Tuesday, March 31, 2009


It's been a busy week for me, what with working a crapload of overtime so I can afford my pending trip to Washington, DC and all. On top of that, my beloved Kelli is feeling under the weather. This would normally require a trip to the doctor, but since for reasons unknown my doctor gave me a refill on my antibiotic, we were able to get her some meds without a dastardly co-pay. In the wrong hands, this antibiotic refill could have been disastrous; however, I am a regular reader of Rex Morgan, MD, and thus knew about the dangers of the MRSA, and therefore only used it responsibly.

So, I will soon resume my regularly scheduled blogging about my sudden Monopoly obsession.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Funny You Should Mention It

In comments, Casey asked me if I've seen King of Kong, the documentary about the Donkey Kong world record. I haven't yet, but a filmmaker named Kevin Tostado is doing a documentary on Monopoly and the Monopoly tournaments entitled "Under the Boardwalk" and has asked for some background information on the finalists. You can see a teaser, along with an interview with Matt McNally, the reigning Monopoly champion, at www.monopolydocumentary.com.

Monday, March 23, 2009

It's Official!

Got an email:

Andrew -

Congratulations again for earning a spot at the 2009 Monopoly U.S. National
Championship tournament.

Attached you will find three documents that provide additional information
about the championship tournament and that will help you plan your trip to
Washington D.C.

1. Letter
This is your official invitation. This document also includes a basic
tournament schedule and a short list of questions and answers.

2. Affidavit
Please review, sign and return.

3. Questionnaire
Includes important questions about your travel and you. Please answer the
questions and return a copy to us. This information will help us plan for
you and your guests.

If you have any problems with the files, please let us know and we will
resend or overnight hard copies to you.

Please feel free to give us a call if you have any questions.
Donetta & the Monopoly Team

In addition, it turns out that I was the only one who bankrupted all of their opponents, giving me the #2 ranking behind the defending champ going into the tournament. I'm #2! I'm #2!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

The Waiting Is the Hardest Part

I really thought I would know by now if my dominating performance on Pogo this weekend earned me a spot in the National Championship, but for some reason Hasbro/Parker Brothers/Pogo/etc. is dragging their heels. So, in the meantime, here's the full, unabridged story of my tournament experience. Online, I actually played the Here and Now: The World Edition, but to keep things more familiar, I'll refer to properties and money values by the standard gameboard.

My plan on Friday night was to come home, play one last game of Monopoly on Pogo, and then get about 8 hours sleep. However, we had to go to Meijer and wanted to deliver some groceries to our friend and coworker Alex, who is going through a family emergency and has been staying at the hospital. Everything is going well so far, if anyone is concerned about the seldom blogged-about friends of someone they don't actually know. It turned out I didn't get home until 2 in the morning, leaving no time for practice and less than 8 hours for sleep, but after weighing pros and cons I decided that 6 hours of sleep would be plenty and the karmic boost of delivering groceries to bed-ridden hospital patients and their attending family would be more beneficial than one more practice game.

As it turned out, I didn't sleep too soundly that night. Falling asleep was difficult, and staying asleep was difficult, but waking up early was not, for once. Since I rose out of bed at 8:30, an hour and a half before my first contest, I had time to think every aspect of my morning over to relax myself as much as possible.

I took a long, hot shower to ease my raging nerves. I searched for my MONOPOLY shirt, but as it must have been dirty, I had to go with a backup plan. I looked through my closet and settled on a Thoroughbred Music Festival shirt that has a horse playing the banjo on it that was never featured on the blog but made the final cut. It is a tad small but stretches well, but more importantly it was a gift from my friend Alpha Omega from college. Al knew about my collection of bizarre shirts and gave it to me after it shrank too much for him to wear. He instructed me to "wear it when you go on adventures. It's a good adventure shirt." He has been proven right over the years, and I wanted the good karma stored in the shirt. I decided trying for the Monopoly championship was an adventure and put it on.

I then went downstairs to eat some off-brand Honey Nut Cheerios. I also put on some They Might Be Giants as good comfort music, but quickly realized that as much as I love TMBG, they don't pump me up to succeed and accomplish my dreams, so I plotted a new course. I turned on my DVD player, went to special features, and listened to a rousing version of "Walk Hard." I then ate some off-brand Honey Nut Cheerios and tried to keep my confidence up and nerves in line.

