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Board Game Design Challenge (Monopoly)

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Improve the game of Monopoly using only simple rules and component changes. Introduce strategic decision-making to the game of Monopoly.
Let’s face it, Monopoly is a boring game. Usually by halfway through the game it’s pretty clear who is going to win. There are no real decisions in the game, and everyone’s strategy is exactly the same: Sweep up as many properties as you can early on and hope for lucky rolls.

• Board with 40 spaces
• 2 6d
• Bank notes, various denominations (colored)
• Player piece(s)
• Effect cards (Community Chest, Chance)
• Deed cards (color-linked to 8 property groups)
• House and Hotel models

• You cannot add any piece(s) that are not commonly available or easy to create
• You may subtract pieces
• You may rewrite rules to your heart’s content


Community Chest:

Advance to Go (Collect $200)
Bank error in your favor – collect $75
Doctor’s fees – Pay $50
Get out of jail free – this card may be kept until needed, or sold
Go to jail – go directly to jail – Do not pass Go, do not collect $200
It is your birthday Collect $10 from each player
Grand Opera Night – collect $50 from every player for opening night seats
Income Tax refund – collect $20
Life Insurance Matures – collect $100
Pay Hospital Fees of $100
Pay School Fees of $50
Receive $25 Consultancy Fee
You are assessed for street repairs – $40 per house, $115 per hotel
You have won second prize in a beauty contest– collect $10
You inherit $100
From sale of stock you get $50
Holiday Fund matures – Receive $100


Advance to Go (Collect $200)
Advance to Illinois Ave.
Advance token to nearest Utility. If unowned, you may buy it from the Bank. If owned, throw dice and pay owner a total ten times the amount thrown.
Advance token to the nearest Railroad and pay owner twice the rental to which he/she is otherwise entitled. If Railroad is unowned, you may buy it from the Bank. (There are two of these.)
Advance to St. Charles Place – if you pass Go, collect $200
Bank pays you dividend of $50
Get out of Jail free – this card may be kept until needed, or traded/sold
Go back 3 spaces
Go directly to Jail – do not pass Go, do not collect $200
Make general repairs on all your property – for each house pay $25 – for each hotel $100
Pay poor tax of $15
Take a trip to Reading Railroad – if you pass Go collect $200
Take a walk on the Boardwalk – advance token to Boardwalk
You have been elected chairman of the board – pay each player $50
Your building loan matures – collect $150
You have won a crossword competition – collect $100

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Battle Monopoly

I’m still thinking through how exactly this would work but basically this is how it would work.

Battle Rules

Whenever you land on an enemy’s space, you may try to capture it (or you can just pay rent), when you attack, both of you roll a die, the defending player rolls the die x+1 times, where x is the number of houses on the defending property or hotel equivalent. The player totals up the sum of its rolls and that is his defending power. The attacking player also rolls the dice x+1 times where x is the number of houses on a chosen property under his control within 10 spaces from his location from which he borrows attack power from the houses or the hotel equivalent of that space. You can also choose to only borrow power from a few of the houses on the chosen space, (if you had 4 houses on a space, you could choose to only use two to power your attack so that you would still have houses left on that space)

If the attack is successful, the property you borrowed power from, would have the number of houses you chose to attack with removed, as if destroyed in the fight. The property you attacked would then have all of its houses removed and would be put under your control. You may move houses from the other properties in the same set as the one you borrowed power from, to the newly acquired property, but you cannot move more houses to the newly acquired land as to leave the property from which houses are being transferd from with less houses than what is put on the newly acquired land.

If the attack was a tie the number of houses you used in the attack would be destroyed, all houses on the defending players spot would be destroyed, however the defending player retains ownership of the attacked property. The attacking player must pay rent to the defending player.

If the attack failed, the attacking player loses the amount of houses he borrowed power from, the defending player loses houses equivalent to what the attacking player borrowed power from, however the attacking player must pay rent equivalent to the rent value of the defending players property before it lost any houses.

