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Topic: 1830 - Best Strategy Game

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All Forums : [GAMES] : Computer Gaming > 1830 - Best Strategy Game
24 AUG 2008 at 5:09pm

MarkShot

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[size="2"][color="#ff0000"][b]ANNOUNCEMENT: As part of a general clean up of my Web space, I have deleted all images which compose this thread. However, the entire guide is now available in 5 easy to read and print PDF files at Westpark Gamers. This happens to be one of the Internet's premier 1830 guide sites and where I learned to play this game. Although they are dedicated to board gaming, if you are an 1830 player, their materials are equally useful for BG, PC (AI), or PC (hot seat) play. Sorry, to have removed the images, but head on over to Westpark Gamers and check them out. [/b][/color][/size][color="#ff0000"][b][size="2"]This guide can be found at:[/size][/b][/color] [link=http://www.westpark-gamers.de/en/1830.html]http://www.westpark-gamers.de/en/1830.html[/link] [b][color="#ff0000"][size="2"]Here are the direct links for those who are really lazy. But, I really suggest you visit Westpark Gamers. You'll find a lot more 1830 stuff.[/size][/color][/b] [link=http://www.westpark-gamers.de/Ressourcen/MarkShots1830/MarkShots1830PCShowcaseGuidev1_1of5.pdf]http://www.westpark-gamers.de/Ressourcen/MarkShots1830/MarkShots1830PCShowcaseGuidev1_1of5.pdf[/link] [link=http://www.westpark-gamers.de/Ressourcen/MarkShots1830/MarkShots1830PCShowcaseGuidev1_2of5.pdf]http://www.westpark-gamers.de/Ressourcen/MarkShots1830/MarkShots1830PCShowcaseGuidev1_2of5.pdf[/link] [link=http://www.westpark-gamers.de/Ressourcen/MarkShots1830/MarkShots1830PCShowcaseGuidev1_3of5.pdf]http://www.westpark-gamers.de/Ressourcen/MarkShots1830/MarkShots1830PCShowcaseGuidev1_3of5.pdf[/link] [link=http://www.westpark-gamers.de/Ressourcen/MarkShots1830/MarkShots1830PCShowcaseGuidev1_4of5.pdf]http://www.westpark-gamers.de/Ressourcen/MarkShots1830/MarkShots1830PCShowcaseGuidev1_4of5.pdf[/link] [link=http://www.westpark-gamers.de/Ressourcen/MarkShots1830/MarkShots1830PCShowcaseGuidev1_5of5.pdf]http://www.westpark-gamers.de/Ressourcen/MarkShots1830/MarkShots1830PCShowcaseGuidev1_5of5.pdf[/link] [b][color="#ff0000"][size="2"]Thanks once again for having followed this thread![/size][/color][/b] --- Well, I am going to open an 1830 thread.    1830 is a game of business. However, unlike many business games where the player is associated with one or more businesses ... where the business and the player fates are deeply intertwined ... this is not 1830. In 1830, each the player's goal is to be the investor who finishes with the greatest net worth.    You net worth is based on your stock portfolio. The portfolio defines your net worth first by the stock certificates you hold. Each certificate trades at a certain value and so there is the valuation of your portfolio. Additionally, each certificate represents and equity positions in a public corporation. When the corporation pays dividends you are entitled to cash payments in proportion to your equity in the corporation. So, your net worth is the valuation of stocks in your portfolio along with any accumulated cash from dividend payments.    * The corporations happen to be railroads here, but they could just as easily be anything.    You can win by making your portfolio have greater value than the other investors (anywhere from 2-6 players either AI or human). However, you can also win by sabotage the other investors and causing the value of their portfolios to deflate. So, you can play purely positive or purely negative or both.    A big aspect of this game is Stock Rounds. In Stock Rounds, investors (players) buy and sell shares of stock. The handling of Stock Rounds is a major part of the game as you need to decide what to buy and what to sell. You need identify those stocks which will yield the best return both in terms of capital growth (share price) and dividend payments. Some shares may even lose you money!!! If the RR does not pay a dividend, then the share price will decrease rather than increase and, of course, you will receive no cash. So, picking the right stocks and analyzing the game situation is critical.    Additionally, buying and selling stock is a means to gain or get rid of the Presidency of a RR. So, through the Stock Round you may seize control of a RR or you may dump a relatively worthless RR on another investor (making him President) before he has a chance to react.    As in real stock trading, timing is critical. Good timing will allow you to unload your stock for the maximum gain. Poor timing and you may be selling the same shares after they have hit bottom. As mentioned above, timing is also critical in terms of seizing control of a RR or dumping worthless RR before it takes you down with it. Besides dumping and seizing RRs, proper timing of purchases and sales can also have very big impact on the worth of other investors portfolios based on their stock holdings.    As mentioned, the corporations happen to be railroads. Besides simply being a passive investor in one or more RRs, you may in fact be the President (management) of one or more RRs. You will be management if you have more equity in the RR than any of the other share holders. So, another key aspect of the Stock Round besides seizing and dumping RRs is the floating of RRs. This means to take a paper corporation and fund its treasury such it begin to actually operate. You float a RR by seeing that at least 60% of its shares are sold.    The game alternates back and forth between Stock Rounds and Operating Rounds. During Operating Rounds, the Presidents (management) of the RRs make business decisions. These decisions will have important consequences on the immediate transfer of revenues to share holders and also on both the short-term and long-term value of the stock. As President, you will decide how to evolve the rail network (lay tracks) and placing stations. Both of these actions can improve the RR's revenues and hurt or help the revenues of other RRs. Additionally, you will decide when and what capital expenditures to make such as the purchase of locomotives. You must balance the needs to keep up with technology against doing the best for the share holders (remembering that yourself usually will be holding at least 50% equity). Finally, you will decide whether to pay dividends putting money in the hands of share holders (including yourself) or hold dividends which puts money back into the RR's treasury. Paying dividends will also drive up the share price. Withholding dividends will drive down the share price.    Typically, investors (players) will operate one or more RRs and hold minority position in quite a few others. Owning multiple RRs usually can be a great aid to the player. Funds can be transferred between RRs by various methods to make the two stronger as a result. Additionally, two or more RRs can work cooperatively to develope a lucrative track network.    So, just like Stock Rounds, there is also much which can be done during Operating Rounds to benefit ones own portfolio or sabotage the portfolio of other investors.    As I have stated elsewhere, this may well be one of the best strategy games (originally a board game from Avalon Hill after five years it was ported to the PC).   