By this time it was time to turn on the computer so I could go over the procedures with half an hour to spare. I got all set up, and felt the need to become even more pumped up, so I turned to my good friend the YouTube and listened to the classic Stan Bush tune, "The Touch." Oh man, just searching for that song on YouTube to link it is pumping me up again. PURE ADRENALINE, BABY! (Incidentally, did Stan Bush ever have any hits outside of the animated TransFormers movie from the 80s?)

So, Game 1: I play against Cool Guy and Big Jerk. I trade Cool Guy the 2 Light Blues (giving him the Monopoly) for 2 RRs early on. Big Jerk tries to rip me off several times by demanding I give him 4 RRs, $600, a Red, and a Green for St. Charles Place, which I had been trying to land on the entire game and need to complete the Light Purples. I tell him "No," eventually land on the unowned Red, and work out a deal where I give him 2 Reds in exchange for $400 and St. Charles Place. Cool Guy, with his Light Blue Hotels, hits Big Jerk with a $550 Vermont Hotel bill, and then I finish him off with a $700 Virginia bill. This leaves me with the Red Monopoly, but no cash, as he used all of his cash to pay Cool Guy. So it comes down to my Light Purple Hotels and RRs v. Cool Guy's Light Blue Hotels, Utilities, and Giant Pile of Cash. If I can survive a couple trips around the board, the game is mine. If he dodges my properties and hits me early, the game is his.

Then, an event that I will call "Karmic Payoff 1" occurs. Cool Guy lands on Reading, pays me $200. On his next turn, he rolls double 3s: St. Charles Place with a Hotel: $750. He pays with ease, and rolls an 11, lands on Chance, and draws the elusive "Advance to St. Charles Place" card, for another $750 tab. From here I could unmortgage and develop the Reds, and the game was over shortly. Cool Guy jokes to everyone in the waiting room that he had me on the ropes until I found out a way to digitally stack the Chance Card deck in my favor.

Game 2: Both my opponents are engaging and funny, so I have no nicknames differentiating them. The game begins with what I will call "Karmic Payoff 2." I get the second turn, and promptly roll Double 6s and buy the Electric Co. I then roll a 6 and a 4, land on Chance, and draw the "Advance to the Nearest Utility" card, and buy Water Works. I've never actually owned the Utility Monopoly, so this wasn't in my game plan, but I've heard from various strategy guides that they have a good payoff. I can confirm this now, as one of my opponents kept track of how much he paid my utilities, and noted he had paid for both of them by himself in less than half an hour. As for the rest of the game, both of my opponents were active traders, and offers were flying back and forth the entirety of the game. When the smoke cleared, I held the Oranges, the RRs, the Utilities, and two Greens with the third unowned, one held the Light Blues and the Dark Blues, and the other got shut out of a couple of deals and was left with just the Dark Purples for a short while before he went bankrupt. The cops caught on to our dirty dealings and threw both of us in jail a few times, which was very good for me and not so good for him, as it set him in line to hit my Oranges and let me dodge all of his Blues. The game ended pretty quickly after that.

So, for those looking for actual Monopoly strategy and not just token selection advice, I would say "Karma, Stan Bush, part of this complete breakfast, Railroads, Don't Be a Big Jerk, Oranges." I think that's a formula that can't miss. Now I just have to wait to see if I get to go to Washington.

Saturday, March 21, 2009




Friday, March 20, 2009

In For the Long Haul

Ok, before I get to today's installment, I must apologize for its delay. As far as weeks go, I've had a busy one, filled with drama, humor, excitement, and all the adventures you'd come to expect from one with such a go-get-em lifestyle as mine. There is, however, major news to announce: I have been selected as one of 75 semifinalists in the official US Monopoly Tournament. I must play two games of Monopoly online this weekend, and if my money total is in the top 24, I go to Washington DC for the Finals and a chance to win a Monopoly set with real money in it. Needless to say, I am pumped. Plus, this gives my crucial advice offered here some extra gravitas: I am now an expert and shit. So listen up.

The Wheelbarrow:

Usability: While the wheelbarrow has two handles, they are not particularly easy to grip, and it's pretty wide at all points. On top of this, it seems to tip over rather easily. Thus, it's not the most easily handled piece.

