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Subject: Dave's Review of 18NEB rss

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David Aber
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18NEB is one of the 18xx games. Overall, it is one of the shorter 18xx games, and should be playable in 2-3 hours by people familiar with the rules. I believe the game is best with either three or four players.



Rules and game play:

The rules are similar to the other 18xx games in existence. If you’ve ever played one of these games, 18NEB should be easy for you to pick up and play. The game features x+n trains, and uses the "simple tiles" that make route planning and building easier. You are also awarded a bonus for running from the east side of the board to the west.

The major difference is in tile promotion - essentially, all cities start as 10 dollar "whistle stops" and then upgrade to one hole (space for one station marker) cities with the green tiles, then two hole cities with the brown tiles. What this does is make upgrading city tiles one of the more strategic aspects of the game, as upgrading to green increases the number of full stop cities on an east to west run (and possibly making it too long for the current trains that you -- or your competitors -- have). You can also use the upgrade to drop a token, effectively blocking a whole route from the completion.

Another difference is in the presence of two local, 5-share companies. These are available for purchase later in the game, and can purchase, own, and operate any one rusted train. They can discard this train after running trains to be able to purchase another rusted train, although they can not use any emergency funding for the train purchase.

The other big difference is that corporations start via partial funding (similar to starting companies in 1856: Railroading in Upper Canada from 1856, although without any destination requirements). I like this, as it will let everyone start a company if they should choose to do so, which keeps people more involved in the game, as opposed to being possibly forced to be a passive investor for the first several operating rounds.

The game overall is more of an operational game (maneuvers on the board are more important), rather than a financial game (ala 1841 or 1830).

Suitability as an 18xx introduction:

For people new to the 18xx game system, this should probably not be the first game they play. The reason for this is the unique city tile advancement, which makes the operational aspects a bit trickier. I’d recommend something like 18AL for a good, shorter, introductory game.

However, if the choice were to be between this and something like 1870: Railroading across the Trans Mississippi from 1870, 18NEB would be a better choice due to the short duration of the game, and the face that everyone can start a company (which gets everyone into the mechanics of tile laying).

Components:

This game is published by Deep Thought Games, and the components are similar in style to all of their other xx games: functional, graphically not very "pretty" and of good quality for use in playing. I personally like the keep it simple style of these games, although I do appreciate other upgrades that have been done in the past (such as the newer 18AL map that is just beautiful).

Overall Value:

In my 18xx collection, this game fills in the space for having another shorter game to play. I really like how it can be completed in ~2 hours while still giving a reasonable amount of operational challenge (via the city upgrades) and I believe this will probably be my most played 18xx game over the next year. Specifically because it can be an easy week night game, as the time commitment necessary for a longer game isn’t needed. I’d recommend it to anyone who enjoys these types of games.

Hat Tips:

jim b
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For posting the image of 18NEB that I used in this review.


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jim b
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daber wrote:
The major difference is in tile promotion - essentially, all cities start as 10 dollar "whistle stops" and then upgrade to one hole (space for one station marker) cities with the green tiles, then two hole cities with the brown tiles. What this does is make upgrading city tiles one of the more strategic aspects of the game, as upgrading to green increases the number of full stop cities on an east to west run (and possibly making it too long for the current trains that you -- or your competitors -- have). You can also use the upgrade to drop a token, effectively blocking a whole route from the completion.

That's been the effect here so far- those town upgrades in green are absolute killers, because the station token seizes the whole line.

Consistent, unavoidable screwage.
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Peter Mumford
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daber wrote:

The other big difference is that corporations start via partial funding (similar to starting companies in 1856: Railroading in Upper Canada from 1856, although without any destination requirements). I like this, as it will let everyone start a company if they should choose to do so, which keeps people more involved in the game, as opposed to being possibly forced to be a passive investor for the first several operating rounds.

18NEB sounds somewhat similar to 18FL: partial capitalization, and permissive track tiles. My issue with 18FL was that the partial capitalization slowed down the game in the beginning. Did you find that to be the case with 18NEB?
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jim b
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To raise money, companies can sell their own [ipo] stock to the pool in 18NEB. This can bring in substantial early capital, beyond the incremental player purchases.
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Fire Lord
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photocurio wrote:

18NEB sounds somewhat similar to 18FL: partial capitalization, and permissive track tiles. My issue with 18FL was that the partial capitalization slowed down the game in the beginning. Did you find that to be the case with 18NEB?


