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Subject: Pittsburgh opening.... What is it? rss

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Hans van der Drift
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Bulimba
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I have read several posts that refer to the Pittsburgh opening and possible house rules to overcome it. But you think I can decipher what it is or why it's deemed as powerful. Well I can't. I have been playing with the map and I just can't see it.

Can someone please describe it to me please?

Thanks

Hans
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Stephe Thomas
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The Pittsburgh opening is to buy the private company Pittsburg Steel Mill and use it (in part) to start a company in Pittsburg. The private is used to lay a 'B' tile in Pittsburg, making it one of the more valuable places to have a token. Being in the middle of the map gives the company access to both east and west, and hence good prospects of a decent set of routes in all phases of the game.

It's certainly a strong opening. Some believe that is so strong that with the rules as written, it is correct for the player in first seat to open with a bid of face value on Pittsburg Steel Mill. If that belief holds amongst several players those not in first seat will feel some tweaks to the rules need to be done in order to make not being first a real disadvantage. One such variant I have seen allows bids of higher than face value on private companies.
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Mark G.
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Holland
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Keep in mind that the Pittsburgh private does not guarantee the holder the right to start a company in Pitt. It only gives them the right to lay the Pitt B tile. I've played in games where the holder of the Pitt tile was denied Pitt and consequently Pitt was never a B tile.


Edit: Most of the groups I've played 1817 with will also allow overbidding face for private companies. This usually only happens with the Pitt private.
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J C Lawrence
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Campbell
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It tends to mean that the Pittsburgh private owner has slightly less available bidding power than the other players and that any resulting Pittsburgh company is parred high (which has its own challenges).
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Glenn Martin
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I've only played a couple of 1817 games. The last one where I did the Pittsburgh, the other players were kind enough to let me start there but I found everyone else was connecting to other cities and I had to struggle to connect to Blacksburg and thence to Raleigh-Durham. It was like standing alone in the middle of a ballroom when everyone else was paired up and waltzing around me. Then one of the other players put his companies up for acquisition (He didn't like his prospects). I acquired both and ended up with my original 3-city spur (Pittsburgh-Blk-R/D) and a spur from Pitts to Cleveland and another P-Buffalo with three 2-trains and a 2+ as well as tokens in Cleveland, Buffalo and Blacksburg as well as Pitts. The other player got out what his companies were worth and there were several empty cities around the board he could parachute a company into with a built 3-train run.
I had the centre of the map with excellent expansion opportunities East and West. I was guaranteed to run all four trains the next OP with a decent chance of a run after that (The 2+ trains had sold out this round and the first 3-train had yet to be bought.) I wouldn't be caught without a train thanks to the 2+ and planned to half-pay or withhold so I could buy a couple of trains when the 4's dropped and my 2's rusted.
Of course, this was when we had to call the game for time.
One more hour! I just wanted one more hour!
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Rebecca Carpenter
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In Seattle we allow for overbidding on Pitts and I've seen the private go for as much as $50. The Pitts winner usually wants to pair it with coal, at least minor coal, and point it towards Baltimore, and if possible Charleston. We typically par Pitts very low. In our meta, players mostly don't try to start in Pitts w/o the private, because if they do, Pitts won't become a B tile and there are better starting locations for the price. I say mostly because while dangerous, bidding up Pitts to take the private owner out of contention for other choice starting locations can be good. Depending on player count, I've seen winning Pitts w/o the private really backfire. In four player where we often start three companies, the Pitts private owner may choose to start two companies instead, and get the best spots and most of the 2+ trains.

How I like to play Pitts:

-Par at $55

-Put a coal private in Pitts

-Have the Pitts private in an earlier operating company so it can lay the tile for Pitts, allowing Pitts to lay coal how they want OR1, and have more cash for trains and growing up.

-Make sure to operate as late as possible to run with the most green tiles and lay a token.

-Possibly have my first company break greens so that Pitts can token Baltimore. Warning! This doesn't work if you're last in priority or otherwise can't own 3 shares.

For reference, I've played '17 around 35 times.
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Hans van der Drift
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Bulimba
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This is great, thank you.

