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Friday, May 08, 2009

The Complete Rules of Moneyloopy

A little while back Tamir and I (with some help from Coren) came up with a variant on Monopoly. None of us are particularly fond of Monopoly, but everyone seems to have it. So we wanted to change some rules to make the game better. Moneyloopy is based on the same ideas as Monopoly, and it uses the same pieces, but we've changed so many rules by this point that it's not quite Monopoly anymore. We think we've come up with a fun game, with more strategy and excitement than Monopoly.

Note: The following rules are written for the standard American Monopoly board.

There are two ways to win the game:
  1. When all other players have gone bankrupt and dropped out of the game, the last player to still have money is the winner.
  2. After each player left in the game has taken exactly 40 turns, the player with the greatest amount of money is the winner. At that point, any properties owned are worth $400.
Starting the game: All playing pieces start on GO. Each player receives only 1000 dollars (1 $500, 2 $100s, 2 $50s, 6 $20s, 5 $10s, 5 $5s and 5 $1s) to begin with. An extra token of some sort is chosen to be the turn marker; this should ideally not be one of the playing pieces, to prevent confusion. The turn marker is also placed on GO. The players each roll a single die; whoever gets the highest number goes first, and play continues clockwise.

The turn marker: Each time the last player has finished taking his turn, the turn marker is moved forward one spot on the board. (There are 40 spots on the board.) When the turn marker gets back to GO, the game ends immediately. Players get $400 for each property they own, and whoever has the most money wins.

Basic movement and looping: On his turn, a player rolls two dice and moves clockwise that number of spaces. When he lands on a particular spot, he must activate it unless he uses a SafeCard (see below). The three corners of the board -Just Visiting, Free Parking, and Go To Jail- are tollbooths priced $100, $200 and $300 respectively. If the player passes or lands on a tollbooth, he must either pay that toll to the bank or loop back to GO. If he pays or cancels (see "SafeCards" below) the toll, he continues his regular movement according to the dice. If he does not, then when he reaches the tollbooth he jumps back to GO (instead of stepping on the tollbooth) and continues the movement from there.

Example 1. If the player is on Tennessee Avenue and rolls an 8, he may either pay $200 to the bank and land on Atlantic Avenue, or loop back and land on Oriental Avenue.
Example 2. If the player lands directly on the third tollbooth (Go To Jail), he can either pay $300 and stay there or pay nothing and end his turn on GO. In either event, his turn is then concluded.

If a player ever passes the line separating Boardwalk from GO, he receives one thousand dollars from the bank.

Buying properties: There are 22 properties on the board. The railroads and utilities (Electric Company and Water Works) are not properties in Moneyloopy, but parts of the board. (Their functions will be explained below.) The market price of any property on the board is $300, regardless of what price is written underneath it. When a player lands on an unclaimed property, he may either buy it for market price or put it up for auction. Auctions begin at $100, and anyone (including the player who put it up for auction) may bid. When no one is willing to bid higher, the highest bidder buys the property from the bank. If no one wishes to pay $100, then the property is not bought by anyone. There is no maximum bid for a property.

When someone buys a property, he places the property's card in front of him so that everyone will know he is the owner. If a player lands on someone else's property, he must pay the owner rent as specified by the standard Monopoly card. If the owner has the entire monopoly (all cards of that color), then the rent without houses is doubled, and the owner may build houses.

Housing: Houses and hotels may be bought from the bank before (and only before) that player rolls the dice. A house on any property costs $100. Five houses are replaced with a hotel, which not only raises the rent significantly but also has other benefits which will be described below (see "SafeCards" and "Utilities"). Houses and hotels may only be bought if the player owns the entire monopoly, but if a player owns a spot with houses or a hotel without owning the monopoly the rent is still the price the card states for that number of houses. (This can happen through a trade/gift or because of one of the utilities.) Houses do not need to be placed evenly across the monopoly; whoever is buying the houses decides where they go. Once a hotel is built, no more houses may be built on that spot.

Houses and hotels are permanent. They may never be sold to the bank or moved to other spots, under any circumstances. No matter what happens to the property, the houses stay on it.

(There can never be a shortage of houses or hotels. If the pieces run out, something else should be used to signify houses or hotels.)

