The purpose of this guide is to help players evaluate monopoly properties. Without this knowledge, most of the possible deals which could be beneficial for both parties never take place, game goes for much, much longer with little joy for anybody. Fear of giving up more than receiving keeps players from trading, ruining the experience. The following guide provides the most comprehensive insight into most of the factors affecting the value of the property.
The same as with any other goods or services traded on any open market, one must understand that the value of the property is determined purely by how much players would be willing to pay for it. That amount has very little to do with its price, i.e. the cost of the original purchase from the bank. Once card is purchased from the bank, the only limit on how much (or little) it may cost is the 50% of its bank’s price if it is not mortgaged, because this is the amount of money the owner is guaranteed to get from the bank at any moment. Mortgaged cards have no minimal price limit.
The value of properties depends very heavily on how much cash both trading players have, and slightly less on their total NET value, which is the sum of values of everything they own. For simplicity, we should consider players cash plus sum of all the prices of his non-mortgaged cards divided by 2, provided those cards do not belong to a monopoly set with houses on. That would be the maximum amount of money player could spend on houses if he is given a set after the trade. So, if your opponent is going to have (or already having) a set to build on, your task is to give him as little cash as possible, and preferably trade to take cash from him (by giving him more cards). If you cannot stop your opponent from obtaining a complete set, make sure he cannot build much with the money he is left with. Or, at least, make sure that you obtain a set yourself and can build more than your opponent would be able to. However, even if both of you would obtain a set after that trade (by trading cards to complete each other’s sets) it would still be beneficial to you as you double your chances to win the game. Before the trade, no one had a set, so everyone had roughly 25% chance to win, and after the trade, both you and your opponent would have a set with houses, and unless other 2 players can scramble and make a deal with somebody to get their own sets finished as soon as possible, they are both doomed and the game would be between you too. Therefore, trading for a set finisher even when you must give up something very valuable is always better than staying put.
There are also situations when cash is not valued highly. For example, when someone offers you cash for a card, especially a last one for his set, and you don’t have your own set to build up and obtaining a set finisher from another player seems unlikely. Even in that instance, you should not refuse the trade without negotiating – who knows, the other player might be smart enough to understand your position and be willing to offer so much money that you cannot refuse. Besides, if he gives everything to you, this set would be of little value to him if he cannot develop it by building houses.
Consider opposite scenario: your opponent, who has underdeveloped monopoly set (1-2 houses on each card), offers you to buy his mortgaged card which would be a second card in a set of 3 to you. You should consider that any money you give would go straight into houses, greatly increasing his chances to win. So, cash means a lot to him at that moment, make sure you don’t give much (if agreeing to a trade at all). Your opponent most likely would be willing to sell his card for any money since it has no value for him.
When trading, one should also consider the game’s inflation – i.e. the speed with which the total amount of money in players’ hands increases. The main drivers of inflation are the salary amount, bonuses for landing on special locations, the likelihood of receiving money in Chest and Chance cards, as well as the number of players in the game. When inflation is high, even if you take all the opponents cash in exchange for the last card, he is likely to get enough cash to build it up from the bank anyway. If game inflation is higher than normal, every property card should be valued more. Alternatively, with lower inflation or deflation, the value of cash goes up and the properties would cost less. To keep everything as simple as possible, as well as ensure best possible game balance, let’s assume those inflation settings are set to their defaults (salary is $200, no bonuses for landing on Go or Free Parking, balanced Chance and Chest cards)
Another point to consider is the number of unowned cards on a board. If there are many unowned properties, such as in the beginning of the game, there is a chance that player could get a natural monopoly (would buy all the cards from the bank himself). Therefore, the value of the cards is not high. However, when there are very few cards left, trading becomes the only way to get a monopoly – the value of the cards goes up.
The quantity of the houses still available on the board is also very important. If there is a possibility of a house shortage, finishing monopoly sets would not really help to win the game. On the other hand, the stations and utilities become a screaming buy as they do not need houses.
At this point you are probably wondering: “this is all good and fine, but how does it help me to be able to value properties better during the trade? I get it, there are many variables which affect the value, but how exactly should I use them? It only proves that the matter is even more confusing than I thought before! Gi’me the numbers!” Don’t worry, the numbers are coming. We would have to use a simplified model to make it possible to calculate everything on a fly, but those numbers should give you a good idea on where the final value should be. Feel free to apply your own judgement, as well as your own biases towards certain monopoly sets and your opponent’s abilities (there is little harm in giving last card for a set to someone who constantly forgets to build houses, or raise additional money through mortgaging).
First card in a set for you or your opponent: roughly the card’s price
Second card in a set of 3: double the card’s price unless it is a light blue set (one with houses for $50) – for that set add extra $150
Last card in a set – triple the card’s price with following adjustments:
$200 for brown set (the cheapest set)
$300 for the light blue
$150 for pink
$250 for orange
$100 for red and yellow
-$50 for green
$0 for blue
Stations: first – $200, second – $400, third – $600, last – $900
Utilities: 1 – $150, 2 – $300
The following modifiers should be applied to the cash value of the deal:
- Opponent can or would be able to build houses after the deal: give 30% less cash than you would otherwise
- You can build houses after the deal: expect to agree on 30% less cash, as you need it more
- Trade completes a color set to your opponent: ask for additional 15%-25% of money he would have left for building houses
- Remember, mortgaged cards should not be valued at 50% price compared to non-mortgaged – you would have to pay extra 5% to the bank to unmortgage it. For every mortgaged card subtract 55% of its price from the value
- Feel free to apply a penalty for every card someone is trying to sell you when there are plenty unowned cards available – up to half of the card’s price
If all 3 cards from a set belong to different players, always try to be one who sells his card the last. You would have much better bargaining position than the player who sells a second card. It might be beneficial to let other players to complete their sets first – they would have to overpay a lot to do so early, having no or little cash to build up their properties. They would also be in a position to sell you their cards cheaper since they need cash so badly. As a result, you might be able to get your set couple of turns later but would have enough cash to build it up to the max straight away, while your opponents would only have 1 or 2 houses.
As a rule of thumb, most if not all players should have a monopoly after making 2 or 3 rounds across the board. If it is not happening to you, you are not trading enough if at all. Trading makes the game more skill oriented, takes a lot of randomness out of the game, and adds social aspect too. There would not be any quarrels between the players if they knew how and when to trade. And if you get a single person who refuses to trade – he only ruins the game for himself alone as he has 0% chance to win. The rest of the players can always make deals between themselves. However, if you have 2 or more players who do not know how to trade, and because of it afraid to do any deals – this is where you get boring 70 hours long games with the bank running out of money and people having ideas about artificial game endings, such as awarding victory to the player with most cash. Normal Monopoly game between 4 human players should be 40-60 minutes long. The game with AI opponents, due to the speed with which PC calculates change, delivers property, etc., should be taking between 5 to 15 minutes.
Final tip: look at the way Quadropoly AIs trade, analyse the deals which went through, try to understand why that deal was beneficial to both partners. AIs don’t do one-sided, or preferential deals with anybody, including other AIs. There are plenty of tactics and combination to learn by studying what AIs do as they have more experience (i.e. games played) than any human player could hope to get in a lifetime.