Friday, November 18, 2005

The Straight Dope: What is supposed to happen when you land on "Free Parking" in Monopoly?

From The Straight Dope, here is "a list of what appears to be every Monopoly rule variation ever devised by the mind of man, ranging from the mundane to the criminally deranged. Herewith a sampling:

- If you land directly on Go, you collect $400 instead of the usual $200. There's also the "subway" variation--if you land directly on Go, on your next turn you can choose not to roll the dice and move instead directly to any other space on the board.

- If you go bankrupt, you can file for reorganization under Chapter 11, meaning you distribute all your cash on hand to your creditors but continue to play.

- Players can establish "investment funds" by paying any sum of money into the bank. Subsequently they draw 10 percent interest on their investments (plus $200) every time they pass Go.

- If you own all four railroads, you can build "stations" on them. (These stations look suspiciously like houses, thereby demonstrating the monotonous uniformity that is characteristic of modern architecture.) Rent progresses upward until you get to "Grand Central Station," the equivalent of a hotel, which permits you to extort $1700 from the unlucky sap who lands on it.

- For the ultimate in sybaritic living, we have the concept of "building beyond hotels": an Estate with Gardener's Cottage (a hotel plus a house), an Estate with Gardener's Cottage & Rolls Royce Garage (a hotel plus two houses), and a Palace (a hotel with three houses). These permit rents to be raised to truly astronomical levels--a Boardwalk palace will net its owner a whopping $7500, resulting in instant ruin for the lessee/victim.

- Then there's the WAHOO card, which you get one of every time you land on Free Parking. Among other things there is the Three Mile Island Contamination card, in which "the color group of properties of your choice is contaminated by leaked nuclear wastes and no owner of a property on that group can collect rent until they have twice passed Go and paid a $500 clean-up charge to the bank." Guaranteed to bring a touch of realistic contemporary angst to the game.

Finally, for those who are truly interested in making Monopoly a spiritually significant experience, hustling Straight Dope managing editor Pat C. suggests a splendid variation called Cosmonopoly. Here, instead of chasing after tawdry commodities like Baltic and St. Charles Place, we aspire to the Platonic virtues, Truth and Beauty. We replace Community Chest and Chance with Free Will and Predetermination, one of the cards from which may sternly admonish you to "GO DIRECTLY TO THE METAPHYSICAL VOID. Do not pass Being or Essence. Do not collect $200." To get out of the Metaphysical Void, you either have to grasp the meaning of the universe or roll doubles twice.

On the Catholic side of the board, instead of collecting all the properties in a color group, your aim is to acquire Wisdom, Understanding, Knowledge, Counsel, Piety, Fortitude, and Fear of the Lord. Playing pieces to select from include the Jean-Paul Sartre piece (comes with blank dice and it's up to you to to decide how far you want to go) and the Nostradamus piece (you just sit around and guess who's going to win). Entrepreneurs interested in making a killing on this outstanding concept may write care of this column for a complete prospectus.


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