Personality: At first, the wheelbarrow suggests very little about its player. It is not a flashy piece, it does not stand out on the board, and it is rarely associated with any style of play. However,underneath its calm facade, the wheelbarrow tacitly implies, "I plan on making so much money in this game, I am going to need a wheelbarrow to carry it around the board. Moreover, while I am going to have all this money, I am not spending it on any flashy cars or purebreed show dogs; no, I'm just putting it all into a giant pile on this wheelbarrow and rubbing your face in it." Thus, the wheelbarrow is a good piece if you are secretly a jackass but don't wish for everyone to know that about you right away. Incidentally, it has always been one of my favorites.

Humor: The big advantage to being the wheelbarrow is that every single game component balances nicely on top of it, meaning you can steal anything that is not bolted down. That hotel the iron built on Connecticut? It somehow just got relocated to States. You can also give the other tokens a lift and conveniently dump them off at your properties. If all else fails, you can go around the board in reverse and claim you are actually a rickshaw, or hook yourself up to another token and demand they pull you.

Verdict: The wheelbarrow: unassuming on the surface, but masking a deep antisocial streak necessary to unapologetically bury its opponents. Fear the player that picks the wheelbarrow. Do not believe their self-deprecating jokes; they are killers underneath. If it were easier to move around, the wheelbarrow would be my favorite piece hands down. As it is, I have to rotate among several to keep the competition guessing.

Next: The Thimble

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Cash Out

The Money Bag:

Usability: The money bag has no easily-grippable handles and is wide at all parts. It is among the least ergonomic of the tokens.

Personality: I don't understand this piece in the slightest. It's money, which is an intrinsic component used to play Monopoly. When you play Sorry!, you get to pick Red, Blue, Green, or Yellow. You do not get to pick "Move Backwards 4." When you play Clue, you pick one of the suspects; you do not get to pick "The Envelope With the Answer." When you play Risk, you pick your army color; you don't get to be "The Red Dice." So conceptually, the piece is a little confused.

Humor: Uh, you could, pretend like you had all the money in the bag, maybe? Um, I'm a little lost. You could bribe your way out of jail, except everyone has to do that anyway. Perhaps every time you roll the dice, you could act like you're running away from the Beagle Boys. They always had bags of money. I don't know. You're on your own.

Verdict: Let's see, it's difficult to grip, utterly humorless, and doesn't make a lick of sense. I don't think this token has a single redeeming feature, but I still haven't gotten to its biggest drawback. The Bag of Money is the newest Monopoly Token, added in 1999 after a popularity contest was had. When terrible things get elected, it's usually because either the other choices were even worse, or a lot of people are just really, really dense. The other two choices were a bi-plane, which would've been awesome, or a Piggy Bank, which is something that can be used to store or transport money rather than the actual concept itself and thus more sensible. So truly, if you pick the Bag of Money, you are not only getting a horrible piece, but you're also the physical representation of the failure of democracy and a reminder that most people are much dumber than you'd think. Please pick something else.

Tomorrow (or Saturday): The Wheelbarrow

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Don't Tread On Me

The Shoe:

Usability: The old-timey shoe comes equipped with an old timey shoehorn that makes for a handle. This is useful not only in moving your piece, but making your little shoe do a little dance on his way to your destination. Bonus.

Personality: Maybe it's because it has no laces, but the shoe has always looked rather beat-up to me; like someone kicked it off with no regard for its condition. I've always felt like it needed some pewter stank lines emanating from it. However, if you imagine it all laced up, it seems it'd be a pretty nice piece of footwear. Thus, I feel the shoe is like a tuxedo t-shirt; it says "I'm here to party, but I can step it up too," as famed scholar Cal Naughton Jr. once told us.

Humor: The shoe can cause a great deal of mischievous hijinx. In addition to performing various dances while moving, the shoe can hold in a lot of pent up rage. You can stomp hotels, kick houses, flip the wheelbarrow over, kick the puppy, trip the horse, etc. etc. There's very little limit to the havoc you can create. If it's the holiday season, or if you're just a dork, you can even sing the chorus from The Christmas Shoes every time you want to buy something.

Verdict: The shoe is not typically considered a glamor piece, so it's usually available to someone with a taste for goofy hijinx. Shoe players probably won't be seen as intimidating as the battleship, car, or cannon, so use that to your advantage and slide under the radar at the beginning.

Tomorrow: The Bag of Money

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Fire in the hole!

The Cannon:

Usability: One of the perks of picking the cannon is that it is one of the easier pieces to handle. The protruding barrel makes for an easy handle, or it can be easily grabbed by its wheel. Its height makes it stand out on the board so you don't lose track of yourself.

