount (and help you build future houses), and the third house will often be enough to bankrupt players.
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Your family probably DID play with house rules. The problem is most people think they know the rules of monopoly, but the rules most people play by are actually house rules. There are two major house rules that people think are official which cause the game to take a LOT longer than it should:

  1. Not auctioning properties. When a player lands on a property that is not owned and decides not to buy it, the property goes up for public auction, where anyone can buy it. This leads to it only taking a small handful of turns for everything to be owned, and causing rent collections to start shifting a lot more money earlier on.

  2. Granting money for landing on Free Parking. This is often $500, sometimes with the fines and fees paid for tax spaces and from Community Chest and Chance cards added. This injects a lot of money into the game when it happens and can completely turn around a losing player's game.

With the properties being sold earlier, and the lack of that money being put into the game, the rules of monopoly are designed to let one player get an early lead, the ones who get the early properties, start collecting rent from them, and use that rent to buy even more properties and collect even more rent, bankrupting everyone else. Not following the auction rule lets property sit with no owner as a "safe" space to land on. Free parking adding $500 into the game just adds at least one more, usually two or three more, turns to the game unless it's only the person who was going to win anyways. Both of these house rules do nothing but slow the eventual flow of money towards the eventual winner, usually the person with the early advantage, and is the entire reason monopoly takes as long as it does. Even a normal game could be finished in an hour and a half... if the rules as written are followed.

Monopoly was invented to show the unfairness of renting property, that the people who rent end up with nothing, and the people who own just keep buying more until they have all money and property.

  • @RayButterworth How's that? – Andrew Oct 8 '20 at 13:47
  • @RayButterworth yes my edit adjusted the meaning in a way I didn't mean it to. – Andrew Oct 8 '20 at 13:52
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    Another house rule that can delay the inevitable by helping those that are behind is by relaxing the rules related to the number of houses available. If you have 4 houses on two properties in a group and 3 on the other, it's impossible to build any hotels if there aren't any houses available for sale. House rules could allow that block to be bypassed if the player can afford to buy a virtual house and then replace it with a hotel as a single transaction. – Ray Butterworth Oct 8 '20 at 13:59
  • @RayButterworth This is true, but it is a much less common house rule than the other two I covered. Strategic monopolization of the house tokens by not buying hotels is a definite strategy people use. – Andrew Oct 8 '20 at 14:01
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    One final house rule (or failure to follow the base rules) is that debt-forgiveness deals are against the rules. Rent must always be paid out in cash. Afterwards, the players can work out deals to pay cash for (likely mortgaged) properties. – ryanyuyu Oct 20 '20 at 20:18

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