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If you've played Monopoly, you'll have a fair idea of how this works. Of course, Monopoly Tycoon isn't completely true to the board game. If it were, the game would probably be uninteresting or too hard to play! Instead of buying property, houses, and hotels, you're concerned mostly with building and managing retail shops in Monopoly City (which is sort of like Atlantic City, but not). However, obtaining property, building apartments and hotels, and even chance cards still have a heavy influence on the game, and it is even possible to win (against CPU opponents, at least) without even building a single retail store in specific circumstances! How, you ask? Read on!
How time works
Days work in a straightforward manner: there are 24 game hours in a day. However, a 'day' also represents five years. So after the first day, it's suddenly five years later. This is totally screwy, but the model works well this way, so why change it? So, supposing the game starts in 1930, after the first day it's 1935, after the second, it's 1940 (the start of a new decade and new shops become available), and so on.
Now, every game day, supposing you don't use the speed-up function, is about 10 minutes real time. So at midnight, beginning of 1935, you've been playing ten minutes if you didn't click speed-up. If you spend an entire game day in speed-up, it's only 2.5 minutes, because it's four times as fast.
NOTE: Do not adjust prices (or anything else in the Business Adjustment Panel) while the game is in speed-up. Unfortunately, the adjustment of prices is also sped up, meaning the prices are adjusted four times as fast, meaning you are quite likely to overshoot several times while trying to set the price you want, which wastes time. Not to mention, wasted time in speed-up mode goes four times as fast, so you waste four times as much time!
'Economy' is a word that's often kicked around in strategy and sim games, and Monopoly Tycoon is based very heavily on economics, so pay attention! While the word 'economy' is generally used to refer to a whole country, the truth is a business, like the kind you run in the game, has its own miniature economy. To prosper, you must use the resources given to you in order to generate more resources, which you can use to generate even more.
What this means is the key to a healthy economy is to use all the resources you have. This seems obvious, but it isn't as obvious as it sounds: watch a newbie play the game and you might see him sit around while money is rolling in. Since you can't print the money out and use it as legal tender, this money just sitting in the bank is useless to the player if he does nothing with it. Money in the bank is money not being used, and money not being used means a weak economy. This doesn't mean it's always a great idea to stay in the red in order to try to maximize your use of money, but also you shouldn't fear being in the red as long as you can recover in time to avoid bankruptcy. That's investment. Just remember that if you are in the red at midnight two nights in a row, you're out of the game.
The way they walk
You can actually monitor individual people as they walk through the city. There are two ways to do this: target a particular individual by shift-clicking on him or her, or cycle through all of the people currently walking about in the city by pressing the 'G' key on the keyboard.
You can learn quite a lot by doing this.
For instance, did you know Monopoly City has subways? You may have noticed them, but they actually function. What's more is they work instantaneously, so the moment a guy walks in a subway, he pops out the other end. (Don't you wish it really worked this way?)
This means somebody could shop at one of your stores, pop into the subway, and shop at the "far away" competition at the other end. So don't think you're ever far enough away from your opponent if you're isolationist, because you'll never be far enough away. It's time to face the competition!
The two fundamental playing styles
- Blitzkrieg: Build as much as possible as early as possible, usually starting in low-prestige districts with low-quality buildings to save on costs. Directly compete with other stores, but also supply commodities that
are not available elsewhere as soon as possible. Avoid 24-hour warnings like the plague in the first two years or so, in order to minimize risk and keep building.
- Tortoise: It's called the 'Tortoise' because of the story of the tortoise and the hare, and also after the old Roman legionary formation of the same name, whose main purpose was to defend. Though in the old story the tortoise beats the hare, the pure Tortoise style isn't necessarily more powerful in and of itself than Blitzkrieg; in fact, it is probably the opposite, even though it's designed to bring Blitzkrieg strategies down (we'll explain in a minute). The idea is the player starts slowly and surely, not spending much money, then jumps in by buying property when the rivals are too weak to do much. The Tortoise player can probably easily get a monopoly this way, and may have the spare cash to buy practically every business on the blocks in question before one of the leases expires.
Blitzkrieg is designed to overwhelm the opponent, whereas Tortoise is designed for slow strangulation of the opponent, possibly followed by a quick 'kill'. Neither style is suitable for all situations; you must determine what the situation is and adapt your strategy to fit. Moreover, these fundamental play styles are meant to provide a base for your true strategy, rather than it being your entire strategy. If you try a pure Tortoise style, you probably won't be too successful (except maybe in scenarios centered around collecting a target daily profit), because you won't have the commercial backing necessary to give your empire any real value.
