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Subject: Playing 18AL with a Moderator rss

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Fire Lord
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Last night was my first 4-player face-to-face game of 18AL with Lenny, Matt and Gary, played at Gary's game store, The Haunted Cafe. It was also my first live game of 18xx using the Rails program (http://rails.sourceforge.net/) as a moderator. The moderator was a success. My performance in the game...not so much.

The first time I played 18AL was with 3-players and all of us were 18AL (and 18xx) newbies. It took us over 5 hours to play - even with poker chips. Last night, we finished in 4 hours and 20 minutes. And that was with two players that had only played 18xx once before. We used the moderator for money tracking. We used physical game boards, tiles, tokens, charters and shares. I'd guess using a moderator saved us between 1 to 1.5 hours. A definite thumbs up.

I wish I could say my game play was equally as good.

In SR1, I started the L&N. Matt started the AB&C. Lenny started the M&O. Gary started the TAG. Lenny started the ATN in SR4 and never looked back. Matt also started the WRA in SR4, but he had a brief tussle with me as to who should actually run it, with the upshot that I helped him float a company that he wasn't able to otherwise that round. Matt won that particular battle, but never capitalized on running two companies.

As for me, I made three major mistakes, one of them fatal. The first was not using L&N's private to halve the cost of it's 4-train purchase. I just plumb forgot. By the time I remembered, the privates were out of the game.

My second and by far the largest mistake was in the stock rounds. I had priority deal at the start of SR3. I also had some money, $261, after having the L&N buy my private when the 3-trains came out in OR2. But not enough money to float a company. Only Gary had an equivalent amount of cash. I was planning on sinking my money into the others' stocks and then selling in SR4 for enough cash to start a new company at a relatively high par value. I was expecting Gary to do the same and when he didn't, I realized I had lost my shot at priority deal in SR4, when everyone would have enough cash to start the last two companies. And I didn't have the presence of mind to just start a company without floating it right then, or start it and float it by selling L&N down to 4 shares. And that was that as far as my chances of winning went. My track play was fine - the L&N was the revenue leader until the last set of ORs - but I was overly invested in the WRA which didn't perform as well as Lenny's M&O.

The third mistake, was the aforementioned helping of Matt float the WRA.

The final ranking was:
1. $3919 Lenny
2. $3580 Gary
3. $3260 Steve
4. $3084 Matt
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Did you record tile placements in Rails, as well as on the board?
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Fire Lord
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sbszine wrote:
Did you record tile placements in Rails, as well as on the board?


Yes. It was useful having Rails indicate which tiles were legal for placement or upgrade.
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Froggy McFrogface
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Newly Crowned Railroad Baron!





sorry Steve - I couldn't resist!
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Peter Mumford
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I'd think a pocket projector would be a big asset for these games. The banker could have they keyboard, and enter all data, and the other players could see who has how much money without looking over his shoulder.
 
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JR
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We always play with a laptop or iMac computer at the end of the table with the banker in charge of updating the numbers as we go. Everyone can see all of the data all game and it's very helpful.
 
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Froggy McFrogface
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Actually the game store where we played is equipped with a ceiling-mounted projector and screen. Unfortunately, Steve didn't have the right cable, or we could have projected the moderator. That would've been AWESOME!
 
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Fire Lord
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LennyS wrote:
Actually the game store where we played is equipped with a ceiling-mounted projector and screen. Unfortunately, Steve didn't have the right cable, or we could have projected the moderator. That would've been AWESOME!


We wound up using a 19" flat-panel monitor that I brought as a contingency (far better than my laptop display)..
 
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JR
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OMG. I know Steve is an electrical engineer or something, so I thought of a bitchin' project for you, Undy! Build a programmable stock market ticker display that can read data from the computer and tick company values and holdings along a display like in a stock exchange.

That is some nerdy awesomeness.
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Fire Lord
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jrebelo wrote:
OMG. I know Steve is an electrical engineer or something, so I thought of a bitchin' project for you, Undy! Build a programmable stock market ticker display that can read data from the computer and tick company values and holdings along a display like in a stock exchange.

That is some nerdy awesomeness.


Awesome idea! I'll get right on it.
 
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JR
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If you can slap together a simple software interface to hook up to it and produce a bunch I bet you could sell them at a profit to a few 18xx geeks.
 
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A physical printout might not be a bad idea overall.

