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Subject: Stopping a Payout Precipitation Victory rss

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Cory Williamson
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There are always a multitude of possibilities to play any game incorrectly or in a naive way, and I hope this is our problem.

The reoccurring situation is this: A company floats, such as the AT&N, with the initial par value set to maximum or near maximum. The grinning president then pays out every subsequent operation round driving the company to the game ending 300 share value and, in doing so, wins the game.

Sincerely,
Exasperated in 18XX
 
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Henri Harju
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I have never seen any 18xx that can end this way actually end that way. Just one question. Do you trash each others stock values at all?
 
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Morgan Dontanville
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How do they buy trains after the train rust?
 
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Cory Williamson
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Henkka,
Yeah, I tried trashing shares. From what I could tell it merely caused a hiccup on their way to victory.

sisteray,
Most of the time the 4 train never made it out and a 3 train just lingered in the gate. I tried rushing to the 7 and boy that was sure fun watching all the 4s rust, but that was before this whole precipitation business. I have never seen a 4D operate and that's a lot of train to swallow along the way if there are only two of you hacking away at the train purchases.

We must be missing some crucial yet very simple step or rule.
 
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Mark Stadel
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18xx games are all about generating income, so other players need to start up more (cheaper) companies, which will help eat up trains. Plus, his expensive shares will be less attractive for investment that other cheaper shares (unless his payouts are massive, but if he's not withholding his company he's not likely to have many trains, and therefore lower payouts).

Since he can only buy 60% of his own company, he'll likely buy shares of others ... you may be able to strip out the trains of a company and dump it on him for a forced train purchase if the stock round "priority marker" is in the right place.

There are often a few choices (get nasty!) but an easy strategy is to try to roughly match their income then try to squeeze them out with station markers or catch them with rusting trains.

And if he does start a great company, you may want to grab up his shares as he likely wont initially have enough money to buy too many .... this equalizes his gains on you (if you have the same share count).

There are usually several opportunities to do some interesting things, but it takes experience to see them ... keep trying!
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Richard Pardoe
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If you haven't already, you might want to scan through Ed Holzman (Bearcat89)'s PBEM 18AL Games that were played in the Geek's PBEM forums:

18AL Game #1
18AL Game #2
18AL Game #3

They might reveal something you have missed.
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Morgan Dontanville
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No one buttoned out his runs?

Did you buy his stock, he can only own 60%?

If you run a successful company and pay out with big trains then you will have more capital to buy more stock than he will, including most of his. If he isn't buying trains then he isn't going to pay out that much. Your portfolio should be immense comparitavely.

I'm still a little confused about the trains. There are six companies. Each company must buy a train, and should buy more than one. Are you not opening more than one company?
 
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Morgan Dontanville
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Also, this system rewards cruel group play. If you collude to trash stock there is usually nothing that he can do. Buy all the stock, sell it. Have the other guy buy stock off of the open market, then sell it. I don't see how this wouldn't ruin someone.
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J C Lawrence
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Check your train rusting and train buying. I suspect that you are not killing all the 2-trains as soon as a 4-train is bought, all the 3-trains as soon as a 6-train is bought, and the 4-trains as soon as a 7-train is bought. The instant someone, anyone, buys one of those trains, all the trains it rust disappear, instantly. And remember, a company MUST own a train by the end of its operating round, and trains are bought AFTER track is laid and trains are run.

To echo Morgan, albeit for 1830 rather than 18AL: In our last game of 1830, at the mid-game three companies floated at $100 share (the highest possible par). By the end of the stock-round in which those companies floated, their average stock price was $50/share (some were lower). This sort of behaviour is not only typical, it should be expected in almost every 18xx game and to a certain extent the games don't work well if such stock-trashing doesn't happen.
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Eric Flood
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A few thoughts:

