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1846: The Race for the Midwest» Forums » Sessions

Subject: Thought I knew what I was doing. I was wrong. rss

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Some say the world will end in fire, Some say in ice. From what I’ve tasted of desire I hold with those who favor fire. But if it had to perish twice, I think I know enough of hate To say that for destruction ice Is also great And would suffice.
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1846 is an 18xx game which is played in the following sequence: a Stock Round (SR), and then two Operating Rounds (OR). Play continues until the bank runs out of money, or until all players but one have gone bankrupt.


My strategy this game was to be a eunuch: to play without privates. I hoped the extra cash infusion I could place into my starting railroad would allow me to run more profitably early, earn more money, and start a second company to keep the train race going. Reality had other plans.

Al got swamped with expensive privates: the Michigan Southern and the Mail Contract, before the Big 4 went around the table enabling him to pick it up for $60. With a cheap engine already acquired, he was set to go Grand Trunk. David had the Steamboat Company and the Ohio & Indiana Railroad; a great combination for starting the B&O. Paul grabbed the Meat Packing Co., the Chicago & Western Indiana Railroad, and the Lake Shore Line: ready for the IC with a little extra income.

Thus, I was set to launch the NYC, which is a recent favorite of mine for the double-route between Buffalo and Cleveland. I parred at 90, giving me the lead for OR1.2 (since OR1.1 happens in reverse order, with the exception of tokens in the same slot). The early game went pretty well, with my being able to buy 2x2's and 1x3/5 on OR1.1. OR1.2 I was able to upgrade Cleveland to a green "Z" tile, and run three trains for significant profit. SR2 went as predicted, with most people buying more of their respective railroads.

Except for Paul. He bought and dumped a share of NYC to "slow me down." The loss of a space on the stock track didn't hurt me much then ("But Todd, it costs you $50"); what really hurt was not having that money going into the NYC treasury in OR2.

OR2 proceeds with more of the same. I'm threading the needle between Toledo and Fort Wayne, so that by OR3.1 I will have an E/W route from New York to Chicago for my 3/5 to run. I also redeem the one share in the Stock Market so that the NYC will be "clean" the next SR. The only hiccup I see is that Al has put an E/W route together for the GT. He can't afford to token Chicago, and now I'm feeling pretty smug: I have Priority Deal, so I will be able to start the 2nd company I want to force entry into Phase 3. NYC is also the highest-valued stock, so in OR3.1 I will be able to complete the Chicago run and token Chicago. I'm the king of the railroads.

Now reality sets in.

I'm thinking that I can leverage this strong E/W run by acquiring the PRR. I have $254 in cash, so I par at $80. This was a mistake. Paul says I didn't have enough money. That may be true. What was definitely true is that I parred it too low: I was last on the chart behind GT. Here's how the rest of it plays out:

Al buys more stocks of GT and then IC. Dave starts the C&O, and pars it at something like $110, above the GT. At this point we have two companies that will have to buy trains. To my way of thinking, we have trains, right? We can buy them from the companies we already own. Paul later would say, "Well, you should have known that you'd need to buy a train, and Al and I were saving money to buy brown trains. That means you were going to get stuck buying a grey train." I don't have that vision, yet.

Paul buys stocks since all companies are now acquired. He actually only had 2-3 shares of IC after SR1 and SR2, respectively, so IC as a company is flush. It comes around to me, and I'm all in: buying another share of PRR.

Al buys an NYC. Dave buys one. Paul buys one. I pass, as I'm out of money. Al buys something else. Dave buys another NYC. This is the moment. If I knew what was going to happen, then now is when I should have dumped the NYC. But I can't, because my vision of getting to Chicago is so close to being realized! I pass as the action goes around back to Dave, who suddenly says, "Oh, crap. I forgot what I was supposed to be doing" -- funding the C&O. He had been buying NYC stocks with the money C&O desperately needed. Dave dumps his 2 shares of NYC to buy one of C&O.

Looking at a stock that is immediately going to lose value at the end of this SR, Paul sells. I'm tapped for cash the entire time; I can't even sell my extra share of PRR at $80 to buy a $137 NYC. Al sells. SR3 ends with 4 shares of NYC sitting in the stock market. And all that money from the E/W run I was expecting to help me buy trains? Gone. My stock drops a space, and now I'm operating behind the B&O.

OR3.1: Dave goes all predatory and takes the token space in Chicago I had been gunning for. He also buys a brown train, initiating Phase 3: all 2 trains start to rust. NYC goes next, and I am able to upgrade a track piece and still get into Chicago. I run profitably, and my 2x2 trains are removed. I still have 2x3/5's, and am able to buy a brown train.

