It's the cause of countless family arguments. As one family member lands on your Mayfair hotel charging a rent that only a Saudi Prince could afford, you ruthlessly demand all of their property as compensation for what must be the most luxurious night's sleep in all the land.
Tears are shed, voices are raised but you didn't make the rules: that's Monopoly, the game where you must crush your opponents, take all of their money and laugh in their faces (well, you don't have to, but it's encouraged).
It's a game where winning is absolutely everything: so you must leave no stone unturned to make that happen. Thankfully, we are here to help you. Read on, and ensure you can build your very own set of Trump Towers in no time.
Avoid Park Lane
Park Lane is the least landed-on square in the whole game as the Go To Jail space is seven moves back; seven being the statistically most likely number to throw with the two die (always, always remember this fact). In fact, you're best off avoiding the purples as, even though there is an 'Advance to Mayfair' card, there's also a lot of other cards that result in bypassing it.
Buy the stations
Three reasons to go for the stations: firstly, they pay very well in the early stage of the game, before houses start boosting other properties, and even in the later stages they pay solidly, secondly, they don't cost anything to develop and, thirdly, Fenchurch Street is the joint-second most-landed-on square after Free Parking and Go.
Avoid the utilities unless you can get them cheap
You can't build on them and they pay nowhere near as much rent as the stations. There's no point: save your money for something better. However, if they're available in an auction for very little, then they pay reasonably well in the very early stages of the game. But no more than that.
Aim for the oranges
The oranges are the second most-landed on group in the game, after the reds. But, they are cheaper to buy and develop to get that cash rolling in. Meanwhile, Vine Street is the joint-second most-landed on square in the game along with Fenchurch Street.
If the oranges have gone, get the blues
For income against expenditure, the blues give you the best return after the oranges. Cheap to buy, three of them to land on, cheap development and solid rents. Who doesn't love a bit of blue?
If the oranges and blues have gone, go for the reds or yellows
Once your favourite two have gone, aim for reds or yellows. The reds are cheaper and are landed on more often, but the yellows give you bigger rental bang for your buck compared to development costs.
Stick to three houses on each property
A rather counterintuitive tip comes from Natalie Fitzsimons, the 24-year-old recent winner of the UK Monopoly Championships. “Once you’ve reached three houses, the amount that the rent increases [for] each house maxes out. If you want to use your money wisely, stick to just three houses. If you want to be extra sneaky, stay on four houses and prevent people from buying houses later in the game once you’ve used them all up.”
Don't buy hotels
Logically following on from the earlier 'three house' advice, this tactic particularly pays off once you get to around four players, as the limited pool of houses starts to restrict your opponents. If you're hogging them all by sticking on three or four houses, then they can't build: buying hotels just frees them up for your opponents.
Stay in jail towards the end of the game
Avoid jail at the start of the game when you want to be out in the open snaring properties and building your empire, but later on, you're much better off being inside and away from paying any rent.
Another tip from Natalie: “[Mortgaging everything] always feels a little like cheating, but I never know why other people don’t do it. As soon as you get a monopoly yourself, mortgage everything else and spend every penny on houses. A monopoly with three houses on each square is far more valuable with lots of low-rent single property squares. You can always unmortgage them later in the game.”
Develop the property with a 'go to' card first, otherwise go for the final property
If you've only got enough money to buy one, four, or seven houses, make sure that spare house goes on the one with a 'Go To' card, eg. Trafalgar Square, Mayfair, Pall Mall or Old Kent Road. Otherwise, stick it on the most expensive property as the rent will be higher.
Don't bother with the greens
They're simply too expensive to develop and they're not landed on enough. By the time you've got yourself into a decent position on these, the game will have passed you by already. They may have nice shops, but don't be tempted.
There is a psychological argument for buying the browns
Monopoly is not entirely a game of statistics and probability. You are, after all, playing against humans, and humans sometimes make decisions which go against logical reasoning. Buying and developing the browns doesn't make much sense on a cost versus returns basis compared to the rest. However, if your opponent is constantly passing go, picking up that nice cash and then immediately losing it to either you or the super tax, it could psychologically damage them and cause them to make a silly decision on a trade or a purchase. If you have the spare cash and a sense of cunning, go brown, and if you get the blues too, your opponents will often be skint before they've even got to the jail spot. It's a death by a thousand cuts.
Buy wisely by noting your opponent's properties
Make sure you're always aware of what your opponents have. Buy properties if no other player owns any of them, or if it blocks others from completing a set. You can then potentially use this 'blocker' to trade with someone else who has a property 'blocking' you - but only if the set you stand to gain is better than the set they're going to get (which you know via previous knowledge).
Be utterly ruthless
There is no prize for second place in Monopoly (apart from in a beauty contest). Winning is everything. Under no circumstances ever let your opponents off the hook for rent if they can't afford to pay; they'll just have to sell their houses or mortgage their properties to raise the cash. You can also tempt people to give you properties (even ones 'blocking' you if they're not thinking straight) rather than sell their houses: long term this will pay off for you.
Exploit the lack of knowledge of your opponents on trades
If your opponent knows less than you: exploit it. Offer property trades with cash bonuses if it means you get a killer property compared to theirs. Or, if you're being particularly cunning; double bluff and tell them that you should get the cash bonus - it might trick them into thinking they're actually getting the desirable property rather than you.
Always be the dog
Well, it's the coolest one isn't it?