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1830: Railways & Robber Barons» Forums » Strategy

Subject: How "dangerous" is the private auction?? rss

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Lucas Smith
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Hi,
my situation: I have played 18EU some times now and I will play 1830 for the first time soon. The game will be played by 3 players (might not be ideal, but we aren't more)

My question: In 18EU you can easily lose the game if you do bad at the auction of the minors. How does this compare to 1830? If I end without a private, will I have a chance? I read (and understand) that the relative value matters: it makes a difference whether everybody overpays or only 1 player does so.
Is it a good idea to bid the face value for every private (provided you have the money) or are there any privates that aren´t worth the face value?


How do privates compare to minors in general?? Well, not on the technical side, they obviously don´t lay track, run trains, ... but more on a meta level, e.g. their influence on the game result.


We will be playing 3p 1830, all players are roughly equally (un-) experienced, having played 18EU a handfull of times.


Thanks for your help!
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JR
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The private companies in 1830 are very imbalanced and strategy information is quite readily available. I think there are some relevant articles here on the geek in the 1830 forum section and in the files. Ultimately there is one uber-private, the Camden & Amboy, which should always sell for well over its face value. The B&O private is usually not taken until the end of the auction by whomever is ultimately forced to take it.

The important thing for a table of new players to understand is to not allow the C&A to go cheaply and not to buy the $20 private until there are some bids on the interesting privates.

Also make sure players keep in mind the "magic number", the minimum amount of cash they require to hold after the private auction to be able to start a company. This number is 6*$67 for most companies and 5*$67 for the PRR since there is a share sent out with the C&A private. The B&O will need four more shares sold to float and that will usually be 4*$100.
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Martin Mathes
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With 3 players, every player will be able to open at least one company in the first stock round (One player may manage to open two companies, but that player on the other hand may only hold the two smallest privates).

Keep a keen eye on he C&A private, the price should be well over 200 $, everything below 200 $ is a bargain cool.

All the other privates, apart from Schuylkill Valley and B&O, should be sold with an extra of 15 to 20 $. S&V and B&O should be bought for face value, the S&V maybe even with a 5$ discount.

The buyer of the C&A will have the highest interest in getting the 3-Train to the table for liquidating his private, so let him pay lots of 2-Trains.

Keep the priority deal away from him, to limit his ability to optimize companies with the opening of his second company with the money from the C&A buy-in.

Ciao

Martin
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Lucas Smith
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Thank you to both of you for your answers!!

I think I am on a way of getting to know some things about the privates (far away from fully understanding it of course).

Could you say something about the comparisons of privates (as in 1830) and minors (as in 18EU)

Quote:
In 18EU you can easily lose the game if you do bad at the auction of the minors. How does this compare to 1830? If I end without a private, will I have a chance?
How do privates compare to minors in general?? Well, not on the technical side, they obviously don´t lay track, run trains, ... but more on a meta level, e.g. their influence on the game result.


Martin, I saw you own both 18EU and 1830 (and rated both with 10!), could you say anything?
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JR
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Private companies and Minor companies are rather different. Generalizing based on how the majority of games treat the two terms (there are exceptions), private companies are simple companies, usually represented by a single certificate the size of a stock cert. They almost always have a face value and pay a single fixed income to their owner until they close. Often, they provide a special privilege to their owning player or corporation and somewhat less often they occupy a hex or hexes on the map and may prevent companies from building there until the private has been bought into a corporation.

Minor companies usually function very much like regular corporations except that they are almost always only represented by their charter which constitutes a certificate. They almost always split earnings between the owner and the treasury. They can usually lay tile and purchase trains like other corporations but often with somewhat tighter restrictions such as reduced train limits or fewer tile lays.

Usually, private companies close when their special power has been utilized or when a game phase has been triggered. On the other hand, minors usually go away by being merged together to found a major or they get acquired by a major, moving their assets to that company in exchange for a share in the major (to the minor's previous owner).

There are games where privates lay track (1858: The Railways of Iberia) and games where minors can't buy or sell trains (18MEX). The descriptions above are broad.
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You can mess up both games in the initial auctions: 1830 usually by letting someone have the good privates too cheap, and 18EU by coming out of the auction with the worst set of minors (or one less minor?). I've not played enough 18EU (2 games a few years ago), but people say it is very front loaded, such that the mid-late game doesn't change the situation much.
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Martin Mathes
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The minors in 18EU are real precursors of the big companies, they act during the operating round, lay track, buy trains, build connections and accumulate some cash for the major company to follow. All minors have the same abilities and restrictions.
The goal is to gain a set of minors that are able to form a basic scaffold for the major company to come.

The privates in 1830 have no operative function on themselves. They block their hex(es) for all track laying until they are sold to a company or closed. Every private (apart from SV) has a special ability or is bundled with a stock certificate (M&H is closed when it is exchanged for NYC certificate).
Two of the privates offer special tile laying options AFTER they are bought by a company.
Otherwise the main interest of the owner is to sell the privates (exception B&O which cannot be sold, therefore this private is rated so low) to the companies as fast and expensive as possible.
There are very few situations, when buying in the private may be delayed for tactical reasons.