IC runs, buys a brown train. Easy for it to do because it has so many unpurchased shares funding its treasury. C&O runs, and buys the last brown train. GT runs, only now its only hope for getting a token into Chicago is the southwestern-most spot, which it can get to from the token it acquired from the Big 4. Al needs a 7/8 train to establish an E/W run, so he makes that happen.

And right there I am screwed. PRR still has to buy a train, and the NYC's 3/5's which I thought were going to carry me through this OR just started to rust. I'm going to have to buy a grey train. Dave is screwed as well, as the B&O was sitting on 3 rusting 2 trains which he was hoping to run one last time in OR3.2. They are now removed from the game. We both take hits, but mine is worse.

I have to issue three shares (the limit I can since I'm the only one holding PRR stock) and then buy the brown train from the NYC. When the NYC next runs, I have to withhold everything in order to pay the $800 for a 6-train. There will be no fantastic 7/8 route for the NYC.

This is the turning point of the game. From here on out, the details start to blur along with my attentiveness (it is well after midnight). Dave placed a C&O token in Cleveland, which already had an NYC token there. That allowed me to place a PRR token and cut off B&O's main route. A "token war" ensued, during which I was using NYC's last token and PRR's tokens to try to cut off the E/W routes of the B&O and the IC.

SR4 starts, and with its prosperous routes in jeopardy, Paul and Al dump their shares of B&O. I buy up to 60% in each of my two railroads, and surprisingly the rest of their shares are snapped up, too. Dave dumped his only share of IC in an attempt to weaken Paul's position. Paul already owned 60% of the IC, so the opportunity to buy that share came to me. I wanted to leave it in the market so Paul's position would be hurt. Al snapped it up. In retrospect I should have purchased it because Paul was triple-jumping: netting 5 spots on the stock chart would still have been amazing for Paul (-1 for having a stock in the market, and then 2 OR's of triple jumps), so why not join in that prosperity? Al did. The end of the SR sees me topping off with C&O to reach the certificate limit.

OR4 sees more of the token war. I encourage Al to help me token block the IC, but he demurs not wanting to hurt his own position in the IC. The problem was that Paul was walking away from the rest of us in terms of his personal cash. Paul ended up with 6 shares of IC, 4 of GT, while Al sat opposite of him with 6 of GT and 4 of IC.

The game ended up being a two-horse race, and Paul had the better mix. I believe we went through SR5 without any changes, and then broke the bank in OR5.

Final Scores
{"Paul":{"Stocks":3840,"Cash":2601}}
{"Al":{"Stocks":3640,"Cash":2375}}
{"David":{"Stocks":2780,"Cash":1846}}
{"Todd":{"Stocks":2790,"Cash":962}}
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Eric Brosius
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My favorite 18xx game for six players is two games of 1846 with three players each.
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Quote:
Except for Paul. He bought and dumped a share of NYC to "slow me down." The loss of a space on the stock track didn't hurt me much then ("But Todd, it costs you $50"); what really hurt was not having that money going into the NYC treasury in OR2.

When this happens I often find that I can buy that share back using the money in treasury from the sale of the share, so that I'm able to put myself back where I was from a company finances perspective (with a stock price that's one box lower, of course.)
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Ben Foy
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When you do the no privates strategy, you need to buy lots of stock and 2 companies. Then you push the trains as fast as possible. Your goal is to limit the ability of your opponents to fully utilize their privates which should give you a share/profit advantage.
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Some say the world will end in fire, Some say in ice. From what I’ve tasted of desire I hold with those who favor fire. But if it had to perish twice, I think I know enough of hate To say that for destruction ice Is also great And would suffice.
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Eric Brosius wrote:
Quote:
Except for Paul. He bought and dumped a share of NYC to "slow me down." The loss of a space on the stock track didn't hurt me much then ("But Todd, it costs you $50"); what really hurt was not having that money going into the NYC treasury in OR2.

When this happens I often find that I can buy that share back using the money in treasury from the sale of the share, so that I'm able to put myself back where I was from a company finances perspective (with a stock price that's one box lower, of course.)

Okay, that's an interesting observation! I never thought of it that way. We haven't redeemed a lot of shares in our games, so I made an effort this weekend to try it out in what I thought was going to be a friendlier game with my family. You're absolutely right: the money in the treasury exactly offsets the cost of the share. For a stock that was going to double-jump, it made sense to redeem as many shares as I could before operating. I could (usually) issue those shares in the second operating round if needed, but in between I would have added money to the treasury. Very cool! The main difference then is the tempo of those funds, and waiting for ORx.2 to make major purchases.