Other Rules

If you controlled the whole group of properties and had houses on properties in the group, if one of the properties are lost in battle, you may still build houses on the remaining two properties in the set, however if you lose two properties in the set, you may no longer build houses on your one remaining property. (This also applies to the purple and dark blue properties, if you lose one of the properties, the one remaining property cannot be built on)

You cannot build houses in the same turn after an attack, you must wait until the beginning of your turn.

The rules are the same as regular monopoly, unless otherwise specified.

I’m wondering how this would actually work, it could be kind of cool, but I could also see many problems. This is what I have come up with so far but I will think it through more to make it work better. Possibly making it so that you gain money each turn equivalent to the total rent of your properties divided by ten or something, but that would add too many calculations and would be too much of a hassle, so probably not, maybe something about gaining some money each turn based on how many properties you own, but I’ll have to think about it.

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That’s a nice twist kantieno and I think it would make monopoly at least way more interesting. However, it doesn’t solve the basic issue that Monopoly is a roll-and-move game where you don’t have any real strategic decisions to make. You did add one interesting decision (choosing how many houses to use in an attack) but I think that you’d probably almost always just use as many as you need in order to win the battle.

The design challenge isn’t an easy one at all. I’ve given this lots of thought in the past (the most popular board game that isn’t chess or go is also the one with possibly the least amount of interesting decisions to make) and it would be super hard to make an interesting version of Monopoly that still resembles Monopoly. The inherent issue with the game is its core mechanic: roll-and-move. To make Monopoly interesting, you’d have to remove or at least massage the roll-and-move mechanic, but without that it wouldn’t really feel like Monopoly at all. If you don’t roll-and-move, you’d have some decisions to make, but it would still be a rat race to buy the best properties.

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Not bad. I like the idea of houses being used as shields. The entire motif of the game could even change. Instead of properties, maybe they are battle sites… houses are soldiers, hotels are cannons.

Here’s one I was thinking about on my way to work today…

Monopoly Dice
Played as Monopoly with the following house rules:
• Player rolls two dice and may opt to only use one of the rolled dice. For example, player rolls a 4 and a 6. They may move 4 spaces, 6 spaces, or 10 spaces.
• At any point after the first time around the board, when a player has “line of sight” to another player’s piece and opt to only use one of their two die rolls, they may use the other die to move the opponent’s piece. (Intent is to screw your opponent by moving them onto a desired property… one that is owned by you or another opponent.)
(Option) • If a die is unused, it is paid in dollars to Free Parking. (Intent here is to provide a small disincentive to only using one die.) For example, if a player only moves 4 spaces and discards the 6, they pay $6 to Free Parking.
(Option) • A third red die is added to the game. This die is used for backward movement. All of the above rules apply. Each player rolls all three dice, (two white dice, one red die). The white dice are added together, and the red die is subtracted from that sum. As before, a player may opt to remove one or two dice from the equation. For example,

One challenge with this house rule is that it could bog down a game while players calculate their options. In response, a game limiter might be considered… say, 4 times around the board.

Monopoly Build-Up
Each time a space is landed on, rent for that space is doubled. Pennies can be used to track this multiplier. (The ordinary rent doubler for owning all properties of a color block are ignored.)

Monopoly Sorry
• Each player uses two pieces and may split their roll between them, if they wish.
• Landing on an opponent’s piece allows you to teleport that piece to any space on the board and resolve the space’s effects.

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I have one rather simple mechanic that might make things a little better.

Before you roll, you have a choice to move forward(progressing to GO where you gain $200), or pay $50 to go backwards. When moving backwards, after you roll you can pay 1 / 20 of your current cash or another $100 to either skip forward one square or move backwards another square. You can only choose backwards 10 times per game, to prevent players from turning the end of the game into a painfully slow anticlimax as people just keep dodging each others’ properties. You cannot back over GO, if you hit GO while backing up, you simply stop moving.

This would allow people to choose between trying to pinpoint desirable areas, but draining your resources and stunting your income or continuing with the normal mechanic. It could also add a decision based on whether to use your retreat ability offensively, defensively, or some combination of the two.

