There is a version of Monopoly for absolutely everything these days. Before Christmas I even saw a Target-branded version of Monopoly. The different sections of the store are actually labeled as each 2-or-3-property Monopoly, and yes, the Electronics section is the Boardwalk & Park Place on this board.
Not long ago they started coming up not just with branded versions of the same game, but actually different ways to play the board. There was the Monopoly Electronic Banking game, and the one that may be the favorite with the kids in my house, Cheaters Edition. What does that say about my parenting that they like to cheat? That’s an article for another time and a different website.
But there has been a recent surge in popularity in a version of the game that doesn’t even involve a board. Monopoly Deal is a card-based version of the game. Some of the broad themes are the same (you want to collect properties), but the overall goal of the game is very different (collecting monopolies is the entire point of the game, not bankrupting your opponents).
This version originally released in 2008 but somehow found a surge in popularity in 2021. Because it’s relatively new in popularity you may not have built a Monopoly Deal strategy yet. Lucky for you my kids love this game. Also lucky for you, I hate to lose, even to the kids.
I took a lot of time over the holidays to build my strategy. I stole more properties from my kids than I care to admit. But the good news is that I figured out the best ways to win. I’m glad you’re here to find the Monopoly Deal strategy that I’ve used.
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Why I Love Monopoly Deal So Much
To be honest, I love it because it’s not the original version of Monopoly. Don’t get me wrong – there’s a time and place for the original. Mainly, the time involves making sure that you have at least an hour free to play. If you play by the actual rules (auctioning off spaces that you land on but don’t want to buy) this is about how long the game should take. If you have more players, or don’t auction unwanted spaces, the game could take two hours or more. The time each game takes makes it hard to want to suggest Monopoly to your friends and family.
This is exactly why Monopoly Deal is so great. You can play 3-4 games of Monopoly Deal in the same time as one game of Monopoly. The idea of the game is very similar but you can play without spending nearly as much time.
In addition, I’m not sure how your games go, but when I play it takes a while for everyone to be friends again. A normal game can get ruthless. There is a lot less of that with Monopoly Deal. I think that because the games don’t go as long, no one feels quite as invested and feelings get much less hurt. All of the fun, much less fighting.
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Tips for Building your Monopoly Deal Strategy
The good news for you is that you probably already have a decent idea of how to play and what you’re trying to do. It has enough similarities to Monopoly that you’re not spending too much time trying to learn the game. That applies even if you’ve never actually played the game before. Since Monopoly Deal is straight-forward, you can concentrate on learning the quickest, easiest ways to win the game.
1. Concentrate on collecting the two card monopolies
The purpose of the game is to collect 3 monopolies. There is nothing in the rules that says that you need to collect a certain type of monopoly, or a certain number of properties in those monopolies.
As such, it’s quicker and easier to concentrate on the monopolies that are only two cards. That constitutes the Baltic Avenue/Mediterranean Avenue monopoly, The Electric Company/Water Works monopoly, and the Park Place/Boardwalk monopoly. I think it goes without saying that it’s easier to complete a two card monopoly than a three card version (all of the other “color” monopolies) or a four card version (yes, the railroads count as a monopoly in this game).
Admittedly, this is not always possible. Sometimes the cards just don’t go your way and you may not draw any from the smaller monopolies. But the action cards (we’ll get to those later) can give you an opportunity. If one of your wild cards gives you a chance to steal a property from someone, I’d suggest stealing a card that belongs to a small monopoly, unless stealing something else can win the game for you).
This is absolutely the most important Monopoly Deal strategy you can use. I’ve seen so many people waste so many turns trying to collect three card monopolies when they could have been trying to collect the two card sets. It’s simple math though – two is easier to get than three. Use that to your advantage.
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2. Pay attention to your opponents’ banks
Typically when an opponent owes you they’ll pay you cash if they have some. But there are plenty of times when your opponents won’t have cash. In those cases, your opponent will be paying you in properties. If you play your cards right, you can force this opportunity.
Some of the cards allow you to pick a specific opponent to collect money from. Some of the rent cards and the Debt Collector action card allow to you to collect from an opponent of your choosing. If you choose an opponent that doesn’t have any cash (or not enough to pay what they owe), you can force your opponent to pay you in properties to make up their debt.
This is absolutely how I collect most property cards besides getting lucky and drawing them out of the pile. Unfortunately you don’t get to pick which property they use to pay you off, but any property is helpful. Even if that specific card doesn’t help you get to three monopolies, it gives your opponents another choice to steal from you when they get a chance. That helps protect your cards that may win you the game later.
