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1870: Exploding Trains and Duplicity - Interest / Signup!

RiemannLivesRiemannLives Registered User regular
edited April 2011 in Critical Failures
1870 is a game about railroads and stock-market manipulation. It can be very challenging as both aspects of the game must be mastered to succeed. The game alternates between rounds of stock market manipulation (buying and selling shares, starting new companies) and rounds of those companies building track and running their trains to earn money.

One very important aspect of the game is the separation between what a player owns (cash, stock certificates) and what the companies they run own (trains, cash, stock certificates). With a few very important exceptions, you cannot transfer funds directly between your personal cash and the companies (or vice versa) - even if you own a majority of the stock in those companies. Victory is determined by which player has the most money at the end in terms of their personal cash and the value of the stock they own. While being a responsible and effective president of one or more companies helps, in the end all that matters is the cash in your pocket: cash, trains and other assets owned by companies at the end are worthless in terms of calculating victory.

The rule book is available here as a PDF or in HTML here.






How this will work(?)
Since there are no random elements to this game and very little hidden information I think it is rather well suited to a play-by-post format. I will generally be "running" the game in that I will post summaries, pester people to play their turns and try to keep things moving but I will also be a player in it.

The only hidden information in the game is exactly how much cash each company has at any given moment (player cash is "open" and is known by all players at all times). My current plan is to just trust the president of each company to keep an accurate account of their company’s cash. Though if anyone has a better plan I am open to suggestions.

The game has three distinct phases of play:

1) The initial auction.
At the start of the game the players will all receive the same amount of starting cash (the amount depends on the number of players, more players = less cash each). They may use this starting cash to bid on 6 "private companies" which provide small bonuses during the first half (or so) of the game. After this initial auction, the players use what remains of their initial cash to start companies in the first of the stock rounds.

This will be conducted by post with a failure to post in a given time limit (probably 24 hours) being interpreted as a "pass".

2) Stock round.
Please see the rulebook for full details, but in general during the stock round we each take turns doing various stock manipulations until such time as all players pass in a row. You may pass and then jump back in with new actions later (unless of course everyone else also passes ending the round). With a couple exceptions, during a stock turn you may buy 1 certificate (either in an existing company or to start a new one) and sell any number of certificates (or a company you are the president of may buy 1 certificate instead). Note there are several important restrictions in the rulebook with regards to how many shares of a single company you may own and how many total certificates you may own total. Also, once you have sold any number of shares in a given stock you may not buy any of it until the next stock round.

This will be conducted by post with a failure to post in a given time limit (probably 24 hours) being interpreted as a "pass".

3) Operating rounds.
At the begining of the game there is only one operating round but as it proceeds this increases to 2 then 3 operating rounds before doing another stock round. In order of stock value (from most to least valuable) every company operates (there are several steps to this including building tracks and running trains, see the rulebook). The president of each company is the player that decides what it does (note that the presidency of a company can change hands many times during the course of the game). If a player is the president of more than one company (2 or sometimes 3 is usual by the end of the game) they make all decisions for all companies they are the president of.

Each president will post the actions for their company(ies) (potentially several times in a row depending on the order). They should clearly state any track that is being built and where as well as how much income is collected and where it is paid to. I will try to keep a map updated and reposted but it is by no means required for anyone to wait for me to update the map before posting their actions if it is their turn (just work out in your head the difference from the last map).

Note that the number and type of tiles available is extremely limited! This provides a summary of how many of each type of track exist. A lot of the strategy in the track-building phase of the game has a real puzzle element to it in figuring out how to connect the places you need with the pieces still available.

My current plan is that failure by the president to post the actions for a company within a time limit (probably 48 hours) will result in a "default run" where I will run their current trains to the best of my ability to generate income but will not construct any new track or purchase trains (unless they have left instructions on what to do in their absence).




There is a Cyberboard file with pieces and the game board here at boardgamegeek if you are interested. I will be using this to generate screenshots to post in the thread.