Another small mechanic could be bonuses to the different types of pieces. Maintaining balance could be difficult, but it would also be fairly interesting to have some pieces more effective early game, and some more effective late game. Disputes over who gets a mutually desired peice could be settled the old fashioned way, with all parties rolling for the highest number. Examples:

Iron: Housework Ability to stay still on properties you own for one turn.

Cart: Harvest Extra $100 upon reaching GO.

Dog/Horse: Trot Ability to pay $50 to roll the die once before moving. If it lands on one or six, you may choose to nullify the movement roll and advance a single space instead.

Cannon: Invade When landing on a hostile property, choice to roll the die. If it lands on 6, the property is conquered and the invader owns it(or, if there is a hotel on it, the invader pays $200 and the hotel is removed). If it lands on anything else, the invader pays triple rent.

Car: Drag Racer Any time you pass another player, they pay you $100.

Hat: Lawyers When you should go to jail, you sue the government and make $300 instead.

Boot: Communists When landing on one of your properties, you may incite a mob and raze a set of properties to the ground(noone can do anything with them ever again) by rolling the die and getting a 1, 3, or 6. If it fails, the CIA ‘Neutralizes’ you, and you are out of the game. This can only be used once, and it cannot be used against a set of properties with a hotel.

Battleship: Bigger Stick When occupying a square within one space of another player, you may send them to any non – player owned square, where they cannot roll two die per turn until one of them is a 5 or 6. Every turn they fail to do this, you gain $50. This can only be used once per player.

Thimble: Thumble Other players cannot use their abilities against you.

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Originally posted by rawismojo:

However, it doesn’t solve the basic issue that Monopoly is a roll-and-move game where you don’t have any real strategic decisions to make.

Yeah, while I was typing it up, I realized how hard it may be to actually do anything considering, that there’s only a small chance that you will actually be able to land on a desired property making it hard to really go about with any good strategy. I may revise it to have more choices on attacking, maybe once a turn you can use one of your properties to attack a nearby enemy property, sort of like risk.

@Pete I probably like the monopoly sorry best, it would give a lot more variety, things to do, and strategy to the game. Although the monopoly build up seems like it be pretty cool if you wanted to play a rather short game.

@clasher I was thinking of adding bonuses to characters too, sort of like a commander bonus in “Battle Monopoly”, but they were mainly simpler things like the dog could choose to move an extra space on his turn or not. But yours are really cool and the lawyer one kind of made me laugh.

One other thing that I had thought of, is kind of strange and wouldn’t change much or even work most of the time so it might not change the game all that much, but basically you can try to cheat the other players as much as you want, as long as they don’t notice.

If you can slip an extra $500 out of the bank and no one else immediately or quickly notices, then you can keep it. If you manage to steal one of there property cards and they don’t catch you in the act or notice it quickly, then you can keep it. This would probably result in an angry game of monopoly, but still might be pretty cool :P

Pretty much you can do anything, just as long as you don’t get caught.

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Clasher, maybe certain properties carry those character abilities in addition to rents. Combined with some kind of mechanism for adjusting your die rolls, you could aim for the abilities you felt suited you… like “Monopoly: The RPG”. It’s a fun idea!

Here’s a board configuration but no real rules associated with it. I thought it might be fun if players explored the pyramid-like dungeons, gathering treasure (properties), and building strength.

Perhaps each of the four “dungeons” needs to be fully explored before you can win. I’m not sure how that would work… just sort of thinking out loud.

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Monopoly Dice (better version)

Player rolls three dice. Two are white, one is red. They then choose to move the sum of the white dice forward, (as the game is played now), or move backward the one red die.

Oh, wait. A person could use this to cross GO over and over, or stay within the area of the board where they are relatively safe. Hmmm… needs work. (Nevermind!)

