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1846: The Race for the Midwest» Forums » General

Subject: build/economic ratio rss

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leftfield
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I've got a question about 1846. But first allow me to provide a bit of background info, for context (and flavor?): A single game of 1846 is my entire exposure to the 18xx genre. For the first 3 hours, I was having a fantastic time. We made it well into the game, but after 5 hours or so, 2 of the 4 players (3 of us were relative newbies) were no longer having fun, the player rank was pretty much already determined and the bank still had plenty of money. We opted to pack up the game. I left the table thinking I'd had my taste of the game/genre and did not feel compelled to set foot there ever again. I'm just too limited in free game time to focus on games that take this long.

The main thing that turned me off at the table was when I was trying to make an east-west connection. (I don't recall if this is an actual rule (making an E-W connection), or just something that is so important to overall strategy that it is, in effect, imperative.) Anyway, I made three attempts at making this connection, and each time, upon being a single hex away from making the connection, I got blocked by another player. Ok, this is fine and expected for a game that lasts 60-90 minutes, but 4 hours into a game in which the end was not yet in sight? Long story short, I left the table with a bad taste in my mouth.

Then I slept on it.

After a couple of days, I started thinking about the game more and questioning my assumptions about the game. Now, several months later, I think I may be ready to give it another shot. But I'd like to know more about the game first. Maybe the 18xx bug just has a long incubation period.

So, here are my questions...

Specifically:
Given that a player has *some* infrastructure built that generates revenue, is there enough for a player to do on the economic/stock side of things to make the game worth continuing, for that player, if they can no longer progress on the map? I don't expect to win, but is there stuff to focus on, to exercise your brain on, and to stay in the game, or are you doomed to fall further and further behind, with nothing to do on your turn but give up companies and lose money?

Generally:
What percentage of the strategy of this game (and maybe compare/contrast to a couple of other 18xx games a newbie is likely to play) is infrastructure/rail lines and how much is economic/stock?

If there *is* something else there, then I think I will be back, without the wailing and gnashing of teeth.

btw, sorry about the lengthy prelude. This question has more setup than a Terry Gross interview question! Maybe that's why I like her show so much.
 
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Tom Lehmann
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Hi. I feel sad that you had a bad first experience with 18xx and 1846 specifically.

In general, 18xx game experiences can vary quite a bit depending on a group's play style. How much track and token "screwage" is considered "appropriate" within a given group is one of those items (others are whether player agreements to not dump corporations on each other and to coordinate/jointly fund train purchases to hurt the leader are ok).

Some 18xx games feature more screwage than others. 1846, from what I've observed, tends to have relatively little (mostly, there can be a little jockeying for routes/tokens into Chicago).

I'm surprised your opponent was able to block you repeatedly with just track builds. I have seen players delayed one OR in making an E-W connection, but rarely totally blocked, since the flexibility in being able to both build yellow track and make an upgrade (in either order) in one OR, combined with the rule that a player making an (non-city) upgrade must be able to run the newly added track, usually allows a player to work around interfering tile plays. Now, this last rule is not present in all 18xx games (such as 1830). Did the interfering player, in fact, make legal upgrades when blocking you?

As to your more general questions, 18xx games vary in how much emphasis there is in the stock game versus railroad operations and how much the stock game revolves around investing well as opposed to machinations (such as looting and dumping corporations). 1846 is more on the operating and investing end of these 18xx spectrums. For what it's worth, my personal opinion is that 1846 is won or lost in the mid-game investment decisions...

Finally, the end tends to come faster than you think, once the permanent trains are bought. Even if all the money is in the bank, there's no more than 4 ORs left in 1846. The last stock round and final pair of ORs often take less than 10 minutes since most players will be fully invested and the final routes will be almost completely built, allowing it to be easily spreadsheeted.

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leftfield
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Tom Lehmann wrote:
Hi. I feel sad that you had a bad first experience with 18xx and 1846 specifically.


Hey Tom, thanks for the response...didn't expect to hear back from the designer himself! (This hobby has the the BEST community!! ) I don't mean to give the impression that I had an entirely bad time. Most of the game I was having a great time.


Tom Lehmann wrote:


I'm surprised your opponent was able to block you repeatedly with just track builds. I have seen players delayed one OR in making an E-W connection, but rarely totally blocked, since the flexibility in being able to both build yellow track and make an upgrade (in either order) in one OR, combined with the rule that a player making an (non-city) upgrade must be able to run the newly added track, usually allows a player to work around interfering tile plays. Now, this last rule is not present in all 18xx games (such as 1830). Did the interfering player, in fact, make legal upgrades when blocking you?


This game was in September and my memory is incomplete, but I'm pretty sure the rules were being followed...and it was multiple opponents blocking me. I began the game building in the SW corner of the map and expanded from there. The experienced player was mentoring me a bit and warned me about Chicago so I connected there pretty early. It was Detroit that I was trying to get to because it was the closest city for me to do my E-W route. There were no 4 connection tiles available for Detroit. "The mentor" upgraded another city that freed up the 4-connection. That was put into place to help me out, but then another player used it before I could take advantage of it. Also, as the spots were taken up going into Detroit, I kept having to build further north to go around Detroit to get to an opening.

