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1830: Railroads & Robber Barons» Forums » Reviews

Subject: Great Railroad Game Shines on the Avalon Hill PC Port rss

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Richard Young
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Old Ways Are Best!
Check Six!
The definitive 18XX railroading game is captured in SimTex' digital port of the AH classic board-game. Until Mayfair finally republished the long out of print title a few years ago, I only had the PC game to call my own. It was a great port replicating the board-game almost flawlessly. Additionally, it included some expansion options to tailor the game to the suit the player's preferences.

The AI for the solo mode was decent for its time but would do things not likely to be encountered when up against actual humans. For example, in the solitaire mode where you are up against four or five computer opponents, they would often deliberately collude against you to their own detriment, to the extent not often found with real players looking to their own best interests.

Our group's preferred mode of play was "hot seat" (now referred to as "pass & play" on the devices) where a number of human players would face off against each other with a 'bot or two to fill out the roster to the desired number. 1830 lends itself to this form of play as there is no hidden information in the game (the way we play it). The advantages should be obvious - no fiddly set-up, all calculations handled instantly, no rules mistakes or oversights and the game played in half the time it would on the board. We started out shadowing our moves on the actual board until we saw that it added nothing to the feel for the game and soon we discarded that choosing to concentrate on the computer screen.

The computer took care of the rules, logistics, bookkeeping and let the players concentrate on playing - brilliant! The game is rudimentary in terms of graphics, even for its day, but the brilliance of the game design is front and center. Kudos to the SimTex design team and AH for porting some of their best titles to the PC back in the mid 1990s. 10 out of 10!

NB: The game was designed to be run under MSDOS, so one needs to install a DOS emulator (such as DOSBox) in order to play on modern computers. The files are still available and with patience you should be able to get the settings right to play the game smoothly. It is a fiddly, demanding job to get running but it is highly worth it in the end!
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General Norris
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I thought the AI was great, it plays and understands the game really well. I wish the average strategy game had

As far as collusion goes, it does collude but not overly so. It's mostly felt in the train rush, as it does not push the trains hard enough if it feels it would drive half of the game to bankrupcy.

Its level of collusion also depends on the difficulty level, the highest is unplayable because they simply don't buy the last share on your company. But on the second highest they play pretty well and I don't find it too bothersome.

Personally, I think it's a really great to get some games under your belt, and provides a good beginner and intermediate experience.
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Geoffrey Burrell
United States
Cedar Rapids
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Those are signs of good games when the AI isn't insulting or generally random.
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