House rules

Is nothing sacred anymore? I survived the retirement of the light brown M&M and the loss of the iron Monopoly piece, the shock of discovering Col. Mustard has been demoted to Mr. Mustard, along with the indignation of finding out it is no longer two-for-flinching in the Slug-Bug game, but rather it is cumulative. What is next? Solitaire as a team sport? Maybe Battleship should only be played with numbers? Connect Four is now One-In-A-Row?

Hasbro, makers of Monopoly, has announced an online voting scheme to select new “House Rules” to be added to the game’s rule book. So this is why voter turn-out among 18-25 year-olds is so low. They are too busy voting for important stuff.

What really makes me angry is the actual rules Hasbro is putting up for vote.

Here they are in no particularly inglorious order:

Free Parking, Fast Cash:

This is an oldie in which all fees and taxes are piled on the center of the board until someone lands on Free Parking. That lucky soul is rewarded with all of the collected dough. After which the bank throws a $500 bill out to reseed the pot.

Dash for the Cash:

Players landing exactly on Go! Not near or passing over it, but really, truly landing on the space receive double the normal amount for passing Go!

Lucky Roller:

When a player rolls double ones or Snake Eyes they receive an extra $500 for being just so darn lucky.

Three-is-a-Crowd:

If three different players each individually own a single piece of property in a color block each receives an extra $500.

Break the Bank:

At the start of the game, rather than distributing an equal amount of starting cash to each player half of the money in the back is piled onto the center of the board and at an agreed upon signal all the players dive for the cash scooping up as much as they can.

Let me deal with the first two by saying those have been standard “House Rules” for ages. Some people play with them and some do not, but I have seen them used frequently enough. In fact other games, like The Farming Game, have made the Dash for the Cash rule official.

The next on the list seems to be covering already trodden ground. As the rules currently sit a player is rewarded for rolling double by getting to roll again immediately with the proviso that three double rolls in a row lands you in jail. Rolling double is already a high risk/reward situation. Why the extra cash?

The next rule rewards partnership. “Okay, you buy Baltic Avenue and I will purchase Mediterranean Avenue and together we will each get $500.” Sounds like a great idea until you look up the word “monopoly” in the dictionary. My family has never really been fans of Monopoly. Instead we chose to call it Monotony, because it has its long boring periods in the middle of the game where you roll dice and trade money back and forth. The whole point of the game is for me to own every property on the map thus sending you into ego-crushing bankruptcy. That will never happen if we are all stuck with one property of each color. At that point change the name of the game to Staring Contest.

Finally there is Break the Bank and this is the rule I like best. If the point is to spice up the game and make it more interesting for new generations of players this might be the one. I am a big boy and I have enough weight to throw around that with a single, well timed and placed, elbow I could win the game in the opening moments. Starting the game with a small family brawl? This idea has potential.

In reality adding these rules is bad a idea because it takes away one of the most traditional aspects of this board game classic; negotiation.

It is a property trading game meant to emulate the stereotype of Donald Trumpesque characters snatching up land at the expense of their competitors. The whole point is not to spread the wealth around, but to gather it all unto yourself.

The reason I care about changing the rules of a game I have a pejorative name for, is making up “House Rules” is the part I like about the game. There is no life alteration going on here. Just taking away the only part I find fun.

Adding some or all of these new rules will not change my day-to-day existence, but it seems like Hasbro is trying a little too hard to make Monopoly relevant. The company has changed game pieces, increased all the money denominations to millions rather than hundreds, added electronic banking and created theme boards. Monopoly was first copyrighted

in in 1904 and has survived the test of time.

If there is really a need to add new rules to the game let me suggest a couple myself that are much better than tackling your sister for your opening bankroll.

First I suggest gambling. Not for real money but rather household chores. In my family it is a standard week of doing dishes versus a week of vacuuming the house, but you could go bigger if you like and the bonus is you end up with a clean house.

Second make a rule that requires the players to add at least one “House Rule” before starting the game. This gem would solve the problem of voting on which rule to add, but still keep the fun of modifying the game.

Finally (this is a must-add to rule books worldwide) the loser has to put the game away.

Some things are just fine the way they were created, but if there must be change I say we add something of true value.

With that in mind I need to go vacuum the house.

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