IIRC, there were a couple of other cities at the other end (east side) of the map that had one or two openings. I think I could have tried to build over there but it would have taken several turns and the east coast players were already right there. I didn't want to pay to build a route all the way there just to have the same thing happen over there.

Tom Lehmann wrote:

As to your more general questions, 18xx games vary in how much emphasis there is in the stock game versus railroad operations and how much the stock game revolves around investing well as opposed to machinations (such as looting and dumping corporations). 1846 is more on the operating and investing end of these 18xx spectrums. For what it's worth, my personal opinion is that 1846 is won or lost in the mid-game investment decisions...


hmmmm....ok, it's begining to sound like, to some extent, I had my worked myself into a froth of negativity. I think I'll be giving it another shot some time in the future. the winter gaming season is upon us...


Tom Lehmann wrote:

Finally, the end tends to come faster than you think, once the permanent trains are bought. Even if all the money is in the bank, there's no more than 4 ORs left in 1846. The last stock round and final pair of ORs often take less than 10 minutes since most players will be fully invested and the final routes will be almost completely built, allowing it to be easily spreadsheeted.


This did get mentioned and I think we were pretty close to that point. This was probably one of the contributing factors to opting to wrap things up.


Thanks again! I'll be back for more!
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Chris Shaffer
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The IC, which starts southwest, is one of the strongest companies. It has access to both western cities, St Lous and Chicago. It gets an extra 10% capital infusion.

It is very rare for it to get access to Canada via Detroit. When it does, that is a coup for its president, who will likely win or place second. It can more likely run E-W for the bonus via the southeastern cities. Or it can ignore the E-W bonus and run profitably to Chicago and the southwest.
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Richard Young
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Tom Lehmann wrote:
Hi. I feel sad that you had a bad first experience with 18xx and 1846 specifically.

I'm surprised your opponent was able to block you repeatedly with just track builds...the rule that a player making an (non-city) upgrade must be able to run the newly added track, usually allows a player to work around interfering tile plays. Now, this last rule is not present in all 18xx games (such as 1830).


That rule has me a little confused considering most of my 18XX experience has been with 1830. What is meant by being able to "run the newly added track?" Does that mean that the upgrade must be part of a potential run (not that it has to be used) or that the tile is merely "reachable" by the line?

In my four player game of 1846, I found the art of track-laying and "pipping" to be just as important and as "cutthroat" as any game of 1830. You had better protect your E/W runs as well as your longer runs in any direction since big revenue rounds are what the players strive for and are what the players are also trying to prevent others from maintaining.

This portfolio management and clever rail operations game is a refreshing alternative to the stock manipulation and rail line exploitation game that 1830 epitomizes. Excellent game!
 
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Tom Lehmann
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Bubslug wrote:
Tom Lehmann wrote:
the rule that a player making an (non-city) upgrade must be able to run the newly added track, usually allows a player to work around interfering tile plays. Now, this last rule is not present in all 18xx games (such as 1830).

That rule has me a little confused considering most of my 18XX experience has been with 1830. What is meant by being able to "run the newly added track?" Does that mean that the upgrade must be part of a potential run (not that it has to be used)?

Yes; the *newly placed track* on an upgraded non-city tile must be potentially capable of being run by a train (of infinite length) of the corporation doing the upgrade, factoring in all currently placed station markers.
Quote:
or that the tile is merely "reachable" by the [corporation]?

That is the rule for 1830, and some other 18xx games, not 1846 and many other 18xx games.

(FYI, some 18xx games that use this "run the newly added track rule" vary on whether it applies to city tiles or not; the issue being whether a corporation can upgrade a city tile that it can reach but not pass through (due to tokens), if one of the additional new connections is not reachable by that corporation.)
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J C Lawrence
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There are (basically) two track-laying rules:

1830 etc: the building company must be able to run track on the new tile (ie trace a route which includes the tile). It does not have to be able to run the new track on the tile, just some track.

1846 and most newer games: the building company must either be able to reach the new track on the tile, or the upgrade must upgrade a revenue location that the company can trace a route to.

There are other variations, but those two are the most common.
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JR
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I had never noticed that distinction with 1830 and had generally assumed almost all games (with a few exceptions like 1853) had the same track lay rules as the second scenario you described. Thanks for pointing that out, JC.
 
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Burster of Bubbles, Destroyer of Dreams.
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clearclaw wrote:
There are (basically) two track-laying rules:

1830 etc: the building company must be able to run track on the new tile (ie trace a route which includes the tile). It does not have to be able to run the new track on the tile, just some track.


Note the implication: this (1830-style track upgrade rules) makes it far easier to lay "tragic track" just for the sake of obstructionism.