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Monopoly is a really weird beast. It’s the grand-daddy to the modern American board game and it’s nearly undeniable that a lot of our modern games wouldn’t exist as they do without it. But, it’s constantly criticized by anyone who plays or designs board games as being a truly awful game and thinking of ways to redesign it as a decent game. There aren’t a lot of film makers (at least none that I’ve met or read about) that think that they could re-do Battleship Potemkin and really make it into a decent film or many composers who think that Bach was really just missing a slide guitar in his compositions. There are re-imaginings and whatnot of all these things, but when people talk about mashing up a Bach composition or re-cutting Potemkin they do it with a bit of admiration for the original work. Board games are in a weird place in that most games made before the 1980’s (Chess, go and the like excepted, of course) and for the most part the 1990’s are pretty awful compared to what they are now without the technology really changing that much. I’m going to keep thinking about the original challenge, and I have a number of times in the past, but the thing that makes it a really interesting challenge is that every solution that comes to close to producing a fun game goes to great lengths to ignore the base concept of the game.

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Well, that’s a great point, rawismojo.

Answer me this:
What is it about Monopoly that makes it fun?
What is its fundamental “entertainment” factor?
Is it the thrill of rolling the dice in hope and suspense?
Is it the slow, agonizing way you can torture your struggling opponents?
Is it the chase factor of getting that last property in a block?

Once you’ve identified the key attraction, you can build on that conceit while removing all of the bullshit about the game. In many ways, Monopoly built a monopoly on the American games market. It wasn’t until the last 15 years that electronic games ended its reign of terror. In the 80s, simplistic “track-style” race games were the dominant form. Today it’s much better.

Or are you talking about the “concept” of economic acquisition that’s being ignored? I guess I wouldn’t refer to that as the game concept, but rather the game’s theme.

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This is relevant.

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Funny. One of the board games he mentions in that video, Acquire, I worked on.

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I assume you mean the version that was re-done by Hasbro in the 90’s and not the original version made in the 60’s.

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Yeah, the 2008 version.

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Monopoly Super Dice

All standard Monopoly rules apply with the following additions:

Added Components
Assortment of colored 6-sided dice

Added Rule
Each property purchased allows the player the option of adding a bonus die to their movement roll. There are four bonus dice, one for each side of the square board. Each side of the Monopoly board contains two property groups. The player must have at least one property in BOTH property groups on that side of the board. Player may only add one die to their normal movement dice roll, (2 white dice), regardless of how many properties they own on that side of the board.

Example: I currently own St. Charles Place on the western side of the board (purple). I do not have the option of employing the bonus die yet until I acquire a property from the orange group. Once I purchase one of the orange properties, I then have the option of including a bonus die with each ordinary movement roll.

The available choices of dice to add is determined by the properties they possess:

South properties, subsidy bonus:
Provides bonus from bank, sum of movement and bonus dice = $ ($3—18 per turn)

West properties, mobility bonus:
Provides additional forward movement (3—18 spaces; two white dice must match to trigger extra turn)

North properties, flexibility bonus:
If bonus die matches either movement dice, player may reroll that die, (if it matches again, they may reroll again)

East properties, exemption bonus:
Bonus die X 10% rent or price of property reduction

Only two players may ever have access to the South (“tax subsidy”) and East (“Friends in High Places”) bonuses because there are only two properties in one of their property groups.

This house rule would encourage diverse holdings. Unfortunately, it does not add much in the way of choices; the game would still just be a land-grab.

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Adding on to “Battle Monopoly”

When defending against an attack, your defense power gets an automatic +1.

If you were to move past a property under your control on which a house has been built and you are going to land on an enemy property with at least one house built on it at the end of your movement, as you pass your property you can bring a house with you and upon landing on the enemy property, the house you brought along will destroy itself along with one of the enemies houses. Rent would be paid based on the number of houses left after one being destroyed.

I’m trying to think of things that will help give more strategy to the game, such as traps, additional property upgrades, but I’m still thinking through exactly how they will work.

@Pete What if you made it so that if you controlled all properties on one side of the board, it would make your bonus even more powerful? That could be kind of cool. Maybe having “Friends in high places” for owning the east side, you could be given immunity from going to jail, among possible other things.

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Unfortunately, it does not add much in the way of choices; the game would still just be a land-grab.

You can put lipstick on a pig. It’s still a pig.

I don’t have any conclusions, but I feel like the basic thing that would need to change is when you land on a property, you’d need to actually make a decision whether or not to buy it. Right now there’s technically a “decision” to be made, but it’s almost always the wrong decision to not buy it. This would probably require getting rid of the bidding rule that occurs when a property is landed on and not purchased. This might require some kind of matrix where property built on one space would affect the prices of other properties, sometimes in a negative fashion.