Personality: Cannons serve exactly one purpose: to blow up tons of crap. Cannon players will be seen as hyperaggressive. Since the cannon tends to stick out, players are not likely to miss when you land on their properties.

Humor: Yes, you can point your cannon at enemy properties and blow them off the board, but the true fun of the cannon lies more in the area that it's a long shaft pointing straight up into the air with a round object below it, not to paint too clear a picture. While the full repertoire of Jokes About Penises is too extensive to include here, you can use your cannon to molest your opponent's tokens, especially if some poor sap picked the Horse and Rider or Terrier, as well as make your cannon fake an orgasm when someone lands on one of your higher rents.

Verdict: It takes a lot of confidence to pick the cannon. You have to be confident in your Monopoly skills to offset the aggressive nature of the piece, you have to be comfortable in your knowledge of penis jokes, and you have to be comfortable enough with your sexuality that you don't mind handling a phallus for a couple of hours. Finally, fellas, if you are playing a game of Monopoly and you are trying to impress one of the female players, avoid the Cannon. Nothing says "I'm compensating for something" quite like "I want to be the CANNON!" right out of the gate. Go with something else. Anything else.

Tomorrow: The Shoe

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Pedal to the Metal

One of the many contributing factors to the demise of my blog was the emergence of something that resembled a social life. Before, I'd go to work and yuk it up with all the people there, then go home and do absolutely nothing for 8 hours or so, which left plenty of time for blog-writing program related activities.

Now, in addition to spending time with Kelli, it seems that people like to spend time with the two of us and we frequently entertain people at our lovely townhouse. One of our friends, the immensely entertaining Mike, loves to play Monopoly. Since I also love playing Monopoly, it's been a recent addition to our pasttimes. Kelli does not love Monopoly so much. In fact, she rather hates the game, and was about ready to leave me early on in our relationship over a game of Monopoly in which I was particularly successful/assholish. But, after refusing to play for a year, she is coming around to it and is getting better every game, mostly fueled by her refusal to make any deals with me unless it is for properties I do not want. Occasionally I offer some sound strategies for her, but since she usually tells me where I can shove them, I have laid off of that in recent attempts. I bought a book with winning tips, but she doesn't seem interested in reading it.

The Monopoly knowledge I intend to pass on today, however, cannot be found in any tome, yet may in fact be the most important decision you make in the game: the crucial question "Which of these random, bizarre tokens, most of which have nothing whatsoever to do with real estate, should I pick to represent me?"

As I have a particular fascination with the bizarre and surreal, it should come to no one's surprise that I have paid an unhealthy bit of attention to the process of picking out your piece. I find there are three criteria by which to judge a piece:

A) Usability: How easy is it to pick this piece up and move it?
B) Personality: What does this piece say about me and my game strategy?
C) Humor: What sorts of hilarious possibilities will this piece open up?

Now, let's analyze our options, one per day, so I can milk this into two weeks' worth of posts and possibly re-establish an online presence and win back somewhere in the neighborhood of 250,000 of my MILLIONS of former readers.

So, without further ado:

The car. Let's start with the most popular piece: does old timey sports car live up to its reputation?

A) For being the most popular piece, the car is not really very easy to move. It sits low to the ground, has nothing protruding that makes for easy grabbing.

B) The good news is that everyone loves the car; the bad news is that everyone loves the car. The car is snazzy and it's fun to drive around the board, but it's not good for asserting your personality. Picking the car is pretty much the equivalent of deciding to follow the NFL and choosing the Steelers as your favorite team; yes, there are good reasons, but you still look like a lemming. Some of the rarely picked tokens raise eyebrows and thoughts; if you pick the car, you are simply "The Guy Who Picks The Car." And every table has a "Guy Who Picks The Car".

C) Humor with the car rests solely on doing donuts on your opponents property after you have to pay, or swerving along the board like you're driving drunk and crashing into their hotels. If you roll a 2 or a 3, you can sputter and backfire as you barely make it the few spaces. You can also honk at people in Jail when you visit them.

Verdict: A conservative pick, the equivalent of a poker face. Are you an Andretti who will hotly pursue any opportunity, or more of a Sunday driver who lets the deals come to them? It's hard to tell, since everyone on the planet likes to pick the car. If you can get it without a fight, you may slip under the radar and not reveal your hand.

Tomorrow: The Cannon