I've played 18NEB once and I definitely have mixed feelings about partial capitalization. It definitely removes some difficult critical decisions during stock rounds compared to what full capitalization entails (a minus). On the other hand, partial capitalization make running a railway more difficult since you don't get the leverage a 50% or 60% float requirement gets you (a plus).

I'm also dubious of the value of the local (minor) companies. They never even came out in the one time I played it.
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Fire Lord
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jimb wrote:
To raise money, companies can sell their own [ipo] stock to the pool in 18NEB. This can bring in substantial early capital, beyond the incremental player purchases.


Yes, but at the cost of losing those dividends. Stock price drops as well.

But, to be honest, I don't think anyone at the table really internalized the value of company sales of shares.
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jim b
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roseundy wrote:
jimb wrote:
To raise money, companies can sell their own [ipo] stock to the pool in 18NEB. This can bring in substantial early capital, beyond the incremental player purchases.


Yes, but at the cost of losing those dividends. Stock price drops as well.

But, to be honest, I don't think anyone at the table really internalized the value of company sales of shares.

It's critical.

The UP is tactically at a capital disadvantage, I think, because of his inevitable high par value- I wasn't anxious to drop that UP stock-price 5 rows, though if you only hold the president's certificate, that may be an overreaction.

But- I think the other companies should often look to par low, use the nearest stock ledge to sell up to 5 ipo shares soon (avoiding full depreciation), and get some trains running. (And also, again- since we're only holding a small % of the company, the stock drop isn't fatal- in fact, we can now buy shares from the pool, at a substantial discount.)

[You raise a good point with the lost dividends, which in turn- is another way money comes into the game vs 18FL, I think- in 18FL you invest 50-60% to float, whereas in 18NEB you might invest 20-30%- and start with 70% in the treasury, collecting dividends.
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David Aber
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jimb wrote:
But- I think the other companies should often look to par low, use the nearest stock ledge to sell up to 5 ipo shares soon (avoiding full depreciation), and get some trains running. (And also, again- since we're only holding a small % of the company, the stock drop isn't fatal- in fact, we can now buy shares from the pool, at a substantial discount.)


Typically we've been doing this with the small companies -- getting over to the ledge, then selling a bunch of shares.

Regarding the local companies:

The local companies can be decent if you've set them up from the beginning of the game. The NebKota, in particular, can often have a 3+3 run from east to west right out of the box. With 20% shares, these can sometimes be better than a share in a full company; with the added benefit(s) of adding another token to the board, and leaving a friend's stock sitting in the pool.
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John Tamplin
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One thing to note is that the components above are of the playtesting prototype, not the final version.
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jim b
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daber wrote:
Typically we've been doing this with the small companies -- getting over to the ledge, then selling a bunch of shares.

On this subject, I wanted to add- while playing/introducing 18NEB to a local 18xx expert, he completely disagreed with this.

He scolded me for selling down my shares (even on low-par companies), instead of keeping them in the treasury earning cash and appreciation.

Sigh. Some people are just good with numbers.
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Alan Winterrowd
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roseundy wrote:
I'm also dubious of the value of the local (minor) companies. They never even came out in the one time I played it.


We found that these are very nice companies, with the 20% shares, the track prebuilt and the cities already upgraded. They have generated very good revenue in the games I have played.

The DRG is the company that has gone unopened in at least two of our games.
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JR
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Today I played a game where both of the 5-share local companies started with $300 in the treasuries. Bought 4+4 (4D was bought by a 10-share before the local's had their first operations). The local companies both had east to west routes and were running for about $30-$32/10% share. Since each $100 share was 20%, that's a >$60 dividend for a single share. That's about what the 10% shares of 10-share companies with 4Ds were paying out. That means the 40% presidency certificate of a local company, a single certificate against your limit, is paying the equivalent of two 4D running shares. Yummy!
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Burster of Bubbles, Destroyer of Dreams.
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The last time I played this both of the 5-share companies got East-to-West bonuses with their 4+4 trains, and one of them nearly tokened a major out of the bonus (with helpful track lay by the owner's major company).

However, they both started with 3+3 and had to wait one stock round for availability and cash for the 4+4.
 
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