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1846: The Race for the Midwest» Forums » Sessions

Subject: An 1846 Solo session (three-player game) rss

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David Arlington
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Summerdale
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This month, I've decided to do something that I've really shied away from for the most part in my game playing life. That is playing some games without solo variants or solo modes by playing more than one side at once.

First up for this treatment is 1846: The Race for the Midwest. I love 18xx games but you really can't play them by yourself. Though if you could, this is one of the best ones to attempt it with given the method of how the game starts. This 18xx game does not start with an auction of private companies, but rather passes them around and you take a card each time (paying for it at the end if it's a private) until they're all gone.

I used to own a ton of 18xx games when I lived in NJ but had no one to play them with. I got rid of all of them when I lost my job and had to move. Of course, then I moved to Memphis, TN which has a SUPER group of 18xx players that meets once or twice a week like clockwork. So I bought the new GMT 1846 (because I like Tom Lehmann games, it's the only 18xx game I have ever won, and wanted to encourage GMT to make more 18xx games) and then got laid off and moved to Mobile, AL where, once again, I have an 18xx game but no one to play it with.

Man, is 1846 a huge table hog:


I spent the first four days of May playing this game, finishing last night. I played a three player game and named the players Alice, Betty and Celeste.

I have to be honest. It went a lot better than I expected it to and I actually really enjoyed playing it this way. I didn't have too much trouble playing three different people because I played them pretty much the same way I play 18xx against other people, which is poorly! LOL I mean that in the sense, that I still don't know the intricacies and timing and strategies of 18xx and just sort of stumble along with some vague plans that I try to implement on the fly. It sort of works for me somehow even though my decision on what company to start are usually based along ideas like "I used to live in Buffalo, I think I will run the Erie this game." or "I really love the logo of that company." or "Maybe if I take this company way off in the corner that no one else ever takes, people will leave me alone and let me do my thing."

For Alice, Betty and Celeste, everything was based off that initial deal of privates with me just pretending I didn't know what the other players had bought and buying what *I* would buy with those cards and the ones I had already bought.

Alice took the Mail Contract (when owned by a corporation, pick a route and get an extra $10 per city - never goes away) and the Steamboat company (get $20/$40 extra for some port cities) The latter one was $30 cheaper than list because B and C had already spent as much as they wanted to on other cards. Since she had the most money after the initial Privates distribution, she launched the IC at $100 and was going to use the extra initial stake, the free hex lays, the Mail Contract and the Steamboat to try to build up money without an early East-West route. (My "stay in my own corner" persona here.)

Betty
had the least money with $200 after buying the Michigan Southern (a minor company that runs its own trains and lays its own track until a corporation buys it) and the CWI (get a free token in Chicago). She launched the Grand Trunk at $60 thinking to try to get an early East-West route across the top of the map. (As usual, I forgot again that Port Huron can't upgrade past Green tiles.)

Celeste bought the Big 4 (another minor company like MS) and O+I (another one with some free tile lays) much like Betty but had $260 left over to launch the Erie RR at $80 (the Pennsylvania and C&O were the corporations randomly chosen to not be in play for this three player game). She ran the Big 4 for as long as she could, as opposed to Betty who bought in the MS earlier to get her East-West going as soon as possible.

Alice took the early lead with Celeste falling behind. But by the 4th stock round, Celeste had amassed enough money to launch the NYC (to team with Erie) and she jumped into the lead by the end of the two 4th round ORs. I ended up with six Stock Rounds and six ORs, so I have to think I was not aggressive enough in buying up trains to force the game along for someone, somewhere. I think I also screwed up in that no company even came close to being caught without having a permanent train (though it DID end up hurting the GT which had to withhold the most times to stay relevant, costing Betty the game).

In the fifth Stock round, Celeste also launched the B&O, giving her three companies while the other two only had one apiece. That worked through the fifth set of ORs, she still had a pretty good lead at that point. But, I guess I didn't play it right enough for her because it was the sixth Stock round that did her in.

