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1830: Railways & Robber Barons» Forums » General

Subject: 18xx - where to start? rss

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Michael Schwerdtfeger
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I've always looked at the 18xx games and thought they would be interesting to try, but I've always been scared off by the 300 minute game length. Playing 5 hour games is pretty tough these days.

Are there any shorter versions of the game that would be worth trying?
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Jesse Dean
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There are a lot if options that are shorter and more manageable. If you are crafty 18AL or 18GA will work. If you are not crafty and do not mind waiting 1889, 1846, or 18Fl from Deepthought games could work. As a final option Steam Over Holland can be had from the marketplace for 95 dollars. All of these can be played in about 3 hours. While they are not "short" they are not really as long as some of the bigger productions. Have fun!
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EGG Head
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18EZ is going to be released soon now, looks to be a good starter for 18XX otherwise Steam over Holland is shorter albeit expensive, you can make your own 18AL I did and it turned out well. I have heard 18FL is short too but haven't tried that one.
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Ron K
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The newer the players, the longer the game. That is the nature of 18xx. Because of that, many people never get past that overly long first play (or are even willing to try).

It is certainly better if all players at the table are at similar experience levels (so no one is abused). Veterans of 18xx trying to expand their community of 18xx players will often provide advice to the other players in game to prevent differences in experience causing players to be abused. However, doing so makes for a longer game as well.

Further, there are common maneuvers that are not sequentially intuitive so players often miss them which causes the game to run long. Perhaps the single biggest new-player contributor to a long game is the tendency to not push the trains along. The basic game design will eventually force someone to float a new company or buy the 'blocking' train but with new players it is likely that a number of earlier opportunities to progress will have been missed. This adds a number of additional stock and operating rounds to the game.

Once everyone in a game has played 18xx three or four times, expect to reduce the time to play by one fourth. This is not to say that a slow player will play faster, just that they would have played that much slower had they not had experience (and I suppose you should pick your players based on how much pondering you can tolerate).
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Peter Mumford
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Your first 'short' 18xx will probably be closer to five hours than three. By eurogame standards, all 18xx seems to be not just far too long, but they have overly complicated rulesets. Rules such as when a player can buy or sell how many shares of stock, what tile lays are legal, etc – it can be overwhelming. It also depends on your perspective. I have played both 18AL and 18GA with wargamers at the table, and they thought the games were short, simple and fun.

18XX is worth the effort if you want a deep economic game. 18XX gives a feeling of high-stakes brinksmanship that no other style of gaming has (that I know of). It seems to reward reckless and aggressive play. A player that comes close to bankruptcy at one point can often win later.

I think 18AL is a good way to start. I don't see the need to play the longer-winded 18XX titles (yet).

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Ron K
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BrenoK wrote:
Yeah, 18EZ might be a good one, in an all-18xx-newbie table. Of course, I'm just imagining this, since I haven't played it.


We'll have to see what the objective reviews tell us once 18EZ is released 'into the wild'.

Since many, many of the 18xx titles are very much based on the 1830 ruleset, I still think 1830 is a great place to start and plays fine for newbies as a fun learning experience if everyone agrees to not dump companies. Although we're still pushing 4-5 hours with newbies and under 3 with veterans.
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Daniel Corban
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The "short" versions take 5 hours? I ran a normal game of 1830 at a convention, despite never playing it myself and only one of the other 3 players had played it once. It took around 5 hours. If these supposedly short intro versions take that long, then what is the point? Wow!
 
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J C Lawrence
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Waylander1 wrote:
I've always looked at the 18xx games and thought they would be interesting to try, but I've always been scared off by the 300 minute game length. Playing 5 hour games is pretty tough these days.


Whatever (1830-branch) 18xx you choose (possible exception for Steam Over Holland and perhaps 18EZ) your first game is going to take at least 5 hours, and probably more. It is pretty close to exactly that simple.

