Saturday, October 03, 2009

How to cheat the beaters!

Somewhere in the Netherlands, there's a group of teenagers having fun on Monopoly City Streets. Something special about this? There are thousands of people having fun out there. There are also thousands of people who don't have fun anymore on Monopoly City Streets. Many have quit playing because all the hours spent on the game were devastated by groups of rampart teenagers like this one.

They play in gangs, handling multiple accounts and moving in on serious players. They have fun in destroying other players. It's a group of 4 to 5 players who have multiple accounts:

There is:
  1. Janneke (accounts Jannek1 to Janneke9)
  2. WZ (accounts WZ1 to WZ9)
  3. Alenka (accounts Alenka1 to Alenka9)
  4. Woody (accounts Woodski, Woodsky6 and Woodyho and probably a few others)
  5. Bl0ggertje (Account Bl0ggertje -with a zero) and Bloggertje1 to Bloggertje9)

Mind that last one, the main account is Bl0ggertje with a zero, Bloggertje with an ooh is my account! Everyday at least 20 attacks by these accounts landed on my streets. Of course, I've got another account with which I still am going strong in the game, but I've kept this one off their radar. Today I was doubting. Should I stop with this account or not? It is frustrating to work with this account everyday just to clean up the hazards and build new parks. Sometimes even selling houses just to get another chance card...

Well, today is not a good day to die. I sold every street 'Bloggertje' still owned and bought me a nice 3 Million dollar street in the middle of Oklahoma. Armed with 7 Million dollar to build and an autobuild script I set to work, cuz today is Payback Day!

I speedbuilt 140 green houses and received a stunning load of chance cards and went back to taking on all of these accounts. Mind you, in Monopoly City Streets a rampant account has an enormous destructive power. With just 10 million dollar to spend I've managed to wreck over a billion worth of streets. Here's some of today's harvest:

I really must say, I've refound the joy in the game. The sole purpose of keeping this account alive is to strike back and let them experience what they are doing to others. Anyone in for game?

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Monday, September 28, 2009

Advanced MCS Strategy: Your Footprint

In my previous blogpost I explained why you need to find long streets. But now, what's the best way to build them? Which buildings give you the best return on investment?

So, what are the figures?

Starting with the smallest building, the Green House, costing you can see it costs only 50K and returns a 50K rent. So that's a 100% return on investment! But what do you get from this building? I set out a small stretch of road, between two Blanco Bastions. Now to select the Green House. As you can see, there are 13 free markers. So for 650K I can get a 650K return in rents.

The Blanco Bastion costs 1.1M$ and returns a daily rent of 750 K$. However, there are only 3 free markers for building the Bastion. This little stretch could cost 3.3M$ and return a daily 2,25M$ with this type of building.

Now sadly, as the prices go up for appartments, the relative income drops severely. Whereas the return with a Blanco Bastion is still at about 70%, the return on a Briquette Tower is only 16.6% as it costs a ludicrous 15M$ to build and gives a return in rent of just 2.2 M$. So what's the best footprint to get?

The Cubic Quarters builds at 2M$ and returns 950K$, so nearly 50%. It's footprint allows upto 6 of these to be build on the stretch I set out, so 12M$ returns almost 6M$ in rents.

The Spear End Summit tower costs 5,000,000 $ and returns a daily rent of 1,300,000 $. As you can see, there are 7 free markers for building the Spear End. This little stretch could cost 35M$ and return a daily 9,1M$.

The Briquette Tower tower costs 15,000,000 $ and returns a daily rent of 2,500,000 $. As you can see, there are 5 free markers for building the Briquette. This little stretch could cost 75M$ and return a daily 12,5M$.

So basically I would say that in terms of footprint, probably the Spear End Summit gives you the best value for money, but it will take a lot of money to build a 24 M$ street with only Spear End Summits. I have started out building my street with Blanco Bastions and fill up the small spots in between with Spear End Summits. Seeing the numbers and the footprint, maybe it's smarter to build the Cubic Quarters all over.

Your Bonus Building Footprint

On the Monopoly City Street Headquarters blog there is an interesting comment on Strategy, namely the fact that bonus buildings have a different footprint as well:

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Sunday, September 27, 2009

Your Guide to Monopoly City Streets

It's that time of year again when the days shorten and the evenings are covered in darkness. Curtains drawn and the lights on. It's weekend and the kids are finishing washing the dishes. Now the table is clear and we get out that famous old square boardgame: Monopoly by Parker Brothers. A sure guarantee for long hours of family entertainment.