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Kantieno, I like the idea of bringing things with you.

Rawismojo, you’re right. The land-grab aspect needs to be addressed.

Consider this:
Houses are upgrades. They basically increase your income for that property. What if there were other property upgrades that you could get instead of, (or in addition to), houses?

Toll Booth
Pay to pass.

Stops players at your property.

Option to buy opponent’s property at market value. (I.e., property cost + upgrades.)

Express Lane
Teleport opponent’s piece to the space of your choice.

I’m not sure how to address the land-grab aspect. It’s a tough challenge without significantly altering the nature of the game. Here’s some options:

Bid to Start
Players bid on going first each turn. (Turns are played in rounds. Property effects are resolved at the end of the round.)

Pay to Take a Second Turn
If you land on unowned or un-ownable property, (card draw, jail, etc.), you may pay to take a second turn instead of resolving that space’s effects. This would move players more quickly to the premium places on the board but reduce their spending capital in the process. Kind of introduces a neat balance to express mobility. You’d probably remove the current doubles rule for using a rule like this.

All Properties Open Bid
The person landing on a property does not automatically get “rights of first refusal.” The property immediately goes to the highest bidder. Although this would effectively collapse the game rather quickly, that might be a relief. In other words, a person that was winning would go on to win the game very quickly if they could simply outbid everyone.

Property Ownership Expires
Every time someone lands on a property, a house is added to it. When the 4th person lands on that property, the appropriate (high) rent is paid and the deed is returned to the bank.

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That little list you made helped me think of some traps, thanks :P

Basically you pay some amount of money (I don’t know what would be appropriate) and you can lay down a trap on a block that you pass when you move. I’m not sure how long traps would last.

Goo Makes moving across a certain block cost 2 moves instead of one, useful for helping make other players land on your property.

Spores Paralyzes the passing player rendering them unable to attack the enemy’s property if one is landed on. Effect wears off after turn.

Steel Reinforcement An item attached to a property that protects it from any enemy attack, wears off at the beginning of your next turn.

To prevent rich people from spamming traps and making themselves practically invulnerable, there would be a one trap limit of each type for player. There would also be a counter for the number of turns you must wait before being able to use a trap/item again.

@Pete Im wondering how the “all properties open bid” would play out, I do think it would be a more strategic way of playing then having it based off of pure chance of who lands on what property. But Im wondering what would happen and to what length would someone go in a bid war to prevent someone from getting both blues, or really any complete set of any color. Im thinking people would blow a lot of money in bids for a small number of properties and then be screwed. That style could be pretty interesting, next chance I get I want to try that.

Also the “Blockade” seems like it would be kind of cheap, if someone put a blockade on the blues and had houses on them, everyone else would be screwed. But then you may have in mind, that there would be either a high cost for blockade or you cant build many houses if you have a blockade, which would even it out a bit.

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Goo could also cause the player to only move the lower of their two dice during the next turn. This could be a fun trap to lay before your block of properties. In fact, I like the idea of traps in the broad sense. It could add a nice layer to the game.

Traps could replace the CC and Ch cards. (They’re kind of pointless anyway, usually.) Maybe you get one for free when you land on those spaces, or you can buy them outright on your turn for $100 or so.

Chance and Community Chest could be combined into a single stack if they were all traps.

Frankly, Kantieno, I’m not feeling the concept of attacking someone’s property. At least not in terms of having it destroyed. If anything, I wouldn’t mind seeing combat resolution as a way of avoiding the penalty for landing there, (“rent”). Utterly destroying or stealing their property seems drastic and could lead to a strategy where there was incentive to NOT upgrading properties.

What if each player had two pieces and could move only one of them on their turn, (deciding after their roll)? That would be a lot like SORRY… where each player has a few pieces and they choose which to move.

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Yeah, I felt that it would be a bit iffy having the property destroyed, there was lots of problems with it, but I tried to cling on to it hoping I could think of something to make it work, however it seems that it would just work better the way you suggested it.

