There is no doubt – I got hooked by the 18XX games. My first two sessions of 18MS (Mississippi) – were very interesting and eventful even though this particular game is pretty small and by many treated as not variable enough. Still, combination of operational and financial dimension was very compelling to me and I was pretty sure I want to see more!
First things first, couple world about genre. 18xx – series of board games that feature the creation and operation of railroad companies set in the 1800s. Many are named for a particular year that is historically significant to the game or might reflect a geographical region.
The usual play contains two dimensions – stock investments and railroad operations. Players act as investors to found railroad companies, buy and sell stock, and build their investment portfolios in hopes of collecting dividends and benefiting from rising stock values. That stock component is really what in my opinion makes the games unique and really interesting.
As a second title (at least for me) after 18MS we decided to play 18Chesapeake. From what Marek recommended it was pretty small title still but with much more possibilities and good for 4-players play (and we had exactly that number).
As for 18Chesapeake – it is – surprise! – set in the Chesapeake region of the United States and west to Ohio and the West Virginia Coalfields. Two to six players represent investors in railroad companies, spending their initial capital to buy wholly owned private companies and minor companies and later shares in public companies. A feature of 18Chesapeake, as with all the other games in the series, is that the interests of a public company’s president and the interests of its shareholders are not identical, so minority shareholders need to be careful in their investments. This title is of a moderate length. You should be easily able to finish the session within an evening.
Tabletop Simulator Session
Again, being in the middle of pandemic, there was no way for us to meet face to face so one of the best digital options was chosen. The Tabletop Simulator is full of great 18XX implementations with 18Cheaspeak among them.
Although this was already my third game, I still could count on great help of co-players – Marta, Marek and Adrian. The experience of multiple games really makes a difference in the series. But as we shall see, I am learning 🙂
The initial set-up looked like this:
- Marta – Strasburg Rail Road
- Marek – Chesapeake and Ohio Railroad
- Adrian – Baltimore and Ohio Railroad
- Michal – Lehigh Valley Railroad
That meant that me and Marta will be developing and cooperating near the New York, while Adrian and Marek will focus on Washington. Whoever gets the possibility to connect those two great cities will inevitable be able to make a really good money. I also learned that starting far away from others is not a good strategy. That costed me my second 18MS game. So this time, deliberately, I was taking advantage of connections built by others. Another very exciting moment of the game was couple of stock rounds when the takeover of Marek’s owned C&O company was close!
In the middle of the game everybody was able to start a new company: Marta – Pittsburgh and Lake Erie Railroad, Marek – Pennsylvania Railroad, Adrian – Camden & Amboy Railroad and I was – happily – left with Norfolk and Western Railway.
The stakes now went really up. We started to upgrade the whole infrastructure, companies were assisting each other and it was not an uncommon situation to yield 500-600 USD per operation turn. The last actions were very close and then… we calculated final results. To my greatest surprise… they were like this:
- Michal $4’457
- Adrian $4’018
- Marta $3’133
- Marek $1’902
Yes, I won. That was most unexpected. My start was slow, I was coping thanks to some clever advises and only connection between New York and Washington which I managed to build at the end of game was a breakthrough. A fun game to play indeed!
Another very nice Euro in the series – interesting, suspenseful and thrilling. Yes, you can definitely can say this about that genre. Again, I am sure I will play more – what this time, this is the question? (any suggestions are welcome 🙂 )