Quote:
Are there any shorter versions of the game that would be worth trying?


Certainly, and I've written extensively on this area in other threads asking similar questions. The problem with the shorter games is that they also throw much of the baby out with the bathwater. They're shorter, yes, but they're also considerably less interesting and less expressive games. That all said, 1889 is an excellent teaching game, really quite amazingly brilliant. It doesn't have the best long-term play legs once the local players build up some skill, but it delivers a hell of a package up till then.
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J C Lawrence
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RaDiKal wrote:
Although we're still pushing 4-5 hours with newbies and under 3 with veterans.


That matches our experience here. Either way it is a nice after-dinner game that still gets you in bed in time for that morning work meeting.
 
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J C Lawrence
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dcorban wrote:
The "short" versions take 5 hours? I ran a normal game of 1830 at a convention, despite never playing it myself and only one of the other 3 players had played it once. It took around 5 hours. If these supposedly short intro versions take that long, then what is the point? Wow!


There is a massive difference between a game with all newbies and a game with at least one experienced player to both guide the newbies and to keep the trains coming out at a semi-reasonable pace. The difference can easily spell 2-3 hours by itself.

At yesterday's gamesday one of the guys we've been teaching the 18xx taught three other new players 1889. With experienced players 1889 is a comfortable 3 hour game, no problem and no rush at all. It took them, three newbies and one barely experienced player, a little under 6 hours. I wasn't surprised. The waffling was immense (as should be expected), companies floated slowly, and nobody pushed the trains. BOOM! There's an easy extra 2 hours right there.
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Joshua Gottesman
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I'm hoping to find some 18?? at the flea markets at WBC. Its been too long since I owned 1830, and that's the only one of these I've played (blame that on a 15 year gap in my gaming)
 
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Derek Dunn
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I'm fairly new to 18xx and have done a couple of things that are working for me:

1. Find a local gaming group where someone can walk you through your first game. I did that with 18GA and it was a huge help.

2. Join the 18xx Yahoo group. There are beginner play by email games that start up on a fairly regular basis. They are run by an experienced player, you can ask questions, you don't need to own anything (rulebook is usually available via softcopy), etc. I've learned a TON that way and can't wait to try another face-to-face game.

Also, good luck finding the smaller games. I second making an 18AL or 18GA game. It will be nice when 18EZ is out.

Derek
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Michael Schwerdtfeger
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BrenoK wrote:
1830 isn't that long. Last time I played it the game took 4.5 hours.


I guess it's all a matter of opinion. 4.5 is longer than just about everything I own except for Twilight Imperium III. And that gets to the table about once per decade.
 
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J C Lawrence
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BrenoK wrote:
4.5 hours really is long, for most games. Die Macher, for an example, is one of my favorite games, and in one year I only got to play it 4 times or so.

With 18xx, I've played it. It's quite unlike all other games we know, so we got pretty excited with it. Once we figured out our game reunions took a whole saturday afternoon, we just traded 3-4 matches of eurogames with one of 18xx and some 15 mins of post-game discussion ("I should've done this, should've done that", etc")


I set up an 18xx club that meets on Monday evenings. We start at about 18:30 and by social contract (some of us have day jobs and morning meetings) always finish by midnight. Sometimes we also play at the Tuesday evening game group. That group runs from 18:30 to 22:00, but that's plenty of time for an experienced table to fit in something like 18TN with room to spare. Sometimes a few of us get together at a friend's house and play a few games of a Sunday afternoon and evening. Last time it was two back-to-back games of 1830. A few weeks earlier it was 1832, 1846 and 18Mex. Last weekend was the local gamesday and we played 18Mex, 1889, 18TN and ran through the rules etc for 1826 (would have played 1826 too if we'd been a bit better organised).

Getting 18xx on the table can be hard, but if you make it important to you and dedicate the resources, it will happen and often. It is just a question of being willing to pay the prices and following through.
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