Recommend
25 
 Thumb up
 Hide
70 Posts
1 , 2 , 3  Next »   | 

18EZ» Forums » Reviews

Subject: Level 2 - Was not a success. rss

Your Tags: Add tags
Popular Tags: 18xx [+] [View All]
Morgan Dontanville
United States
Charlottesville
VA
flag msg tools
designer
publisher
Plate of Shrimp.
badge
Here we are folks, the dream we all dream of.
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
This Labor Day I was able to get 18EZ on to the table. I had known about this project for quite some time and had been looking forward to trying it out. Much like the ever elusive refined and compacted Civilization game, there is a perpetual grail quest to find the perfect intro 18xx game. The concept of this project is quite appealing for the hardened vet like me looking for a tool to indoctrinate the uninitiated into this system. More importantly, to the unwashed masses the whole line is confusing and overwhelming and those who are interested just need affirmation that they are making the right choice by starting here -- a chink in the obelisk. With heavy heart, and I'm reluctant to admit it, I believe that this game fails.

I figured that the best way to try this game out would be with a healthy mix of newbies and vets. I asked my wife, Alice, to join. She had looked over my shoulder on many an 18xx game, but viewed the whole thing as far too overwhelming. She plays mostly light and mid-weight Euros, but she's ventured out into some heavy hitters. Another friend of mine, Chris, was curious about this game only because of my general love of the system. He is your typical Brick and Mortar gamer that got into boardgames from RPGs and is interested in games because of theme first. The last joiner, Dan, is actually the person that first introduced me to the system with 1830 years ago. He is an infrequent 18xx player, but has played for years.

I boned up on the rules first. I found them nicely laid out and the style clear, welcoming, and to the point. It seems like they lifted the style from the "For Dummies" books (which is good). The game can be played with three different rule sets. The different tiers are intended to allow for easier consumption of the rules and thus make it easier to get into the system. The first tier is rail building only. Everyone starts with a company. The company is yours. Every round is an operating round. You may build track, buy trains and button stations. You do this until one person has the 5 train and a certain amount of money (I can't remember the value off-hand). I think that this is a decent way to get Empire Builder folks into the fray, but honestly I feel that this tears the heart out of the game and seems like it would be flat and boring (as demonstrated by 1961 that has a fascinating minor merging system and intriguing track and terrain, but with a hobbled processional stock market that ultimately makes the game D-U-L-L). I see where they are going with this, but I just didn't see the point in playing it. My feeling was that if we were going to play thing I'd rather be playing Steam or Empire Builder. So, in the interest of giving the two newbies a taste of the system I jumped into Tier 2.

Tier 2 ramps up the system into a basic ultra simplified version of 1830. For those that have played 18xx games before here's a quick bullet point list of elements that define the game play:

Set Up:
* No Minors or Privates
* Starting money differs according to # of players. Companies float at 50% (fully capitalized). The more players, the more restrictive the opening par value is (50-100 available):
2 Players; $600 - Able to open one company at Par Value 100 and still buy another $100 Share.
3 Players; $400 - Maximum par value 80 in order to float.
4 Players; $300 - Maximum par value 60 in order to float.
8 Players; $240 - Cannot float a company in the first stock round.
9 Players; $200 - Cannot float a company in the first stock round.

Market:
* 2D stock market
* Stock drops one per share sold
* Market has par values, upgrades at a flat $10 increment but does not have Brown or Yellow certificate limit modifiers.
* Only 6 companies are available.

ORs:
* Only one tile may be built or upgraded for each OR.
* Only three Station Markers are available Free (1st/Required)/ $40 / $100.
* No terrain and thereby no terrain cost.
* Small towns count as cities against train # (may upgrade $10 value in the russet) and may never upgrade to a city.
* Off-board locations all upgrade equally at $10 increase with each Phase.
* No grays in Tier 2.
* Cities upgrade to 2 station towns in Green, only Gray tiles offer size 3 cities.
* Only simple angled merger tiles available (18EU). No spaghetti.
* Only one of each Russet Tile.

I'm going to cut straight to the chase and say why I think that this game fails. Honestly, if I only had one or two gripes I'd be able to let some of it slide, but as you will see there is a long list of problems.

