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North American Railways» Forums » Reviews

Subject: 18xx in a Deck Box rss

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Ben Wickens
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Two of my favorite games are Wir Sind Das Volk! and Konig von Siam/ The King is Dead so when I heard that Peer had a new design out this year I was very interested. My interest increased when I heard it was trying to do 18xx/Winsome train games in a streamlined, quick and board-less way. So I pre-ordered the game and waited enthusiastically for its arrival.

I emptied the contents into a small deck box (it is one of my most portable games) and took it up for a family visit and played it a couple of times 3 player, one with my 9 year old nephew. I have since played it once with some gamer friends and done a solo playthrough of a 4 player game as all my other games were 3 player.

The game takes place over 3 stages each round

a) Trading Shares
b) Buying Cities for the Train Companies
c) Income

The rules for trading shares are pretty simple but they take a little bit of time to sink in. If no-one has bought a share in the share company then you pay what you want and all the money goes to the company. If you are the company director then you pay 1000$ and it goes half to the bank and half to the company and otherwise you offer a price to the director and the director then chooses whether to buy the share for that price (and give half to the player and half to the company) or let the player buy the share (and half goes to the company and the other half to the bank).

Then taking it one purchase about players can buy routes for each company they have at least one share in. Whoever has the most money at the end of the game wins. There are restrictions for both the share and city cards you can only buy the bottom 4 so you cannot just buy what you want but you can see all the cards so you know what will come available and when.

What I really like about the game is whilst it is exploring well covered terrain (train stock game) it manages to do so in a way that seems fresh. The rules do not take long to explain and after the first round everyone knows what they are doing. There are lots of interesting choices and interactions. Sometimes you can be working with someone to develop a company but then if they get a couple more shares in it than you it can all change.

On one level it is straight forward enough for a 9 year old to get the rules and enjoy playing it (and even win) whilst providing enough choices and depth for gamers to find it satisfying. I have only played this properly 3 player and I think the game will be even more interesting with 4 or 5 players but still works very well as a 3 player game. It plays pretty quickly depending on how long players take to think I can see games being 30-75 minutes depending on how familiar people are with the game and how long they take to think.

I recommend laying the shares down so they are long and thin and overlapping them. This makes it clearer which shares can be bought at any one time and makes them take much less space. I do wish the route cards had been designed in a way that let you do the same with them but that is not too much of a problem.

The game does have a few small negatives:-

-Its not very pretty
-At takes a good amount of table space and a small board tracking the companies might have streamlined it a bit and made it prettier and more compact.
-Due to a production error the purple share company has white trains instead of purple
-With only your cash hidden (and guessable in a 3 player game) its easy to see how well you are doing and sometimes a player will know by half way through that they are out of contention.

Still it is a great game that I enjoy very much and it is a versatile game that can be played with casual gamers, family or more serious gamers too. It is quirky but not so quirky as to cause dislike among some players, just enough for this to feel a bit fresh and not just any other train game. Highly recommended.
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Christian K
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Why is your cash not guessable in a four player game?
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Mikko Saari
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Considering all transactions are public in the game, the cash is very much countable. No need to guess.
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Christian K
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Yeah thats what I figured, the review just mentions specifically a three player game so I thought I might have missed something

We played it yesterday and I would like to add as negatives that the game can quite easily get a king making situation as the players who are essentially out of it can have huge influence by buying stock in the final one or two rounds.
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Ben Wickens
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I guess it depends what your memory is like. For me with more players its harder to keep track of everything to remember exactly what people have though some people can no doubt do it.
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