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1856: Railroading in Upper Canada from 1856» Forums » Sessions

Subject: Complete game #2 - quite a different game rss

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Michel Condoroussis
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Date: November 30th, 2008
Time: 1pm to 4:25pm
Location: Raymond's

Intro

With the great reviews that all the Concordia University gaming group has given to 1856, it was no wonder that when Ray decided to host another game, the 6 seats filled up fast. For me, this would be my second complete game (see the session of the first one here) and fourth game in total if you count all the incomplete ones. All the other players had also played before, with the exception of Umberto, who has been our visitor from Italy over the past nine months.

Umberto arrived at just after noon to get a rules walkthrough from Raymond and the rest of us poured in during the next hour. By 1pm, our normal start time, we were all there and ready to go. As is often the case with such a game, some rules had to be cleared up for Umberto as we played and even for some of the other players who had forgotten some of the intricacies. Since our great banker, JF, was not present this time, I took the spot of banker, with the help of Eric and Phil would hand out the company cards and tokens.

The Game

Once again, Ray did not want to be first in the private company auction, and finally he was not. Phil drew the first player token making the turn order: Phil, Joelle, Eric, Me, Umberto and Ray. Guess Ray will always be at one of the extremes.

During the last two games, I had the Flos Tramway company, and this time I was devoted on getting something better. Being fourth in the auction, there was sure to be something decent left. The first bid went to St. Clair (Phil), then Great Lakes (Joelle), then Waterloo, so by the time it hit me, Flos, Canada and Niagara were left. I know I did not want Flos, so the question was between Flos and Niagara. From past games, I remember that the Niagara company, mixed with Welland Railway produced decent returns while The Canada Company only gave you access to the reserved space on the board, so I bid on Niagara. By the time it came to Ray, only Flos had no bid, but since he didn’t want it, he bid on Great Lakes. Everyone got their one item and Ray had to have a bidding war with Joelle for Great Lakes. It ended up going for $115 and Joelle won the auction, giving her Great Lakes and Flos. Ray was very surprise that everyone got their private companies so cheaply; no one bothered to place bids on any other company simply to push their values higher. A private company is quite useful in 18xx games since it gives you another mechanism to inject a good deal of cash into our personal capital.

The game began and the companies were chosen as follows:

-Raymond chose Great Western Railway and no private company
-Umberto chose Canadian Air Line Railway with The Canada Company
-Eric chose Buffalo, Brantford and Goderich with Waterloo
-Joelle chose Canadian Pacific Railway with Flos and Great Lakes
-Phil chose Grand Trunk with St. Clair
-Michel chose Welland Railway with Niagara Falls

During the last game, no one wanted to buy shares in my company since they were so expensive at $90. Thus this time, I set them at $70; anyway, it was impossible to set it much higher because the private company that I bought reduced the amount of cash I had in hand. Phil and Umberto set their company at the same price, which Eric and Joelle set theirs at $65, and finally Ray set his at $75. Since Ray had spent no money on a private company, he was also able to buy three shares right off the bat, while the rest of us all bought two. We also noticed later that we made a mistake in the first round; since we had no trains it was believed that we could not lay track, but as was later discovered, we could place track as long as the company was open. This mistake made it difficult for Umberto to generate income earlier since his location did not have as many cities or towns as other parts of the board.

Everyone picked a new company compared to what they chose in the previous games we had played. Also, since Ray had taken Welland in the past and got cornered, I know what not to do. Yet due to the flow of this game, it turned out not to be an issue. Ray thought of taking Toronto, Hamilton and Buffalo Railway (THB) right from the start since its starting hex required a green tile, which wouldn’t be available until the first 3-train was sold. However, that happened really fast this game. Perhaps this would be a strategy to pursue the next game.

Right off the bat you could tell it would be a less friendly game then the last few. We all learnt that loans are not a bad thing and that the Canadian Government Railways can also be useful. So we were mostly more likely to take loans to advance things and hurt others. Since Ray set the highest price for his company’s shares, he went first and decided to buy two 2-trains, which would result in at least one person having to buy a 3-train for $225. Since he had bought three shares at the start, he didn’t even need a loan to do so. Umberto and Phil each bought one 2-train and then when it came to my turn, I decided to also buy two number tow trains. Since my location gave me easy access to cash early on, with the Niagara company and the access to Buffalo through Welland Railways, I figured I should get ahead early, so I took a loan and bought the last 2-trains. It proved to be a good idea since I was making more then the others at each operating round during the start. I also avoided getting stuck; since the two trains were all gone and the three trains had started selling, the green tiles were in play right away and the track connections could be made easily without running out of those yellow city tiles.