I know the system in and out, and it took me a while to explain the rules. There is still a big overhead to this. For the effort that I made explaining the rules to this version, I could have very easily explained 1830 and we could have been off and running playing a far better game. I will say that someone trying to pick up the rulebook to learn this compared to 1830 would have an easier time, but that is only because of the rules layout. Were 1830 laid out the in a similar, updated fashion it would be as digestible.

I'm going to get my visual beef out of the way first, as it is slight in comparison to the real problems of the game. There were significant attempts to make all the information available to the players. Clearly they were taking a tip for the venerable Redmond A. Simonsen, attempting to put everything on the board. That said, I was a little surprised to find that I had to frequently look little things up. Very simple additions could have been made.

Company Charters could have had more information on them (the train limit, the number of tiles you can lay in an OR, the maximum # of stocks that you can own of a single corporation). There was a chart on the board for train limits, but as this is the EZ version, it should be on the charters as well.

The Stock limit was nowhere to be found (It was in the very back of the rulebook so if you are playing Tier 2 you have to look in Tier 3), it should be on the stock market board. The turn order text on the board was hard to read. The bank space should have said that no more than 50% of a company may be in the bank.

More importantly, because this is an EZ version it should have the breakdown of what it takes for a corporation to float somewhere on the charters. You had to remember that you needed 50% to float, but as par values are fixed there should have been a numeric breakdown (eg. Par 70 - Floats at $350 Company earns $700). I know it is easy math, but it should be there because, well, this is the EZ version.

Also, Alice thought the font and name felt condescending.

On to the real problems. In order to make things simpler, they have limited everything. I understand the concept that if you give people less to think about then it is easier to grog, but the intention of this game is to easily demonstrate what is fun about the system rather than showing off how tedious it all can be. In their effort to reduce everything into the smallest number of moving parts you as a player miss out on many of the shenanigans and as clever play becomes more and more prohibited the game begins to run on rails (pardon).

One of the key elements that really makes this system really individual from other games is the fact that you are not the company and that you can play two or more different companies. While these companies may or may not exchange hands between players, you want that to be there. There are only 6 companies in the game. With four or more players people are going to be left out of this part of the game. Because this is an intro game, I can't help but feel that there should be enough companies available for multiple players to experience the game to its fullest. In other games within the system, when you only run one company, there is another stock game to play, but it can far less interesting if you don't understand the nuances. In addition, with only 6 companies and without the Brown and Yellow on the Market board the market calcifies about 2/3rds of the way through the game so there is no market to play.

A big gripe that I have, especially as this is an intro game, is that the game develops way too slowly. You can either lay one piece of track per turn or upgrade one track per turn, so there track building takes a while and once you can upgrade tiles, you will just spend your time to make your current run more valuable more than spreading out to new areas. Once routes are on the board there isn't much incentive to modify it. It just takes too long to get to certain places on the map.

The towns are prohibitive to real income (they make 10 and eventually 20), so they may as well be impassable terrain. It would be more interesting if there was ever some incentive to build through towns, but you are encouraged to skip them and to make matters worse you can easily avoid them. Now, historically, station markers limit routes, but players only start with two optional markers so once those are out there really isn't much that a company can do that is all that interesting during an operating round. You end up throwing them in key spots early on, because if not you just get squeezed out. There may be good use for them later in the game, but if you have them late, it is usually because you didn't get yours in where you should have. Because you build so slow, there aren't enough routes to justify any more stations, but once they are gone it gets really boring. If there were more builds, per OR, then it would justify more buttoning, this would ensure something close to a decision to make mid to late game. Occasionally, you will buy a train and you route will change slightly , but for the most part you just modify your preexisting route to be more valuable over and over again. The most exciting thing in this game in particular is the collusion between two companies, using one to build for the other. I saw right off the bat that it was going to be the only way to get things done. So I worked with another player then started a new company just to build my other company up (and train shenanigans). But, that is me trying to look for joy.

In many of these games terrain or map layout pushes people to make more interesting builds. The game operates on a even, balanced Superhex. So the map doesn't yield any pleasure, and for people that like a sense of place, there is none.

I thought it strange that no one used a hard curve in the game. There was never a time where you needed to.

