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Subject: Differences from 1817 rss

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Shawn Fox
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18USA is more than just 1817 on another map. The best strategies in 18USA are also a lot different than 1817. Experienced players of 1817 can play 18USA the same as they play 1817, but they will lose to those who figure out how to adapt to the significant differences which result from the modified train roster, train export schedule, city subsidies, and powers of the new private companies. That said, the understanding of how to use the 2/5/10 share company system, when to short companies, how to avoid having your own companies shorted (and how to react when they are), and how to use the leverage provided by loans is still critically important to doing well at 18USA.

Obviously the map is different. There are a lot more cities on the 18USA map (18USA has 29 cities, 1817 has 19 cities). Which cities are developed depends greatly on the randomization at the start of the game which determines the private companies that are available, where the metropolis cities are, where the valuable subsidies are placed, and where the high value off map tokens are. The randomization of the initial game state means that the track on the board develops very differently every game, thus forcing players to analyze the scenario to predict how the board will develop.

The map also has several areas that can be ran through and never tokened out (similar to Toronto in 1817). The Detroit-Toronto bypass allows almost every company to run a 5 train with only a single station token no matter how many tokens are placed on the board. Seattle, Winnipeg, San Francisco, and Florida have a similar effect. It is usually quite easy to run a 5 or 6 train in 18USA, so it isn't as important to fight over tokens early in the game. Furthermore there are always more cities to place, so if multiple companies need to add extra cities to the board for running their end game trains it usually happens quickly.

There are 30 private companies, 15 of which are randomly chosen each game. This further changes the game due to the large effect some private companies have on how the map develops as well as providing players with more interesting decisions as they try to understand how to use the various powers granted by the private companies.

The train roster and export schedule is different. Unlike in 1817, 18USA exports all remaining 3 trains at the end of operating round 4. At least one player usually has an incentive to get the 4 train purchased and since this can be done (as long as loan interest is $30 or less) by starting a 5 share company at $200 and taking 5 loans to buy the two 3+ trains and the first 4, it almost always happens by one of the companies at $200 in the fifth operating round. This pushes the game forward faster and reduces the number of operating rounds in a typical 18USA game vs. 1817. It also means that it can be more of a struggle to get trains on undercapitalized (low share price) companies.

18USA also adds two 3+ trains and a 4+ train, both of which behave much like the 2+ train, meaning they get one additional run after the 6 or the 8 have been purchased. These trains were added to the game to help insure that players almost always want to buy whatever train is currently available, which has the result of propelling the game forward toward the purchase of the 8 train and the end of the game.

For higher player count games, 18USA adds additional starting capital, additional trains, and raises the certificate limit. This is possible because the board is larger which provides plenty of space for players to operate companies. Even with these changes, a game of 18USA will still take about the same amount of time, and sometimes less, compared to 1817 at the 4, 5, or 6 player counts due to the other rules changes which encourage players to always buy trains and to merge companies together faster (due to the faster train rush). Fewer companies operating results in reduced play time due to the smaller number of decisions per round.

Another minor rule change which can have a large effect at the end of the game is that companies cannot pay back loans if they took any loans during the current operating round. This prevents the end of game "take out 3 loans, pay revenue, move up 2 spaces, pay back 3 loans" tactic that is almost always employed in 1817. Since companies have to hold loans for at least 2 rounds, the interest rate during the end game tends to be a lot higher in 18USA than 1817, which means that companies need to have a lot more capital to be able to hold loans so that they get more upward share price movement when paying dividends.

18USA adds Pullman cars which cost $200 and add $20 revenue for each city a train runs though. The pullman does take a train spot, however, so it isn't possible to own two permanent trains and a pullman. The Pullman car makes the 7 and 8 trains produce revenue which is competitive with owning two 5 trains, thus offering an additional strategic option compared to 1817 where the game usually hinges on who manages to buy the cheaper 5 and 6 trains.

The stock market in 18USA has approximately twice as many spaces as 1817. In 1817, companies move forward 1 space if they pay out 100% of their share price and 2 spaces if they pay out 200%. In 18USA, companies move forward 1, 2, 3, or 4 spaces if they pay out 50%, 100%, 150%, or 200% of their share price. Companies move back two spaces instead of one when taking a loan and move forward 2 spaces when paying them back. The stock market also extends to $800 instead of $600 as in 1817, so players who are able to drive their share value higher during the end game can greatly improve their final score.
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lychenus
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but what i concern is, how much playtime is cutdown in 18usa? 8 hours of 1817 has always been a hinder in our group
 
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Shawn Fox
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lynnech wrote:
but what i concern is, how much playtime is cutdown in 18usa? 8 hours of 1817 has always been a hinder in our group

18USA takes about the same amount of time to play as 1817. A bit more time is spent up front in the initial auction and first stock round, but you probably have one less operating round. The 2-trains rusting faster in 18USA also often causes players to merge companies earlier than in 1817, so you probably have a few less companies operating in the mid game in 18USA.
 