SafeCards: The thin cards (which in Monopoly would be from Community Chest or Chance) are always kept face-down. What is written on them never comes into play. However, these cards do have an important use. Face-down, they are called SafeCards. (
Blame Coren for the name. I had to make this concession to him in order to keep the name "Moneyloopy".) When a player lands on any Community Chest spot, he may (if he so chooses) pay $100 to the bank to buy a SafeCard, which he will hold on to along with his properties. SafeCards can get you out of dealing with any spot on the board except Luxury Tax or a property with a hotel. This includes tollbooths (even when passing them), Income Tax, an owned property with up to four houses on it, or even an unowned property. When a SafeCard is used, it is returned to the bank. A player may hold as many SafeCards as he likes, though only one can be bought at a time. If a player lands on Luxury Tax, he loses all his SafeCards. (If he has no SafeCards, he loses nothing.)

Chance: When a player lands on any Chance spot, he may if he so chooses play a game of chance. He places a bid of cash and/or SafeCards in the middle of the board, and rolls a single die. If he gets a 3 or lower, then he loses everything he bid to the bank. If he gets a 4 or higher, then he gets his bid back plus the same amount in cash and SafeCards from the bank. A player may not bid all his money, because a player without money is immediately out of the game. (See "Bankruptcy", below.)

Railroads: If a player lands on Reading Railroad, Pennsylvania Railroad or B&O Railroad, he may if he so chooses take the railroad to get to the next railroad spot on the board without paying a toll. To do this, he spends a turn in transit in the middle of the board. If he does not decide to take the train, then the railroad spot has no effect. But if he does, then he ends that turn by placing his playing piece in the middle of the board directly between the railroad station he is leaving and the railroad station he will be arriving at. In his next turn, he will not roll the dice. He may buy houses as always, then he places his piece on the next railroad spot (this spot will not be activated) and ends his turn.

Short Line operates differently. If a player lands on Short Line (and he chooses to use it) he immediately moves his playing piece to the very center of the board. On his next turn (after buying houses, if he wishes) that player chooses any spot on the entire board (with no exceptions), moves his playing piece to that spot and activates it on the same turn.
In addition, the player receives money from the bank to compensate for the fact that he will not get to pass GO and receive the usual $1,000. How much money he receives depends on where he is on the board:
  • If he jumps to a spot on the first section of the board (anywhere from GO to Connecticut Avenue), he receives $900.
  • If he jumps to the second section (Just Visiting to New York Avenue), he receives $600.
  • If he jumps to the third section (Free Parking to Marvin Gardens), he receives $300.
  • If he jumps to the fourth section (Go To Jail to Boardwalk), he receives no money, because he will still be passing GO.

Income Tax: If a player lands on Income Tax, he must either pay $200 to the bank or use a SafeCard to get out of it. Paying 10% of his money, as written on the board, is not an option. (
Actually, Wikipedia tells me that this change was made to the official Monopoly board last September.)

If a player lands on Water Works, he may if he so chooses sell any property he owns back to the bank for the inflated price of one thousand dollars. Only one property can be sold at a time. That property can then be bought again by any player who lands on it for the market price of $300 (or an auction), as before. A property can be sold which is part of a complete monopoly, and a property can be sold which has houses or a hotel on it. Houses and hotels do not change the market price; if that property is then bought, it comes with the houses and the rent is correspondingly high. Housing does not entitle the seller to any more than $1,000 for the property.

If a player lands on Electric Company, he may if he so chooses steal a property owned by any other player. Only one property can be stolen at a time. To steal a property without a hotel (even if it has houses), the player pays $600 to the bank. Stealing a property with a hotel costs $1,000.

(If a previously-complete monopoly is broken by any means, the owner can no longer build new houses. He also loses the double-rent privilege where there are no houses. However, he retains any houses which are already there and the corresponding rent prices.)