Ciao

Martin
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Enrico Viglino
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I've played '30 in 3 once. It was not a reasonable experience.
As in two, one person who figures the game out before others
can absolutely dominate play. It was an interesting teaching
experience (one guy walked away finally 'getting' the game),
but not much in the way of a real game.

Four is okay. Five would be my minimum normally.
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Lucas Smith
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Thank you for your recommendations and answers!

Played 1830 two days ago: 3p, the bids in the auction didn't go up high.
I ended up with
Delaware & Hudson at $70 and
camden & Amboy at $165

I made use of the additional railhead and ran 2 trains on the seperate tracks for a long time. I sold the C&A for 320 to my corporation (Pennsylvania RR). (see below for rules mistake)

The second player got the Baltimore Ohio and one of the remaining

The 3rd player got the Schuykill Valley Railroad and one of the remaining.


Player 2 won, I lost, but I wouldn't relate this to the auction, I once had to pay nearly $1000 for a train from my private money.

We made the following mistake: We sold the privates to the corporations right from the beginning and not by the purchase of the first T3, we consequently had too much private money in the beginning.

Overall we did enjoy the game, especially the stocck market is more interesting than the one in 18EU. We found the duration of 8 hours a bit too long and will try to speed up play. (Poker chips and a dividend tracker with 10-60% calculations are in use, we don´t want to play with a PC-moderator.)
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J C Lawrence
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A reasonable rule of thumb for 4-player 1830 is that privates should sell for 70% of their maximum sell-in value. That percentage wobbles a bit across player counts, falls precipitously with 6 players, but is still a pretty decent guide
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Martin Hall
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clearclaw wrote:
A reasonable rule of thumb for 4-player 1830 is that privates should sell for 70% of their maximum sell-in value. That percentage wobbles a bit across player counts, falls precipitously with 6 players, but is still a pretty decent guide
I presume the price fall in 6-player is related to the much lower level of money available to each player? But why such a drop?
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J C Lawrence
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It is much harder to survive selling privates for full value.
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Martin Hall
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I presume this feature of 6p is because:
a) companies generally start with lower par value and therefore have less cash to pay for stuff
b) 6 players means train rush is more likely, increasing costs for companies.

Question in 6 player:
With only $400 in starting cash, it is impossible to start a company unaided, except for PRR or B&O, which start with shares outstanding.

If someone buys B&O, they have at most $180 - less if they have paid more than par or bought another private. If par is $100, they can only buy 1 more share and someone without a private could buy 4 shares and take control (of course if contested by 3rd parties, they may not be able to get more than the private owner). Alternatively, if par is less than $90, then someone without a private could buy 5 shares and take control even if the private owner buys 2 shares. So only buying B&O at $220 and setting par at $90 would stop the risk of this happening?

With PRR, whoever has PD can get ahead of the C&A owner, but can only guarantee floating it if they have at least $335 left after buying privates. Which means no more than SVNRR+C&StL in privates.

Presumably all others open as joint efforts in some way.
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J C Lawrence
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SR1 of 6-player games is fairly simple: players with $70 or more in saleable privates don't get presidencies, and every company sells out. It is that simple. Every company floated sells out. The B&O president remains the B&O president, but the B&O sells out as well.
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Dan Zimmerman
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clearclaw wrote:
It is much harder to survive selling privates for full value.


I definitely want to understand this comment. General consensus with those I have played 1830 with was that you want to sell the private company for as much as possible in order to put more cash in your own hand.

So why does having even more cash in your hand put you at risk for survival?
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Pete Goch
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lj4adotcomdan wrote:
clearclaw wrote:
It is much harder to survive selling privates for full value.


I definitely want to understand this comment. General consensus with those I have played 1830 with was that you want to sell the private company for as much as possible in order to put more cash in your own hand.

So why does having even more cash in your hand put you at risk for survival?


Bankruptcy of the company you took that money from. You've just gutted your company of its cash and sooner or later its trains will rust. How will it afford the new train it's obligated to buy when that happens? Well, you, as president, will have to make up the shortfall. With less cash in the game that's more likely to end in bankruptcy.
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J C Lawrence
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The specific premise in 1830 is that players can sell their privates for near maximum value, can then invest that money, can have those investments profit and appreciate and can often re-invest those profits and have them profit and appreciate as well....and then only later after all that and more has happened, have the piper come due asking for payment for a permanent train.

But all that takes time. Lots of time. 6-player 1830 isn't like that for the players with larger privates as that time simply doesn't exist.

First up they have to raise enough liquidity to float. How long does that take? They had $400 and spent a third or more of that on their private. How far into the game will it be before they even have the minimum $402? There is also a substantial risk that they never will get to float a company. Really. All those other players with smaller privates are also looking for first or even second companies too! And so the large private players are forced to float as soon as they can and at a much lower par than they'd prefer. That $402 for a mid-game company is not so much of a joke (though $456 and $492 are in practice more common). Commonly, nothing will float at $90 or $100 other than the B&O...all the companies are long gone by the time that players have that sort of liquidity.

