Monopoly fans can rethink the rules

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Posted: Friday, March 28, 2014 12:00 am | Updated: 1:51 pm, Thu Jun 5, 2014.

Maybe you and your friends have made Free Parking more like a winning lottery ticket by adding the proceeds from taxes and fees. Or you’ve started your own stimulus program by jacking up the take for landing on Go — or amended those pesky regulations limiting houses and hotels.

If so, you’ve been playing Monopoly incorrectly. But soon such “house rules” may receive an official blessing.

Hasbro, which has published the classic board game since 1991, announced Tuesday that it will incorporate the top “house rules” into a special edition starting this fall.

“While the official Monopoly rules will not change,” the company said, “fans who love playing with ‘house rules’ will now have the opportunity to play them in their game.”

To kick off the promotional effort, Hasbro is inviting fans to debate the pros and cons of 10 popular house rules on the game’s Facebook page through April 3. Then it will choose five to become part of a special edition and to be included as an addendum to the official rules in a Monopoly game guide.

The announcement may be odious to many Monopoly die-hards, who lament that most people do not play by the rules in the first place.

According to the official rules, largely unchanged since the 1930s, whenever a player lands on an unowned property and decides not to purchase it, the bank sells it to the highest bidder in an auction, speeding up the game and increasing benevolent sparring among players. Each player is to receive $1,500 — no more or less — to start the game, and the limit of 32 houses and 12 hotels that come with the game can offer an additional layer of strategy by creating a housing shortage.

Perhaps most overlooked by lay players is the rule that if the owner of a property fails to ask for rent before the next throw of the dice, no rent is collected.

Many common house rules cast aside prescribed limits: injecting more cash into Free Parking; giving $400 for landing on Go rather than the stipulated $200 for merely passing by; using additional houses and hotels if the provided stash runs out; and providing higher tiers of cash payouts for rolling snake eyes. Some say jailbirds may not collect rent while behind bars, and others are in favor of haggling cash advances and co-ownership of properties.

Hasbro does not break out Monopoly sales specifics, but taking into account the original tabletop edition of the game, digital versions and related -opoly games produced under a license from the company, analysts say sales have stayed strong, with several hundred million copies sold since the 1930s.

The nod to popular rule variations is the latest tactic meant to draw new attention to the old game. Last year, in addition to unrolling a corporate edition, the company announced the ouster of one token — the iron — and the introduction of the cat.

But the game has been evolving since its inception. It traces its origins to Elizabeth J. Magie, a left-wing activist who received a patent for her Landlord’s Game in 1904. Magie acknowledged that players might need to make their own tweaks.

“Should any emergency arise which is not covered by the rules of the game,” Magie’s 1904 patent reads, “the players must settle the matter between themselves.”

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