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Subject: First game, three players, some comments and questions... rss

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Mike Dommett
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So, finally I played an 18xx, specifically 1830. It was a three player game and lasted for 7 hours. We made a few mistakes which were rectified during the game, but nothing that I think caused a serious problem. I enjoyed it! However, I have a few comments and questions based on expectations - and I am fully expecting to have played it poorly and not "got" most of the subtleties on my first play!

1) I was expecting some cut throat stock market action which did not materialise. Most of the companies ended up with 6 shares to one player and 4 to another. The potential for one player to dump a maximum of four or five shares never seemed to have any significant consequence - the railway continues to produce income and the value gradually rises again over time as dividends are paid. I tried stripping all the cash and trains out of one company before dumping five of my six shares but (due to a daft error on my part) the player with the remaining four shares sold his first. So, I kept hold of the company and over time it recovered perfectly well whilst continuing to generate income. The fact that he dumped his shares in fact benefited me because then 40% of the revenue was going back into the company each time I claimed it instead of to my fellow player! In what appeared to be the penultimate turn, I considered selling all shares, thus reducing some corporations values significantly. However, it would only have been worthwhile if they'd fallen by about $70 per share - otherwise the dividends would have paid a similar amount back!

2) What is the point of the 2D stock market? The relative difference between going up and down is never far away from right and left. I was expecting a more distinct difference. It seems as though it is not really adding much over a linear stock market.

3) At certain points I would have liked to inject money into the companies directly. Given that you can buy and sell trains between corporations at silly prices, it seems daft that you cannot simply inject capital or even buy trains to donate to corporations from private funds. Also, since you can drain a corporation a by buying and selling trains from one corporation to another, thus forcing a train purchase paid for by the player, you *can* inject funds but it is an annoying faff.

4) Despite winning the game, the last two hours really dragged for me because I had allowed the other two players to buy all the diesels. Consequently, I had pretty much "maxed out" the income I could generate from my railways, and the only thing left to do was to try to annoy other players' efforts at route building.

5) A fellow player took few dividends in the early game, thus reducing the share prices of his corporations a lot. Later, he had most of the diesels and some really profitable routes. Sadly, he could not catch up, but he did earn money very rapidly. If he had timed things slightly differently, I think he could have been successful. Is this the best way to play?

6) Rather more generally, why does the value of a corporation not depend at all on the income and equity? It's possible to have corporations earning approaching a hundred dollars per share of revenue at the end of the game with massive routes and diesel trains, but the shares are worth bugger all because each turn they have reinvested the income in the corporation! Should we have been trading shares between ourselves at whatever prices we thought they were worth, or does it have to go through the market?

Thanks in advance!
 
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Dave Eisen
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Hopkins wrote:
So, finally I played an 18xx, specifically 1830. It was a three player game and lasted for 7 hours. We made a few mistakes which were rectified during the game, but nothing that I think caused a serious problem. I enjoyed it! However, I have a few comments and questions based on expectations - and I am fully expecting to have played it poorly and not "got" most of the subtleties on my first play!


Glad you enjoyed it. Pretty wonderful game, if you ask me. I'll take a stab at some of these before the sharks come by with more solid answers.

Quote:
1) I was expecting some cut throat stock market action which did not materialise. Most of the companies ended up with 6 shares to one player and 4 to another. The potential for one player to dump a maximum of four or five shares never seemed to have any significant consequence - the railway continues to produce income and the value gradually rises again over time as dividends are paid. I tried stripping all the cash and trains out of one company before dumping five of my six shares but (due to a daft error on my part) the player with the remaining four shares sold his first. So, I kept hold of the company and over time it recovered perfectly well whilst continuing to generate income. The fact that he dumped his shares in fact benefited me because then 40% of the revenue was going back into the company each time I claimed it instead of to my fellow player! In what appeared to be the penultimate turn, I considered selling all shares, thus reducing some corporations values significantly. However, it would only have been worthwhile if they'd fallen by about $70 per share - otherwise the dividends would have paid a similar amount back!


Your company recovered, but you either paid for a train out of pocket, costing yourself real money, or bought a train from another company you controlled cutting into that company's income. You also failed to run for the first operating round of the next set as the company had no train. There's a cost.

The fact that it cost you rather than your victim is, as you noted, a failure of the action. Watch turn order. It is *very* important. If you had had priority deal that round you would have in fact been able to hurt one of your opponents.

