Recommend
10 
 Thumb up
 Hide
13 Posts

18AL» Forums » Sessions

Subject: Was my initial enthusiasm for 18XX real or just a shadow? rss

Your Tags: Add tags
Popular Tags: [View All]
Jesse Dean
United States
Orlando
Florida
flag msg tools
badge
Pound for pound, the amoeba is the most vicious predator on Earth!
Avatar
mbmbmb
After purchasing copies of 18AL and 18GA from Michael Webb last week, I was lucky enough to receive them by Saturday. This left me able to play them against my opponents during my regular Sunday game session. Normally my girlfriend, Minerva, doesn’t like to play with us Sunday because of the length of our sessions. However, because of how helpful I was with helping her paint our new apartment last week I was able to coax her into playing. She didn’t end up joining us for our later games (Brass and Race for the Galaxy), but she did play 18AL with us.

There were four of us: Adam, Bryan, Minerva, and myself. Bryan had played 1856 twice; I had played two games of 1856 and a game of Steam Over Holland. This was the first time playing an 18XX game for either Minerva or Adam.

The privates’ auction went in a pretty straightforward manner. Everyone ended up with their particular private for list price or 5 above the list price. Adam bought the New Decatur Shipyards, Bryan bought the Tuscumbia Railway and the Brown & Sons Lumber Company, Minerva bought the Memphis & Charleston RR, and I ended up with the South & North Alabama Railroad.

Minerva had first shot at forming a railroad, and she took the ABC (par value: 60), much to my great sadness. I followed with the WRA (par value 75; thinking it was in a good position to take advantage of the coal fields), Adam started the M&O (par value 60), and Bryan started the ATN (par value 60). The first stock round was pretty sedate. Everyone, except Bryan, had just enough to float their companies, and he chose not to invest his money quite yet.

Initial expansion followed fairly straightforward pattern. Adam and Bryan both built towards Meridian, Minerva built over Anniston with one connection towards Oxmoor and the other towards Rome. I built similarly, with one exit towards Oxmoor and the other towards Selma.

The game continued in a rather straightforward manner from there, I invested into Minerva’s ABC (eventually holding a 30% stake in the company), and she invested back into my WRA. Adam and Bryan invested into each other’s companies as well. Everyone bought trains at a pretty steady pace. I made a mistake in my train purchases, resulting in the WRA losing a round of income because I forgot to buy the last 3 train. Someone else bought it and in the same round the first 4 came out. I bought the second 4 instead.

About this time Minerva decided that she wanted to start the TAG at a par value of 90. She dropped her shares in WRA, but she did not have enough money to do so (I encouraged her to wait until the following stock round, but she chose to do it anyway.) This ended up working out for her, because she ended up in a good position during the following stock round to buy both 5 trains with it. With this realization in place, the investment money came pouring in and it ended up being fully bought out by the end of the stock round.

In the following two operating rounds both the ATN and the L&N began to withhold in order to prepare to buy the six train. This reduced both their income and the value of their shares. Something that I, as a shareholder in both companies, did not appreciate. As a result during the next stock round I sold off all the shares that I had in their companies and started the last remaining, unfloated company (the L&N) at a par value of 70. I had assumed that I was going to be floating the company on my own, but the shares began to be quickly gobbled up, and I quickly came to regret my initial par value choice. With how easily everyone was buying into the company, I should have set the par value at 105, and thus given the company enough money to buy the 6 train and to help fund a train for the WRA. As it was, I ended up with only a 40% share in the company, which was decent, but not quite what I wanted.

With the 6 train purchased, all the 3 trains rusted away, and we hit the beginning of the game’s (mild) train rush. Bryan bought the 7 for the L&N, giving each of the fours one more round to run. They did so, and the M&O, WRA, and the ABC each ran once with their 4 trains and then bought 4Ds from a combination of cash in the treasury and money from the individual’s pockets.