Trades, deals and gifts: At any point in the game, two players can discuss and/or carry out a deal. The progression of the game may be paused at any time for this purpose. Here is what cannot be changed in a deal:
  • The basic movement rules, including all die rolls.
  • The effects of any spaces on the board other than owned properties, such as Income Tax, tollbooths, GO, railroads and unowned properties.
  • Anything owned by, owed to, or owed by a player not agreeing to the deal.
  • No matter what deals are made, a property will always technically have just one "legal" owner.
  • The behavior of the bank.
  • The turn order and bankruptcy rules.
Everything else is fair game. Here are examples of valid deals:
  • Player A gives Boardwalk to Player B, in exchange for Virginia Avenue and $500.
  • Whenever Player A lands on Player B's property, the rent is half what it would otherwise be. In exchange, Player B agrees to cancel a previous deal.
  • Player A will never have to pay player B for landing on any spot with a hotel. In exchange, every time player A lands on a Community Chest he is obligated to buy a SafeCard and give it to player B.
  • Player A will not have to pay the $500 he owes Player B for landing on his spot right now. But as soon as the turn marker reaches Free Parking, he will have to pay him $1,000.
  • Player A may never pass the second tollbooth. In exchange, player B will wash the dishes.
  • Player A gives $150 to player B.
Once a deal has been made, it must be carried out. If the terms of the deal are open-ended, then it will continue until the end of the game unless both players agree to cancel it. (Technically, that is a new deal.)

Bankruptcy: When a player does not have even a single dollar in cash, he is declared bankrupt and is permanently out of the game. This happens when a player owes more money, either to the bank or to a player, than he has the cash to pay. He may try to make a deal to either cancel the immediate debt or get the money needed to pay it. Beyond that, there are no more options. Unlike Monopoly, in Moneyloopy properties may not be mortgaged and houses cannot be sold. So if a deal cannot be made, the player is finished. At that point, all his money goes to whoever is owed it, his SafeCards go back to the bank, and all properties are auctioned off. As with any auction, bidding starts at $100. If there are no bidders for a property, it goes to the bank.



I should point out that if you pay every dollar you have, even if you have just enough, you're technically bankrupt and out of the game. So for instance, if you have only 100 dollars in your hand you are not allowed to buy a SafeCard.

Believe it or not, that last dollar can be extremely important. Today, Eli and I played a 2-player game of Moneyloopy where I accidentally bought a property with all the extra money I didn't need for tolls. (I got it for just $150.) If I had bid even one dollar less, it would have been fine. But not having that dollar left in my hand meant I wasn't able to pay the toll. I would have been stuck looping around the first section until I landed on Income Tax and lost. Eli realized what I had done before I did, and greedily offered to buy one of my properties for 1 dollar. (I had paid around 200 dollars for it, if memory serves.) He later realized that this was a tactical mistake- that dollar allowed me to get around the board, and I actually won the game in the end.

Oh, something else which wasn't quite spelled out: money is hidden.

Hey, thanks for doing this! You saved me the effort, and did a better job than I would have done.

Shortline seems over powered:

Besides the obvious move to the utilities, you can choose to live out the rest of the game on Shortline going back to itself, never paying anymore money out and just living off the income of properties you've already purchased. Maybe not a winning strategy... but strange.

Maybe it can send you anywhere for free, or you can pay $100 to have where you go activate too.

"Besides the obvious move to the utilities, you can choose to live out the rest of the game on Shortline going back to itself, never paying anymore money out and just living off the income of properties you've already purchased. Maybe not a winning strategy... but strange."

I like strange. If you take the Short Line to Water Works, then continue around the board, that's $2000 earned. Staying in place can't possibly make as much for you, so I don't see a problem with it. I just like the idea of being able to wait in the middle of the board until the other player is low on cash, and then jump back in to get a dirt-cheap purchase.

As for the matter of being overpowered, well, yeah. That's kind of the idea. It's just one spot all the way around the board- you're paying $600 to get there, and there's no guarantee of landing on it. I know you don't like luck, but I do in this case.

This sounds like a lot more fun than monopoly.

I will play it sometime.

I've made a major change to the rules. Hopefully this is the last one that will be necessary. Instead of calling a winner after 40 turns through cash alone, each property is worth $400 at the end. We made this change because we found that the most effective strategy was just circling the board for the whole game and never buying any properties. Which does not make for a fun game, obviously. It doesn't seem like that tactic will work with this added rule.


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