Easy Money (board game)
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Somerville Industries Ltd.
|Publication date||1935, 1936, 1940s, 1950s, 1974, 2005|
|Years active||1935-–1974, 2005|
|Random chance||High (dice rolling, card drawing)|
|Skill(s) required||Negotiation, Resource management|
Easy Money was a board game introduced by Milton Bradley Company in 1935. The game is based on The Landlord's Game as is Monopoly in the movement of pieces around the board, the use of cards, properties that can be purchased, and houses that can be erected on them.
Easy Money is a member of the Landlord's Game/auction family of games, of which Monopoly is the most famous example. Players begin with a set amount of money. Properties allow owners to charge rents based on the houses purchased on that property. Players may trade or sell properties. Other spaces have particular action that must be taken when landing on or passing over.
Key differences from Monopoly include: no "color groups" for properties (instead, a player must own one "street" on each of the four sides of the board before properties can be improved); no Title Deed cards with printed rents and mortgage values (instead, the information is printed on the gameboard); and no dedicated "Jail" space. Instead of a shared pool of houses and hotels, each player has 16 color-coded house that are used to denote ownership of a property as well as the current rent value. Rather than the two card types in Parker Brothers' Monopoly (and early Finance sets) players draw "Give-or-Take" cards whenever they throw doubles on the dice, with similar rewards and penalties.
Players start with $2,000 (rather than $1,500 as they do in Monopoly), and earn $250 (not $200) for completing a full circuit of the board. In the 1974 edition of the game, basic dollar amounts were multiplied by 10; consequently, these figures became $20,000 to start with and $2,500 for a full circuit, with commensurate increases in property values and rents.
A game of Easy Money ends when one player is not able to pay what they owe, and had sold or mortgaged all of their properties. At that point (if more than two are playing), the cash-on-hand of each remaining player, plus the value of each property owned (and not mortgaged), is used to determine each player's net worth; the player with the highest total is determined the winner. (One major flaw in Easy Money is that a player collects more by mortgaging than paid when purchasing properties.)
Games can last several hours, but games with three or more players are generally shorter than a typical Monopoly session with the same number of players (as it is not a requirement for one player to force all of their opponents into bankruptcy).
Milton Bradley Company (MB) was one of the companies that Charles Darrow showed his Monopoly in 1934, but was turned down. After the success of Monopoly and Finance, Milton Bradley decided to issue its own version of Finance. Despite the Landlord's Game patents having expired and the auction-monopoly game itself having developed in the public domain, Parker Brothers sued Milton Bradley for patent infringement, and the latter was forced to license the former's patents to continue production of the game. MB was forced by Parker Brothers to make changes for its 1936 "New Improved Edition" issued in three separate versions, so that it no longer played quite so similarly to Monopoly. A design patent for Easy Money was applied for at the Patent Office and was either withdrawn or rejected.
A new board was made for the 1940s edition with a new box design in the 1950s. A final Milton Bradley edition was printed in 1974; in this version all dollar amounts had been multiplied by ten, and the board had been further redesigned to look even less Monopoly-like. In 2005 under license from Hasbro, Winning Moves republished the 1950s version with new property names.
An unrelated game with the same name was issued by Hasbro in 1996.
 * non-property spaces
From 1935 to 1936 editions:
- Give or Take space removed - Instead, if a double (e.g. 5 and 5) was thrown, the player took a "give-or-take" card.
- deeds removed with the colored houses representing ownership & property information directly on the board