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3. You don’t have to pay debts with money
You will definitely end up with property cards that you don’t need or want. One-off properties of a color that isn’t helping you, or even railroads, are a perfect example of this. There is nothing in the rules that says that you have to pay debts in money. You can use these useless (to you) properties to pay down your debts. This will save your money for when you need to pay debts and are only holding properties that you don’t want to give up.
You’re holding the Baltic/Mediterranean monopoly, Boardwalk, Electric Company, Short Line Railroad, and $13M in money cards. Suddenly you owe $2M in rent. You could pay that in cash and be done. Or you could give your opponent Short Line Railroad.
In this scenario it’s useless to you – you’d have to collect three more railroads to get a monopoly. It’s possible but a long shot. You may as well use that to pay debt and keep your cash. That lets you hold that cash for when you really need it to pay debts and you don’t have any properties that you want to lose.
Imagine a different example. You’re only holding the Baltic/Mediterranean monopoly and $4M in money cards, but you owe $6M in rent. You’re going to have to break up your monopoly to pay your debt. It pays to hold on to your cash when you have other options for paying your debt.
Not many of my opponents have this in their Monopoly Deal strategy toolkit. They think hoarding properties of any type is helpful. But it’s hard to collect all four railroads, for example. Use those types of properties to your advantage.
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4. Don’t use your action cards immediately
Action cards are the only part of this game that really makes your opponent angry. If they’ve spent 4 turns trying to get a monopoly and you turn around and steal it immediately with a Deal Breaker card, they’ll probably be upset. They’ll be looking for revenge and they’ll target you later in the game instead of another opponent. See below for some strategies for specific action cards.
This allows you to steal any complete sets from your opponent. Unless you have more than one of these, save it until it will win you the game. This keeps the heat off of you from your opponent and they won’t have a chance to exact revenge on you for stealing an entire monopoly. Also, there are three of these card available. If you use yours too early, someone else will have a chance to steal that same set right back from you.
This should go without saying, but only use this when you have properties you don’t mind losing. Since you have to trade your opponent one of your cards, you don’t want to do this when it will hurt you in the process. Also, only use this when it will get you a complete set. Don’t waste the Forced Deal just to get your second card of a three card set. You may never get that third card so that ends up being a waste of the forced deal.
Just Say No!
My kids will use this card at their first opportunity. They’ll use it to save a $2M rent charge even when they’re holding $20M in cash and plenty of useless properties. Try to save this card for when you really need it. Like if you’re only holding 2 complete sets, no other properties, and you don’t have enough cash to cover your debt. Or when your opponent tries to play a Deal Breaker on you when you have two complete sets. This is a huge card to play, so make it count.
Only use this to complete a set. Complete sets are protected from a lot of your opponents’ action cards, so it pays to use this to protect yourself. Also, just as with many other action cards, your opponent will be looking for revenge. They can’t steal it back in most cases if you’ve made it in to a complete set.
It’s My Birthday!
This forces all of your opponents to give you $2M each. If you can, save it until at least one opponent doesn’t have any cash. This again allows you to collect properties from your opponents to pay their debts.
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Summarizing Your New Monopoly Deal Strategy
If you’re ready to be a ruthless businessperson the next time you play Monopoly Deal, you have some good new strategies to use to collect those sets faster than everyone you play.
Most important, spend time trying to collect the two card sets if at all possible. This is without a doubt the most important advice that I could give you.
Look at your opponents’ banks whenever you can and use their cash (or lack thereof) to your advantage. Make them owe you when they don’t have enough cash so that they have to pay you in properties.
Whenever you’re holding properties that aren’t helping you, use those properties to your advantage by using them to pay debt instead of cash. This allows you to save your cash for when you really need it.
Maximize the effect of your action cards by using my advice above. Those action cards can really swing the game so make sure you’re using them to their absolute maximum value.
The next time someone asks to play a game of Monopoly, suggest Monopoly Deal instead. You won’t hate each other at the end and you’ll have more of your afternoon/evening left at the end. Just make sure to take these strategies to the table with you so that you’re the one smiling at the end.
Veronica is a Green Bay-based freelance writer and editor with extensive experience with board games. When not busy scribbling her thoughts, you might find her in her garden, hiking out in the woods, or exploring new food joints.
Veronica is a die-hard board game and chess hobbyist by night. She likes to try out new games and is always on the lookout to recruit new players for her game night (so beware!). When not playing board games or throwing darts, she is usually busy painting miniatures (or doing other nerdy stuff).
She is the CEO & Content Writer of Indoor Games Zone. She shares her expertise from years of playing chess, board games, and darts.