With three companies, Celeste was at her Certificate limit without being able to diversify enough, where Alice was able to own 60% of her IC, which was the best company all game long with the Mail Contract with a 7/8 train doing an East-West run. She also had room to buy up a bunch of other companies stocks. Betty could do the same thing, but with her 60% being in the crappy GT, she couldn't keep up with Alice.

Still, it was very close at the end with Celeste's monopoly versus Alice's diversification. Alice won with $8326, Celeste lost by just $166 with a $8169 total and Betty came in last with $7357.

Board at game's end:


As mentioned above, I really enjoyed this a lot more than I thought I would and didn't have a lot of problems acting independently for each player (though this probably says more about my 18xx skills than my ability to compartmentalize my thinking). Best of all, I think I learned some things about how to better play this game in a non-threatening environment. Not that I ever felt threatened in an 18xx game except by my own feelings of inferiority. I would always feel like people would be looking at me like "What is he doing? Doesn't he know how to play this game?" even though no one ever once said anything to me that wasn't helpful. The Memphis group was fantastic in how many times people would offer help or suggestions when I did something really stupid (and I was the only one who ever used the word "stupid") even if it didn't benefit them at the time.

I think I'll actually do this again sometime and see if I can apply any of my learnings.

Dave

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8-bit Matt
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Nice! Have you every watched Calandale's vids on YouTube? He plays multiplayer-solo 18xx games, usually at full player count!

I'll do this when learning a new title, though usually get frustrated trying to keep everything straight. Generally I'll just track finances on post-its for each player and charter to speed 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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Glad you liked it!
 
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Steve O'Grady
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Jacksonville
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David, very enjoyable session report.

I have played 1846 4 times now. Twice with opponents, and twice as 3 player solo like you. It is a great learning experience playing solo as the other players. I played once where the owner of Big 4 ended up buying Grand Trunk. Looked weird until Big 4 converted and Grand Trunk was now at two different places on the map. Multiple trains became even more significant for GT in that game. GMT did a really good job with this game. I can't wait to play again (solo or otherwise). I will be playing 1846 on Saturday of Atlanta GameFest over Memorial Day weekend.

Solo is a great way when there are no players. I am in rural northern Alabama, and am without 18xx players near me. My only other 18xx is 18Neb, which is a good introductory game that can handle 2-4 players in about 3 hours. Criss-crossing Nebraska is the name of the game, but the RRs and their starting locations are varied enough to stay interesting. I have soloed that one now 7 times this year. Because it is fast playing, it just doesn't get old for me.

Great report. If you ever make it up towards northern Alabama for some 18xx gaming, look me up and let me know where they hang out up here.

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David Arlington
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Thanks for the support. I was up as far north as Montgomery and West Point a couple weekends ago on the way to a weekend resort north of Atlanta. Where are you?

I just printed out the PnP version of Open Rails Origins which is all about railroading in Alabama and has an official solo version.

But my favorite 18xx so far is 1846 (along with 1856 - would like to get a copy of that one again).

Thanks for the interest.
Dave
 
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Steve O'Grady
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I am off I-20, halfway between Birmingham and Atlanta.

Not much Rails gaming here until I get to Atlanta. There is one very small hobby store with a couple of guys that will play games on Saturdays. That's about it. We play with one other couple here about every 6 weeks or so. My wife is my main gaming partner. None of them are into Rails games. At least the guys at the store will play Scythe and Mare Nostrum.

The next 18xx game I am looking at is 1832, 1850, 18GL, or 18Tn. When the time comes I will order it and have it made by Deep Thought Games.

I am hoping to play one or two Rails (18xx) games at Origins this year.

BTW, I got the 1830 PC game off an abandonware site and have since played 4 games. Very different from 1846 in that the company does not operate unti you have bought 6 shares. I have been dead last each time I play, but in today's game, I finished much closer to 3rd than previous plays, and only $600 separated 1st and 3rd. I played a much better game.
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