So, anyone interested or have any suggestions? Please keep in mind that this will probably take several months of real time. Even in person it is a very long game.

RiemannLives on
What you think "makes sense" has nothing to do with reality. It just has to do with your life experience. And your life experience may only be a small smidgen of reality. Possibly even a distorted account of reality at that. So what this means is that, beginning in the 20th century as our means of decoding nature became more and more powerful, we started realizing our common sense is no longer a tool to pass judgment on whether or not a scientific theory is correct. - Neil Degrasse Tyson

Posts

  • ElldrenElldren 3067-6294-6208Registered User regular
    edited April 2011
    I am certainly interested. I rather enjoy cooperative/competitive games

  • XiVXiV Registered User regular
    edited April 2011
    I am also interested. I have heard good things about the 18xx series and the concept is certainly intriguing.

  • Void SlayerVoid Slayer Very Suspicious Registered User regular
    edited April 2011
    An interesting game, still reading the rules but it looks strait forward enough. I'd rather just sit back and watch, as I do not understand the larger strategic game play, but I guess I can jump in and learn on the ground.

    He's a superhumanly strong soccer-playing romance novelist possessed of the uncanny powers of an insect. She's a beautiful African-American doctor with her own daytime radio talk show. They fight crime!
  • MatevMatev I HAVE NEVER BEEN MORE ALIVE AS I WAS SAYINGRegistered User regular
    edited April 2011
    Scheming Victorian Robber Barons? This sounds fascinating, I'll need to read up on the rules before I make my decision though.

    "Go down, kick ass, and set yourselves up as gods, that's our Prime Directive!"
    Spoiler:
  • RingoRingo Registered User regular
    edited April 2011
    Keeping an eye on this

    ceres wrote: »
    I'm just going to go ahead and lock this thread before I feel any worse about humanity.
    AUGMENTOS - Edcrab's Exigency RPG
  • RiemannLivesRiemannLives Registered User regular
    edited April 2011
    Since it seems most of those who are interested have not played an 18xx game before I want to provide a little more info about the genre so people can decide if they want to play.

    In the OP I briefly went over the basic elements of the game: starting companies, stock trading, building track, running trains. It almost sounds pleasant now doesn't it? In fact integral to all of the 18xx games is extremely cutthroat backstabbing competition. And so in this post I want to explain a little about:

    1870 - The Knives

    Unlike most games that track the progress of time by turns, in an 18xx game what drives the action forward is how quickly the available trains are purchased. There are 8 increasingly powerful - and expensive - types of train in the game. However, larger trains cannot be purchased until all of the smaller ones have been bought up. Every time a new type of train is purchased the game enters a new "phase". For example, once all of the available size 2 trains have been purchased a company can purchase the first available size 3 train and it is this purchase that triggers the change to a new phase. Each phase brings with it some changes to things like how many trains a company may own and what kind of track is can be placed (see this table).

    But the most important changes are that trains eventually go obsolete. When the first size 4 train is purchased all of the size 2 trains immediately go obsolete ("blow up" in the parlance of the game) and are removed from the game with no compensation for their owners. As the game progresses, eventually the size 3, 4 and 5 trains blow up as well (size 6 and larger are "permanent" in that they never go obsolete). Losing their trains (and source of income) at an unexpected time can be very hard on a company but it can be even worse for the company president. At the end its operating round every company must own at least one train. If they have none (because they just started or all their trains blew up) the company must buy a train. If the company does not have enough cash on hand to do so the president of the company must make up the difference out of their own pocket (and are forced to sell shares of stock if they do not have enough cash either - though this can be a good thing in the long run if it results in the company having a bigger train and much better income than before). If a president still does not have enough money after selling all of their stock they go bankrupt causing the game to immediately end.

    So one of the most important knives in your robber baron arsenal is timing when to buy up trains that will cause other players cash-cows to explode.