To match the lack of tension in the builds there was little tension in the stocks. Everything ran smoothly, but there was no edge. Everyone started at such a low par value that trashing stocks couldn't really effect the game all that much. All the good corporations were bought up early. The big decision throughout the game was to buy from the IPO to make a profit selling to the bank or to keep it. So there was a little game of chicken, but for the most part it was better to have good stocks, so if you couldn't turn it around for a profit it was far from a loss. Why not just get the good stuff cheap. There was little incentive to ever sell good stock. Usually you want to run a penny stock company to funnel money and trains into your good company, but as its stocks counted for you paper limit, it was almost a bad idea to run two companies. So my wife who just payed out every turn over and over again, making obvious upgrades killed. I tried to play for a long game, extort a bunch of money and dump a rusting train on someone, but then I realized that there was going to be nothing worthwhile to buy with my free space. Rather this is a game where you just try to run good companies. That actually hurt me by thinking that the game allowed for it. Dan, who could never get his shenanigans coordinated between his two companies realized it as well, found favor by not trashing one of his companies yet, and just ran two middling earning companies, steadily climbing the chart. In the end he and my wife had the best portfolio and won.

Alice and Chris liked the concept of the game. They liked the first half, but once they ran out of things to do they were pretty bored, and I don't blame them. Despite what the box says this isn't a short game. We weren't playing quickly, but still, there just wasn't enough game to justify the length.

At the end of the game I was apologetic. Dan was trying to convince the two of them, that other games in the series are really fun. We both were hoping that we didn't ruin the chance that either of them might not play again. We pulled out other games in the series showing how they are fun. Even if there were a way to manipulate the system to be a short example of how a real 18xx game is supposed to run, it is a bit of a wasted buy as there just isn't enough here for longtime players to enjoy. Once players have learned the game through this, then I just don't see any rewards from playing it again.

The reality is that Alice and Chris might not have played this had they not thought that they could slip into the system easily with this "intro" game. So they actually were glad, but they both gave it an F.

I fear that this game poses a real danger to the line. People will buy it, try it, and see how much the system fails to be fun. Ack.

The next day I received this:

Dan:
Definitely had a fun time gaming yesterday, even though the game itself was a bit of an awkward dog.

Ironically, I think that 18EZ probably would do more to turn new players OFF to the 18xx system than it would do to turn players ON to the system... Mid-game and late-game stock fiddling/shenanigans, which is totally lacking in EZ, is a large part of the 18xx fun and one of the only "comeback mechanisms", wouldn't you agree?


My wife still wonders if the game had been tested with 4 players. She swears the bank is way too big. I agree with her.
18 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Alan Goodrich
United States
New York
New York
flag msg tools
Why can't more games have a handicapping mechanism?
badge
Becoming immortal!
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
I agree with most of what you say. We played through two games at Level 2 (we played the first one incorrectly on a few points) with two, and had all the problems you mention, but exacerbated, as there were only two. With two, I can't see how the stock market is of ANY interest at all. Even if there are shares to be bought in the open market, it is unlikely you can do so because of the ownership limits. The best you can do is sell your stock, then buy it back again next round and get the price moving higher again. We found it really boring, stagnant, and LONG for the limited amount of choices given. My partner has no desire to play Level 3, and I must concur. We're holding out for one of the few 18xxers good with 2 - either the 1860 reprint or 1825 Unit 2.
3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Thom Barchet
United States
Boston
Massachusetts
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
cayluster wrote:
I agree with most of what you say. We played through two games at Level 2 (we played the first one incorrectly on a few points) with two, and had all the problems you mention, but exacerbated, as there were only two. With two, I can't see how the stock market is of ANY interest at all. Even if there are shares to be bought in the open market, it is unlikely you can do so because of the ownership limits. The best you can do is sell your stock, then buy it back again next round and get the price moving higher again. We found it really boring, stagnant, and LONG for the limited amount of choices given. My partner has no desire to play Level 3, and I must concur. We're holding out for one of the few 18xxers good with 2 - either the 1860 reprint or 1825 Unit 2.