Applying the fundamental playing styles
Blitzkrieg is aggressive; Tortoise is defensive. Blitzkrieg is fast and loose; Tortoise is slow and calculated. Most people play somewhere in between, perhaps by building somewhat rapidly, but while keeping an eye on a nice-looking property which offers, say, $1000 daily rent to the owner and has some nice room to spare to boot.
Remember, though, that offense wins the game. You can play a mostly-defensive game, but it's your offense that tips the odds in your favor. Consider a game of chess. Every move you make in the opening of chess weakens your defensive position. However, you start the game in an excellent defensive position. Yet, if you were to maintain that position, you will be destroyed by a reasonable player quite easily, because your defense becomes less appropriate for the situation. The same is true in Monopoly, and holds true in Monopoly Tycoon. The fact is, your relative position weakens no matter what you do. Just as you can't sit around in chess because you start with a good defense, you can't sit around in Monopoly Tycoon waiting for your opponent to break through your "impenetrable" defense, because they will.
Going to auction
Auctions haven't really changed at all from the Monopoly board game. When making a bid, be sure to consider these factors:
- How much you (and your rivals) want the property.
- How much the property would benefit you (or your rival).
- Your (and your rivals') cash on hand.
- Your (and your rivals') profitability.
Beware of the oldest trick in the book: the rival who keeps bidding and bidding, then suddenly pulls out, leaving you with a huge amount of money to pay for the property. Of course, if you try this yourself, your opponent may turn the tables and pull out on you, and you have the same problem. Weigh the situation very carefully if your opponent doesn't seem to want to give up. Use past experiences with that particular rival (if you've had any) as your guide. If your rival is totally unpredictable, it may be too dangerous to bother with high bids at all unless your opponent is short on cash (or even then, if he seems psychotic enough).
Notice that bidding always proceeds from left to right. You have the option to pass, though this is uncommon. The only possible use for this function is to see how others after you might react before you bid, with the hopes of them pulling out so they might not increase the bid so much. Assuming that nobody passes, the person on the left is always first to bid, and the person on the right is always last. Here's an example case to demonstrate the significance of this: Racecar is going for a monopoly. The order from left to right is Shoe, Racecar, Thimble, Wheelbarrow, Iron. Racecar is raising the bid up to the sky past the others' comfort zone; nobody else cares about the property that much, they just want Racecar to not have it. So if Racecar pulls out, everybody else immediately pulls out, and the person to Racecar's left, Shoe, gets the short end of the stick if he didn't pull out earlier. If he did, then Iron gets the short end. If she did as well, then Wheelbarrow does. See the pattern? Therefore, be very careful if you're in a bidding war along with several other people against a common foe and you bid immediately before your rival. If the rival pulls out, you will probably pay the cost because you're going to be the last one to bid.
The dummy auction tactic
If your rivals are low on cash, and you only have one or two rivals, you can sometimes trick them into buying things they don't really need by hosting a "dummy auction". Why would you do this? So you can buy something yourself without as hard a fight. Consider the following case: You own two railroads, and the other two are unowned. You start the auction for a third railroad. The first thing that pops into your opponent's mind is going to be, "He's going to try to buy them all!", when in fact you don't care too much about the railroad, but it'd be nice if you got it. You're setting your sights on Boardwalk, but a hard fight for Boardwalk can be expensive, even when your rivals are low on cash. Your rivals fight hard to prevent you from getting railroad #3, so the price gets pretty high, $2600, and you decide to let your old buddy Battleship have it, because you wouldn't be willing to pay much more for it yourself, especially when you can still lease the remaining railroad. The good captain will then be less likely to bid high on the next auction, reducing your competition for Boardwalk. You noticed Shoe also bid pretty high, so you host a second dummy auction for the other railroad in order to weaken him, and the tactic works again. (Remember, even if it didn't, you'd still have three railroads, so you win either way!) You then auction Boardwalk, and your dumbfounded opponents pull out early because they don't have any money.
