Sunday, November 21, 2004

Monopoly blog.

A fine Thanksgiving to all who observe the holiday, or just get days off. We need more Thursday holidays in this country. I’ll resume posting in about a week.

Lilly had her seventh birthday party today, complete with a pack of kids, cake and presents. I hope she remembers something of it, though probably whatever happened today will contribute to an amalgam of memory she’ll think of as “birthdays when I was a kid.” It’s more than likely that I’ll remember it that way, if I live long enough, under the memory file of “my kids’ birthdays, when they were kids.”

More important for Lilly, though she doesn’t know it yet and may never consciously reflect on it, she was introduced to Monopoly this weekend. On Friday, her birthday, after dinner we put together a little puzzle, and she wanted to do something else, so we looked in her closet, where puzzles and board games are kept. Monopoly is there, a set we bought second-hand a good many years ago, anticipating the time -- now, turns out -- when Lilly would be old enough to play.

She liked it a lot. Too much, in fact, since she’s insisted on a game with me every day since. But I obliged her, since it’s the board game, and I hope she’ll enjoy it. And I’ll teach her to play it my way, which means certain things, such as no one gets to buy a property without actually landing on it – the rules specify an auction for an unowned property that isn’t bought by the player landing on it, though I’ve never met anyone who plays that way. Also, none of this business of a pot of money that builds for Free Parking.

I started playing Monopoly, or really just fooling around with it, back when we lived in Denton, so that would make me about seven as well. Of course, it takes years to learn its subtleties. I’m still learning them.

Just this evening, I did some tabulations, and it seems that the Chance cards are aptly named, since the likelihood of getting a straightforward good or bad card is outnumbered by the chance of getting a card that’s either good or bad, or even indifferent, depending on your circumstance in the game. In the Community Chest card pile, most of the cards have a good or bad result, with only a handful of ambiguous ones.

Good or bad I define according to the goal of the game, namely to amass a fortune in and through real estate -- so anything that awards the player money right away is unambiguously good, anything that takes it away unambiguously bad. For example, “Your Building and Loan Matures, Collect $150 (Chance) and “Bank Error in Your Favor, Collect $200” (CC) are good, while “Pay Poor Tax of $15” (Chance) and “Pay School Tax of $150” (CC) are bad.

Chance is full of cards that move a player around the board, such as to the Reading Railroad, St. Charles Place and Boardwalk, or even “back three spaces.” These can be good (if you wanted to buy that property), bad (Boardwalk with a hotel! – and it ain’t yours), or indifferent (you move to a property you already own). Even the Go to Jail cards, I would argue, can be good or bad. Good if a trip across the board is potentially expensive, though if that’s the case you’re probably just delaying the inevitable bankruptcy. Or, perhaps, you have a Get Out of Jail Free card, and going to jail advances you closer to a property you want, or past some dangerously developed property. Even the street repairs (CC) and general repairs (Chance) cards, which demand money, I count as ambiguous, since not everyone owns houses or hotels when those cards comes up.

This was the tally: Chance has three good cards; two bad cards; and ten ambiguous cards. Community Chest, on the other hand, has ten good cards; three bad cards; and three ambiguous cards.


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