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.

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