Quote:
2) What is the point of the 2D stock market? The relative difference between going up and down is never far away from right and left. I was expecting a more distinct difference. It seems as though it is not really adding much over a linear stock market.


It does add something, particularly in conjunction with the ledges. Whether this is worth all the hassle around managing it, I will leave that to those who have studied the system in more theoretical detail than I.

Quote:
3) At certain points I would have liked to inject money into the companies directly. Given that you can buy and sell trains between corporations at silly prices, it seems daft that you cannot simply inject capital or even buy trains to donate to corporations from private funds. Also, since you can drain a corporation a by buying and selling trains from one corporation to another, thus forcing a train purchase paid for by the player, you *can* inject funds but it is an annoying faff.


You don't seem to be asking a question here.

But yes, at times you would have liked to inject money into a company. The fact that you can't both provides game challenges to overcome as well as allowing a little more predictability of actions of other players/corporations allowing you to better plan to meet these actions.

Most people seem to like this tradeoff.

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4) Despite winning the game, the last two hours really dragged for me because I had allowed the other two players to buy all the diesels. Consequently, I had pretty much "maxed out" the income I could generate from my railways, and the only thing left to do was to try to annoy other players' efforts at route building.


Two things here.

1. The last couple of rounds in an 1830 game are not chock full of decisions. Once you get a little more experience you will get better at managing the game for speed. It won't take two hours any more.

2. It is unlikely the other players played well to buy all of those diesels. Diesels are great and all, but they're very expensive and generally corporations have to withhold several times to afford them. That costs the shareholders dividend money and, probably more important, share value as you end up with each share two slots lower in value for each time the company withholds.

It's entirely possible for a game to take much longer than it should when players are playing in ways that hurt their own positions.

Quote:
5) A fellow player took few dividends in the early game, thus reducing the share prices of his corporations a lot. Later, he had most of the diesels and some really profitable routes. Sadly, he could not catch up, but he did earn money very rapidly. If he had timed things slightly differently, I think he could have been successful. Is this the best way to play?


Generally, no. They were cutting very hard into their early game cash positions, presumably allowing you to buy up much more stock than they had. That's a fine way to let you win.

Quote:

6) Rather more generally, why does the value of a corporation not depend at all on the income and equity? It's possible to have corporations earning approaching a hundred dollars per share of revenue at the end of the game with massive routes and diesel trains, but the shares are worth bugger all because each turn they have reinvested the income in the corporation! Should we have been trading shares between ourselves at whatever prices we thought they were worth, or does it have to go through the market?


1. All that reinvesting is probably a mistake. Shares being worth "bugger all" is a disaster for those who own those shares.

2. Trading shares amongst yourself violates the rules so, no, you should not have been doing that.

3. Why does the value not depend on income and equity? Because that's how 1830 is structured: it's fundamentally a stock market game and much less a "how well did I run the trains for" game. Other 18xx games are structured differently and some have the share price move explicitly based on how much the company ran for. The one like this I am most familiar with is 1846: The Race for the Midwest, but there are others.

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Nice report.

Stock market shenanigans really depend on the players. You can manipulate operating order, hurt stock value, allow for holding more shares than 60%, etc.

The game probably took soo long because it was your first play. not so much, not knowing the rules, but that's probably part of it, as not pushing the trains rush. The guy making the most money each OR is the one that is ok with the status quo.

Also, last few rounds, start tracking payouts/dividends on paper. It will go much faster.

Did you play with paper money, or poker chips?

BOb

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Mike Dommett
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Thanks for the replies!

dkeisen wrote:
Quote:
3) At certain points I would have liked to inject money into the companies directly. Given that you can buy and sell trains between corporations at silly prices, it seems daft that you cannot simply inject capital or even buy trains to donate to corporations from private funds. Also, since you can drain a corporation a by buying and selling trains from one corporation to another, thus forcing a train purchase paid for by the player, you *can* inject funds but it is an annoying faff.

You don't seem to be asking a question here.

But yes, at times you would have liked to inject money into a company. The fact that you can't both provides game challenges to overcome as well as allowing a little more predictability of actions of other players/corporations allowing you to better plan to meet these actions.

Most people seem to like this tradeoff.

Sorry, yes, it was more of a musing, but your reply answed my implied question of "is my understanding of the rules correct?"!

dkeisen wrote:
Quote:
4) Despite winning the game, the last two hours really dragged for me because I had allowed the other two players to buy all the diesels. Consequently, I had pretty much "maxed out" the income I could generate from my railways, and the only thing left to do was to try to annoy other players' efforts at route building.


