A year of 18xx games
John Elbl
United States
Framingham
Massachusetts
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I played 18xx a couple times before 'getting into the system'; but over the past year I have played 18xx more than Euros! If you haven't tried an 18xx; I'd greatly encourage it.
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1. Board Game: 18AL [Average Rating:7.27 Overall Rank:1748]
John Elbl
United States
Framingham
Massachusetts
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This game is what got me into 18xx for the past year (and probably much longer!). The game is shorter than 1830, 1870, 1835 and 1856; which probably over 95% of people have played in their few 18xx experiences. 18AL takes about 3 hours to play through with inexperienced players. The map is quite forgiving, and I have not seen a bankruptcy. With a shorter game, evil tactics can backfire and you can't set up as much; but it's great for learning the system, and getting used to the ins and outs of track laying, stock tricks, etc. You can 'try something', have it blow up and learn from your mistakes in 3 hours rather than 6-8.
 
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2. Board Game: 18GA [Average Rating:7.18 Overall Rank:3726]
John Elbl
United States
Framingham
Massachusetts
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Another short game, I haven't played as much GA as the other short games available to me. After getting into 18xx I began searching the 'geek and other places for strategies, hints, etc. The 'geek doesn't have that much (most is under the 1830 entry), mainly due to other resources being available pre-geek. 18xx yahoo group, www.18xx.net, and other places have been around for awhile. Since several topics can be discussed regardless of specific map, bgg isn't exactly the best set up for 18xx.
 
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3. Board Game: 1830: Railways & Robber Barons [Average Rating:7.83 Overall Rank:175] [Average Rating:7.83 Unranked]
John Elbl
United States
Framingham
Massachusetts
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I obtained a copy of 1830 from ebay. Playing through the game, I understand what has turned a lot of gamers away from 18xx. 1830 is a bloody game where you can get hosed quickly if you don't know what you're doing. And on your first game.... Fortunately, the genre has grown enough now to have many more forgiving games where the system can be learned. THEN this is much more enjoyable. However, for many vetrans 1830 has been around for AWHILE. Strategies are set, ideologies in place, and it may not be the first suggestion of what to play.
 
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4. Board Game: 1856: Railroading in Upper Canada from 1856 [Average Rating:7.50 Overall Rank:909]
John Elbl
United States
Framingham
Massachusetts
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While the other 18xx game intrigued me, this is the one that hooked me in. I went bankrupt the first time I played and needed to understand why. When I went to GenCon last year, I ended up playing 8 games of 18xx over four days. I actually ended up in the finals game staving off bankruptcy (barely) to reach the end game. I ended up in last place... but I was in the finals. Over the long weekend I was able to play 18EU, 1830, 1835, 18AL, and 1856.
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5. Board Game: 18VA [Average Rating:7.23 Overall Rank:4720]
John Elbl
United States
Framingham
Massachusetts
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This has become my favorite of the shorter games. The boardplay and stock positioning are designed quite well. I have played this about 20 times or so. The *biggest* time saver to 18xx is POKER CHIPS. Using poker chips instead of cash has reduced game times by ~25%. It becomes much easier to see how much money a company has. With 5-7 companies and 4 players, you can easily have 9-11 stacks of cash. Flipping through paper money to find out how much you have is much more annoying than simply looking at a stack of chips.
 
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6. Board Game: 1841 [Average Rating:7.87 Overall Rank:2854]
John Elbl
United States
Framingham
Massachusetts
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This is the game I most want to try. Massive stock manipulation and company shenanigans. Unfortunately, it's really out of print and had a low run. Maybe someone will reprint a few copies soon
 
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