From there the game was mostly on auto-pilot. The last stock round resulted in all unheld shares being bought up. This was possible thanks to the M&O sitting in the yellow region of the board, and thus available to anyone who wished to purchase it, regardless of share limit.

Going into the final set of operating round, it seemed like Minerva was on a fast track to win thanks to her majority shareholding in the two companies with the largest income. Because of this, Adam placed a couple of the M&O’s tokens to try to block Minerva’s shipping options. This slowed her down, but it was not clear if it would be enough.

When the bank broke and we counted cash, the scores were:
Adam: 2906
Minerva: 2822
Bryan: 2612
Jesse: 2456

So we were all fairly close before stocks were counted. I don’t have the exact values for stock values and relative holdings, but their relative values were: WRA, ABC, TAG, L&N, ATN, M&O. Adam was fairly certain that Minerva had won, because his cash difference was unlikely to make up for her more valuable stock. I agreed. Minerva had no comment, because once we started just calculating cash for the end runs, she left the room to go return a call to one of her friends. The final order left us all surprised however:


Minerva: 4877
Jesse: 4609
Adam: 4459
Bryan: 4297

So it was fairly close. I can identify a number of items that probably cost me the victory. Namely, failing to get a 3 train when I could and not setting the par value for the L&N high enough, but overall the experience was a bit dull for me compared to the previous 18XX games I played. Maybe it was because of the fact that I wasn’t playing with the sharks that were in my previous games of 1856, but this game lacked both some of the tension and some of the great moves and swindles that went down when were playing 1856. I am not ready to dismiss to 18AL yet, but it is such that I am wondering how much I am going to want to play this game, and has even caused me to doubt my previous experiences with 1856 a little bit. Was my enthusiasm over the 18XX system actually due to how good it is, or is it because of the fact that it was new to me? I am hoping for the former, but fear the latter.

3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
A Derk appears from the mists...
United States
Portland
Oregon
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
I've found 18AL to be quite brutal most of the time.

One of the things that I notice about your session report: you're holding more than 10% of each other's companies. This means that you're "running" the companies well. This will make the game rather lackluster. If you have two companies and a good position to the priority card, you can really savage someone. Consolidate all the bad trains into a single company, and dump said company penniless onto someone. Assuming that someone owns at least 20% of your company. Without this pressure, you might find the game a bit lackluster...
7 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Jesse Dean
United States
Orlando
Florida
flag msg tools
badge
Pound for pound, the amoeba is the most vicious predator on Earth!
Avatar
mbmbmb
Yeah, I was in a reasonable position to do this at one point, but I didn't because I was uncertain if it would really benefit me more than just running the company "well."

Company drops certainly occured in each of my other three plays of 18XX. Two of them happened because of me. I will just write this game off as a fluke for now.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
United States
Plainwell
Michigan
flag msg tools
Mi cabasa esta muy verde
badge
Et in Vantasia ego
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
I think I see your problem. You bought the games from Michael Webb. He has bad, bad, bad train game mojo ha!

He has hosed me, in the exact same manner mind you (unloading a useless company on me) 3x in a row including in 18AL.

So... while I have not yet learned the timing of 18AL or 18xx in general I think you just have to keep on trying

At least that is what I am doing...

3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Jesse Dean
United States
Orlando
Florida
flag msg tools
badge
Pound for pound, the amoeba is the most vicious predator on Earth!
Avatar
mbmbmb
Oh, I unload companies most of the time. Its just in this game I did not, and it seemed that because of the lack of all the shennanigans of 1856, that the game was less fun. Maybe because I was less on the edge of my seat about how people might screw me over or planning on how I was going to screw everyone else.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
United States
Plainwell
Michigan
flag msg tools
Mi cabasa esta muy verde
badge
Et in Vantasia ego
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
doubtofbuddha wrote:
Oh, I unload companies most of the time. Its just in this game I did not, and it seemed that because of the lack of all the shennanigans of 1856, that the game was less fun. Maybe because I was less on the edge of my seat about how people might screw me over or planning on how I was going to screw everyone else.