See clearclaw's comments.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Steve Zamborsky
United States
Chicago
Illinois
flag msg tools
designer
badge
"Ah, Denny, I've hardly seen you this episode."
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
This is unfortunate. From this review (and others' comments), it seems as though this isn't the intro 18XX that I've been looking for after all and has fallen off of my radar.
7 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Scott Petersen
United States
St. Louis Park
Minnesota
flag msg tools
designer
badge
Avatar
mbmbmb
Zambo wrote:
This is unfortunate. From this review (and others' comments), it seems as though this isn't the intro 18XX that I've been looking for after all and has fallen off of my radar.

Just curious, what type of intro game are you looking for? I see that you already have 18FL.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
A Derk appears from the mists...
United States
Portland
Oregon
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
scottredracecar wrote:
Just curious, what type of intro game are you looking for? I see that you already have 18FL.


Morg's an 18xx whore. ninja

The tricky part about being an 18xx fan, is how difficult it is to make a new 18xx player. My current method is to use Steam over Holland to lay out the basics, and then try for 18AL or 18GA to give them a bit more background. Even then, there's a whole bunch of 'tricks' to learn when you're playing 18xx.

For instance, I had a game with two guys, it was their third. We were playing 1889 (which is very solid). The initial cash was extremely tight, so tight that it was very apparent that you couldn't float a company and own more than one private. They kept passing, saving their money to float a company on the first turn. I bought the lion's share of the privates (I learned this lesson from Morgan myself), and proceeded to walk over them. In fairly short order, I sold my interests in their companies, floated my own company at a higher par, took advantage of my privates to funnel money back into my pockets, started my railroad with more advanced infrastructure courtesy of my opponents.

But I think my very long answer is why we're all constantly seeking the perfect intro game. Because anything you can do to cut down on the learning curve for 18xx is a good thing, because it's exceptionally steep...
8 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Eric Jome
United States
Franklin
Wisconsin
flag msg tools
designer
badge
Avatar
mb
Well, this makes two damning reviews from two elite players, which is likely to doom this game. That's a shame... I don't really find it nearly as bad as these reviews make it appear.

I wonder if it is impossible for the veteran 18xx player to like and appreciate an introductory 18xx experience? It would certainly seem like that is the case from these negative reviews... I can almost see it in my own experience. After playing 1835, I've found almost all the others I've tried very boring and basic, with little strategic complexity and challenge offered in 1835... and yet, I liked my experience with 18EZ. And I find that everyone else who likes 18xx apparently hates 1835 for some reason.

18EZ is basic. The things you are looking for - tile laying and stock manipulating shenanigans - these are a major turn off for new players who are serious competitors. I know this because these are my fellow gamers. They have only one mental strategy setting, "Professional Assassin and Strategy Master"... they play for keeps all the time on maximum. If I showed them a game and late into it I dumped their stock and ruined their position, they'd never play again with me and consider the game totally broken because one player can trivially sabotage another so seriously.

So, an intro game, a basic game, it has to be... you know, basic. It can't have shenanigans. It can't have complex strategy switchbacks. And if those are the things that people love in 18xx, maybe there is no market for a mythical "intro" game here. Either you play the real deal or you don't.

My guess is, that's the only way to make an 18xx game and get good reviews and satisfy the only kind of players that exist - veterans.
12 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Eric Jome
United States
Franklin
Wisconsin
flag msg tools
designer
badge
Avatar
mb
derk wrote:
But I think my very long answer is why we're all constantly seeking the perfect intro game. Because anything you can do to cut down on the learning curve for 18xx is a good thing, because it's exceptionally steep...


My theory, freshly developed, is that you can't. It's impossible. Better to bite the bullet and take on a full game full on...

You know what I do to get people to like 18xx? I show them Empire Builder. When they find that boring, I show them Age of Steam. When they find that boring, I show them 1856. That's it... the introduction to 18xx is just wanting to play serious strategy games about trains. Learning the rules? Why? They are radically different from game to game! 1835 plays nothing like 1856 plays nothing like 1870...

It's an illusion that there is an 18xx group to which you can be introduced. There is only a collection of games with similar names - one is like another only like Race For The Galaxy is like San Juan or Dominion is like Arctic Scavengers.
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
United States
White Settlement
TX
flag msg tools
Only 6 months until the next round.
badge
A little lower and to the left, please.
Avatar
cosine wrote:
And I find that everyone else who likes 18xx apparently hates 1835 for some reason.