-this must be with 3 players; even with 3, a player does not have enough to float (60%) a company entirely on their own at $105.
-let them take some of the privates in the initial auction - it'll suck some of their money away, and less of yours, initially! (not that they are bad things to have!)
-if they grab 50% of said company at $105, DON'T buy the other 10%, causing it to float! Yell, throw things, and call bad names at any player who does (or something more rational...)
-whether or not someone does help that company to float, float your own company at rock-bottom market prices ($60 - all you need is $360 to float). In the next few operating rounds, you'll likely make as much/more from ops (esp. if you have high-income privates!). This should offset the delta they make more than you per share on market increase (i.e. if their stock goes from $105 to $120 at 50% holdings for Player A, they earn $75, and yours only goes $60 to $65 at 60%, you get $30; if you got $30 from privates, *and* you have shares in other, low-priced companies, say 20%, also going from $60 to $65 for another $10: $30+$30+$10=$70; quite close).
-in later operating rounds, players are going to consistently have built up amounts like $63. They *will* buy into your company if it is paying out properly, and not into Player A's. This will cause your stock to go *up* a row, and not Player A's (in fact, A's stock cannot go *up* a row!). Only after a little while will anyone else start buying further into their expensive pricing scheme.
-plan for train dumping. If that expensive company has bought 2 2's and a 3; get a company to buy up a 4. This can be done both via new companies and via "fun" train (mis?)management. If a company doesn't have enough money to buy a new train (say, the first 6), get them to sell their train so that now they're forced to - you kick in a very small amount of money, and perhaps Player A will be forced to kick in 75% of the money for his/her new 7 or 4D train.


Generally, this sort of high-pricing mindset only works if the other companies don't get themselves floated. I saw this in my very first 18xx game, where one player floated a company at high prices thanks to another player; the rest of us all tried to start up two companies, or were otherwise out of sufficient funds to float any other company. The "high-priced" company leapt out and there was no catching up, even with train dumping. Floating your own company early is key/crucial here. In higher-player games, negotiating to help each other float is even more important.
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Chris Shaffer
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I have never seen a game of 18AL where the 4D trains didn't appear. As others have said, you're either doing something wrong with the rules or doing something very, very wrong with your train buying strategies.

Never, ever, help anyone float a company at $105 at the beginning of the game.
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Cory Williamson
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Thanks to everyone for the help. If our next play runs afoul I will carefully log and post it so that all of you may point out where we went wrong.
 
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Cory Williamson
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Reflecting on our past games, it seems this is where we went wrong. We all helped the other player float the $105 early in the game. This equals death.

blueatheart
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if they grab 50% of said company at $105, DON'T buy the other 10%, causing it to float! Yell, throw things, and call bad names at any player who does


lol!

TheCat
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Never, ever, help anyone float a company at $105 at the beginning of the game.


Got it!

sisteray
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Also, this system rewards cruel group play. If you collude to trash stock there is usually nothing that he can do. Buy all the stock, sell it. Have the other guy buy stock off of the open market, then sell it. I don't see how this wouldn't ruin someone.


Huh, I just didn't think this through. That will indeed ruin a player. I didn't make the leap to repeating the buy/sell/trash process.

Thanks again everyone.
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J C Lawrence
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Koryo wrote:
Reflecting on our past games, it seems this is where we went wrong. We all helped the other player float the $105 early in the game. This equals death.


Or at least very misguided and poor play. The 18xx are capital games. Why-ever would you help another player to get control of $1,050 in capital? Heck no! Rather, as soon as it does float, trash the crap out of and and shove that stock value through the floor! If he dumps the company on you, so much more the better: you get control of that same $1,050 for pennies on the dollar!

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Huh, I just didn't think this through. That will indeed ruin a player. I didn't make the leap to repeating the buy/sell/trash process.


In most 18xx there is a ritual phase which usually hits somewhere around the 4-5 trains. Players are busy floating companies and one player has enough capital to float something, but is also late in Priority. What happens from here is entirely predictable. That player simply rotates across every other company, buys up all their shares and then sells them. While he's at it, usually the other players will get in on the mix, buying up shares in companies they don't care about and dumping them as well. The really short version is that the entire market will typically fall 4-6 ranks, sometimes more. Once all the old companies are shoved down against the ledge/wall, then the player sets about floating their own company and filling out their portfolio.