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Brett Lentz
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lynnech wrote:
8 hours of 1817 has always been a hinder in our group


8 Hours of 1817 is often better than 8 hours worth of many other games. Except 18USA.
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Shawn Fox
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Wakko wrote:
lynnech wrote:
8 hours of 1817 has always been a hinder in our group


8 Hours of 1817 is often better than 8 hours worth of many other games. Except 18USA.

While I can fully understand that some people don't have 8 hours to play a game at all, what has always bothered me is when someone insists that playing two or three games in 8 hours is better than playing one. In the end, I measure my enjoyment during an 8 hour period by the number of interesting decisions made over that time period. I'd rather play one great game than 3 mediocre ones.

Which is not to say that there aren't any great short 18XX titles. There are several of them, at least, but in the end the reason those games are shorter is that there are fewer things going on, players operate fewer companies (and make fewer decisions), etc.

In 1817/18USA players end up operating 4 or 5 companies through a considerable portion of the game, compared to operating only one company (typically) in 1846 through most of the game. So 1817/18USA take 3 times as long to play as 1846 because you are operating 3 times as many companies. Running more companies provides ways for players to create more complex interactions in the game than is possible when only running one or two companies, so the point is that you have a lot more options in the bigger games than you do in the smaller ones. There is on way to have the same type of experience in a shorter game because it is all of the options which end up making the game take longer.
 
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Scott Petersen
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sfox wrote:
While I can fully understand that some people don't have 8 hours to play a game at all, what has always bothered me is when someone insists that playing two or three games in 8 hours is better than playing one. In the end, I measure my enjoyment during an 8 hour period by the number of interesting decisions made over that time period. I'd rather play one great game than 3 mediocre ones.

There is more risk in an 8-hour game that an early poor decision will hinder a player such that late game decisions are reduced. Or at least lead to the perception that late game decisions matter don't matter because they can't lead to a winning outcome.

The challenge for these players is to use their late game time productively to weigh their opponents decisions to still learn from the game.
 
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Shawn Fox
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scottredracecar wrote:
sfox wrote:
While I can fully understand that some people don't have 8 hours to play a game at all, what has always bothered me is when someone insists that playing two or three games in 8 hours is better than playing one. In the end, I measure my enjoyment during an 8 hour period by the number of interesting decisions made over that time period. I'd rather play one great game than 3 mediocre ones.

There is more risk in an 8-hour game that an early poor decision will hinder a player such that late game decisions are reduced. Or at least lead to the perception that late game decisions matter don't matter because they can't lead to a winning outcome.

The challenge for these players is to use their time late game time productively to weigh their opponents decisions to still learn from the game.

That is a good point, I've certainly been in games where I'm so far away from being competitive that there wasn't much for me to do in the last half of the game. We'll sometimes start over and/or play something else when one player gets too far ahead. That said, in 1817/18USA there are always shorts. You might cause yourself to go bankrupt, but you can go out in a blaze of glory.

Along those lines one player in my local group who doesn't seem to care much about trying to maximize their score when they feel like they can't win. I've never understood that attitude. I don't fight over every single dollar, but even if I'm losing I try to do my best to stay in the game and create opportunities for others to make mistakes. Every now and then you might make one or two great plays and someone else makes a disastrous one, then suddenly you are back in competition. The rules features in 1817/18USA in particular provide players with some tools that can be badly misused and turn a sure victory into a defeat. Even experienced players occasionally make the wrong decision in certain pivotal moments by either shorting or not shorting when they should have, or by buying in the shares of their company which has been shorted when they shouldn't have, etc.
 
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Dave Berry
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Am I right that 18USA also allows players to bid more than the maximum starting capital when starting a new company, thus reducing the first player advantage seen in 1817?

sfox wrote:
Another minor rule change which can have a large effect at the end of the game is that companies cannot pay back loans if they took any loans during the current operating round. This prevents the end of game "take out 3 loans, pay revenue, move up 2 spaces, pay back 3 loans" tactic that is almost always employed in 1817.

I wonder whether either of those two rules would make sense to back-port to 1817?
 
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daveberry wrote:
Am I right that 18USA also allows players to bid more than the maximum starting capital when starting a new company, thus reducing the first player advantage seen in 1817?

That is correct. The bid to start a company is from $100 to as much money as you have. The company's share price is bid/2 rounded down to the nearest value on the stock market between $50 and $200. You can also bid more than face value for any of the private companies in the initial auction. I've seen bids of of over $500 to start the first company and get the best token spot available. Bids in the $420 to $450 range are quite common.

Quote:
sfox wrote:
Another minor rule change which can have a large effect at the end of the game is that companies cannot pay back loans if they took any loans during the current operating round. This prevents the end of game "take out 3 loans, pay revenue, move up 2 spaces, pay back 3 loans" tactic that is almost always employed in 1817.

I wonder whether either of those two rules would make sense to back-port to 1817?


Certainly you can use whatever house rules you want for 1817 or 18USA. These three rules changes in particular don't result in huge changes to the game, they just get rid of a few issues related to player order priority giving an "unfair" advantage as stock round priority often results from pure luck rather than being something that a player has any control over.

It is still an important tactic to take out loans during the last set of operating rounds, but having to hold them to the next operating round drives up the interest rate quite a bit, benefiting those companies which are better capitalized or still have unsold shares in the company treasury.
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