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Subject: 18Mex - Friend or Foe? rss

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Matt Campbell
United States
Lincoln
Nebraska
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Mark Derrick has created a shorter version of 1830 here (my opinion) that combines several elements from many of the other offerings in 18XX from the last 5 years. However, he did not tone down the stock market manipulations as other designers have done and this lead to a some very long stock rounds. This game definitely has some friendly play rules (only buy one train per turn) and some foe plays (can buy shares and then sell in the stock turns).

There are 4 privates and 3 minor companies up for auction at the start of the game. Three of these privates can be purchased by major companies for between 50 and 150 percent of face value. This tones down a bit the robbing that 1830 allowed of up to 200 percent. The minors in this game are fairly anemic but coupled with the right major can have some impact. The fact that they never have better than a 2 train and close early does mean that you have to aggressively develop with them or own the company they fold into to get the most benefit. One of the privates has a special tile (Copper Canyon) that can be of enormous benefit to the companies operating in the northwest. Mark's optional rule of allowing this private to be purchased for up to face value immediately is one I recommend as otherwise its use can be prevented by other players (and they should do it).

Majors get to lay 2 yellow tiles per turn so early track development is fast. However, many of the hexes have a cost to build so some routes are expensive to initiate. There is a mail contract paid to each company once it has a train that helps with this, but getting money onto your major can be very important and lead to some withholds that otherwise wouldn't occur. The map lends itself to a north/south separation naturally but that doesn't stop companies from running all the way if they can get their tokens down early. Tokens in the city right north of Mexico City can ensure access for the northern companies to very nice 5/6/4D runs. It is important to each company to get one run to a $60 city and that should be available with careful planning. Token counts are low for many companies so planning your best 4 city run and protecting it should be a priority. This also makes majors with 3 or 4 tokens more valuable late game if they can get 2 permanent trains.

Controlling the NdM (the Presidente share comes with a private) always looks pretty important and it is guaranteed Mexico City access but it must trade trains at face value in all transactions. So even though it has a slot for an extra permanent train it rarely gets it without withholding too much. Having some stock in it is good but avoid overspending on it.

Game Components:

As with all of the games available from Deep Thought the components on this are first rate. Available in a variety of levels of completion I purchased it ready-to-play and it was exactly that. All pieces are laminated, the tiles are all uniformly the same size and the map looks brilliant. I did make one modification to the game and that was to take a set of markers to the bottom of the tokens so we can tell who they are when upside down. Long term 18XX'ers taught me that for tracking who has gone in the ORs.

With a play time of under 4 hours this is a great 18XX to get on the table with some frequency, especially if you have a group of experienced players. It has many elements designed to make it a bit friendlier than 1830 can be while maintaining some of the nastiness that can be so much fun. I recommend this game for all levels of gamers who are either into or wanting to learn 18XX.
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Marcus Lau
Malaysia
Petaling jaya
Selangor
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You forgot to mention the really sick train rush after the first 4 train is bought up (after which, you may buy as many trains as you like). It gets really unbearable when playing with the optional rule (found in the rulebook) that the 4-train rusts (instead of going obselete) when the 2nd 6-train is bought up.
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フィル
Australia
Ashfield
NSW
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I've got an 808 and a 303 and a record collection like the ABC
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Ah, that sounds awesome!
 
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Breno K.
Brazil
Brasília
Distrito Federal
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This game sure is top notch.
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