Tuesday, June 17, 2008

No. 0043 - Monopoly Extended Play

I think Monopoly is the greatest board game ever! I understand that Monopoly is not exactly a new invention, but that doesn't bar me from pointing good invention already made. For as much as I did enjoy writing about "Communism" the Game (See No. 0019 in June, one of my personal favorite), I'm a proponent of capitalism and there is no better way to learn about it than playing Monopoly. I think the game effectively encapsulates the workings of the economy that we all live in today, and by mastering it would do much good to the way we do our finances. In fact, I think anyone who is old enough to make or handle money should master the game first.

A week or two ago, I have gotten this sudden urge to play Monopoly. So I went online, downloaded the game and started rolling dices. Now the traditional strategy is to make sure you are the last surviving player while bankrupting your opponents one by one. With this strategy, it didn't take very long before I was challenging and conquering "tycoon" difficulty level opponents. It was then I have devised a new strategy of playing the game; I started targeting the bank instead of my opponents. The trick is you must not kill of your opponents off but instead keep them in the game to make money for you. Here is how it's done.

First, you have to build an empire and accumulate cash. Get enough property for the steady income (traditional strategy, one to two streets would be fine). But the trick is build just enough houses so that your opponents can afford to pay you in cash and not be bankrupted. Second step, start acquiring your opponents' properties but pay only cash for it. Yes, their accounts would have way more money than you but they will all come back to you 'cause you are the one with the properties. Once again, build houses but don't make it a death row (i.e. lay off the hotels on Broadway even if you can afford it). The main goal here is to keep you opponents from making deals and expanding. Warning, those pesky house and hotel repairs can cripple you at this point. Just remember that the most expensive bill the bank can throw at you is $2600 (32 houses X $40 and 12 hotels X $110) so plan accordingly. Third, keep your opponents in play. What this means is to make obvious bad deals with your opponents (cash only) from time to time, for example, sell a railroad for a dollar and buy it back for $3000. What you are doing is putting money in your opponents' pocket so they can pay you back when they land on your stuff (kind of like paying salary to your workers).

If you can get to this point, then you have effectively started the vicious cycle against the bank. Why? Because the game naturally inflates. Every time you and your opponents (assume you are able to keep 3 other ones alive) crosses "GO", that's $800 of income to your conglomeration. Not including all the free parkings, chances and community chest cards which tend to award a higher value in cash than they penalize. I've gotten to this same situation before but with only one opponent left. I conducted a little experiment. I've purchased the get out of jail free card from my opponent for $18000 (I've kept $2600 in my pocket just in case). By this point I've purchased all houses and hotels available and own the entire board. I know all that money will come back to me eventually and the bankrupting of my final opponent will mark the end of the experiment. The goal is to figure out how much money I would have made from the bank in one such cycle (from $18000 to zero for my opponent's account). Transaction between me and my associate don't count, only money that comes in and out of the bank. The results? I ended up making about $8000 from the bank! ONE CYCLE?! And what does this simulates? Inflation!! Talk about the purest form of money breeding money! Some people may wonder why things are getting more and more expensive such as the housing market (well not now because of all the foreclosures but overall yes). Why? Because there are more cash out there. Baltic Ave. can easily go for $3000-$4000 by this point of the game. Another lesson learned: a healthy economy comes from lots of money transactions, why? Because rich people make money off of other rich people, kind of like the relationship I have with my opponents. I give them wads of cash, they land on my stuff and I get that same wad back and then some from the bank.

I can't say I now know all that there is to know about money from playing Monopoly. In fact, I still don't understand a lot on how businesses and the economy works. Econ 211 is as far as I've gone back in college (i.e. supply and demand, cash flow, surplus. . . the basic stuff) and that was boring to me. That explains a lot why I do what I do today (technical and not business). But if I would have learn these principles early on as a child by mastering this game, I think my career path would have turned out a little differently. I honestly think that I would get a better grasp (and interests) of these principles if my econ class would have just played Monopoly day in and day out. Heck, why have tests and finals? Just have the whole class play a gigantic game of Monopoly and who ever survives gets the A. Done deal!!!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

No. 0042 - Laxative Tolerance

A few weeks ago, my cube-mate came into work with one of the funniest experience with burglary ever. For the sake of protecting his identity from his "assailant", we'll call my cube-mate Bob for the time being. Bob woke up that morning with all his roommates perplexedly standing around the crime scene. In addition to the tell-tale evidence they found on the kitchen table, they also found their back door as well as their refrigerator door wide open when they woke up. Throughout the entire morning, my cube-mate were making phone calls to neighbors, family and even the police department. I couldn't help but to laugh when Bob identify to the police what the loot was: a box of Hooter's chicken wings. At first I thought could it have been a wild animal such as a javelina. But then again, if that was the case then it would have been one smart javelina to have opened the refrigerator door and leave the chicken wing bones on top of the kitchen counter. As the story unfolds, it turns out a homeless person has broken into several homes in the neighborhood during the night looking for food.

Don't get me wrong, I have nothing against hungry people. If anyone would ask for food because they don't have money to buy food, I would most definitely buy them lunch (I've done it before). But then again, how do you protect yourself from that? If a burglar was about money and valuables, then that would justify one home owner to get an alarm system for protection. But who would ever protect their home because of food? A food thief is petty enough that the only victim in the crime is your stomach. I propose that we all should accustom ourselves and build tolerances to laxative. For all you college kids out there, do you have roommates or visitors that help themselves to your sector of the fridge? Well, this will most definitely stop if you would put a touch of laxative in your food that you have build a tolerance to overtime. Now of course don't put so much that would kill your friends but just enough to get them sick. Most humans are smart animals, if they get "burned" once, they won't touch the fire again. Disclaimer - I'll not be responsible for the laxa-dative friends you poison.