    But there is an extra layer of deviousness possible thanks to this mechanic. The president of a company always owns at least 20% of the stock (each company has a "president's share" worth 20% and 8 normal shares worth 10%). If no other players also own at least 20% of the company the president may not sell their president's share (so owning a single share of a company is always "safe"). However, if another player does own at least 20% of a company the president may during their turn of the sock round "sell out" and dump their (presumably doomed) company on their luckless victim. Since a company may buy a train from another company at any non-zero price that is agreeable to both presidents (even if both presidents are the same person) it is sometimes possible (if the turn order works out just right) to essentially give away the train from one of your companies to another then dump the now looted and doomed remains onto another player to deal with.

    The other primary avenues of attack on other players have to do with selling stock, tokens and the malicious building of train tracks. Every time a share of stock is sold (with certain restrictions in the rulebook) the price of that stock decreases. However, buying up shares does not increase the price (it's easier to go down than up). If a player is careful they can use the selling of stock in an opponent’s company as a means to lower their overall net worth and thus ending score.

    Tokens, on the other hand, relate not to stock values but to train tracks and board position. The general rule for running the trains for a company is that sometime during their journey they must touch one of the tokens owned by that company (either starting there, ending there or just passing through a token during their journey). Furthermore, a train cannot travel through (but may start or end at) a city hex when all of the token-slots on that hex are full of tokens owned by other companies. Companies always start with a free token in their starting city (which is marked on the map for each company). They can also pay cash out of their coffers (not the pocket of the president) to place more tokens. These can be placed to open up new areas for exploitation or to fill up an important city blocking off other companies from passing through (even if they are owned by the same player). Late in the game, when trains can potentially travel great distances, the careful blocking of key cities with tokens can seriously impact other company’s income.

    Finally, there is the placement of track in ways that block off the ambitions of other players. Every operating round a company may either place 2 yellow track tiles onto empty hexes on the map or may upgrade a single existing tile (yellow to green, green to brown, brown to grey). However, they must choose their tiles from the extremely limited supply available and when upgrading must always preserve existing track connections (also, they cannot leave track dead-ending into the ocean on the south side of the map). Usually a company will use their tile plays to improve their own position by extending their tracks to new cities or making their existing cities more valuable. However, it is often the case that a company can make a placement that does not hurt their position but makes it very difficult for a rival company to make a connection they need (by using up a tile they need or upgrading in a way that does not connect the way they would like).

    What you think "makes sense" has nothing to do with reality. It just has to do with your life experience. And your life experience may only be a small smidgen of reality. Possibly even a distorted account of reality at that. So what this means is that, beginning in the 20th century as our means of decoding nature became more and more powerful, we started realizing our common sense is no longer a tool to pass judgment on whether or not a scientific theory is correct. - Neil Degrasse Tyson
  • MatevMatev I HAVE NEVER BEEN MORE ALIVE AS I WAS SAYINGRegistered User regular
    edited April 2011
    Sounds horrifically intricate, my interest is still piqued

    "Go down, kick ass, and set yourselves up as gods, that's our Prime Directive!"
    Spoiler:
  • Dark_SideDark_Side Registered User regular
    edited April 2011
    I'm definitely interested, I'll read up on it more later this evening.

  • Void SlayerVoid Slayer Very Suspicious Registered User regular
    edited April 2011
    So, is train length the number of tiles the train passes though or the number of cities (and income) it passes through?

    Do we need to buy a new train if the track goes to more cities (when looking at the infinite train) then the current supply can reach to? Like if I currently have a rank 2 train hitting two cities but someone adds track to allow 3 cities to be accessed, would I need to immediately buy a new train to hit all three cities.

    I'd still like to give it a go, even if I accidentally help end the game really early.

    He's a superhumanly strong soccer-playing romance novelist possessed of the uncanny powers of an insect. She's a beautiful African-American doctor with her own daytime radio talk show. They fight crime!
  • RiemannLivesRiemannLives Registered User regular
    edited April 2011
    So, is train length the number of tiles the train passes though or the number of cities (and income) it passes through?