At least, that's what it was when I grew up. Especially during the long winternights we spent hours of playing games (when there was no homework to do), so when Hasbro launched Monopoly City Streets, its online version of the game September 9, it was perfect timing. It's game on!

However, it turned out to be a little more complicated to get that old 'family entertainment' thing into the gameplay. This is what I'll cover in this article. For a basic howto of the game you can check out tons of websites, ranging from this blog to the respectable Mashable.

Monopoly City Streets - first release

The online game released by Hasbro was a massively multiplyer online game (mmo) in which the classic boardgame was set up on a worldwide scale using Google Maps technology. As a player you could buy every street in the world and earn rent, buy complete cities and turn into a real estate mogul.

The burdens of success

Monopoly City Streets was a big success from the start. Hasbro and their agency Tribal DDB must have been overtaken by surprise. They were handling pure gold, and that's where the danger is. Least of their worries would have been that the servers strained under the onrush of real estate brokers worldwide. Servers are pretty easily upscaled these days. No, the danger was in cheating.

It didn't take long for Hasbro to reset the game, which happened on September 17th. There have been a number of adjustments to the game, but those did not solve the cheating problem.

Hasbro has taken hardly any precaution to making the game cheat-proof. The terms and conditions do not specifically mention it is prohibited to creating multiple accounts and their is no email verification on creating an account. More specifically, they have said to allow up to five accounts per pc! The reason for doing so is that they want Monopoly to be a family game, the way it should be. Sadly, that is a little naive. Extremely sad, as cheaters are now ruining the game for tons of sincere monopoly-loving gamers like me. I know several pretty fanatic gamers who can stand a bit of trouble having given up on the game as it is almost impossible to beat the cheaters, but I will tell you how!

So as it is possible to have multiple accounts, what happens? Tons of frustrated teenagers sit down behinbd their computer and create dozens of accounts and start nagging people by making their streets worthless by destroying bonus buildings and building hazards like prisons, sewers and plants on your streets. One of my accounts was spammed severely by cheaters as well. Here's a little naming and shaming:

The bizarre part here is that my account is called bloggertje and that it got spammed by another account called bloggertje. So apparently, it is possible that an account name is registered more than once!

This particular account is now worthless, I don't get any rents on these streets, as it got spammed by bloggertje (and his doubles), janneke (and her doubles), WZ2 (and his doubles) and so on. I have reported the names to Monopoly, but although they promised to take action on the cheaters, no news so far. They are still active.

Fortunately, not everyone is hampered by these multiple accounts. I have three accounts myself (now four, as I started a new one to prove my theory, so still under the 5 per pc rule). I have noted they are regions in which the nasty little critters are more active. I had two accounts in my hometown, Ede, Gelderland, and both were severely attacked by these spammers. I have an account somewhere else, and that hardly got spammed, even if it did grow bigger in the shadows. So here's how to beat them!

How to beat the cheaters!

Before the cheaters can target you, you have to be noted. If you're a bit serious and have bought some good streets, there's a good chance that you'll turn up in the local top 10. If you're unlucky like me and tons of other players, you're in an active cheating region and you get attacked pretty bad as they see your name appear on the leaderboard. If you're very good, you'll end up in the National or Worldwide rankings, but that's probably far off.... Although, with my prime playing account I'm just under the national top 10 at 450M$ without cheating!

Which roads to buy

The trick to grow and avoid being noted is to stay below the radar, and here's how you do it. Many of us have the urge to start in our own hometowns, like I did. The Netherlands is crowded with early adapters. A lot of players and cheaters live here, so towns get crowded fast and good streets are hard to find.

Especially in the Netherlands, but probably in the US and UK there are tons of small and cheap streets in the towns, but you have to stay away from streets below 1 Million M$. Streets prices 1M$ and up give you a return of 100% on the investment for the cheap houses. A 50K$ house will bring a 50K$ rent. Cheaper streets will have lower returns.

Just after the reset, it exponentially grew on the other end as well, so a 50K$ house on a 6M$ street would give a rent of say 250K$, but that's off now, sadly as it made quite a few good bucks. One of the changes during the reset was the introduction of taxes, which means the more streets you have, the more taxation you'll get. First 5 streets are free, every other gets billed 3% in taxes, meaning if you have over 38 streets you will have no income.

The long and winding road

So the trick is to find the longest road possible and build as many houses as possible on say just 5 to 10 streets, without being noted! And that's what you see happening with the top Dutch players as well. On the leaderboard below, each of these top players has one or more long streets somewhere in Australia or Canada which are way less populated and have longer distances to cover than in the Netherlands.