Okay, you managed to get in at $492, you have $760 in treasury and the game is somewhere in the 4Ts at $300ea. And those 4Ts will probably run once before they rust, hopefully twice. Twice would be really nice, but nobody other than you wants them to run twice... So ideally you float the company, and in the first OR buy a $300 train, a token for $40, and probably a mountain for $80 (or $120) -- leaving $300 in treasury, or ~$200 if you really needed that second token (likely). In the second OR you hope to run that 4T for ~$10/share or so, maybe less, and then buy your private. Maybe that works. Odds are fairly good that's also the OR in which all the 5Ts and probably at least one 6T is bought...and your $340 is not enough to buy a 5T or a 6T. But hey, you're feeling good and you sell your M&H in for a whopping $220. Life is good.

So what do you invest in? Your company has been dinged, of course, so you're already negative there and you can't sell much of it as there are shares in the pool. Your 4T may well rust before it ever runs again...so any money you spend has to be spent on something that will appreciate before you have to sell it to buy a train. Which will be...? The companies with permanent trains are also the companies held by players with two companies (that's how they got that permanent train -- they forced them out with their second company) who'd love to buy that permanent across and hand you the hulk...not clearly a safe buy.

And heaven forbid the game moves faster than that, or you find yourself critically faced needing the cash for a token or mountain that you didn't leave in the treasury... So you play a little safe and don't sell in for quite as much.

Remind me again why buying the M&H was such a good and profitable idea?

You're going into the SR with cash and reduced flexibility just so that before the next SR you can sell everything you buy in order to buy a train...and hopefully someone else doesn't sell shares in that same company for buying their train before you do, because then you'd lose money.

If everything you could buy is either not going to pay a dividend or is going to be sold by others before you need to sell it to buy a train...So maybe the right choice is not to buy anything...? Now, why did you take all that money out of the treasury again?

Buying this M&H for $160 was clearly such a great idea! It paid you $20 half a dozen times, you sold it for a little less than $200...and now your position is wonderful! Maybe the Schuylkill at $20 would have been better...

6-player 1830 is fundamentally not the same game as at lower player counts.
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Martin Hall
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Is there a 6p strategy guide anywhere?
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J C Lawrence
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Not that I know of.

What strategy guides there are for 1830 are...weak. Not useless, but weak. They are mostly at the level of "count the trump suit" strategy advice for trick taking card games. In large part this is because 1830 is not a balanced game which trundles along while the players attempt to do well. Instead it is a game which provides a large open field for creativity by the players, and then trusts the players themselves to create concepts like balance and to then enforce those concepts at the end of a very pointed stick without any rules support.
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gamer42_au wrote:
Is there a 6p strategy guide anywhere?

You were just talking to him.
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clearclaw wrote:

6-player 1830 is fundamentally not the same game as at lower player counts.


THAT was the part I was missing, it being a 6 player comment and not an in general comment.
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clearclaw wrote:
The specific premise in 1830 is that players can sell their privates for near maximum value


Sounds like a fun game!
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Dan Zimmerman
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clearclaw wrote:
A reasonable rule of thumb for 4-player 1830 is that privates should sell for 70% of their maximum sell-in value. That percentage wobbles a bit across player counts, falls precipitously with 6 players, but is still a pretty decent guide


I came back to this to remember the conversation. And the answer that was given to me was that 6 player is a different game.

BUT the first comment says that in 4 player 1830 that 70% of max is what a private should be sold for.

So while I get that in 6 player why lower sale price may be the case, why is that also the same for 4 player (with wobble for other player counts).
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Pete Goch
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He's saying 70% of max SELL IN value which is 200% (i.e. the maximum value you can have a public company of which you are president buy your private company).

Really, it would have been easier to say 140% face value.
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J C Lawrence
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lj4adotcomdan wrote:
BUT the first comment says that in 4 player 1830 that 70% of max is what a private should be sold for.


Should? No. But that's a pretty reasonable rule of thumb that gives numbers that are hard to substantially argue with in any abstract sense. But as you'd expect, there are positional and contextual exceptions.

More interesting is the analysis that drove that 70% conclusion. I enthusiastically recommend the task of figuring private values from first principles. It really isn't so very hard to do once you have a basic handle on the game -- and then you have a solid base for evaluating whether my 70% suggestion is as reasonable as I suggest or not.

Quote:
So while I get that in 6 player why lower sale price may be the case, why is that also the same for 4 player (with wobble for other player counts).


I don't understand. Lower than what? 70% of sell-in value is lower than what? Maximum sell-in value? Full sell-in value makes a two-fold argument: 1) That the private income is compelling compared to other investments, and 2) that the profit from selling-in for maximum value can be extensively realised without significant risk. Neither is true in 1830.
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