1848 used to be my favourite 18xx game. It isn't anymore—which I was expecting since I knew from the start that it wouldn't be as deep as 1830 or 1817—but it is still among my most appreciated 18xx games.
The thing I used to really dislike was how the privates are distributed. It's a Dutch auction—meaning that the price goes down rather than up—with set minimum price. On your turn, you can grab any private at its current price or lower one of the prices. Arguably most of those privates aren't worth their minimum price, which in my plays was resulting in auctions being a tedious exercise of moving markers down. I believed that it could be a fun part of the game, a sort of a game of chicken, if only the minimum prices weren't there.
However, here's the thing: P5 is awful. It's possibly the worst private company I know, being expensive, unsellable and coming with a poor share. I, and my fellow players, found out that we'd rather take P4 at full price than risk being forced to take P5. And, if P5 is already taken, we'd take another sellable private. (So it is a game of chicken after all, isn't it?) Maybe it'll change again, but for now that's our meta and I'm happy that it still evolves after 20+ plays.
(By the way, I also start to think that sacrificing your first company in order to make the second strong is a more efficient and realistic approach than the other way around.)
How the auction looked in my last playthrough
(posted on https://railsonboards.com as well)
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