While the stock chart was easy to read, I found the spreadsheet format difficult to follow. I often had to get right up to the monitor and follow the line across with my finger to find both my personal money as well as my corporation's assets.

The program is excellent, but a graphic designer is needed to make it workable for tabletop use.

Gary
The Haunted Game Cafe
Fort Collins, CO

(p.s. I'll get the video projector working for next time)
 
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Fire Lord
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Because I'm a retentive engineer type, and because Rails writes out a logfile with timestamps of who did what when, I was able to generate some time statistics for this game:

Round times:

initial round: 00:12:15
Stock Round 1: 00:13:42
Stock Round 2: 00:02:52
Stock Round 3: 00:05:14
Stock Round 4: 00:16:38
Stock Round 5: 00:11:20
Stock Round 6: 00:06:03
Operating Round 1.1: 00:04:36
Operating Round 2.1: 00:08:37
Operating Round 3.1: 00:11:54
Operating Round 3.2: 00:12:08
Operating Round 4.1: 00:19:56
Operating Round 4.2: 00:18:41
Operating Round 5.1: 00:18:07
Operating Round 5.2: 00:21:14
Operating Round 5.3: 00:20:24
Operating Round 6.1: 00:31:40
Operating Round 6.2: 00:20:56
Operating Round 6.3: 00:08:55

Stock times by player:

Gary: 00:15:44
Lenny: 00:08:51
Matt: 00:05:32
Steve: 00:05:30

Operating times by corporation:

AB&C: 00:44:58 (Matt)
TAG: 00:34:56 (Gary)
M&O: 00:33:20 (Lenny)
WRA: 00:27:50 (Matt)
ATN: 00:22:56 (Lenny)
L&N: 00:20:54 (Steve)

Total times by player:

Matt: 01:18:20
Lenny: 01:05:07
Gary: 00:50:40
Steve: 00:26:24

Total time for earnings calculation:
01:05:44


So now we know that even though I lost, I spent only half as much time as anyone else to do it.

Some other comments: only half an hour was spent in the stock rounds, including the 15 minute private auction. The operating rounds got progressively slower to the point the last two sets of rounds took nearly 2 hours!

The most interesting time from above is that we spent over an hour calculating revenues. This is something that a moderator could in theory help with. It is a challenging programming problem, I know.
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JR
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How did you figure out what portion of corporation time was calculating run revenue? I agree it would really be nice if rails could calculate optimized runs, but I can only imagine the programmatic headache that must be, even for a simple game like 18AL. Once you add more variable rules it would get even harder to make it work correctly.
 
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Fire Lord
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jrebelo wrote:
How did you figure out what portion of corporation time was calculating run revenue? I agree it would really be nice if rails could calculate optimized runs, but I can only imagine the programmatic headache that must be, even for a simple game like 18AL. Once you add more variable rules it would get even harder to make it work correctly.


I just looked at the time stamps on the "XYZ earns $XXX" logfile entries and compared it to the time stamp on the previous line.

There has been much discussion on the 18XX mailing list about the feasibility of adding automatic route calculations. It is far from trivial. But that isn't stopping me from splashing a little gasoline on that fire.
 
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John Paul Sodusta
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I can't seem to make the moderator to work.
 
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Fire Lord
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Barkam wrote:
I can't seem to make the moderator to work.


You can't start it, or can't get it to do what you want it to do?
 
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roseundy wrote:
Barkam wrote:
I can't seem to make the moderator to work.


You can't start it, or can't get it to do what you want it to do?


Can't get it to start.
 
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Barkam wrote:
Can't get it to start.

I'm assuming you're running windows (correct me if I'm wrong).

This is what I do on my WindowsXP laptop:
- Download the Rails zip file from sourceforge
- Open the zip file
- Copy the Rails-1.2.2 (or similar) folder out onto the Desktop.
- Open that new folder (on the desktop)
- Double click on the rails.bat file
- Start enjoying 18xx (or if you're like me, start losing).
 
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Peter Mumford
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roseundy wrote:
Barkam wrote:
Can't get it to start.

I'm assuming you're running windows (correct me if I'm wrong).

i run rails on my mac with no issues. i keep the app in the same folder that it comes in when you uncompress the .zip. i put the folder on my dropbox (for convenience) so i can see it from my desktop or laptop.

if rails won't start, maybe you need to upgrade your machine with an updated java program.
 
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