With all the two trains gone, Eric and Joelle each had to buy a three train. Eric was short on cash so he had to borrow money and then was short on the interest, so the president had to shell out $5. This caused Eric to have to hold back funds for the treasury a lot early on and he fell into the yellow part of the stock price board almost right away.

At the initial placement, Ray (GW) and Umberto (CA), being so close together had to fight for turf and since Ray went first, he placed a blocking track right away, which would cause Umberto to have to upgrade it to go south. Since this upgrade was done early, Ray and Umberto decided that fighting so early would only hurt both players and thus they started to grow together. This helped Ray more since he had two trains, while Umberto was still so low on cash that he had only one train the whole game and was not producing a lot of money.

In addition, about halfway through the game, Ray blocked Umberto with a station market, which caused him to earn under $100 a turn and made his growth even more difficult. Your first time playing 1856 is always rough though! Ray made another rules interpretation mistake here; if a city has several empty spots for station markers, any train corporation can pass through it. It only acts as a block (or a terminus for income purposes) for other corporations when all of its spots are full. If Ray had interpreted legal routes this way, then he wouldn’t have thought that he was totally blocked in with regards to connecting to the destination city.

At this point, most people were still focusing on their own shares, getting to the 5 limit and trying to get to their destination goal in order to not have their money go into escrow. Joelle made it there easily, but I had some troubles since I focused on upgrading track and getting two trains early on; I was still at least 3 tracks away from getting there and needed to upgrade two tracks. Due to my large windfall of cash early on though, I was able to get to my 5 shares early and then started buying up some of Phil's shares and Raymond's, who were both producing well and wanted to keep share prices high. Phil was also looking to invest and bought one of my shares, since we were the two looking to pay dividends the most with cash in hand and in our companies, but Joelle was close behind.

It later became clear that Ray was heading for bankruptcy and needed a second company since GW was on its way to the CGR. Eric was in a similar situation, so he went out and purchased CV at $90 a share, which ended up being very costly. Not only were the trains going fast, so he would need five shares just to open it, the starting price was too high and no one else would buy in.

When the first 4-train came out, Umberto had to sell off two shares just to upgrade to a four train. Joelle and Phil noticed this coming, so they started to withhold cash and Joelle had a three and four train going for about three turns. It was clear that Ray wanted to cause some trouble; he was saving up and bought a 5-train as expected since he was just behind in the race to get the last 4-train. At this point, he had five loans and loans were present everywhere, especially for Ray and Joelle. This cause all the 3-trains to be thrown out. I was okay, with a four only, Joelle lost her 3-train, which was not a huge deal, Phil was ready to buy a 5-train, and Umberto had a 3-train. All of Ray's other trains also went under, so he had just the 5-train, but there was another issue...

Eric was not able to buy a train; he had spent too much trying to open CV and he had to declare bankruptcy!

Buying a 5-train that fast was a huge tactical blunder for Ray; he forgot the rule that when the game ends, each corporation’s stock value drops by $10 for each outstanding loan. Corporations do not have a chance to pay them off.

So that was the end of it, a short game, but still just as good and everyone enjoyed it.

At the end, after taking into account the drop due to loans, the shares were valued as follows:

* CV $90 (Eric) – never opened
* WR $70 (Michel)
* GT $60 (Phil)
* CPR $30 (Joelle)
* CA $15 (Raymond)
* GW $15 (Umberto)
* BBG $10 (Eric)*



Only one person was able to get a second company open, yet Ray, Phil and I were all thinking of it, although for Phil and I, our companies were doing well and it would be an investment; Ray wanted one to funnel money into from his dying company.

One tactic that Eric thought that he should have considered was to try to take over Umberto’s corporation. Since it entered the brown area, it would have been easy for him to buy a lot of shares in that company, beyond the 60% limit, all in one stock round.

It was a debate between Phil and I of who would come out on top. My share price was higher, but Phil had more cash, so the winner is...





All in all a great game. More of a spread in final scores then last time, but it was clear that people were stopped short of achieving their goal for their company. We never made it to the diesel train, which was an issue last game, seeing as that it opens up the board and more blockers were being placed in anticipation. A great game indeed and as last time; cannot wait to play again.
 
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Devin Smith
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Critical Rule Blunder: the 3s rust on the SIXES. This is when the CGR forms, so a loaned-to-the-gills company goes away before you have to buy it a new train, assuming that you have a 3 train.
 
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Burster of Bubbles, Destroyer of Dreams.
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Just imagine the red offboard up here. I'll create it Real Soon Now...
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It's critical not to start a company if you can't buy enough shares to float it, and a frequent fatal mistake by new players.
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Eric Boivin
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Definitely. I thought that it would have been possible to go with a tactic where I could sabotage early my first corporation, but who would have managed to lay down lucrative tracks for my second company. The number of shares required to start operating was just too high since the speed of train upgrades was way too fast for me, which resulted in my whole strategy tanking before taking off!