 


To give a quick idea from 1830 (whose market is above). In our last game the Erie, CanPac and C&O all floated at $100 right before the 5 trains came out. By the end of that same stock round the C&O was at $40, the CanPac at $60 and the Erie at $67. I'll pause while you tot up exactly how much stock value was lost in that exercise! (Go look at the chart and work it out) The B&O started the stock round at $142, but ended the round against the wall at $100. The B&O president lost $252 in value alone, plus the greater losses from a much longer climb back up. The other companies fared similarly. Get the idea?
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jim b
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clearclaw wrote:
I suspect that you are not killing all the 2-trains as soon as a 4-train is bought, all the 3-trains as soon as a 6-train is bought, and the 4-trains as soon as a 7-train is bought. The instant someone, anyone, buys one of those trains, all the trains it rust disappear, instantly. And remember, a company MUST own a train by the end of its operating round, and trains are bought AFTER track is laid and trains are run.

18AL has a special rule for 4 trains, 'Train Obsolescence'. When the first 7-train is bought, 4-trains become 'obsolete', but aren't rusted immediately -

4.2.5.1 Train Obsolescence: When the 7 Train is purchased, only those 4 Trains which are in the Open Market, or owned by the corporation that purchased the 7 Train, are removed from play immediately. All other 4 Trains are instead designated "obsolete". Each [owned] obsolete train remains in play until after the pay-out-or-withhold step of the owning corporation's next turn. Then, it is removed from play..
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J C Lawrence
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jimb wrote:
18AL has a special rule for 4 trains, 'Train Obsolescence'. When the first 7-train is bought, 4-trains become 'obsolete', but aren't rusted immediately...


Yeah, I forgot this is a Mark Derrick design. He likes to obsolesce the final non-permanent trains (eg 18Mex, 18TN etc).
 
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jim b
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The rules comment that this was to make the game a little softer for newer players; similarly, that each corporation is limited to buying 1 train per turn from the bank in the early game.

The optional rules include eliminating the delayed obsolescence of 4 Trains - 'this will make the game more challenging and is not recommended for beginning players.'
 
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J C Lawrence
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jimb wrote:
The rules comment that this was to make the game a little softer for newer players; similarly, that each corporation is limited to buying 1 train per turn from the bank in the early game.

The optional rules include eliminating the delayed obsolescence of 4 Trains - 'this will make the game more challenging and is not recommended for beginning players.'


Yeah, there's a similar comment in his other games. I prefer the rusting variant.
 
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jim b
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Just a few games into 18xx now (and still making basic rules mistakes), but I've been burned by 'pushing the trains' hard a couple of times now. One game of SoH, I bought many 2 trains early ... but it didn't stymie my opponents' purchases, I certainly didn't need them for routes, and I ended the game substantially behind in $$ - and rued wasting some of that on unnecessary train/capex along the way.

Last night it was 18AL; this time I went out of my way to sweep the diesels late in the game. To get that money, my companies withheld dividends for a couple of turns ... it was late enough in the game that the extra deliveries didn't have a substantial incremental benefit, and this time I ended the game just a little $$ behind - again, to rue spending money (and equity, through withheld dividends) on trains I didn't need.

I think I'm outsmarting myself by trying to push the trains initially. In general, it seems like maybe you have to get the 18xx basics under tight control - train value and tactics, and running healthy companies, etc - before using larger weaponry such as stock machinations, aggressive train layups, etc. (I mean - it seems you have to really know what you're doing for that stuff to pay off.)
 
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J C Lawrence
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jimb wrote:
Just a few games into 18xx now (and still making basic rules mistakes), but I've been burned by 'pushing the trains' hard a couple of times now.


There are basically two ways to push the trains:

1) To buy (lots of) trains, especially into a new rank, so that other's trains rust

2) To float one or more new companies so that new trains are bought and thus more trains are rusted

The second is the key form. It can be combined with the first, but I think the second is the real model. If you've been following my tweets, you'll see that I've been playing with this area, toying with the classic 3-player pattern:

1) Float a company in the first SR
2) Run 2-3 times so that we're into Phase-3, possibly into Phase-4.
3) Build the company very well so it has great routes, good tokens, some good 3-trains, good cash in the treasury and great revenues (ie other players will have invested -- ie get the company to sell out and thus get even better stock-appreciation)
4) Either get priority or get priority to your right.
5) Sell everything, dumping the company, and float two new companies at a high par
6) Ideally sell the 6th share of each company into the bank as the company is floated so as to provide sustained income for the company and to discourage/limit stock trashing
7) Buy a 4-train into each and setup to get a 5-train or 6-train into each ASAP.
8) Watch both companies get bought out one or two SRs later and end up the best shares in the game
9) Party like its 1999!

