A Parent’s Help Becomes a (Questionable) Monopoly Strategy

in games •  13 days ago

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Our family’s game of Monopoly had been under way for an hour already. With all of the major properties off the board (except for the dark blues, which had been too expensive for those landing on them so far), I found myself holding only one monopoly: the light blues. That one I acquired early on and built up with hotels before others could do much on their own properties. I also had two railroads, both utilities, and some cash.

It was a good position in the short term, but in the longer term, I didn’t have enough high value properties to win this game. A younger me would have traded my way into another monopoly somehow and pushed for a chance to win. But I was playing with my wife and two kids. A parent thinks more about how the kids are doing, how they are feeling, what they are learning.

And I noticed that while my wife and one kid each had multiple property monopolies that would generate future cash, the second child was like me. She only had one. Short of merging (which wasn’t required yet), there wasn’t much I could do to steer the game her way in terms of helping her get more properties. I knew my wife would try to help equalize things eventually, but she was still cash poor and trying to build on her own properties.

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Generally, we try to let the kids play (and sink or swim) because that’s how you learn about life. But it was too early for this game to be so lopsided. Some minor intervention might keep a more equal balance so that everyone could play longer (and perhaps even enjoy the game).

And that was how I became a financier.

My poorer kid’s one monopoly was the greens. This is the second most expensive set of properties on the board. And with three properties for tokens to land on rather than just two, the green monopoly’s monetary return is actually higher than the dark blue set (Boardwalk and Park Place, to use the American game’s names).

The greens are a GREAT set to own. The only problems with the greens are: (1) People don’t land on them as often as some others, and (2) They are expensive to develop, since houses cost $200 to build. Over time, if you can stay in the game long enough and have another source of revenue, the greens have a significant return on investment.

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But if that is your only monopoly and you can’t afford to build it up, that’s an issue. The only way to make money on the greens is to develop them and hold them for long enough until people start landing on them and giving you a major cash infusion each time they do. If you can do that, preferably with another source of cash to help you stay in the game that long, your ROI is huge. In the long run, this may be the best set to own on the whole board. But if you cannot be patient or cannot afford to build them up, then the greens are not a good monopoly to own.

For my kid, the latter was more likely. She didn’t have the money to build much and she didn’t have other properties to provide revenue, aside from a railroad. The greens were not going to help her.

I decided to experiment by financing my daughter to build some houses on the green monopoly. Sure, it’s technically a violation of the game rules against player-to-player loans, but the best board games allow for alternate scenarios to keep things fun and interesting. My cash wasn’t doing me any good, since my meager holdings were fully developed. And I had nowhere else to spend it on unless I could buy properties outright.

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So I loaned my daughter the money to build some houses on the greens, taking an equity interest in each of those houses that was built with my money. When others landed on those properties, I would get a share of the revenue and she would keep the rest (which was more than she would be getting otherwise). It also didn’t feel like a bad loan that way; she didn’t owe me anything until someone landed on that particular property, at which time we’d both get paid.

This move brought her into profitability earlier.

But in this particular game, not enough people landed on the greens to make a major impact. That is a danger because the greens are located after ‘Go to Jail’ and after several of the card draw spaces, which often send players to different squares on the other side of the board: green properties do not get much traffic. Not long after, she and I ended up having to merge our positions anyway. It was the only real way to face the others with an equal standing.

While my experiment had not succeeded this time, it made an impression on both kids. They understood the terms of the loan I had made. And suddenly, financing was a potential strategy for them in Monopoly games. They told their friends at school. It sounded like fun.

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Here’s the problem with financing in Monopoly

It rarely makes any financial sense for the lender. If the lender has to split the income from the houses he or she has bought for another player, then the ROI will always be lower than one could achieve by building on one’s own property (where that player has a 100% ownership interest) instead. Some properties are more expensive to build on than others, but the difference there is less than you would be getting in additional profit from a partial interest if you financed properties on another player’s affordable-to-build ones.

The only scenario where financing can make sense is if your character is cash rich, but property poor, and your own property is not expensive to develop. That was my situation when I owned the light blue monopoly only and built it up early in the game. (Plus, I was trying to help my kid, so the profit motive was only part of it, but don’t tell them.)

Develop the pinks, oranges, reds, or yellows if you have them

It’s far more likely that a player would have a monopoly set somewhere in the range of the pink, orange, red, or yellow properties. Statistically, because of the ‘Jail’ and ‘Go to Jail’ squares as well as the card draws that send players to jail, players land on the orange properties (including when they come out of jail) more than any others. And all of those middle-to-upper tier properties (pink, orange, red, and yellow) are great monopolies to own with significant ROI over the course of the game. It’s the two monopolies beyond the card draw squares and ‘Go to Jail’ corner (the greens and dark blues) which get less frequent traffic and also happen to be more expensive to develop with houses and hotels.