1. All that reinvesting is probably a mistake. Shares being worth "bugger all" is a disaster for those who own those shares.

2. Trading shares amongst yourself violates the rules so, no, you should not have been doing that.

3. Why does the value not depend on income and equity? Because that's how 1830 is structured: it's fundamentally a stock market game and much less a "how well did I run the trains for" game. Other 18xx games are structured differently and some have the share price move explicitly based on how much the company ran for. The one like this I am most familiar with is 1846: The Race for the Midwest, but there are others.

Thanks for these and your other comments on rules and suggestions. They have been helpful to confirm that we appear to have played correctly and that I need to build what I have learned into my strategy instead of worrying that there should have been an easier way to do what I wanted to do!

pilotbob wrote:
Nice report.

Stock market shenanigans really depend on the players. You can manipulate operating order, hurt stock value, allow for holding more shares than 60%, etc.

Thanks. I thought that 60% was the limit - or are you suggesting that we experiment with games using different limits?

pilotbob wrote:
Also, last few rounds, start tracking payouts/dividends on paper. It will go much faster.

Did you play with paper money, or poker chips?

Good suggestion. I kept forgetting the values of each route! We were playing with paper money... It was fiddly...
 
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Hopkins wrote:
pilotbob wrote:
Nice report.

Stock market shenanigans really depend on the players. You can manipulate operating order, hurt stock value, allow for holding more shares than 60%, etc.

Thanks. I thought that 60% was the limit - or are you suggesting that we experiment with games using different limits?

I think he means driving the share price down into the orange zone.
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Dave Mitton
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jqgamer wrote:
Hopkins wrote:
pilotbob wrote:
Nice report.

Stock market shenanigans really depend on the players. You can manipulate operating order, hurt stock value, allow for holding more shares than 60%, etc.

Thanks. I thought that 60% was the limit - or are you suggesting that we experiment with games using different limits?

I think he means driving the share price down into the orange zone.


Not orange, Yellow. Companies whose share values are in the yellow zone (or lower) do not count against the overall certificate limit.
Some players manage a strategy to withhold dividends in one company, and push it down in to yellow, and use the dividends to buy trains for their other company, and free up slots for more shares.
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Hopkins wrote:
pilotbob wrote:

Did you play with paper money, or poker chips?

We were playing with paper money... It was fiddly...


Most people find that switching from paper money to poker chips takes an hour or more off the play time.

Also, it sounds like your group was concentrating on the mechanics of "how do I run a profitable company" and not on the strategy of "how do I beat the other players."

That's OK, it takes time to grasp the implications of the mechanics.
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If you're not in the lead, push the trains. And as I've seen JC Clearclaw mention repeatedly, it doesn't matter if you end the game with $1, so long as everyone else ended with less. Generally you want to get the cheapest permanent trains you can since it's hard to get an effective longer run set up without someone tokening you out.

The mechanics of how to play 1830 are surprisingly simple. Figuring out all of the interactions is what keeps people coming back. Glad you had fun!
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dmitton wrote:
Not orange, Yellow. Companies whose share values are in the yellow zone (or lower) do not count against the overall certificate limit.
Some players manage a strategy to withhold dividends in one company, and push it down in to yellow, and use the dividends to buy trains for their other company, and free up slots for more shares.

Exactly. I did this to great effect in the last game I played. My opponents were playing well, but my tactic provided enough of an edge to manufacture a victory. It was great fun.
 
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Mike Dommett
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dmitton wrote:
jqgamer wrote:
I think he means driving the share price down into the orange zone.


Not orange, Yellow. Companies whose share values are in the yellow zone (or lower) do not count against the overall certificate limit.
Some players manage a strategy to withhold dividends in one company, and push it down in to yellow, and use the dividends to buy trains for their other company, and free up slots for more shares.

Ah, I see, thanks. I can see how you might use that now. I must admit, I did wonder how a company would be permitted get down there. Using one company as a sort of "feeder" seems like a good idea. Probably more workable with fewer players since you are more likely to end up with control of two or more companies. Beating your share limit to end up with a disproportionate amount of shares is also a good idea...
 
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Hopkins wrote:

Good suggestion. I kept forgetting the values of each route! We were playing with paper money... It was fiddly...


I am glad you enjoyed the game. There are a ton of 18XX titles already published with more on the way. It is my favorite genre of board game.