If I may, I am going to try to understand what you did here. Please let me know if I have it correct.

CoffeeRunner wrote:

How I like to play Pitts:

-Par at $55

-Put a coal private in Pitts


So, this is setting up a company (I'll use the A&A) the only has two assets. The Starting Cash and a Coal Private (I'll use the minor coal)

A&A IPO
Starting Cash: $80
Private: Minor Coal: $30
Total: $120
Par Value: $55

If I have this correct the first question is where are you starting this company?

CoffeeRunner wrote:

-Have the Pitts private in an earlier operating company so it can lay the tile for Pitts, allowing Pitts to lay coal how they want OR1, and have more cash for trains and growing up.


This is there is where I get a bit confused. I need to break it down.

Quote:
Have the Pitts private in an earlier operating company


So, I assume that is IPO another company with a higher par.

PLE IPO
Starting Cash: $120
Private: PITT: $40
Total: $160
Par Value: $80

So, this company starts in Pittsburgh?

Quote:
allowing Pitts to lay coal how they want OR


When you say Pitts here, I assume using my examples it's the A&A?

Quote:
-Make sure to operate as late as possible to run with the most green tiles and lay a token.


That I understand.

Quote:
-Possibly have my first company break greens so that Pitts can token Baltimore. Warning! This doesn't work if you're last in priority or otherwise can't own 3 shares.


Ok, so it comes back to where is the first company set up?

Quote:
For reference, I've played '17 around 35 times.


I have played around 4 times, so it's still a very steep learning curve for me. Thanks in advance
 
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Hans van der Drift
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Bulimba
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Quote:
Have the Pitts private in an earlier operating company so it can lay the tile for Pitts, allowing Pitts to lay coal how they want OR1, and have more cash for trains and growing up.


Just rereading the rules I see that it does not need to be near the PITT area.

Quote:
There is no connectivity requirement to lay this tile.


So, using my above the PLE could start anywhere.
 
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Rebecca Carpenter
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A good starting location for the higher par company with Pitts private can be South New York, because SNY doesn't have to lay it's home tile. This may not work if the same player has both Philadelphia and Baltimore and operates first, because they have incentive to cut SNY out and connect their two companies. Often the Baltimore player won't lay the $20 tile from its North exit, expecting Philly or SNY to come to it, but Baltimore would rather connect to SNY than to Philly (if not owned by the same player), and that may incentives Baltimore to lay that $20 tile if they see that SNY has the Pitts private and (i)if(i) they can afford to. To have the bidding power needed to win Baltimore, the player may be cash tight or want to save as much cash as they can in Baltimore's treasury for 2+T, or only want to take one loan to be in line for a 2+. SNY will want to have at least $30 cash to cover the double lay (first tile towards Baltimore or connecting into Philly if concerned that for some reason they will be cut out of any run OR1b, and second tile lay the Pitts B tile), and $10 to take two loans for two 2T. A good second private option for SNY is a Mail Contract, which helps cover early game loan interest while a 2 share, keeping SNY a modest revenue generator. SNY does need to eventually break out and token something to be able to run a 4T, but keeping it a 2 share as long as possible is really nice, because SNY can be a sleeping giant until grey tiles and NY opens, allowing trains to run through.

Pitts may opt to buy a 2T from SNY, because SNY will most likely only have one run (one exit) OR1b.

All of this said, I've fallen out of love of fickle SNY, favoring starting locations with more exits. (Baltimore is our group's favorite.) I plan to test a Pitts & Philly start, buy as many early game trains as I can, and try to be in position to token the Eastern seaboard after 5Ts break.

There are so many variables to consider in starting locations, it's very difficult to implement a pre-conceived strategy. How much bidding power does everyone have? Who got what privates? In which companies did they put the privates? What is the operating order? How much cash does each company have? Who can buy a 2+T? Who might break greens? Can I grow up M&A1 to lay a token? How much cash will I need SR2?