    Do we need to buy a new train if the track goes to more cities (when looking at the infinite train) then the current supply can reach to? Like if I currently have a rank 2 train hitting two cities but someone adds track to allow 3 cities to be accessed, would I need to immediately buy a new train to hit all three cities.

    I'd still like to give it a go, even if I accidentally help end the game really early.

    A size X train can touch X cities during it's run (which is why the smallest is 2 not 1). It may pass over any number of tiles but it can only touch (and thus collect income from) a number of cities equal to its size.

    In your example, you would not be forced to buy a 3 train but if you chose not to (or did not have enough cash or whatever) then you would have to choose which 2 out of the 3 available cities your train would run to. Since different cities can be worth different amounts of income figuring out the best available route for each of your trains is an important aspect to the strategy.

    Note than when a single company is running more than one train you may collect income from the same city multiple times (once per train) but you may not use the same section of track more than once total.

    Take a look at the track tiles here: http://www.diogenes.sacramento.ca.us/18xx_net/tiles/1870.htm

    In the basic yellow city tiles (which is always where a company will start) there are two segments of track connected to the city. You could run a train out of the city along one segment and a different train on the other segment (eg: one train leaves the city going north and the other leaves the same city going south). This would allow you to collect income from that yellow city twice without ever breaking the rule about not re-using track.

    What you think "makes sense" has nothing to do with reality. It just has to do with your life experience. And your life experience may only be a small smidgen of reality. Possibly even a distorted account of reality at that. So what this means is that, beginning in the 20th century as our means of decoding nature became more and more powerful, we started realizing our common sense is no longer a tool to pass judgment on whether or not a scientific theory is correct. - Neil Degrasse Tyson
  • RiemannLivesRiemannLives Registered User regular
    edited April 2011
    Well, some interest has been shown. Luckily, this game does not take too many people - 4-5 (including myself) is ideal.

    So, why don't we get down to brass tacks here and those who would like to play respond with a lime

    Signup!

    As soon as there are 4 or 5 people we can start the auction of private companies.

    What you think "makes sense" has nothing to do with reality. It just has to do with your life experience. And your life experience may only be a small smidgen of reality. Possibly even a distorted account of reality at that. So what this means is that, beginning in the 20th century as our means of decoding nature became more and more powerful, we started realizing our common sense is no longer a tool to pass judgment on whether or not a scientific theory is correct. - Neil Degrasse Tyson
  • Void SlayerVoid Slayer Very Suspicious Registered User regular
    edited April 2011
    I have all this money lying around from civil war munitions contracts and just don't know what to do with it.

    Train's sound like a great investment.

    Sign up!

    He's a superhumanly strong soccer-playing romance novelist possessed of the uncanny powers of an insect. She's a beautiful African-American doctor with her own daytime radio talk show. They fight crime!
  • ElldrenElldren 3067-6294-6208Registered User regular
    edited April 2011
    Signup

    I suppose

  • DarianDarian Registered User regular
    edited April 2011
    Are you going to run the short version so that people can get a feel for the game, or are you planning on going for the full game?

  • XiVXiV Registered User regular
    edited April 2011
    Signup also

  • SageinaRageSageinaRage Registered User regular
    edited April 2011
    I'm very curious, but I think I'll just watch. Maybe if another game starts later.

  • RiemannLivesRiemannLives Registered User regular
    edited April 2011
    Looks like we have 4 people signed up. That should be plenty to get started. I will create a new OP today (probably this evening).

    In the meantime, be sure to check out how the initial auction and private companies work in the rulebook. I will also give a rules summary in the OP to help out.

    What you think "makes sense" has nothing to do with reality. It just has to do with your life experience. And your life experience may only be a small smidgen of reality. Possibly even a distorted account of reality at that. So what this means is that, beginning in the 20th century as our means of decoding nature became more and more powerful, we started realizing our common sense is no longer a tool to pass judgment on whether or not a scientific theory is correct. - Neil Degrasse Tyson
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