Think of a typical board games night, and chances are there's one game that springs to mind straight away – Monopoly. The definitive board game for decades, this game is world-famous for its ruthlessness as much as its endless list of house rules and, of course, the charming little metal player tokens we all like to bob around the board with. Dibs on the top hat!

Has any board game ever proven more popular – or perhaps inspired more arguments about the rules?! Actually, you might be surprised that Monopoly is only the second most argument-inspiring board game out there, according to surveyed Brits. Whatever you make of Rich Uncle Pennybags, his fabulous moustache or passing Go to collect £200, there's no denying Monopoly's endless appeal and cultural impact.

monopoly dog

Monopoly – a quick history lesson

It's astonishing to think just how far back the Monopoly board game really goes, if you turn back the clock – especially considering how many variations of Monopoly exist today. Most of us agree that, before Waddingtons and Hasbro came along, Parker Bros. printed Monopoly in the historically rich American city of Salem in Massachusetts – whose other claim to fame is interwoven with the tales of witchcraft of days gone by.

The real history of Monopoly is very surprising. It's largely accredited as an invention of Charles Darrow in the 1930s – his interpretation of the Monopoly board game was personally produced in New Jersey to sell at the local department store, before Parker Bros. bought the rights.

That very first version of Darrow's game was played on a circular board, and it's no surprise it's become one of the most astonisghingly rare Monopoly editions ever – the Strong National Museum of Play paid a handsome $146,500 (£115,824) for the oldest known edition of Monopoly for their exhibit in 2011.

Yet Charles Darrow's original Monopoly, and therefore everything that came after it, is based on The Landlord's Game, a 1904 invention by Elizabeth Magie.

It had been designed to be a political statement of a board game – something you'd play with friends of an evening that'd turn into a conversation topic. A harsh criticism of the rampant capitalism of the age, Magie's Landlord's Game was designed so that one player would always end up on top. Sound familiar?

monopoly car

The quirk of the Monopoly board game – that one player can roar ahead to riches and ruin everyone else with impossibly high rent prices – is a deliberate, almost satirical design choice stemming from The Landlord's Game of the early 1900s.

Yet even to this day, the person who wins Monopoly gets plenty of stick and playfully annoyed banter from the other players. That was Elizabeth Magie's idea all along – to show that rich capitalists who crush everyone else will never have any friends!

But one thing she didn't bank on – no pun intended – is that people playing The Landlord's Game, as it evolved into Monopoly, would come to love the feeling of fleecing and extorting their fellow players. When Darrow came along to reinvent the game, he baked that idea of winning by financially ruining other players into the rules, and the moral of Magie's story was therefore turned on its head – that's why we love the Monopoly board game as the ruthless entertainment it is today.


What are the rarest Monopoly editions?

As we've discovered, the long history of this board game means rare Monopoly editions are always tantalising to collectors of every walk of life – and have been for generations. The original Charles Darrow Monopoly game sold for over $100,000 (£79,000), after all, and specialist editions such as 3D Monopoly: New York Edition by Charles Fazzino are both premium in design and limited in print runs. In fact, only 2,000 copies of 3D Monopoly: New York Edition exist, and each can fetch hundreds, if not thousands!

You could well have some treasures in your attic if you have a rare Monopoly squirrelled away. Anniversary editions are always a good place to look – think 60th, 70th, or 80th anniversary Monopoly games and the like – if you're looking for which Monopoly games are collectible.

Likewise, Monopoly games from the 1930s are very rare and collectible, often valued in the hundreds or thousands when rooted out and put up for sale. That said, even comparatively modern editions of the game prove to become rare Monopoly games over time. For instance, the 2001 Nostalgia Edition Monopoly in a wooden box is appealing thanks to its vintage looks, and can fetch a pretty penny for how rare it's become.


Our favourite Monopoly editions

With so many versions of Monopoly out there, how do you know what to choose? It's not just Monopoly based on locations anymore either – name any franchise, film, video game, even famous musician or band, and the chances are they have a Monopoly edition dedicated to them.

You never know what could become a rare Monopoly game over time too – today's fun edition of the Monopoly board game could be tomorrow's hottest, rarest collectible version! Here are some of the versions of Monopoly we love.


Deadpool Monopoly

deadpool monopoly

Marvel's motormouthed mercenary loves making some raucous mischief in places you don't expect, so it seemed only a matter of time before he turned his hand to the Monopoly board game!

Certain to inspire the kind of wheeling, dealing and wise-cracking that'd gain even Ryan Reynolds' nod of approval, Deadpool Monopoly features Cheap Shot and Low Blow cards to alter the state of play. Players compete to accumulate mansions, sweet rides and different versions of Deadpool – some of whom have stepped in from another dimension altogether!

It's as wacky – and as geared towards players aged 16 or over – as you might expect, and definitely a brilliant way to inject plenty of the unexpected into a classic board game night.

Horrible Histories Monopoly

horrible histories monopoly

Who needs houses and hotels when you can have cottages and castles? This version of Monopoly twists through time to deliver a whole new take on the property-grabbing classic. You'll be experiencing the likes of the Stormin Normans and Terrible Tudors as you make your way around the board, and Chance cards have been given a historical facelift – they now feature true-to-life punishments taken from the pages of the past!

And that top hat, little car, dog and his friends? Think again – reaching through time once more, Horrible Histories Monopoly puts players in control of treasure chests, axes, shields and even the Sphinx as their playing pieces.

Just don't tell the kids they're secretly learning about real life history while they play...!

Monopoly – 2018 Edinburgh Edition

edinburgh 2018 monopoly

Did you know Edinburgh was the first UK city outside of London to get its own Monopoly edition, based on real-life locations in that stunning Scottish metropolis? In 2018, 20 years after it was first released, Monopoly updated the Edinburgh Edition to feature a more contemporary look at the city – as well as theme game pieces after Scottish culture and heritage.

That means you've got an Edinburgh Zoo penguin, a set of bagpipes, a rugby ball and a Mons Meg bombard cannon among the game pieces going around the board – see you later, top hat and sports car! Locales you can buy out and control include Princes Street and, of course, the magnificent Edinburgh Castle.

It's a classic edition of the game with a modern twist reflecting a vibrant and modern city, sure to please collectors and fans wherever in the British Isles – or beyond! – they call home.

Monopoly USA Edition

monopoly usa

All this exploring of Monopoly's roots at the heart of early 20th century America can't help but inspire us to fall in love with Monopoly's USA Edition. It's the classic game with a few aces up its sleeve – including a new game-piece line-up that includes a rubber duck, cat and even a T-Rex!

There's also the new Speed Die to get to grips with, which hastens the pace of the game overall and includes special ways to roll your way to victory. The venues and locations you can expect to snap up around the board have been given an all-American facelift too – think Boardwalk, New York Avenue and more.

What's great here is that things like the Speed Die are optional – you can tailor Monopoly USA Edition to play either tried and true to the original classic, or with a few modern conveniences that help speed up an evening's game.


More than just a roll of the dice

From its modern interpretations with new rules, to its mash-ups with famous faces and series we all love, Monopoly has proven that it's a board game that's more than capable of moving with the times. There are as many ways to play as there are editions based on places and personalities – and whatever your favourite, it's a game that rewards thinking ahead, canny negotiation and a fair share of luck to win.

It's certainly come a long way from the Parker Bros. Monopoly of the 1930s, or even The Landlord's Game that first inspired it in the 1900s. Over a century on, Monopoly is the go-to board game where the winner quite literally takes it all – what's your strategy for rinsing your opponents dry?