Just today I’ve been thinking about Gotha’s ‘1865’. Must have been about two years ago that I bought it, but yet my group has only played it the once, back then. The components are great, rules clear enough and I’d be happy to rate it as “very good, would like to play”; but yet we haven’t?
So I question why the game did not quite spark, and the answer immediately (and I’ll only speak personally) is the new traffic chip system coupled with plenty of new ideas. Other innovations like the dragons went down great, but the chips did not seem to simplify. Such response is of course opposite to the designer’s opinion that it both speeds and simplifies the game. However I can only say that it was not intuitive for us, and after playing so much 18xx it seemed change for change sake; “if it’s not broke don’t mend it”. Doubtless many will disagree, but I am left wondering whether the traditional system could still be utilised, hence following rules thoughts/ suggestions for such variant:
1(page 6) – For track tiles multiply indicated station value by 10 to achieve standard 18xx values; e.g. 1 factor station becomes 10, 2 becomes 20, etc. Traffic chips are not used.
(Comment: To reflect ‘standard’ 18xx practice.)
1(page 6) – Train values are now as phase values; e.g. Ph2 train is a 2, ignore 8 traffic coverage factor. Hence trains range from a 2 to a 7 in value.
(Comment: To reflect ‘standard’ 18xx practice. Train income will certainly be less with this variant and likely to lead to much tighter finances overall.)
2.6 - Maritime Companies if owned by a public company provide income equal to 10 + port city (i.e. as if a non-rusting 2-factor boat were running between port/ mine and anchor symbol). This does not satisfy the company’s requirement to hold a train. Maritime Companies are bought into companies at end of operating turn to preclude double income, both from private and public ownership.
(Comment: To best reflect Maritime Companies as written rules. A cube may be placed over anchor symbol as a reminder of public company ownership.)
3.12 – No automatic downgrade of mines. Only by a player who can trace a legal, notional train run and thereby exhibiting potential extraction from the mine. Mines never downgrade beyond green tiles.
(Comment: The maritime port 4 area would swiftly reduce to income of 10 + 0 once mines achieve brown tile status; a very poor relation to other ports. These three mines in the original game seem a very poor choice anyway, as better income is available from near-by cities. Downgrading is now solely a potential dirty trick option for someone un-reliant upon such mine.)
4.3 – Allow a company to control all three Carbonia mines. In parallel control of maritime port 4 would equate up to 3 maritime/ port connections.
(Comment: All other starting combinations of port plus Maritime Company will eventually achieve 10 + 40, or + 60 revenue. Maritime port 4 by this variant rule can end anywhere between 20 and 90, but certainly has more appeal than as game rules are written. For investment in track laying and station building, mines otherwise and notably in Carbonia seem hardly worth the effort.)
4.5 – Train operation is from/ through tokened city to any town/ city.
(Comment: Routes are now more likely to trace city to city avoiding town stops where possible. A potential much different feel to the game as designed, but justifiable I feel.)
Further thoughts or comments welcome (hopefully not all "leave it alone") and of course any play-test feedback. To reiterate, the aim is to better standardise the game as published, addressing tweeks to the mine rules, but overall get the game played.