For stocks that were only going to single-jump, then the decision isn't so crystal clear. Two quick examples:

Double jumping
- ORx.1:
-- Stock price: $90
-- Redeem cost: $100/share redeemed
-- Dividend: $18/share
- ORx.2:
-- Stock price: $110
-- Issue price: $100/share issued
- Net: $18/share redeemed and then issued

Single jumping
- ORx.1:
-- Stock price: $90
-- Redeem cost: $100/share redeemed
-- Dividend: $12/share
- ORx.2:
-- Stock Price: $100
-- Issue Price: $90/share issued
- Net: $2/share redeemed and then issued

So the decision comes down to, "Is this the most effective use of my money this round." I realize all you veterans have already figured this out.
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BFoy wrote:
When you do the no privates strategy, you need to buy lots of stock and 2 companies. Then you push the trains as fast as possible. Your goal is to limit the ability of your opponents to fully utilize their privates which should give you a share/profit advantage.

Did you mean that I should start two companies in SR1? I thought you might have meant that, so I gave it a try this weekend.

This time the players were my two sons, one of their friends, and myself. I drew the #1 card, and had priority deal. I thought this would work well for the two-company strategy, as I would have my pick of the litter after the private company draft. The companies that were removed were the Meat Packing Co., the Lake Shore Line, and the C&O. I bring this up because having the Erie in the game influenced my choices later.

After the draft, my son Rowan was set up to run the IC, my son Cole was set to run the B&O, and their friend Cole M. was set to run the Grand Trunk. By "set up to run," I mean the private companies each of them ended up acquiring were well-suited to those railroads. I had first pick, after all: I could choose whatever I wanted. My plan was to par two companies at $40 in SR1, and buy 5 shares of each.

Again, I wanted the NYC. I didn't anticipate that I would get a lot of competition for that railroad, but if I used my Priority Deal to steal one of the other railroads, then someone else would probably take it. Then two of us would own one company each from the set of NYC, Erie, and PRR. I didn't think that I would fare well with so little money in my treasury. I played nice and started the NYC, and then later started the PRR.

$200 total treasury isn't a lot, but having the two lowest stocks on the board meant I went first in OR1.1. I purchased two 2-trains with the NYC, and laid tracks to Cleveland. I also issued 2 shares at $30, in preparation for OR1.2. For the PRR, I only purchased two 2-trains: I didn't want to lay the tracks to Cleveland and have to pay the $40 mountain hexside fees. I issued 1 share of the PRR to help with that in the next round.

By OR1.2 we were in Phase 2 as other companies were forced to buy green trains. That worked out well for me as I was able to upgrade Cleveland and complete the second branch from Erie to Cleveland for the NYC: both trains ran for $60 each, yielding a tidy sum of $120. I decided to pay out a split dividend, putting $30 in my pocket and $78 into the treasury of the NYC. I still got a double-jump out of the stock price since it had dropped to $30 after OR1.1.

The PRR used its $70 to upgrade the lower track from Erie to Cleveland so that it could get there as well. The PRR runs for $100 and pays a full dividend, putting $50 in my pocket and $40 in the PRR treasury. I'm feeling okay at this point as I have $80 and will be able to buy my 11th share in SR2. I could have had $110 and been able to buy my 12th share as well had I paid out a full dividend from the NYC.

But here the game stalled out for me. NYC has three shares in its treasury worth $40 each at best when we get to OR2.1. I'm not generating enough money, nor am I well positioned to get a brown train when Phase 3 hits. I'm trying to ride those 2-trains for as long as I can, which only increases the value of those private companies the other players are holding. I'm redeeming shares and doing split payments in an effort to add money to their treasuries.

I mentioned before that I thought that this would be a friendlier game. Boy, was I ever wrong. My son Rowan started the IC as expected, and he parred it at $124. He was only able to buy two shares, but none of us were able to afford any more in that round, so he was safe. In SR2 he bought a third share, and in SR3 he bought a fourth.

Meanwhile, my other son Cole had been running the B&O with the Steamboat Company and collecting income from the Ohio & Indiana Railroad. He had parlayed that income into a nice stock portfolio of his own. We had all been buying and dumping IC stock to keep it from growing out of hand, and Rowan had been redeeming shares to counter that trend. The end result was that towards the end of SR3 there were still three shares of the IC left in the stock market, but the price of the IC was still reasonable ($137). It was also loaded: it had over $500 in its treasury.

