The Games We Play

The Games We Play

A repository of reports on the Wednesday night sessions of the club and anything else related to the club or boardgaming in general, which may be of interest to anyone who may be passing by.

Sunday, 28 January 2007

1856 - January 27 2007

Back in October 2005, we had a Saturday afternoon and evening session, playing Advanced Civilization. We agreed after that to repeat the following year to play some other game that would not be possible on Wednesday evening. So, although a little later than planned, a group of us gathered at my place for a session of 1856. The players were myself, Mike, Steve H, John (a school friend of Mike and I, who also came up for the Civ game) and some friends of John, father and son Les and John(2).

We met at 2pm and spent about an hour going over the rules (Mike being the only one to have recent play experience, through postal play) before starting about 3. Money is very tight with 6 players but despite this we got 6 companies up and running in the first operating round, I'm not entirely sure that this was a good idea, since all the companies were very parlously financed, but everyone had a company to run giving them something to do.

Mike did very well in the early stages, although he effectively ran the Grand Trunk into the ground, and was able to fund a second company (Credit Valley) when the '5' trains were available. Mike's thought is that this was the advantage that won him the game and that someone else should also have started a new company at this stage, I'm not exactly sure this is true since while the CV was able to buy a '5' train, I'm sure that any other company started would have been stuck with needing a '6' train or buying a '4' off the presidents other company damaging that company and meaning the new company would still have had to buy a permanent train later. Also I think it would have needed more than one player to cooperate to form the company unless the president was willing to sell valuable shares to do it himself.

Between 7 & 8 we had a break and the dodgy picture above shows the board at that point. It was agreed at the restart that we would call the game at 10, completing the current set of operating rounds. The next stock round was a long one (I think Steve found it interminable) as people bought and sold shares, 2 new companies were formed and due to shares sold, I was able to take over the Great Western from John. After all the stock shenanigans were sorted out it was on to the last 3 operating rounds, which because of the new companies buying trains soon brought about the compulsory repayment of loans and the formation of the Canadian Government Railways, although in fact this almost didn't happen as only the Grand Trunk was unable to repay. After this I was able to have the London and Port Sarnia trade in a '4' train for a diesel, rendering the other '4's scrap and it was this that Steve thought (probably correctly) that gave me the advantage over him in the final scoring. After things sorted themselves out and many companies had diesels, money flowed out of the bank and the game would definitely have finished naturally after another set of OR's.

Final Scores
Mike $3338, Dave $3015, Steve $2770, John $2474, John(2) $1906, Les $1732

I think, allowing for breaks we played for about 6.5 to 7 hours, which I don't think is too bad considering the newness of this type of game to many of the players, Steve has admitted that this is not really his type of game and he'd rather play Civilization as an all dayer. I still love the 18XX series. I showed our game list to Les and John who are from Stourbridge and they have indicated they may come along on a Wednesday some time. They will of course be most welcome.

Apologies to those to whom the foregoing is a load of meainingless waffle, normal service will now be resumed until we decide to do something like this again.


  1. I certainly found the experience interesting and mostly enjoyable. I have checked some other postal games, and they definitely play more aggressively, loads of loans and frequently 10 or even 11 companies out before the CGR, but this may be the effect of 5 players rather than 6, as we said, although I do suspect that unfamiliarity with the mechanics encouraged passivity. As fatigue crept in I think I made a mistake with the CGR rules, I could have placed station markers even whilst borrowing a Diesel, in which case I'd have tied up everybody's Diesels with blockers, and you'd never have caught me up. I thought Dave played the LPS very well indeed in the circumstances, but I think it really does need the Port to be a top-notch early company.

  2. Although Dave is right that this wasn't quite the most fun I've ever had gaming, I can see the attraction now to 18xx games (this was my first ever playing of one if you discount our practice session the day before). In fact I would happily play it again because now I have more of an idea of the mechanics and strategy. It seems well-designed and balanced. We suffered from too many players (i think the ideal for this game is 4) and us novices slowed it down a bit. There is also a big production (as opposed to design) flaw in that the money takes for ever to dish out and is in the wrong denominations for the sort of amounts generally given out. It needs a laptop programme, and Dave assures me that one is out there somewhere. My approach in the game was to find a solid route (the CPR) and really make every effort to keep it afloat. The problem that created was the share price kept falling while I struggled to keep it alive. As Dave has mentioned, I might have snuck second if I could have got the diesel trade-in, so not too bad for my first attempt. Thanks a lot to Dave for hosting us.