Dapeng Li

Hungry, foolish and passionate – yet another software developer.

Monopoly: A New Old Friend


Monopoly is a famous board game, whose history can be tracked back to the 1930s. It’s still very popular today and new versions are being released from year to year. In this post I will tell my stories with the game.

Hello “Monopoly”

Go & Get 200!

Get to know it

I first get to know Monopoly in 1990s. When in elementary school, I spent most of my summer in grandma’s house. One day, two kids from neighborhood brought a big box, it has a square board, some “money”, some rectangular papers, small houses in green and red.


The game is called “Monopoly” (we call it “Qiang Shou” in Chinese). All players go around the board by throwing two dices, which determines how many steps that player should move forward. Your goal of the game is to charge rents from your opponents, making them bankrupt. You build your empire by buying utilities and railways, most importantly, buying properties and building houses on them; the more improved your properties are, the more others will pay you when landing on them. There’re also “Chance” and “Community chest” cards,depends on your luck, they could bring you foutune or be the last straw that makes your dream collapse.

Loved it

We loved it instantly, played with it all the time. After all, we had a good excuse for playing it when questioned by parents: we are learning mathematics, by constantly calculating who should pay how much to whom!
I loved Monopoly so much that I even made a game of my own – I drew a board, wrote property names on it (I remembered they’re names of weapons), created cards and fake money. I guess nobody liked my game except myself, anyway I did enjoyed it a lot.

Monopoly-styled game on PC

Rich4 class=’headingAlreadyInsideContainer’

I spent less time in grandma’s house for summer vacation when I’m in senior high school. I got my first personal computer around the year 1999. There’s a game named Rich4 (“Da Fu Weng 4” in Chinese), which is the 4th edition of a Monopoly-styled PC game. It has almost everything the original Monopoly has, and a lot of features Monopoly lacks.


In my mind Rich4 is the best game in this genre. It has multiple maps, stock market, evil cards (you can use them to attack your opponents, upgrade/downgrade properties, cheat the market, and many more), evil gadgets (landmines, vehicles, even missiles to destroy the building and send your opponent to hospital!), you can also construct different kinds of buildings, such as hotel (you opponent will sleep in it), super market (gain money), oil station (charge opponents when they’re on motocyles or vehicles) or research center (the secret factory of all your super-evil gadgets). Playing Rich4 is so fun that I even played it now, if you haven’t tried it, you should!

Monopoly: Here and Now

A modernized version

Around 2007 I found a PC game named Monopoly Here and Now, this is the official modernized version of the original Monopoly. The property names had been changed, the monetary values are multiplied by 10,000, the Chances and Community Chest cards had been changed as well.

Monopoly Here and Now PC version

I can only build houses when I own the property set?

The PC version is stunningly beautiful and very fun to play with. However, I was confused by the rules: I can’t build houses if I don’t own all the properties of the same color – I’m sure that is allowed in the original game (when I was a kid) and Rich4 – as long as I land on my own property! It turned out, the “strange” limitations are the official rules of Monopoly: you can only build houses when you own a property set (all colors of the same properties), however, you can build as many houses as you want at any time.

Frankly speaking I didn’t play the Here and Now version much, maybe I just couldn’t accept the fact that I was playing wrong all those years…

Revisiting Monopoly

The official rules

After abandoning the PC version for some time, I purchased an iPhone version and a reproduction of 1935 version. This time I read the official rules and played by it, again it’s hard to change my paradigm. At first, I’m losing to the computer all the time, at one moment I thought that luck, rather than strategy, determines who will win in this game.

Reproduction of 1935 edition

What “monopoly” really means

Actually strategy is involved. The rules require you to first “monopolize” all the properties of the same color, then build houses and hotels as many you want (the upper limit of building for every property is 1 hotel, which equals to 5 houses). However, in every game you rarely have the luck of landing on all properties of the same color before your opponents do and buying all of them, how can you “monopolize”? The answer is trading, you trade your properties with other players to get to “monopoly”. Well, these are the tricky (and fun!) questions: trade what for what? When? With whom? After looking at the game from this perspective, I felt that the rules we played originally (you don’t need to own the whole property set to build houses, but can only build one when you land on it) favor luck more than strategy.

Here is a decent sized board of the original Monopoly.

Below are some interesting facts I found:

  • The title of the game is “Monopoly”, the subtitle is “Property Trading Game from Parker Brothers”. (the essence of the game is trading, it’s written in there)
  • Illinois Avenue, New York Avenue, B&O Railroad, and Reading Railroad are the most frequently landed-upon properties. Mediterranean Avenue and Baltic Avenue are the least-landed-upon properties. (from a very serious post from amnesta.net)
  • The longest Monopoly game in history lasted for 70 straight days.
  • The Monopoly Guy has a name, it’s Rich Uncle Pennybags.

Well, that’s what happened. I’m sure this game will be with me for many many years to come, hope you like it as well. Maybe we can play together one day.

Happy Monopoly!

Written by Dapeng

March 30th, 2011 at 11:05 pm

Posted in Fun

  • Azz

    What a story… Now I get why this game is names “Monopoly”. I guess its Chinese version was not named “Long Duan” simply because the color of this word is… say… negative, in a sense; while the word “Monopoly” is fairly neutral.

    It is possible when the game was first introduced to China, the interpreter did not get the essence of this game as well. But even if he/she did, it would not be easy to get the game name translated accurately and properly. There is truly no equivalent in two languages…

    I’m now wondering how many players in China were actuallly mislead by “Da Fu Weng4” about the game’s rule and now struggling to accept the original one. But what I’m sure is – there must be many more players who still believe they are playing correctly. ^_^

    • Someone says the longest Monopoly games are caused by deadlocks when no one in the game owns a property set, everyone can survive the cycle with the $200 collected at “Go”, they ruined the game by not trading. In that case, there’s really no fun in it anymore, but one trade could break the balance and make interesting things happen.

      Hopefully, one day I can find the Monopoly game I originally played and read through the rules in that box again.

  • Azz

    This example reminds me of an economic term “Oligopoly”, which represents a market/sector dominated by a couple of players. In an Oligopoly market, the interation between players determines the market’s shape and structure. That is, it’s supposed the oligopolists are aware of each other’s decision and the decision may have impact on all oligopolists….. Don’t think I’m able to explain it clearly…

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