1817NA is an 1817 variant, currently being playtested, designed by Marc Voyer (known for 1882). Its objective is to make the game shorter and more suitable for lower player counts. I've played 1817 6 times, 18USA once and 1817NA 5 times, so I'm not very experienced, but I think that a little comparison between the original and the variant may be interesting.
I don't play 1817 online anymore (using rr18xx was too bothersome and I don't feel like using B18 when there is a fully automated version (rr18xx) out there ), so I'm thankful that there is an alternative. 1817NA is my way to go to play online, to introduce new players and to play with 3 players. With 5 and more I'd choose 1817. With 4? Not sure.
1817 uses a completely new map of North America. There are fewer trains of each type, 15 companies instead of 20, 4 loans per line instead of 5. 3 private companies are removed (one bridge, one mail contract and one coal mine). Starting cash and certificate limit is lowered by 1 row, so if you play at 4, it's as if it was at 3.
The game is shorter than the original, but is still longer than an average 18xx. My asynchronous plays of 1817 usually lasted for up to 3 weeks, here it's up to 2. When we played it live, it took 7 hours.
- Klondike is an interesting revenue center whose value goes down and up. Currently it's 50-20-40 (used to be 70-10-40, but it didn't work)
- no mountain range that cuts off New York, so coal markers don't feel as significant. +10 is still nice and the one between Asia and Klondike shapes the game in that area, but that's about it. The rest rarely has such an impact
- no preprinted double city. I like Cleveland in 1817, I think it makes SR1 more interesting. I guess that, with fewer companies being started, having 2 in one city could be harmful to he game
- Denver (equivalent of Pittsburgh) seems weaker. It's in the center of B-B-B route, which is great in mid and end game, but its start isn't impressing. Running 3 2T by OR1.2 is much less likely
SR1 at 4 players
So you have $252, after the auction your IPO funds will be larger, but probably still not enough to start 3 companies. Its consequences:
- reduction of shenanigans throughout the game (but also reduction of its length)
- you can't enter SR2 with one 2-share company and one 5-share company (that's a strategy I was testing in my last plays of 1817)
- if all opponents have more privates than you, you can't try to punish them by taking loans in SR1 in order to make interest $10 by OR1.1—there are 4 loans per line, so you're short of one loan
That's why I'm not sure if I'd choose 1817NA over 1817 at this player count. If everyone knows the rules, I would be opting for 1817 (it's still not a weeknight game, so if you have enough time for 1817NA, probably you've reserved most of the day anyway). But if the rest prefers 1817NA, I would be okay with that since it's also a very good game.
There's a lake!
More information: https://boardgamegeek.com/geeklist/50723/item/6567268#item65...
(posted on www.railsonboards.com as well)