NOTE: To find long roads the best chance you'll have is to find one in big, scarcely populated countries, such as Canada, Australia or in Africa. However, please note that quite often only the major roads, Highways and such are up for sale here. Lots of city streets are just not covered by the game in these areas.

And that's still possible! But you have to...

Stay below the radar

This will take some time, but scroll over the world map to lowly populated areas and look for a good street. As you start with only 3M$ (3 million monopoly dollars) you have to find a street prices just a little over 1M$ to get the best return and still have money to start building the street. There are still pretty good streets out there, just like the one below, which is priced 6M$. If you find one like this and it's still available, keep close tabs on it!

If you zoom out one level you will see 'for sale' signs popping up, scan them to see if any good street is available.

The best streets are the hidden ones. Long streets often are much longer than they appear. On the road below, somewhere near Durban, South Africa, you see the Outer Ring Rd, which seems to be uninhabited and not up for sale.

A lot of scrolling learns that it is bought by a player, but you don't see the overlay appear on the map and the street popping up in the property list as you hover over the edges of the street. So keep looking and scrolling!

Now, I've done some good business. I found a new street for 1.035 M$ and bought it. Back to the leaderboard you'll see it's empty! Only one other person has registered in this area! I've blanked out his name to protect his and my own privacy off course, but this is a spot to grow. No one will notice you growing on the local leaderboard and it will take some quiet growing to get up on the national leaderboard. Meanwhile, you have time to fortify your long and winding roads with plenty of parks, schools and stadiums to withstand a pretty severe hit later on in the game.

Strategic Roads

A long road is not only good for building, it is also good for staying below the radar. As I said, it will take some time to find out if it's built or not and harassment comes in a hit and run strategy. But there's even a more suitable road to avoid this, and that's what I call a strategic road.

I can blog this one since I sold it at a good profit a few days ago for 50M$. This road is split up into three segments. The top one appears on the radar, the bottom two stretches fall off the screen if you're in the closest zoom.

There's three ways in which you can find a street like this:
  1. Know such a street in your area
  2. Take hours or days of searching
  3. Dumb luck
The last one was the case for me when I bought this one. It was a good priced street, at 4M$ so I bought it. When I built the street one by one the pilons were replaced by houses, until there were no pilons left. Somehow, I could still built houses, but I did not see any markers left to build on! It took me several hours to find the third stretch! I had to take three different roads to get there! Now build your bonus buildings on that stretch of land and it will take time for the critters to find it. Hopefully they grow tired and move on to their next victim.

Finally, to help you find a good street, use the tool by Monopoly Street Clans and read blogs like Monopoly City Street Secrets or Monopoly City Street HeadQuarters to get some more hints on strategy. If you find the right street in the right neighbourhood and can stay below the radar long enough to grow strong, this game is perfect. It is a fantastic game to play -as long as it's played fair!

PS. The world didn't change over the past decade or so. To be honest. When we were playing the board game as kids, we were cheating as well. Who didn't slip 50K notes under te table?

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Friday, September 18, 2009

Monopoly City Streets Revamped

Monopoly City Streets has been released early September as a promotional game to support the launch of the new Hasbro Monoploy City Streets edition, but has became such an overwhelming success that performance was bad. After 1.5 weeks of gameplay Hasbro and their UK based digital agency Tribal DDB, who created the game have decided to bring the world down for a full reboot on September 17th.

Now Monopoly City Streets is back up and running with a number of gameplay changes. Here's a list of changes as published on the official MCS blog:

Streets can only change hands ONCE per day
In other words, no street can be bought or sold more than once per day. So, be wise about your street selection.

Bidding Cap Removed
For level 3 players and above, we have removed the bidding cap of M1.5 million on streets. Have fun.

Addition of "For Sale" signs
Having a hard time finding a street to purchase? Now when viewing the zoomed out map, you will see red “for sale” signs that will indicate where streets are available. Click on the sign to visit the neighborhood and buy, buy, buy.

There is only one certainty in MONOPOLY City Streets. Tax. Just like in real life, tax now plays an integral part of the game. The first 5 streets that you own are tax-free. The current tax rate is 3% per street. For example, if you own 15 streets your tax will be 30% of your total rent collected every day. If you own 25 streets your tax will be 60%, etc.

Street Protection
Many of you noticed that if there is an offer made on a street, it was protected from hazards and the bulldozer while the street is under negotiation. No longer. Streets will no longer be protected when they are included in negotiations.

Forced Repossession of Streets
It pays to play regularly. If, after 2 weeks, there has not been any activity on your account, the bank will automatically repossess ALL your streets. Ouch. So, keep buying, building and negotiating - you never know what chance has in store for you…

They have really been looking into how to avoid cheating but have not extended the Terms and Conditions, nor have they added email verification.