Also your suggestion of replacing the cc and ch cards gave me an idea, partly it helped solve a problem of how to add in a feature I was thinking of.

CC could be give you place-able traps and then Ch would give a different type of “trap”. You do not have to reveal cards that you pick up.

Chance Cards (Possible cards that I thought of)

Bandits- This card gives a location on the board, whenever a player moves by this location, you may use this card, stealing $100? from the player. Other similar cards can be made based on triggering surprise traps based on board location.

Kidnap?(Dont know a good name)- When a player moves by a railroad under your control, you may play this card, moving the player to a chosen spot on the board (Maybe there will be a limit to how far you can move them?)

Contamination- If you pass the water utility, you may play this card, contaminating the water supply, causing (several variations are possible I will just list some possible ones):

Sluggish movements- Players move at half speed with each block counting as two moves, doesn’t affect player who played card. Im not sure how long this would last. I could think of several strategic uses for this.

Doctors Bill- Players must simply pay a fee to cure them of illness caused by contamination.

And I do think I will definitely change the battle system to just negating the property’s effect (which would include possible added effects that property’s can have if they are upgraded certain ways, but I will elaborate on that after I think on it some more)

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All cards should be limited to one card per player per turn. All “interrupts” are kept until used.

A few more… (You could even write these onto existing Monopoly cards just to spice up the game.)

These may be played on your piece during your turn or on one of your opponent’s pieces.

Play this card to move an opponent one space forward after their move.

Before rolling, play this card to double the movement roll.

Before rolling, play this card to roll only one die for movement this turn.

When any player lands on an unowned property, play this card to put that property to public auction.

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Interesting. I’ll see what I can think of.

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Oh, here’s an interesting one. (Though it doesn’t solve the land-grab problem.)

Each house adds one movement point to leave that property space.

• 1 house = 2 points to leave (one for the property itself—as usual—and one for the house)
• 2 houses = 3 points to leave
• 3 houses = 4 points
… and so on.
(Hotels = 5 houses and are 6 points to leave)

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Originally posted by petesahooligan:

Monopoly Super Dice

All standard Monopoly rules apply with the following additions:

Added Components
Assortment of colored 6-sided dice

Added Rule
Each property purchased allows the player the option of adding a bonus die to their movement roll. […]

South properties, subsidy bonus: […]

West properties, mobility bonus: […]

North properties, flexibility bonus: […]

East properties, exemption bonus: […]


This house rule would encourage diverse holdings. Unfortunately, it does not add much in the way of choices; the game would still just be a land-grab.

I just wandered in to this thread (usually I hang around the programming thread to avoid actually doing any programming), so sorry to butt in, but I just wanted to point out that, while interesting, these actually exacerbate one of the problems you’re trying to alleviate (that you know who’s going to win long before it actually happens). All of the above ideas are predicated on having two properties from different groups on the same side of the board, but chances are that if you have that, you’re not doing too bad (you have leverage to keep two monopolies out of an opponent’s hands, for one) — but then when the game becomes imbalanced (the point at which you know who’s going to win), it further tips “fortune” in their favour… Although you can argue that at least this would speed up the “death throes” portion of the game.

The same can be said about the Toll Booth/Blockade/Express Lane ideas (except maybe very early-game).

I do like the Bump/Accelerate/Brakes/Outbid card ideas, though (except Accelerate should probably only add one of the dice, as Brakes effectively gives you a choice unless you roll a double, making it much more valuable).

How about these:
Contruction of houses/hotels/whatever is not immediate. Rent can only be collected for fully-constructed buildings on that property (empty properties garner no rent, but houses (or certain other buildings, if you include them) can be built on individual properties without monopoly…?). Permit fees must be paid prior to beginning construction, then pass GO (then building may commence — changing buildings later would require new permit fees, tearing down old building, and constructing new one). Taxes must be paid for all properties and buildings (including those not finished) every time player passes GO.

These would not only mitigate the imbalancing effect, but would be far closer to the reality of property ownership (albeit still quite far)… if that’s important at all.

I’m not sure I like my ideas either, but then, it is only Monopoly, after all…