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And so, if you hold a monopoly (or monopolies) in that mid-to-upper range, you should develop them as fully as possible with the money you have available. That’s much more effective than loaning the money to another player or financing his/her construction of houses or hotels. As for the light blues, they are cheap enough to build up to make it worth doing so. And with the poor purples (which are brown on some Monopoly sets), there are only two of them and they are cheap slums, cutting down on the return. Still, they are affordable to build on if you are not sacrificing building opportunities elsewhere. If I have the purples/browns or the dark blues, I’ll often try to trade them because others may overpay for a complete monopoly, even though the chances of anyone landing on them is cut by 33% because there are only two income-generating squares and not three.

Here is what happened with the financing idea. After we started doing it (which I mostly did to help my daughter stay in the game and because I had a rare hand which left me with extra cash early on), they told their friends and the legend grew. We had created a monster. The next time we played, the children were over-eager to lend money to others in exchange for shares in the rent from the houses or hotels that were built. And, as I indicated, doing this usually makes no financial sense. They were doing it more for fun, though it’s a learning exercise as well. Developing one’s own Monopoly properties is a far better use of one’s money, basically unless you have extra money you cannot invest this way.

Hopefully, as with everything else, it becomes a learning experience (for them and for me).

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These are public domain, stock images, so they do not show our exact Monopoly game. We have the classic version of the board with the Atlantic City (U.S.) properties on it. Most of these pictures show other editions, but my description of the color-coded properties should match with most editions that others might play.

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Oh man!
IT's been 5-7 years i haven't played MOnopoly, but i do remember this game because we love to play it, buying the buildings, paying the charges, hahaha that was the awesome time, when we use to play it, I do remember my wins :P hahaha :P of course i lost many times too!
The other game we played was Carrum board, we had a big carrom board, Thanks @donkeypong for taking me to my childhood!

I am also a parent of two children and I can’t wait to play with them. Right now they are too young and we have other fun games, which are sometimes invented on the spot ))) But I love playing monopoly and it sure sounds like a fun experience. I remember, when I was a kid, I would play with my parents and their friends sometimes until 2 a.m. . It was just too exiting.

Would like to read more stories about parenting older children, because soon I will be facing that also. How old are your children @donkeypong?

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They are precious at any age and they'll never be that age again. That said, I've really enjoyed having the kids grow up enough that we can play more games, read more interesting books, and go more places.

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I agree with you, enjoy every age. It is magical, would have never thought that parenting is so exiting and that there us so much love towards own kids. Even with a three year old it is fun to play and travel.


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My brothers and would play the game constantly. We would imagine we were investors in real estate. When l think about it now we were but on a
smaller scale.

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It gives us all delusions of grandeur. Playing with kids, I have to check those ambitions at the door :).

I love monopoly......my favorite board game actually plus I like to kick @lynncoyle1 butt at backgammon......those two rock

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Ah, you're a backgammon guy. You're gaining even more respect.

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Thank you. Lynn and I play it most nights. crib, backgammon, monopoly whenever kids over and rumoli

It's a great lesson to teach your kids, and of course they'll miss out on the subtleties of parents helping kids, but in the end, you're creating great memories for them :)

And by the way, Brian is full of it haha

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Hopefully you're right about the memories. And maybe a few good lessons along the way.

Many people I've played with have house rules whereby if the bank runs out of houses, you just cut out little green squares of cardboard and use them. This kills that strategy of limiting opponent's houses. And that's one of those house rules that people wont give up. Like, my grandparents will enforce the house rule of "unlimited houses" to make it "fair" for the younger grandkids.

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That's a good idea. Yes, we sometimes use extra tokens and coins, etc. for houses and hotels when needed. And we have played past that limit before also.

@donkeypong, Your children have an important investment opportunity here. This is a very important task that has been clearly stated clearly in this investment. I thank you for this. Today, there is a growing need for children to urge fresh learning and investment opportunities from childhood. Everything must balance inevitably. Otherwise, children can be hardworking. Because by then they can be addicted.But financing in Monopoly has some big advantages to them. I accept there are some problems indeed. But with best following best instructions take more benefits.

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And we learn from it also. :)

I usually try to trade early for one or more of each colourgroup.That way you have 100% control of housing. = Everything is cheap for you

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Interesting strategy. I don't quite see how the return is better that way, but glad it works for you!