1889 lends itself particularly well to this pattern as the second round companies are both so strong.

Quote:
Last night it was 18AL; this time I went out of my way to sweep the diesels late in the game.


In most games the diesels aren't worth their cost. They cost too much relative to their dividends or share appreciation. 18Mex's 4Ds are an occasional exception, but even then they're usually not worth it.

Quote:
I think I'm outsmarting myself by trying to push the trains initially. In general, it seems like maybe you have to get the 18xx basics under tight control - train value and tactics, and running healthy companies, etc - before using larger weaponry such as stock machinations, aggressive train layups, etc. (I mean - it seems you have to really know what you're doing for that stuff to pay off.)


The problem with the basics is that there are a lot of them! My 18xx mentor's basic complaint of me is that I'm pretty good at the really hard stuff like train and track timing, and even priority manipulation (sometimes), but I keep screwing up on the basic block and tackling. I forget to put key stations down. I forget to divest my portfolio of risks at key junctures. Etc etc etc. I'm not going to begin to count the number of games in which I've gotten 2 or 3 of the 5-trains, normally a shoo-in for a win, and then gone on to lose because I didn't bother with a real basic.
 
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J C Lawrence
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BrenoK wrote:
I find the 4Ds to be immensely strong, almost too much. It's pretty hard not to be able to run 4 spots on the map. Though I think they do fit in well with 18mex, considering the map and train roster.


They are strong, but they also don't run for long. They break the bank quickly.

Quote:
Also, clearclaw, you mention "dump the company", you mean just the share price (sell all the way to the bottom) or dump the company to another player?


Usually to another player. Yesterday I dumped a company with 3 strong tokens, great track, $300+ in the treasury and three 2-trains and a 3-train on Dave when there was still a 3-train left to be bought, and paying $22/share. As you might imagine, he was happy to receive it.

Quote:
In our group we're rather a suspicious bunch (we had many nasty bankruptcies in a row) so we hardly ever take the risk of buying two shares of a company (specially one that's spending $ like crazy).


I believe in trust and caution in fairly equal measures. Dumps are not necessarily bad for the recipient. There are many cases where it is good to have a company dumped on you. There are also many cases where a company is worth more to one player than it is another (eg for cooperative track, train shuffling, etc). I've had many a case where players openly asked for a company to be dumped on them. In yesterday's game david threatened to later dump the company back on me -- and I would have welcomed it with open arms. But of course that's not always. Sometimes dumps are bad for the recipient. Never holding more than a single share of a competitor's company is also a great way to lose games. You'll fall behind on shares and in revenues too early and never recover against those who are willing to take risks and make careful judgments.
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Ryan Dodge
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This is a bit off-topic, but in 18AL, if a company ends up with a decent amount of cash in its treasury when the last 4D is bought, is there any way to get that cash into the hands of the stockholders? One player made a mistake (didn't take into account the up-bump in a stock round) so he went 2nd in operations and the final train was grabbed before he could get it. Essentially he was left with 800+ on the treasury, but as far as I can tell, there's no way to ever pay that money out?

Thanks!
Ryan
 
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What a pity. You can lay terrain (possibly for the benefit of another company), or spend $1 to buy a train from another company that you will then dump. I assume all of your tokens are already down the the most disruptive possible places ;-)
 
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J C Lawrence
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No.
 
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Eric Brosius
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My favorite 18xx game for six players is two games of 1846 with three players each.
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jimb wrote:
Just a few games into 18xx now (and still making basic rules mistakes), but I've been burned by 'pushing the trains' hard a couple of times now. One game of SoH, I bought many 2 trains early ... but it didn't stymie my opponents' purchases, I certainly didn't need them for routes, and I ended the game substantially behind in $$ - and rued wasting some of that on unnecessary train/capex along the way.


Many 18XX games are like those log-rolling contests that lumberjacks used to engage in (at least, in movies.) You have to keep your balance. In the early game, if you buy too few 2-trains, you fall behind in income and shares, but if you buy too many, you simply help your opponents rust them quickly. Getting it just right is not just a matter of buying the right number of trains, but also of manipulating the game situation so that a "right number of trains" exists for you (and ideally, not for your opponents.)
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