Railroads and utilities
Railroads and utilities give you much greater income if you buy more than one. If you own one railroad, you get 25% of the income from that railroad, or 25/4 = 6.25% of the income of all four railroads, assuming they all have the same income (they generally do). However, if you own two railroads, you get 50% of the income from both railroads, or 50/2 = 25% of the income from all four railroads. In other words, you quadruple your income instead of doubling it. Not only are two railroads better than one, they're way better than one. The same principle applies to utilities. Generally, railroads are more profitable than utilities at the beginning of the game, then utilities become more profitable as the players start paying operating costs.
The not-so-secret railroad strategy
Here's the trick several people have come up with to beat the $3000 profit in one day scenario: buy all the railroads. The income you get from this alone will send you over the edge much more quickly than doing this by building retail stores. This is cheap, however, because you'll probably be deep in the red and, if the game were to continue, you would go bankrupt, so one might consider this to be cheating somewhat. Morals aside, this trick is really for people who have beaten the scenario already on its highest difficulty level and don't want to waste their time doing it again. If you want to be a good player, you should learn how to beat this scenario without resorting to tactics that would bankrupt you if the game didn't end when you won.
Pay close attention to railroads and utilities in "first to a daily profit" multiplayer games! You should be careful about people who want all the railroads and utilities in general, but especially in these games!
Buying out the competition
If you own a block, you can buy any building on it that you don't own already. This is especially helpful if most of the buildings are owned by the city, because as a rule, business in city buildings is dismal because of high prices, meaning the building is cheaper for you to buy. If you own a monopoly, then such buildings will be extremely cheap, and of course they may not be so unprofitable once you sell things at sensible prices...
Of course, if you can buy your opponent's businesses, go ahead and do so. You'll probably want a monopoly to do this, so the prices won't be so insane. It may be best to never buy a building unless you have a monopoly on the property it's on, except in exceptional circumstances. But remember, if you buy an opponent's business, it's a source of income he won't have.
When good buildings go bad
If sales are abysmal, and cutting prices doesn't seem effective, then you need to refurbish, sell the building to the city, or demolish the building entirely. You won't get a ton of money for selling the business for the very reason that it's no good. Refurbishing, on the other hand, requires you to invest more money. Demolishing is rare to be sure, because it costs money and the only thing you'll have when it's done is a little extra space to build more stuff on. Typically, this isn't worth it, because you can refurbish instead, but there are exceptional situations (typically when space is at a premium).
When to refurbish
As noted before, you can refurbish when your business goes bad, but there is another time you can refurbish that isn't quite as obvious: when a new building makes the older one obsolete. Let's say you have the capability to build a nightclub on a block (that is, it's 1940 or after) which has a ballroom, but no bar. Instead of building either a bar or a nightclub, refurbish the ballroom into a nightclub, which will provide dancing and drinks, the two things the ballroom and the bar provide separately. You don't want to duplicate resources. Alternately, build the nightclub and refurbish the ballroom into something else. Just make sure you don't have a bar or a ballroom near a nightclub, because they're not as efficient.
Likewise, say you have a clothing store near your opponent's clothing store, so you have a bit of heated competition. Suppose that eventually you get two things: sick of the competition, and a monopoly on the opposing store's block color group, so you just buy the opposing clothing store. But now you have two clothing stores. You may want to get rid of one of them (preferably the one with smaller capacity or lower quality) by changing it into something else, so you have more variety, and so you can raise the price of clothing if doing so seems feasible.
Hints and tips
- Remember, don't keep spare cash around. In fact, you can be in the red most of the game and yet be the most successful player, though it isn't always the best policy. Just make sure you're not in the red at midnight two days in a row unless you like being ejected from the game.
- Poll often, but when polling the area, poll all of the blocks around that area. While the block your potential store is on carries more weight as far as demand goes, surrounding blocks can carry a potent influence. If you don't know whether to build a cafe or a toy store, see if one of the surrounding blocks wants one more than the other.
- Know when to use the chance cards. If you're in the red and are on a 24-hour warning, the wrong chance card can smash your chances of remaining in the game! However, if you're so deep in the red at this point that you're almost beyond hope, take the chance card because the chance that it will help you outweighs any potential danger. Most of the time, take the card, unless you're in some financially unstable situation.
- Don't ever succumb to bankruptcy unless you're hopelessly behind. If you're on a 24 hour warning and you just can't pull out of debt, but you can get close, try to sell a business or two, preferably ones that aren't very profitable anyway, or perhaps a leased block that isn't doing you any good.
- Remember that the bidding order can play an important role in auctions.