Wow... I didn't think one could learn so much from a board game. After reading your post, I realized that this is actually a great way of teaching your children about money and finance. Maybe if my parents had played monopoly with me and explained money matters to me, I would have better managed my finances.
The truth is I only played the game a couple of times with friends, and it didn't appealed to me then. So, I stopped playing. :-)

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The game of Monopoly usually leads to people getting upset with one another. It may not be the best family game, but they do learn a lot from it. And it's addictive. :)

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I think that's why I stopped playing. I remember always losing. I had just started playing the game and clueless as to 'technique / skill' behind it. So, I ended up losing very quickly and I didn't like that. So I stopped playing. :-)

One best way to teach financial literacy and strategies Tom..having fun and quality time.

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That sounds right!

I think it's an excellent idea what you did with your children because they learned an important lesson while having fun as a family. Although I do not know if the guys hold a full game of Monopoly since the game is very long.

If you had taken the time to explain them verbally or with a blackboard, they would surely have been bored.

A question. Were they aware that these loans violate the rules of the game?

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Haha. I never told them the loans were off-limits. I think that rule exists to protect people from falling prey to (high interest) predatory loan situations, a reason which I understand. But when I take an equity interest in a newly built house, I am not taking any interest payments; the player with the property still gets more than he/she otherwise would and I only get paid when he/she also makes money from someone landing there.

Wow, I just got transported back in time to the late night board games with the family. I am embarrassed to say that I never thought of this strategy before probably because I always have the cutthroat competitive mentality against rivals. However, now that I have a family I think this strategy would definitely makes sense to teach lessons to them. Thanks for sharing!

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Hopefully it will work for you. I'm not sure it was an ultimate success for us, but we definitely learn from trying new things.

My family forces me to compromise the original rules like this: Players who aren't obsessed with Monopoly get bored/lose motivation if they're losing and there's no huge free parking jackpot. My father once objected against selling buildings for half its value, so we changed the rules and our building strategy and started building super aggressively. My sister got upset with auctions because I was too good at it and it frequently benefits the lead wealthy player, so we don't auction. Finally, my family almost universally dislikes housing regulations that restrict how you build, so we abolished the even build requirement.

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Interesting. Yes, I have one kid who leverages every single dollar to build more and the other child is very cautious with money. The aggressive strategy usually works better. So as a family, we also have to make choices about how to set the rules to give everyone a chance.

I actually thought of those midgame strats after the first couple times of playing this game, but only the positives. I realized that people going to jail was really beneficial for me if I owned the properties of the following square. However, you left out how good Railroads can be. They are a diverse property, meaning that wherever people are, they can land on a railroad next. Also, I believe that there are 2 cards that send you to a railroad, and make the person pay you TWICE as much. Also, it's a property that grows in benefit without having to invest money in it. You just have to buy more railroads.

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For sure. If RRs are available, they are worth getting, and having more of them multiplies their value. Can't build hotels, though.

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@donkeypong is my boss who is always help us, i like this person also with him,thanks sir

I used to play a lot with my parents when I was a young kid, sincerely miss these times mostly during xmas days. In your case breaking the rules created a real life added value so all fine - nowadays we need creative hooks to educate the young ones.

How wonderful that you use a simple game to teach kids about finance and strategies etc. Damn I wish my parents did that hahaha . I am bad at games - love watching others play it but my attention span is just too short to outwit or outplay others - there is always something else grabbing my attention.... like the wine in my hand LOL

Monopoly is one of my favorite strategy games. I think we need to learn a lot about how to manage properties and how to make the most of each of them, but it's all a matter of luck and knowing how to manage yourself. I don't think it's a bad idea at all to change a series of things, because in the end things get a bit narrow and the idea is to have fun.

Great way to teach your kids about money. I started yesterday to explain cryptocurrency to my students. What a mission, but surprisingly there are quite a few that are interested in listening. I believe it is the way of the future, and definitely the right time to start teaching kids how the real world should work...lol

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For sure. In my country, we have very little financial education in the school system. It's something I didn't learn until much later. I do think it's useful for kids to have some exposure to that. On the one hand, I'd like to keep them insulated from some of that 'real world' stuff for as long as possible, because money is not the most important thing. But we also can see how many people do not understand it or have a long learning curve. It's worth spending some time to teach kids about it and help them learn through some practical experiences.

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Very true, but here in our country if kids don't start to "create" their own options they are not going to get jobs. I feel that it is my duty to at least make them aware and spark their interest. South Africa is going down the drain, and it is so so sad.