...hmm.... karma issues perhaps then?
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Jesse Dean
United States
Orlando
Florida
flag msg tools
badge
Pound for pound, the amoeba is the most vicious predator on Earth!
Avatar
mbmbmb
Indeed. I admit that a lot of the source of "trouble" in previous sessions was me and the paranoia of some of the more sophisticated players as to what I would do to them. In this game I was trying to introduce 18XX to my girlfriend. I wanted her to like it, as she is naturally skeptical of "train games" as she calls them. It only worked marginally, because a) she still is kind of indifferent towards it and b) she was the only one at the table truly paranoid about potential shennanigans from me, and divested herself from the WRA pretty early. She did invest into the L&N, but she had only a small chance of being negatively impacted by L&N activity on my part because she sat to my right, and there were other people between us whom had more shares.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
United States
Plainwell
Michigan
flag msg tools
Mi cabasa esta muy verde
badge
Et in Vantasia ego
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
It just occurred to me that perhaps 18AL is like a walking shadow, full of sound and fury...

Signifying, nothing...




Sounds to me like you are made of stern 18xx stuff.

PS, please tell Minerva I would very much appreciate any tips she has for me, to avoid being train kill at my next 18xx session...

el Van
3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
J C Lawrence
United States
Campbell
California
flag msg tools
designer
badge
Avatar
vandemonium wrote:
PS, please tell Minerva I would very much appreciate any tips she has for me, to avoid being train kill at my next 18xx session...


Don't buy too many trains of any rank (unless they're permanent).

Plan out from the start of the game which trains you want in your companies and when. Do you expect to have a 3+4, 3+5, 5+4, what? What's your exit path and what's your funding path?
6 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
United States
Plainwell
Michigan
flag msg tools
Mi cabasa esta muy verde
badge
Et in Vantasia ego
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
clearclaw wrote:
vandemonium wrote:
PS, please tell Minerva I would very much appreciate any tips she has for me, to avoid being train kill at my next 18xx session...


Don't buy too many trains of any rank (unless they're permanent).

Plan out from the start of the game which trains you want in your companies and when. Do you expect to have a 3+4, 3+5, 5+4, what? What's your exit path and what's your funding path?


Thanks JC! Those are great. Sadly, I tend to be much more spontaneous in gaming, I have a hard time with that level of fore thought, but I agree in 18xx it is important to try and achieve.

Actually one of the most important things, at least for me, is not to sit to the left of Webb... and to remember that priority deal should be a, um, *priority*

3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Michael Webb
United States
Western Mitten
flag msg tools
designer
badge
GET A SILK BAG FROM THE GRAVEYARD DUCK TO LIVE LONGER.
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
There's no reason why the tension in 18AL should be any different than 1856. There are a number of ways to savagely destroy a company, loot its finances, and shuffle its trains over to other companies prior to dumping it on some unfortunate victim. I think your problem is that you were simply playing with a less cut-throat group and seemed reluctant to use those kinds of tactics yourself. As Van notes, it's very easy to pull off these kinds of tricks if you keep track of your position relative to your would-be victim in the coming stock round.
5 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Guy Riessen
United States
Sebastopol
California
flag msg tools
designer
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmb
18xx is mainly tense and fun when played with truly vicious and cut-throat players, and when played like that, I have yet to find a game that can match it. 18AL is great because it has all the opportunity for all the cruel and unusual punishment, but it's playable in MUCH less time than a game like 1856. It should be like playing in a pressure cooker because the game is quicker and there is less room for error.

I find 18xx to be far more confrontational, and personal than wargames--this is the brilliance of the design--but it's not something that every group will enjoy, and if players shy away from that style of confrontation, it will dampen the thrill of the game for everyone.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Front Page | Welcome | Contact | Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Advertise | Support BGG | Feeds RSS
Geekdo, BoardGameGeek, the Geekdo logo, and the BoardGameGeek logo are trademarks of BoardGameGeek, LLC.