Sorry if this post is rambling and poorly formatted, I'm typing on my phone. I'm rebuilding my computer today (yay NVMe ssd!).
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Jimmy Okolica
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Now I can't say whether or not I'm a good 17 player, but I would never let Pitt go for $55. Even as a regular city, it's in the middle of the board, probably with coal and potentially with an early route to Baltimore. Letting someone get Pitt that cheap is basically encouraging overbidding for the Pitt tile. You paid $55 for $40 of equity and got nothing for it? I don't see how you can afford to let that happen.

That's why if I'm early in turn order after the auction, I'll always put Pitt up for auction. If someone wants to let me have it as my first company for $140 ($70 share value), I'm happy, especially if I have coal and/or the train station. If I can get Cleveland as well, I should be able to run two trains out of Pitt in OR1.2 and be good. Sure, it's not as good as as a B city with three exits, but it's still an above average city. If the person who starts in Blacksburg has three coal, then the Atlanta(?)-Blacksburg-Richmond-Baltimore run can be very lucractive, especially if he gets Richmond as well, but even then I'm not sure it's better than the Blacksburg-Pittsburgh-Baltimore/New York run.

But, hey, I'm happy to be proven wrong.
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Rebecca Carpenter
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I've seen three games where the Pitts didn't become a B city. In every case, the player who won Pitts, without the private, came in last place, and by a lot.

There could be many reasons why.

-They didn't have as much '17 experience as the rest of the table, and considering Seattle's dedication to '17, this was true in two instances, although the players were both very experienced with 18xx. In one instance, the Pitts person possibly had the most '17 experience, but was from another region.

-They overpaid for Pitts and the opportunity cost was too great.

-Three occasions of mine is insignificant data to say winning Pitts without the private is obviously bad. Although, other more experienced '17 players have reported the same to me.

-The Pitts company didn't have coal. I can't recall now.

I would welcome you to try in a game with me Jimmy, if we ever get the chance! I'll be at Chattanooga this year. devil

Edit: I remember why non B tile Pitts is bad. It doesn't get any help with track connections. It changes the entire map making Pitts bad. Here's an example late game, conditions were far worse early:




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Rebecca Carpenter
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Butterfly0038 wrote:
If the person who starts in Blacksburg has three coal, then the Atlanta(?)-Blacksburg-Richmond-Baltimore run can be very lucractive, especially if he gets Richmond as well, but even then I'm not sure it's better than the Blacksburg-Pittsburgh-Baltimore/New York run.



Wow, we absolutely never start in Blacksburg! Even if nearly every space on the board is taken, it's never considered. Lansing is similarly avoided, but probably a little more in favor. However, I was told the group used to. Major Coal usually goes into Charleston, and points into Atlanta and Pitts, completely cutting Blacksburg off. Richmond is chosen usually just to get a Baltimore token
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Jimmy Okolica
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CoffeeRunner wrote:
Butterfly0038 wrote:
If the person who starts in Blacksburg has three coal, then the Atlanta(?)-Blacksburg-Richmond-Baltimore run can be very lucractive, especially if he gets Richmond as well, but even then I'm not sure it's better than the Blacksburg-Pittsburgh-Baltimore/New York run.



Wow, we absolutely never start in Blacksburg! Even if nearly every space on the board is taken, it's never considered. Lansing is similarly avoided, but probably a little more in favor. However, I was told the group used to. Major Coal usually goes into Charleston, and points into Atlanta and Pitts, completely cutting Blacksburg off. Richmond is chosen usually just to get a Baltimore token


D'oh. Late night snafu... I meant Charleston... Richmond. Agreed. Without coal + engineer, Blacksburg isn't good.

I will be At Chattanooga too and I will definitely play 17 with you! Probably as many times as you're willing.
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Ben Foy
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1817 has a very good design. The Pitt private is an extra expense that brings Pitt down to the level of Baltimore, Cleveland and Charleston. The only negative is the first player usually takes the Pitt private at face which limits the bidding wars which might happen otherwise.

I don't find Pitt to be overpowering. The last game I played, featured Pitt buying 3x 2+ trains. That player came in second to the Baltimore/Cleveland player.
 
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