And good to know for the 6 train... I demand a rematch ASAP!
 
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Devin Smith
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So: you can multiply. Don't start buying shares in a company you can't float this time unless you have something super sneaky planned. Then usually the President's cert is enough....
 
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Chris Shaffer
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It looks like you made another critical error. Eric and Joelle only bought two shares of their companies. When it came time to operate those companies in the first round, the train on offer in the bank was a 3. With only 2 shares sold, their companies are not allowed to operate.

In a six player game of 1856, it's extremely rare for every player to be able to open a company in the initial stock round.
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Michel Condoroussis
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TheCat wrote:
It looks like you made another critical error. Eric and Joelle only bought two shares of their companies. When it came time to operate those companies in the first round, the train on offer in the bank was a 3. With only 2 shares sold, their companies are not allowed to operate.


Wow, that is so true, none of us even thought of that, we will be sure to implement it next game.

Thanks for all the rule advice everyone, tough to remember all the ins and outs, especially since only one of us has ever read the rules.
 
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Eric Boivin
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TheCat wrote:
It looks like you made another critical error. Eric and Joelle only bought two shares of their companies. When it came time to operate those companies in the first round, the train on offer in the bank was a 3. With only 2 shares sold, their companies are not allowed to operate.

In a six player game of 1856, it's extremely rare for every player to be able to open a company in the initial stock round.


So wait... What happens with the players who are playing last, and cannot have a chance to get a train? They have to wait for X turns until their private companies can earn them enough money to buy their third share? In a game where every turns counts like 1856, this seems awfully penalizing!
 
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Erin Whittey
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milhouse46 wrote:
So wait... What happens with the players who are playing last, and cannot have a chance to get a train? They have to wait for X turns until their private companies can earn them enough money to buy their third share? In a game where every turns counts like 1856, this seems awfully penalizing!


You have to plan for it.

If you're opening high (90 or 100 per share), you very well may only be able to buy two shares, but it doesn't matter because you get first crack at the two trains.

If you're opening lower than two or more other rails (or at the same price, but after them), there's a good chance that you WON'T get a chance to buy a Two train. Therefore, you should open low enough that you can afford three shares, and thus be able to buy Three trains.

It's not a penalty for not "having a chance to get a train," it's a penalty for poor planning. You had a chance to get a train; you blew it by opening higher in cash value or lower in the turn order than you could afford. If you want lots of two trains, you need to open first or second. If you don't open first or second, you need to plan on being able to get Three trains.

It's not inescapable even if you make a mistake, though. You can sell a private company to get money for more shares and only lose one turn. It's still likely to cost you the game, as you'll be a turn behind everyone else who opened a company, but that's what happens when you make first-round mistakes.
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Joelle Sekla
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How much is too much for private companies?
After buying 2 (Flos and Great Lakes) I had 130$ left in the bank....
(Enough for 2 shares @ 65$).
 
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J C Lawrence
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BunnyHop wrote:
How much is too much for private companies?


Private companies are good: they out-perform all shares in the early game _and_ they allow you to suck money out of treasuries to do even better things with. That said, getting too many privates is not good as you then won't have a company to sell them into soon enough to make the large conversion profits. A balance is required.

As a broad and general pattern, there are exceptions, the upper and mid-range privates in 18XX are usually under-valued at their face cost. Again, there are exceptions, but that's a broadly reasonable pattern.
 
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Chris Shaffer
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milhouse46 wrote:
So wait... What happens with the players who are playing last, and cannot have a chance to get a train? They have to wait for X turns until their private companies can earn them enough money to buy their third share? In a game where every turns counts like 1856, this seems awfully penalizing!


They probably should have waited, and played investor for a few turns, until they could afford three shares. Or two of them can collaborate to buy three or four shares of a company.
 
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Devin Smith
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BunnyHop wrote:
How much is too much for private companies?
After buying 2 (Flos and Great Lakes) I had 130$ left in the bank....
(Enough for 2 shares @ 65$).


As a rule in 1856 the GLSC is the only one worth more than about $10 more than face. The bridge is terrible, try to avoid buying it.

Generally in a 6 player game you need about $195 to be sure of starting (3 shares at 65). Once all the guys with cash get started it can be tempting to start a 2-share company but it requires good foreplanning of train purchases: count up companies and their possible train purchases and make sure that there'll be a 2 left for you.
 
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Brian
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I know it's been a while, but I have to pick a nit.

You said that one of the companies was short when it came time to pay interest so the president had to pay $5. This is not possible. All interest payments are in $10 increments from the company, proceeds from operation, or the president (in that order). In this case, the president would have had to pay $10, thus leaving $5 in the company coffers.
 
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