Designed by Tom Russell
2019 edition published by Capstone Games
; rulebook available on site
Irish Gauge is a simplified and streamlined game in the "trains" genre (as exemplified by the 18xx series). Players are investors in five rail lines on the island of Ireland, making decisions on how tracks will be expanded, purchasing stocks, and gaining dividends. At the end of the game, the player with the most money (from cash on hand and stocks) will win.Setup and Initial Auction
Sequence of Play
To set up the board, place one track from each Railway in its respective starting city: Cork for CBSC (Cork, Bandon & South Coast Railway), Limerick for WLW (Waterford, Limerick & Western Railway), Belfast for BCD (Belfast & County Down Railway), and Dublin for both GSW (Great Southern & Western Railway) and MGW (Midland Great Western Railway). In addition, Dividend Cubes are drawn for all eight starting cities (Galway, Limerick, Cork, Derry, Kilkenny, Waterford, Belfast, and Dublin) by drawing randomly from a bag of twelve cubes: four of each type (white, pink, and black). All unselected Dividend Cubes will be pooled with the eighteen cubes that were set aside (for a total unselected pool of twenty-two cubes) to form a supply.
At the start of the game, each player starts with £20 in hand. One player is randomly selected to be the opening bidder for the initial auction. In the initial auction, one share of each Railway will be auctioned off in the following order: CBSC, WLW, BCD, GSW, and MGW. Rules are the same as normal auctions (see below) except that the opening bidder is allowed to pass on bidding. If all players pass, then the opening bidder gains the share up for auction for free. The winner of each individual auction will become the opening bidder for the next auction. Once all five shares have been auctioned off, the player holding the CBSC share takes the first action of the game.
Auction a Share
On a player's turn, they will take one of four actions:
- Auction a Share
- Place Railway Track
- Place a Special Interest
- Call for Dividends
Once the action has been completed, if the game has not yet ended, then the turn passes to the next player around the table. The game ends after a turn where the last Dividend cube is drawn from the supply, either through placing special interests, or calling for dividends.
The player who chooses this action selects a particular Railway and starts an auction for its lowest-value Share. The opening bid must be at least the minimum value printed on the Share. Bidding continues in regular turn order, where each player can increase the bid or pass. Once a player has passed, they are out of that auction; when only one player is left in, they win the auction. The winning bidder pays their bid to the bank and claims the Share.
Place Railway Track
Reminder: In the auctions at the start of the game, the opening bidder does not need to bid. However, any bid made must still be at least the Share's minimum value.
Place a Special Interest
The player who chooses this action selects a single Railway for which they own at least one Share. (This action cannot be selected if the player does not own any Shares.) The player may add up to 3 Build Points' (BP) worth of Track in hexes for that Railway. It costs 1 BP to build in an empty Easy, Town, or City hex, and 2 BP to build in an empty Difficult hex. It costs 1.5 BP to build in an Easy, Town, or City hex that already has another Railway's Track (and impossible to build into a Difficult hex previously claimed by a different Railway). Leftover BP may not be saved between turns.
All Tracks of a single Railway must be in a contiguous series of hexes (though they can branch). If, after placing Track, a Railway connects all three Major Cities (Belfast, Dublin, and Galway), a dividend of £12 is paid, split evenly between each Share of that company owned by players. For example, if one player owns two Shares of a Railway, and a second player owns one Share, the first player will earn £8 from the special dividend, and the second player will earn £4. Each Railway may earn this bonus once.
Each Railway has a maximum limit of nineteen Tracks, including the Track in their starting city.
The player who chooses this action selects a Town in which there is Track belonging to a Railway for which they own at least one Share. That player then chooses a Dividend cube from the supply and places it in the Town, converting it into a City.
Call for Dividends
Note: If the last Dividend cube is drawn from the supply, this action can end the game.
Ending the Game
When this action is selected, three Dividend cubes are drawn randomly
from the supply. If there are fewer than three Dividend cubes left, then draw all that remain. The types
of cube that are drawn determine the Cities that will pay dividends; drawing multiples of the same type has no extra effect for the action. Drawn cubes permanently leave the supply and thus bring the game closer to its end.
Each Railway checks to see if pays Dividends, and how much it will pay. A Railway only pays dividends if it has Track in at least two paying Cities, or one paying City and one Town. When a Railway generates income, it adds £4 for every paying City (£0 for non-paying Cities) and £2 for every Town.
Each Railway's total income is divided as evenly as possible between each Share of that company owned by players, rounding up in the case of any fractions. For example, if one player owns two Shares of a Railway, and a second player owns one Share, and that Railway generates £14 of income, the first player will earn £10 and the second player will earn £5.
The game ends at the end of a turn where there are no Dividend cubes remaining in the supply. All players add their cash in hand to the face values of the Shares they own; the player or players with the highest total win the game.
Game Link IndexGame SetupAfter Initial Auctions (Turns 1-5)Turns 6-10
: Track buildingTurns 11-14
: More track buildingTurns 15-19
: First DividendsTurns 20-23
: Track buildingTurns 24-28
: Auctions for additional sharesTurns 29-34
: Special Dividends and second DividendsTurns 35-38
: Placing a Special Interest and a major auctionTurns 39-43
: More auctions and third DividendsTurns 44-48
: Many auctions for remaining sharesTurns 49-52
: Fourth DividendsTurns 53-57
: Special interests and final dividends