I'm a fan of 1835 myself. I don't know why it takes such a beating.
4 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Morgan Dontanville
United States
Charlottesville
VA
flag msg tools
designer
publisher
Plate of Shrimp.
badge
Here we are folks, the dream we all dream of.
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
cosine wrote:

I wonder if it is impossible for the veteran 18xx player to like and appreciate an introductory 18xx experience?


Good question, but both of the newbies were let down by it as well. They were both really into it in the beginning of the game, but soon there wasn't anything interesting to do and the game continued to play on. I think a well tuned introductory experience should have a smaller bank so that you get the train rush, time enough to recover, then the end. They felt that 2/3rds of the way through the game, there were no real decisions available.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
J C Lawrence
United States
Campbell
California
flag msg tools
designer
badge
Avatar
cosine wrote:
It can't have shenanigans. It can't have complex strategy switchbacks.


The 18xx are nothing but shenanigans and complex switchbacks. As games all about the management of capital, they are the boardgaming examples of the complex derivatives and leveraged structures that brought down Lehman Brothers. If you take out the shenanigans and switchbacks from the (1830-style) 18xx...there's nothing else left.

cosine wrote:
Learning the rules? Why? They are radically different from game to game! 1835 plays nothing like 1856 plays nothing like 1870...


Not true, not really. The same capital management lessons that are the heart and soul of 1830 carry over into all the other 1830-style 18xx, 1835, 1856, and 1870 included. The rules-changes are negligible compared to the common (intellectual) base.

We played 6-player 1856 on Monday evening. I hadn't played 1856 in 5+ years and had damn near forgotten all the specifics about the game. We had to start with a rules-refresher for all but one player. What did we refresh with? These are the differences from 1830... I made several crippling mistakes regarding game-specifics, but solid (and oddly enough, conservative) play built on the basics of so many other 1830-style games kept me in contention for the win.

Quote:
It's an illusion that there is an 18xx group to which you can be introduced.


Not all all. Rather I see all the 18xx as variant expressions of the same ur-game.
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Eric Jome
United States
Franklin
Wisconsin
flag msg tools
designer
badge
Avatar
mb
clearclaw wrote:
The 18xx are nothing but shenanigans and complex switchbacks.


We agree then. That's why I say that perhaps this game isn't receiving a positive endorsement - the ideas of "introductory game" and "18xx" are mutually incompatible. There can be no introductory game of 18xx because the very idea of 18xx is contrary to simple, easy to learn, easy to play games.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
J C Lawrence
United States
Campbell
California
flag msg tools
designer
badge
Avatar
derk wrote:
But I think my very long answer is why we're all constantly seeking the perfect intro game. Because anything you can do to cut down on the learning curve for 18xx is a good thing, because it's exceptionally steep...


Which learning curve? The learning curve of learning the rules and how the basic mechanisms fit together? Or the learning curve of also playing well? The two are different. Learning the rules well enough to internalise them is easy enough and can be done in ~45 minutes with even a mediocre teacher. Learning how to then play well is another matter, and may take years.

cosine wrote:
We agree then. That's why I say that perhaps this game isn't receiving a positive endorsement - the ideas of "introductory game" and "18xx" are mutually incompatible. There can be no introductory game of 18xx because the very idea of 18xx is contrary to simple, easy to learn, easy to play games.


I only partly agree. I think 1889 and 1830 are in fact simple and easy to learn and easy to play games. In fact I'd say Puerto Rico and Agricola and Power Grid (to name just a few) are in fact considerably more complex and difficult games than 1889 and 1830. The difference is that 1889 and 1830 are not so easy to play well. There is (almost) always something a player can do to turn the game on its ear in attempt to recover their position -- they are enormously facile systems that reward creativity and inventiveness. And that simple facility and fecundity also makes them games with long learning curves, games which take a considerable commitment to play well.
6 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Chris Shaffer
United States
San Francisco
CA
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
sisteray wrote:
My feeling was that if we were going to play thing I'd rather be playing Steam or Empire Builder (which as everyone here will agree are brilliant, and intriguing).