At this time, Cole had 6 shares of the B&O, 3 shares of the GT, 2 shares of the IC, and one share of the NYC. He buys his third share of the IC. Two shares remain in the market. I pass, as I'm tapped out of money. In fact, everyone passes until it gets back to my son Cole.

He sells his three shares of the GT for $100 each. He now has the war chest to buy the last two remaining shares of the IC. I'd have to sell three of my shares in order to purchase one of the remaining shares of IC, and I don't want to abandon my strategy. Cole M. doesn't try to stop it, and Rowan is only holding those 4 shares of IC: he can't stop it. Just like that, Cole steals his brother's railroad out from under him, capturing the President's Certificate.

Rowan immediately sells his four shares of the IC for $548 and starts the last remaining company: the Erie. He ends up using its guaranteed token in Erie to take advantage of the route I had set up for the NYC and PRR. Cole had bought the last green train in OR3.1 with the IC so that Rowan would be forced to buy a brown train. And with a sense of deja vu, I'm sitting at the bottom of the stock chart. My 2-trains are rusting and there are no more brown trains when the PRR runs. I have to buy a grey train, which means the NYC's 2-trains are removed. I take two big hits, having to sell personal shares (and taking the hit for the President selling shares in the process) in order to buy two grey trains.

We called it a round later, as no one was going to catch Cole. Cole M. was firmly in second place. I was nominally in third place, but had we played out the rest of the game, I'm sure Rowan's Erie would have overtaken me. I'm sure there's a way to make a start without privates work, but I haven't found it yet.
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J C Lawrence
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In general the most effective way to attack and weaken an opponent's company in '46 is to buy and hold its shares.
 
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Ben Foy
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You weren't pushing the trains fast enough. You saw the problems with the strat, now figure out the solution.
 
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J C Lawrence
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Quick hint: IC is great simply for the extra capital.

Other hint: Remember that you can buy trains between companies even in yellow.

Last hint: Don't worry about having to have routes for the trains you buy. The point is to buy them, not run them.

If you push really really hard you can get the first gray train bought in OR2.2. Getting the first gray train bought in OR3.1 is quite possible and is rather easier to accomplish and thus aim for.

I buy trains. Running trains is for suckers.
 
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Bob Wooster
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Beowulf wrote:

My plan was to par two companies at $40 in SR1, and buy 5 shares of each.

Again, I wanted the NYC.


Do you think it would have been better to open the IC at $100 and another railroad at $60 or $50?
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Some say the world will end in fire, Some say in ice. From what I’ve tasted of desire I hold with those who favor fire. But if it had to perish twice, I think I know enough of hate To say that for destruction ice Is also great And would suffice.
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After what I learned in the last game, I'm not sure that the 2-company, 10-share start works. It sounds like there are other configurations worth investigating. Looks like I need another game soon to try out some new ideas! Thanks for the responses.
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Some say the world will end in fire, Some say in ice. From what I’ve tasted of desire I hold with those who favor fire. But if it had to perish twice, I think I know enough of hate To say that for destruction ice Is also great And would suffice.
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clearclaw wrote:
Quick hint: IC is great simply for the extra capital.

Other hint: Remember that you can buy trains between companies even in yellow.

Last hint: Don't worry about having to have routes for the trains you buy. The point is to buy them, not run them.

If you push really really hard you can get the first gray train bought in OR2.2. Getting the first gray train bought in OR3.1 is quite possible and is rather easier to accomplish and thus aim for.

I buy trains. Running trains is for suckers.

Tried it again. After buying two shares of the IC for $100 and four shares of the Erie for $50, I managed to purchase the first brown train with the IC at the start of OR2.1. I had to do some nifty train selling, issue max number of shares, and even sell shares of my secondary corporation in order to have the money to buy a third share of the IC in SR2 -- which in turn allowed me to issue another share at the start of OR2.1.

All that for a brown train, and I could still be holding the bag for my second corporation: no real way to buy a brown or a grey train for it if I had to.

Still have more to study.
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Eric Brosius
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Beowulf wrote:
All that for a brown train, and I could still be holding the bag for my second corporation: no real way to buy a brown or a grey train for it if I had to.

But what condition were your opponents in? That's the real question. Even if you're wounded, you win if they're dead.
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There was a game, that I wasn't in, in which I saw a train bought...and at the expense of almost all the shares in his portfolio mind you...and then following in rotation after him every other player bankrupted. BOOM.

And then he won.
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