Awesome parenting moves! It makes me happy when I see parents teaching lessons that will benefit their way of thinking for the remainder of their lives. I knew Monopoly was a good way to learn/teach but I've never got a chance to play being taught the insurance and outs of the financial world. In my experience we always bent the rules for the younger two siblings out of four of us. I still learned but it wasn't utilized as much

Thank you for your post

what an exact explanation of this game, what I've been playing since I was a child but I never understood it, it was when I read you that I understood it, thank you excellent publication

My sister used to draw out the game by destroying me more slowly. Just taking what cash I had and the odd property here and there as payment. If I was winning, the game would end very swiftly indeed, with an overturned board and pieces flying everywhere! Lol!

Good or bad, I think that's a very interesting lesson. It gets them experimenting and hopefully figuring out if it's a strategy worth playing. Another interesting tactic would be lending along the lines of a mortgage, where you have to keep paying a set amount back each time you pass go. Probably less beneficial to the borrower in this way, but it could be a good lesson for later in life.

i dont even think my entire life that this favurite game will have that side........cngrats men ...... greetings from greece very thank you

I use the housing trick and late game jail stay all the time, but never thought about the whole right side of the board as a wasteland, but you're right. I hate green property and always felt like blue was overpriced for what you get. Orange was always my favorite though.

In my childhood, friends played monopoly. I used to sit for hours and play. It was a lot of fun game.

That was a great game sir Tom! teaching and learning for your kids about money. Because we know in the future they can used what they had learned from you!

👍👍

I don't know how to play monopoly, its not common here, I got to know about it from Kiyosaki book, he talked at length about it and that brought up the interest in me to know the game, sad, no one could teach me.
I play Scrabble though, am addicted to it.

That is good for them to learn those lessons. What better way than this! Yes monopoly I so enjoyed as a child. Thanks for sharing such a worthy story my friend @donkeypong.

I have read your post very nice posting thank you very much .....

The problem with monopoly is that it portrays how unfair business can be and that's not fun to experience in a board game. Altough it can be a valuable lesson.

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@donkeypong, thanks for sharing about your family game experience. My wife and I believe a lot of lessons can be taught when gathering around the table to play games.

Our favorite game is called Dominion. It is a deck building game.

As I was reading through the post, I kept thinking about Steem. The figures do not lie. There are a few people who hold a lot of power. But unlike Monolopy where it does not make sense to lend or give to others, I think the Steem system provides great opportunities for return.

Thanks for sharing. Have a blessed day!

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The best way of Parenting 👍 teach your kid by means of play or game . Here you made them easily understand the concept of finances and investment while spending some quality times along.vthe children also understand the practical aspect too which gonna make them beneficial in long run. Minepoly a game a great learner too..

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You know, you leave me with a great confusion but as always I tend to think more about all the things I am going to comment separately hahaha in terms of daily life that for me is a game in itself it is always good to invest in society that allows you to establish a economy that in spite of the unprofitable you some net income since from my childhood and believed that the monopoly is a game adapted to capitalism and creation of empires on a small and large scale simulated teaching the interest in strengthening your capital and not get bankruptcy that is the primary fator to end the game by renting the best boxes now in itself thinking about the innocent game as such I apologize but I will acquire your idea of the joint loan of properties to give more alternatives to monopoly although my strategy always sara the same opt for the 4 railroads and the purple squares

Great sharing @donkeypong. You catch my interest to finish read and drop a reply

Wow... Nice post and perfect @donkeypong

Whenever I play no one ever gets a color group and the game CANNOT end

It is fantastic how you use this game to teach your children and even learn a little of the decisions they can make, so that you bring the game to something relatively real that they can apply at some point in their lives is great that idea

Congratulations @donkeypong!
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I like the idea of you giving your kids the opportunity of facing the real world in their early ages and make some profits out of it.

My father did loan me my fees a few times during holidays in order for me to do a business and pay him back by paying my fees upon school resumption. I guess it was an experiment too lol nice though

Hopefully, as with everything else, it becomes a learning experience (for them and for me).

Yeah, sure. I think this whole experiment made you to better know the strength and witness of your kids when it comes to money or business.

Nice article @donkeypong

Have a great day ✌

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Its very interesting,i used to play it with my friends when i was free...
I enjoyed that moment mostly...

Your story influence us. You have clearly described your life story to be a freelancer. Thanks for sharing.

Ah nice. Will share this for my friends and am sure this is a great addition to our @steemiteducation channel

Thanks for the kind donation. God bless

@donkeypong I think eventually they will learn. It is not a bad way to start lesson about loans and investments even if the end result is in the negative. When they fully realize it, it becomes a valuable life long lesson