Typically there's some level of cooperation among people who want the Diesels to do well, and some level of cooperation among people who want the Diesels to do poorly.
 
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J C Lawrence
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I've been threatening myself for a while now to write an illustrated article on the various track rules. Clearly I respond to such threats poorly.
 
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Joshua Gottesman
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clearclaw wrote:
I've been threatening myself for a while now to write an illustrated article on the various track rules. Clearly I respond to such threats poorly.


Slartibartfast: You must come with me.
Arthur Dent: Who are you?
Slartibartfast: What? No. My name's not important. You must come with me, or you'll be late.
Arthur Dent: Late for what?
Slartibartfast: Well, um, what's your name Earthman?
Arthur Dent: Dent. Arthur Dent.
Slartibartfast: Well, late as in *the late* Dentarthurdent. It's a sort of threat. You see?
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Richard Young
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clearclaw wrote:
There are (basically) two track-laying rules:

1830 etc: the building company must be able to run track on the new tile (ie trace a route which includes the tile). It does not have to be able to run the new track on the tile, just some track.

1846 and most newer games: the building company must either be able to reach the new track on the tile, or the upgrade must upgrade a revenue location that the company can trace a route to.

There are other variations, but those two are the most common.


I'm not sure that what Tom has said and what JC has said here are quite the same thing? Maybe I'm just thick.

I was in a game where I was desperately trying to maintain my E/W connection to the area to the North East (don't have map before me so I can't remember the place names). I was pipped out of my direct connection, so I placed a yellow straight tile to the north east from a city just to the east (in which I had a station) which was a dead end. I could reach the tile but it didn't go anywhere (yet). Not an upgrade so no problem right? My plan had to be to loop around the city I had been pipped out of which had been my direct route east.

Next turn I greened it with a tile that would enable the right brown which would finally finish the link I needed (had to be a multi-stage process) - so the green tile was an upgrade but still a dead end tile at that point. Was that legal? Tom seems to suggest no while I think JC would say yes?

Edit note: Incidentally, there was a green tile that would have done the job directly but was a "one-only" tile already on the board so I had to go with something else that would brown into what I needed.

I wasn't running it in the sense that it was (or could have been) part of a paying run but I could reach all parts of the tile no problem. It wasn't until I browned it that I re-established my E/W link with a paying run through the tiles I had laid.

I'm reading what's been posted here so far and still not sure whether what I did was alright or not (the danger here is the invalidation of the most important part of the game for me/us). Justin will know what I mean (and may remember the situation better than I if I've not described it correctly).
 
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Bubslug wrote:

I was in a game where I was desperately trying to maintain my E/W connection to the area to the North East (don't have map before me so I can't remember the place names). I was pipped out of my direct connection, so I placed a yellow straight tile to the north east from a city just to the east (in which I had a station) which was a dead end. I could reach the tile but it didn't go anywhere (yet). Not an upgrade so no problem right? My plan had to be to loop around the city I had been pipped out of which had been my direct route east.

Next turn I greened it with a tile that would enable the right brown which would finally finish the link I needed (had to be a multi-stage process) - so the green tile was an upgrade but still a dead end tile at that point. Was that legal? Tom seems to suggest no while I think JC would say yes?


There is only one question you need to answer: can you trace a path for a train from one of the company's tokens to the added bit of track when you turned the tile green? It doesn't need to connect to anything, you just need to be able to put an imaginary train onto it.
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Morganza wrote:
There is only one question you need to answer: can you trace a path for a train from one of the company's tokens to the added bit of track when you turned the tile green? It doesn't need to connect to anything, you just need to be able to put an imaginary train onto it.


Thanks, yes would be the answer I get and that also seems to be what JC said as well; but, unless I'm just reading it wrong, it appears to be contrary to what Tom offered earlier. I hope I'm just reading him wrong...

Edit note: Ack! I think the penny just dropped - the key may be the "added track" bit. The green I dropped maintained the initial straight piece from the yellow tile but added a separate curved bit of track that might not have been connected to anything (but must have connected to the city I was trying to get back to which had one of my pips in it or the brown wouldn't have worked). So phew! At least I think I finally understand what's going on. Fun game though...
 
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Richard Young
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clearclaw wrote:
I've been threatening myself for a while now to write an illustrated article on the various track rules. Clearly I respond to such threats poorly.


Sheesh! Get to work 'Claw! arrrh
 
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Lucas Smith
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gtatters wrote:


Generally:
What percentage of the strategy of this game (and maybe compare/contrast to a couple of other 18xx games a newbie is likely to play) is infrastructure/rail lines and how much is economic/stock?

Admitedly I´ve never played 1846 (but would like to do so btw), but I can speak for 18EU: Here I'd say it is about 20% tile laying strategy and 80% stock manipulation strategy. The better you become, the greater will the stock market´s part of strategy be. It also varies from title to title, read reviews/descriptions, it often says "focuses on the stock manipulation aspect", "Tile laying heavy game",...
 
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