Everyone would be quite an overstatement. I personally don't like Steam much at all. I also think Empire Builder has not weathered well - it was very interesting back in the early 90s, but game development has improved so much since then. If it were released new today, I'd not buy it.
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Jack Neal
United States
Liverpool
New York
flag msg tools
designer
badge
Avatar
mbmbmb
cosine wrote:

We agree then. That's why I say that perhaps this game isn't receiving a positive endorsement - the ideas of "introductory game" and "18xx" are mutually incompatible. There can be no introductory game of 18xx because the very idea of 18xx is contrary to simple, easy to learn, easy to play games.


Maybe its a matter of which switchbacks were left in place. There can be plenty of room for shenanigans in any game system. Symmetrical map almost by definition destroys one whole class of complexity. A symmetrical stock market almost my definition again destroys one whole class of complexity, too. (If you asked me what I would have done, I have no clue as I wouldn't have thought you could have even made an 18EZ).

The two areas left out were done so to make it easier to learn, but at a pretty steep cost. However, I have to ask:


What's left?


 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
jim b
United States
Berkeley
California
flag msg tools
Avatar
TheCat wrote:
sisteray wrote:
My feeling was that if we were going to play thing I'd rather be playing Steam or Empire Builder (which as everyone here will agree are brilliant, and intriguing).

Everyone would be quite an overstatement. I personally don't like Steam much at all. I also think Empire Builder has not weathered well - it was very interesting back in the early 90s, but game development has improved so much since then. If it were released new today, I'd not buy it.

I don't like EmpireBuilder either, and I doubt most 18xx players think Steam is 'brilliant and intriguing', even if some play it.

Around here - if someone says 'everyone will agree', I think we can safely assume their tongue is firmly in cheek.

2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Morgan Dontanville
United States
Charlottesville
VA
flag msg tools
designer
publisher
Plate of Shrimp.
badge
Here we are folks, the dream we all dream of.
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
TheCat wrote:
sisteray wrote:
My feeling was that if we were going to play thing I'd rather be playing Steam or Empire Builder (which as everyone here will agree are brilliant, and intriguing).


Everyone would be quite an overstatement. I personally don't like Steam much at all. I also think Empire Builder has not weathered well - it was very interesting back in the early 90s, but game development has improved so much since then. If it were released new today, I'd not buy it.


Oops! This was originally written for an small audience that agree with this. I'll take that out. Thanks.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
J C Lawrence
United States
Campbell
California
flag msg tools
designer
badge
Avatar
BrenoK wrote:
18EZ was clearly made for people that have not only never played 18xx before, but also do not know anybody to teach them the game.


While I agree, I wonder if that is in fact useful? Are 1889's and 1830's so impenetrable that new players simply can't succeed at learning them? (That wasn't my impression)

Quote:
I've had no trouble teaching 18xx with "normal" games, heck, even some mid-range games (as far as complexity goes).


I have a similar experience. We had a 3-player teaching table with two newbies playing 1889 on Monday. One of the newbies decided that the 18xx are just too much for him, too many layers, too many moving parts, too confusing. The other newbie lit up like a christmas tree and came over mid-game to ask me if he should have done the classic mid-game realise-gains-and-start-two-high-par-companies move (which BTW would likely have won him the game). I expect we'll be seeing a lot more of him around our 18xx tables.

At a broader level I wonder if what we're really looking at is just a cognitive disjoint around accessibility. Euro-style games have taught many that modern games are not only easy to learn, but also easy to play to a reasonable level of competence. Sure, they reward skill, but the effort and ability required to play competently enough to make a credible showing is pretty low. Conversely the 18xx don't do that. The rules are simple enough. A reasonable teacher can teach the rules and cover everything, including the corner cases, in 30 minutes without any rush. However the barriers to even moderately competent play are much larger and take most players considerably longer and far more effort to attain even a fumbling level of ability to play poorly.

