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1870: Railroading across the Trans Mississippi from 1870» Forums » Sessions

Subject: Session Report rss

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A Derk appears from the mists...
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I'm hardly an expert when it comes to 18xx's, and in fact I've only been able to play one of them to completion. My first experience (at all) was two-handed 1830 affair with just Ken and I trying to understand the system. Quite a bit later, we tried a four-player 1830 with Ken, Aldie, George and myself. But then over the Memorial Day weekend, we wanted a heavy-duty three-player game for the whole weekend, so we gave 1870 a shot.

I have to say that I was quite impressed to actually play an 18xx to completion. At the very least, it was good to say that I'd been able to do so. At the very best, I guess I did win, but it wasn't exactly a great win. Morelike, Brandon ran away with the game early on, and then Ken and I combined forces to drag him back only to find out that I wasn't doing as badly as I had been originally. There is no doubt in my mind that if we were to play the game again, the outcome would be completely different.

First off, the roll of stations was much more important than we originally thought, which is one of the things that I've heard people mention about the game. I'd screwed up on my rules explanation a bit, and forgot to mention that each train must have a station in it somewhere. I'd just laid down a pair of station markers to block Ken out of an area for a turn or two, but the 'oh yeah' rule combined with the block for a devastating blow, once we looked back on the game. Honestly, if I'd known that it was going to put Ken in the shitter for the remainder of the game, I would've found a way to take back the move/rule.

And the second main force in the game was price protection. Early on in the game, Ken sold off a couple shares of the Southern Pacific, which was the rail company that Brandon was running. At the time, it didn't seem like much, but it turned into a major thorn in my side. Brandon more-or-less had the entire southern half of the board, and the Mississippi Bridge Company to boot, which meant no one could cross the Mississippi until he chose to do so. His Southern Pacific line wasn't making terribly much money initially, because he was building all the track by himself. But once he'd gotten a second company running the vicinity (to help share costs and to block our trains from entering 'his' corridor), the 80% of the Southern Pacific that he owned was <em><b>huge</b></em>. In fact, I think he probably would've won the game quite handily if he hadn't tried to burn through the trains to screw Ken and me with an inconvenient rusting.

Anyway, I really enjoyed the game. It worked fairly well for three-players, but I do wonder if perhaps the certificate limit isn't a little harsh. Or perhaps it should be phase-bound so that new companies could enter the game later on. Once we each got our two companies, and a minor holding in a one of the other player's companies, that was about all the room we had. Of course, the flipside is that with more room for certificates, the price protection action would be even more powerful. I'm very much looking forward to next Memorial Day, when we're hopefully going to play the game again. I can definitely see how even a single game's worth of experience is extremely valuable. The trick now is to put off playing 1870 until that point, so that we're approximately the same skill level...
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