There are several paper dividend trackers available for printing in the files section. If you want to step it up a notch, (warning: shameless plug to follow), my wife and daughter run Board Game Innovation which produces the 18xx Dividend Tracker and 1830 Dividend Token.
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Mike Dommett
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Now there's a good idea! Also, the hexagonal chips picture on your website's main page do not seem to be listed. Are they produced by BGI or somewhere else?
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E Rigby
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They are not currently a product of BGI.. they were a pet project of my 18xx obsessed husband. He wanted miniature poker chips with an 18xx theme. At the time, due to our inexperience they were too difficult and expensive to make in a cost effective manner on the laser...so only one a few sets were ever made.

Given enough interest, we could now revisit the idea.

Elaine
 
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I have a friend on a quest to find decent numbered chips that are a little bit more "special" than the usual fare. I am not actively looking, but I could be persuaded to invest .
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Hopkins wrote:
I have a friend on a quest to find decent numbered chips that are a little bit more "special" than the usual fare. I am not actively looking, but I could be persuaded to invest .


You may have surmised that I am the obsessed husband. This picture is sub par, but you can see a bit more detail. The chips are about 7/8" across the flats and are styled after 18XX city tiles with more track exiting the city with each higher denomination. They were laser cut and etched on both sides by a laser out of acrylic.

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That is an awesome design. thumbsup
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One more thing to consider: 1830 is not really intended to be played by just three players. The "interesting" stuff starts happening when you have five or six or seven players.
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Roger Rigby
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Verdigris97 wrote:
That is an awesome design. thumbsup


Thank you.
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Mike Dommett
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Verdigris97 wrote:
That is an awesome design. thumbsup

Seconded!

May I ask how much and did you use a commercial service to produce them? Alternatively, how many people would I need to recruit for it to be worth your while to produce a few sets and post them to me?
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rules_heretic wrote:
One more thing to consider: 1830 is not really intended to be played by just three players. The "interesting" stuff starts happening when you have five or six or seven players.

Thanks, yes, this became quite apparent by the lack of activity in our stock market.
 
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rules_heretic wrote:
One more thing to consider: 1830 is not really intended to be played by just three players. The "interesting" stuff starts happening when you have five or six or seven players.


1830 does not support seven players. It's most often played with four or five.
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daveberry wrote:
rules_heretic wrote:
One more thing to consider: 1830 is not really intended to be played by just three players. The "interesting" stuff starts happening when you have five or six or seven players.


1830 does not support seven players. It's most often played with four or five.


In particular, 6-player 1830 introduces an odd wrinkle rarely seen in 18xx -- players have only 400 in starting capital before buying any privates, and the minimum cost to float a company (other than the Penn) is $402. Generally players will negotiate to start companies together, and that first-SR negotiation is not something I would want to make new players navigate.
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Tim Koppang
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Morganza wrote:
In particular, 6-player 1830 introduces an odd wrinkle rarely seen in 18xx -- players have only 400 in starting capital before buying any privates, and the minimum cost to float a company (other than the Penn) is $402. Generally players will negotiate to start companies together, and that first-SR negotiation is not something I would want to make new players navigate.

Interesting! I hadn't thought about that, but that is an odd wrinkle.

Incidentally, all of my plays have been with three. As a new player, three works fine, and we've had plenty of stock shenanigans, etc.
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Hopkins wrote:
Verdigris97 wrote:
That is an awesome design. thumbsup

Seconded!

May I ask how much and did you use a commercial service to produce them? Alternatively, how many people would I need to recruit for it to be worth your while to produce a few sets and post them to me?


I am glad you like them.

You may ask anything you like. However, I always reserve the right not to answer. meeple I did not use a commercial service, I cut these out on a laser myself. Cost is a difficult thing on this project as I was using a laser nearly an hour from my home that was not in the best of condition. When you add all of the expenses, materials, gas, membership fee to access the laser, etc. excluding my time, which is priceless, they were over $0.33 USD each chip.

That was far more than I had anticipated. Luckily I was only doing them for myself and a handful of friends and had no intention of trying to profit from it anyway.

Now the fun begins. As I mentioned earlier, my family started Board Game Innovation. They will need to determine what process fits the desired results, how long it will take, and if it fits their business model.
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E Rigby
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Give me a bit of time, and I will spec out the cost per chip on these. It always starts with the amount of acrylic used, and goes from there. I have to add in my expenses and labor while trying to keep the cost down enough to have a salable product. The problem is as with board games, when you aren't mass producing like Mattel, the price of materials is higher.

Elaine
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