Going back to the 1889 and 1830 rules I think the problem may not be that the rules are poor, that they are indigestible, and in fact I'm pretty sure they're not, but rather that the game is open-ended, does not hand-hold, does not provide even reasonably obvious choices, an doesn't even make basic predictions around what will happen in the next round easy. A new player, or even a player with a game or two under their belt, simply doesn't know wht to expect. They are a cork tossed at sea. Now that quality, as an expression of facility and expressiveness and fecundity, is a lot of what makes the 18xx great games, and I'm not surprised that many new players find that daunting, daunting enough perhaps to often want to choose other games.
3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Andrew Nichols
United States
Houston
Texas
flag msg tools
Avatar
clearclaw wrote:

While I agree, I wonder if that is in fact useful? Are 1889's and 1830's so impenetrable that new players simply can't succeed at learning them? (That wasn't my impression)


I know this isn't true (at least in the strong form "can't") because I learned 18xx from the 1870 rulebook without any guide whatsoever. There were certainly some stumbling blocks (the rulebook never specifies what it means to set a par value, just that the president sets it) and some mistakes (we played for a while thinking that track could not be directed to a blank side of another tile) but it worked, I learned the game, and I enjoyed the game.

It certainly wasn't an ideal experience, but it wasn't an impossible one.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
J C Lawrence
United States
Campbell
California
flag msg tools
designer
badge
Avatar
Aye, the connection between what-players-do and how-players-win is tenuous at best for new players.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
jim b
United States
Berkeley
California
flag msg tools
Avatar
clearclaw wrote:
While I agree, I wonder if that is in fact useful? Are 1889's and 1830's so impenetrable that new players simply can't succeed at learning them? (That wasn't my impression)

I'm sorry, but imho you guys really, really just don't get it - those games are not for sale. Which part of 'not for sale' doesn't penetrate all the frakkin genius cerebral cortexes around here?

Waiting 18 months at DTG for 1889 may be worth it, but it's just not a defensible introduction to 18xx.

JC, you quite often recommend specific introductory/small 18xx titles that are flatly unavailable, over 18xx titles that are actually for sale.

Imho it's a waste of bandwidth, and completely confuses the issue of what people should choose among the choices that are available.
5 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
jim b
United States
Berkeley
California
flag msg tools
Avatar
Imho, there should be a law -

-> don't recommend 1860 Isle of Wight, unless you can give someone a clue how to get a hold of it.

-> don't recommend 1830 or 1889 to completely new players, unless you can give them a clue how to get a hold of within a few months, for around $50.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
J C Lawrence
United States
Campbell
California
flag msg tools
designer
badge
Avatar
jimb wrote:
I'm sorry, but imho you guys really, really just don't get it - those games are not for sale. Which part of 'not for sale' doesn't penetrate all the frakkin genius cerebral cortexes around here?


At the simplest level, that's not my problem. Perhaps even more simply, that's not the problem being discussed (or at least not the problem I'm discussing). I'm interested in the learning curve, and what games fit and aid that learning curve and why. Whether those games are available or not is rather beside my point and has the additional benefit of being quite malleable. I understand that a player looking to enter the field wants the current intersection between availability and suitability, but I'm far less interested in that as once a suitable on-ramp is identified, motions can be made toward making that on-ramp available.

Quote:
JC, you quite often recommend specific introductory/small 18xx titles that are flatly unavailable, over 18xx titles that are actually for sale.


Yep!

Quote:
Imho it's a waste of bandwidth, and completely confuses the issue of what people should choose among the choices that are available.


And if there are no good choices among those more available games?
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
J C Lawrence
United States
Campbell
California
flag msg tools
designer
badge
Avatar
jimb wrote:
-> don't recommend 1830 or 1889 to completely new players, unless you can give them a clue how to get a hold of within a few months, for around $50.


Any player who expects to acquire (ready-to-play) 18xx games for less than $70ea is going to be disappointed and should probably not be playing the 18xx. The DTG games run about $70ea in RTP form. Most of the other publishers are north of $100ea. Only Mayfair's massively dumped 1856 and 1870 are available more cheaply (and that mostly has to do with the fact that they simply shovelled them out of their warehouse en masse after they'd been clogging the pipelines for 15 years).
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Jack Neal
United States
Liverpool
New York
flag msg tools
designer
badge
Avatar
mbmbmb
clearclaw wrote:

And if there are no good choices among those more available games?


Then you purchase 18EZ.
4 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
1 , 2 , 3  Next »   | 
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.