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1830: Railways & Robber Barons» Forums » General

Subject: Downtime problem? rss

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Andrew Dabrowski
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I'm new to 18xx, I've only played a half dozen games, and only against the computer.

It seems that if you don't happen to be president of any floated corp, there will be long stretches when you have nothing to do but watch other players carry out ops. Is this a general problem, or just with the DOS program?
 
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JR
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It's got nothing to do with the software. If you are sitting at a table and you do not hold any presidencies, then during the corporate operating rounds you will have nothing to do but spectate. This isn't generally an issue as people usually always end up with a company to run in most 18xx games, though 1830 with several players is a game where not running a company is more common. All the same, there's a lot to pay attention to.
 
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Eric Brosius
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It happens when you play large player count games (e.g., 1830 with 5 or especially 6.) I recommend avoiding the extra high player counts while people are learning, because people naturally expect to be able to run companies.
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Bruce Murphy
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Nothing to do but watch exactly what the other players are doing so that you can intuit their plans and calculate who isn't going to be holding what when the next trains topple.

B>
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Samuel Hinz
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If you ain't holding something, you are probay doing something wrong, that is unless you just dump your company on someone else.

I had a friend who didn't own a company all game (1860) except for one set of operating rounds. Funny enought he actually did pretty well but it was a boring 5-6 hours for him. His choices lead him there though. The game doesn't push people there.
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J C Lawrence
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The 18xx are generally not for people who feel they have to be doing something in order to be interested. The games often have extensive downtime between bouts of activity, and a great deal of the tension and challenge in the games does not come from the boardplay, but from the rather abstract yet bitterly fought fight among players as to what might happen in 2-3-or-more rounds from now.
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Steve Carey
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unhandyandy wrote:
It seems that if you don't happen to be president of any floated corp, there will be long stretches when you have nothing to do but watch other players carry out ops.


Andrew, welcome to the 18xx community and that's a good question.

Paying attention to what other players are doing is one of the intrinsic aspects of play because it can affect you on multiple levels. There are tactical, operational, and strategic elements occurring on each and every turn.

How are they building track, how many trains are they buying, what potential routes are they exploiting, where are their station tokens being placed, are they calculating their runs correctly, how much money does their corporation treasuries have, and so on.

We always have a lot of interaction at the table, and even over a 5 hour session no one has ever complained about downtime because all players are always simultaneously engaged. Really, it's great fun.
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JR
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Steve Carey wrote:
We always have a lot of interaction at the table, and even over a 5 hour session no one has ever complained about downtime because all players are always simultaneously engaged. Really, it's great fun.


There's the key pretty much. During our table games, when one player is running his company, it's actually very common that half the remaining players are so deep in their own plans that they are very occupied and the other half will often involve themselves in the current company's turn as much as the director: "Oh, and here I thought for sure you'd want to connec to to London right now." (From the player who really would like that to happen) or "Yeah, I'd bypass London at the moment also if I were you" (from the player who doesn't). Playful chatter of the table is part of the fun, but really honestly most people are always busy planning their next action so that they don't even have the time they'd like to be able to just watch other players act.
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J C Lawrence
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jrebelo wrote:
Playful chatter of the table is part of the fun, but really honestly most people are always busy planning their next action so that they don't even have the time they'd like to be able to just watch other players act.


That is one of the things I liked about timed mode with Lemmi's moderator[1]: it forced the players into continuous gross prioritisation of all data and decisions in terms of both immediacy and implication. These are things I need to decide right now. This is something I can think about on other's turns. Those things don't need to be reconsidered at the moment in the light of new data. But that new data there requires that I re-evaluate all of this here entirely from first principles...and the boundaries of that re-evaluation are so big, or are uncertain, or are unbounded...etc. The result wasn't necessarily so good for that particular game, in fact it encourages gross mistakes and I-shoulda-known-that! cursing more than anything else, but the resulting trial-by-fire hugely improved the subsequent quality of our games. We (which was really just me as I was the only new-ish player in the set playing this way) learned very quickly what was really important and when, and what was less important when, and how to evaluate those categories quickly and precisely.

[1] In timed mode each player has a positive and a negative clock. On each turn in an SR or OR they get a certain allocation of time to spend (with some adjustments like players with more companies get a bit more time etc). If they use less than their time allocation, than the extra is added to the positive clock and may be freely spent on later turns without penalty. However if they ever go over, that extra time is added to the negative clock, and the negative clock is subtracted from their game-end score at a rate of $1/second. Note: there is no way to remove time from the negative clock once it is acquired, and there is no bonus for time on the positive clock.

Played this way, with a good moderator driver, 1830 and 1870 were but 150 minute games, start to finish. And that, just by itself, was a wondrous brain-draining sweat-dripping blast.
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unhandyandy wrote:
It seems that if you don't happen to be president of any floated corp, there will be long stretches when you have nothing to do but watch other players carry out ops. Is this a general problem, or just with the DOS program?

This is a problem with the board game too, but there's almost never a situation where you don't want to be running a company. Being the president lets you hold two shares with only one certificate, and that's a huge advantage.
 
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Eric Brosius
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In games where you can potentially engage in an almost infinite amount of profitable thinking, it seems logical to treat time as a resource just like money is a resource in many games. You spend your money on X, or you spend it on Y. You spend your thinking time on A, or you spend it on B. You have the ability to take (un-repayable) loans of money to buy more time. It's almost like a Martin Wallace design.
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J C Lawrence
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Precisely, and the values generated reflected out into later games.

In our last game of 1830 played this way, Daniel went over by something like 18 minutes...and won by a few $hundred. Conversely, I was second by those few hundred and ended the game with over 15 minutes in positive time still left on the clock. Daniel had spent his time well.

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Jim Knight
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Nothing to do? Bored watching others play? An ideal time to make everyone a cup of tea. whistle
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Andrew Dabrowski
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Thanks everybody, that was interesting. I think this may be a bigger problem with a computer program because it's almost impossible to follow everything the AI players do during the OR.

Another, related question: Are there any 18xx games in which all stock holders get to vote on operational decisions? In other a majority of stock is required for control, not just a plurality.
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Eric Brosius
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unhandyandy wrote:
Are there any 18xx games in which all stock holders get to vote on operational decisions? In other a majority of stock is required for control, not just a plurality.

I don't know of any. If you were to design one, you would need to greatly simplify other parts of the design, because the voting process would add very substantially to the length.
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Chester
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unhandyandy wrote:
Thanks everybody, that was interesting. I think this may be a bigger problem with a computer program because it's almost impossible to follow everything the AI players do during the OR.

Another, related question: Are there any 18xx games in which all stock holders get to vote on operational decisions? In other a majority of stock is required for control, not just a plurality.

In Stephensons Rocket any stockholder can liquidate a share in order to veto a proposed move. Not quite the same thing.
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Dave Eisen
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Eric Brosius wrote:
unhandyandy wrote:
Are there any 18xx games in which all stock holders get to vote on operational decisions? In other a majority of stock is required for control, not just a plurality.

I don't know of any. If you were to design one, you would need to greatly simplify other parts of the design, because the voting process would add very substantially to the length.


Votes on all decisions is not possible. Too many decisions.

Perhaps a prime minister like situation where the stockholders vote their shares on a prime minister who retains control until one of some short list of conditions triggers a no-confidence vote.

Naturally, if it gets too unpleasant, a splinter group could back out and form their own railroad company.
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