Monopoly City is a family board game. And, by extension, Monopoly City Streets is a family game. We are limited as to the type of information we can collect from younger players (especially internationally) and as such have not added e-mail verification.

I can undertand this, but am afraid cheaters will not care about family entertainment. After the game being open for just 10 minutes I already saw streets worth over 300 Million, whereas 3M should be the max for day 1. I hope there's just a way to see who's been cheating and who's been playing fair.

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Thursday, September 17, 2009

Monopoly Reboot

"We're in the process of resetting the game. We're busy behind the scenes making changes and testing. We'll be back soon." (MCS Blog)

Today is the day that one of the hottest hypes in online gaming is down for a cold reboot. It's been just over a week since Monopoly City Streets first saw it first dawn. Launched on September 9th, Monopoly City Street is a

massively multiplayer online strategy game based on the classic Parker Monopoly Game. The online MCS has started as a mere promotion for the new edition of Monopoly but has become an overnight smash hit on the internet as it puts the classic gameplay onto the real world using Google Maps.

MCS allows you to buy almost every street in the world (excluding entire North Korea and Israel and the usual backroads) and build appartment blocks to receive rent.

An overnight success it has been indeed.

"At launch, we were blown away by the sheer numbers of people who wanted to try their hand at global real estate domination (1.7 million in day one alone!). We made headlines all over the world and this resulted in even more MONOPOLY fans rushing to be a part of the action." (MCS Blog)

Success did kill performance though. Monopoly Old Style has probably been played by millions of people all over the world, all those are now flocking to the online game to build their real estate empire, based on their own turf.

In one of my previous posts I did look into the possibilities for cheating, as there were a few. We like it fair though, so I'm quite happy that they've decided to bring down the game for a full reboot. Servers are up and ready for good performance and some tweaks have been made to the gameplay. I for one am looking forward to the new MSC coming online very soon. A new round, new chances, and hopefully, less subject to cheating.

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Saturday, September 12, 2009

Monopoly City Streetwise

In my previous blogpost I described the new online Monopoly Game, Monopoly City Streets, based on Google Maps. I described my basic first seps and gameplay, and pointed out some possible way to cheat. Now, although that option apparently exists, I will not try to take advantage out of it. But I did create some extra accounts to see what could be different strategies to the gameplay.

Terms and Conditions

One of the first things to check was if the Terms and Conditions said anything about creating muliple accounts. Well, strangely enough, they don't. So apparently it is allowed to create more than one account.

Okay, a few accounts created and time to dig into strategy and get Streetwise.

First Time around

When you're first time around, you'd probably start buying a street near where you live, or would like to live. If the street is available, you'll purchase it and put a nice big appartment on it to get a lot of income from rents. As you build your appartment, you'll see that (especially in long streets) there are a lot of spots to place your appartment.

When that's done, and you're lucky you will receive a chance card to build a stadium or a park to protect your propert. So, I put the park into place. Then you'll probably buy some streets around your first Headquarters, because the game says connecting property is worth more. By following this strategy though, you'll leave your defenses wide open. A lot of construction sites on your property will not be filled, and they're just begging to be spoiled by Prisons, Sewers and Plants to ruin your income.

If you're lucky, you'll have a chance card to raze a building so you can take away the pollution from your neighbourhood. If not, no rents today!

Fill her up!

A different approach is to buy a pretty neat street and fill her up by building slightly cheaper appartments. That's what I did in this place. I bought a long street and filled it up. In the process I also received a bonus building to protect my property.

Hot Property Sales

A street in densely populated areas should get higher renting prices. If you turn to Monopoly City Streets now, you will find that most city centers of large, popular cities have been totally sold out already. Anyway, I did manage to find a few streets up for sale in downtown Amsterdam. The theory here is that people who've invested big time to create a hot property spot here will probably be looking forward to expand. If you manage to get a street in such an area, you will have to wait and see if you'll get offered a good price and sell your property with a huge profit.

A few tips

The more expensive an empty street is, the more you will get from rents. For example a Grid Building built on a 1M street brings in 550K per day, whereas the same building on a 150K street only brings in 65K per day.

Chance Cards are dealt pretty randomly (sofar I could find a pattern), but the more actions you perform, the more cards you'll get. So if you buy one expensive street and build two expansive appartments, your money is up and you've only performed three actions this turn. If you buy a slightly cheaper street and fill her up with 10 small appartments,, you've done 11 actions and the chances of getting a chance card significantly goes up.

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