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After ordering 1846 from Golden Spike Games back in July (just before the announced reprint from GMT Games), I had been really eager to find a group to try it out... I had no 18XX experience whatsoever(the heaviest game I had played was Agricola), but was attracted by the game's reputation for offering deep gameplay in a reasonable amount of time.

This past Thursday, after traveling to Boston for work, I had the good fortune of getting invited to play the game for the first time with noted 1846 advocate Eric Brosius and local gamer Mike Anastasia (MyNameIsFourteen on BGG)...

Prior to this first game, I had attempted to teach myself 1846. I had gotten all of the game pieces out, read through the rules, and tried unsuccessfuly to put everything together. This read-through helped me understand various mechanical elements of the game (this is how you draft privates, etc.), but left me pretty clueless as to how the game actually flowed.

I had also listened to Eric & Joe Huber's fantastic episode of the Long View Podcast on 18xx, as well as the excellent more recent Heavy Cardboard episode on 18XX, several times each over a period of months (I love both of these podcasts). These podcasts, and the obvious enthusiasm that the presenters shared for this game, really helped stoke my desire to explore 1846 (and the whole family of 18XX games), but they were not super helpful to me in learning the game's terminology or overall gameplay.

I am pleased to report, however, that with a patient and helpful experienced player to guide you through the rules (or more than one), this game can be learned pretty effectively in a single play. When I first showed up on Thursday, I could not have completed a single turn on my own - stock round, operating round, or otherwise. By the end of the evening, I could take all my own turns and had gained some understanding of why my B&O/Big 4 strategy failed...

Here were the key elements that Eric and Mike used to bring me up to speed quickly:

1. Teaching Key Terms
In my experience, BGG posts (as well as the aforementioned podcasts) on 18XX games are filled with 18XX jargon - "train rush", "tokens", "privates", "capitalization", "2 trains". All of these terms/concepts make total sense in terms of gameplay to someone who has even limited experience in the genre - but have only generic meaning for someone who has never played this type of game before.

Eric went through a nice teaching outline with me before the game, and the most helpful component of this discussion was that he defined these key terms for me. The rule book for 1846 is somewhat spartan (IMHO), and felt to me like it required some foreknowledge of 18XX terms (or forced you to ask someone more knowledgable a bunch of questions) in order to really comprehend what it was saying.

2. Teaching Game Flow/Sequence of Activities
Eric had a player aid for this game that really helped me follow what was going on... The aid was perfect - it was not overly fancy, but it showed the key steps in a stock round or operating round in sequence. It sounds so basic, but the aid made a huge difference in my ability to plan turns seeing that, for example, during an operating round, the president of a company first issues or redeems shares, then lays track and/or buys a station, then runs routes, etc.

Conclusions:
The game really lived up to its billing. It provided many interesting strategic decisions, and our group finished a 3-player game (with a first time player) in a quick-passing 3 hours. FYI - Eric and Mike utilized both a dividend tracking spreadsheet and the 18XX community's favorite accessory (a set of poker chips) in order to keep things moving along, and both practices definitely shaved some time...

Overall, playing 1846 was a great experience. The compounding effects of your decisions show themselves in interesting and thought provoking ways - and that is the key thing I enjoy about playing strategy games.

I can also say that it was a great experience to meet Eric and Mike and play a game with them (and also to meet Eric's wife, who was a very gracious hostess). For everyone who knows Eric only through his many helpful BGG contributions, I can tell you that he is every bit as nice in person as these contributions would have you believe!

Thank you Eric, Claire, and Mike for a great gaming experience.

Bryan





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Mike Anastasia
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Billerica
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I'm glad you had a good time, it was a pleasure to meet you. I hope you get to introduce 1846 to your friends back home real soon.
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Eric Brosius
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Needham Heights
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My favorite 18xx game for six players is two games of 1846 with three players each.
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You're welcome! I had a great time playing with you and Mike.
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Eric Brosius
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Needham Heights
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My favorite 18xx game for six players is two games of 1846 with three players each.
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Microbadge: I aspire to Curmudgeon Level EricMicrobadge: I love Canada!Microbadge: In MemoriamMicrobadge: I love Mexico!Microbadge: I support the Women and Gaming community
I've uploaded the Order of Play file that Bryan refers to:

1846 Order of Play
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Eric Brosius
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Needham Heights
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My favorite 18xx game for six players is two games of 1846 with three players each.
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Microbadge: I aspire to Curmudgeon Level EricMicrobadge: I love Canada!Microbadge: In MemoriamMicrobadge: I love Mexico!Microbadge: I support the Women and Gaming community
Here's my comments on this same session:

https://www.boardgamegeek.com/geeklist/199360/item/4268442#i...
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