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24 AUG 2008 at 5:29pm

MarkShot

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Now, for some initial screenshots. The main screen. [img]http://home.comcast.net/~markshot/tempimages/18main.jpg[/img] The game comes with many rule set variations which totally alter the style and game play experience. [img]http://home.comcast.net/~markshot/tempimages/18rule1.jpg[/img] [img]http://home.comcast.net/~markshot/tempimages/18rule2.jpg[/img] Meet the investors. [img]http://home.comcast.net/~markshot/tempimages/18inv.jpg[/img] Setting the IPO share price for the NYNH (New York New Haven RR). [img]http://home.comcast.net/~markshot/tempimages/18ipo.jpg[/img] This is the Stock Round which is one of two main playing areas of the game. This is where everyone makes their trades. [img]http://home.comcast.net/~markshot/tempimages/18stk.jpg[/img] This is a quick look at the players' portfolios. You can see who is President of what RRs and the equity position each player has in every operational RR. [img]http://home.comcast.net/~markshot/tempimages/18port.jpg[/img] Here is a pop-up view showing each RRs' president, assets, and other information. [img]http://home.comcast.net/~markshot/tempimages/18trn.jpg[/img] Here is a graph tracking net work over time. [img]http://home.comcast.net/~markshot/tempimages/18ngrp.jpg[/img] Here is the stock market. We see each RRs taken on the stock market showing what the share price is. The little chart shows information like share price, treasury, revenues, ... [img]http://home.comcast.net/~markshot/tempimages/18mark.jpg[/img] This is the Operating Round which is the other main area the game is played. On this map, the presidents make the critical decisions of running their corporations. You are looking at the North East of the USA in the year 1830. Each corporation is not equal. The RRs start in different locations with somewhat different parameters. Starting around the NYC area is very important and it is a very lucrative area for revenues (especially early game). Dominating this area is key. Additionally, there are only two access path in and out of this lucrative area. From the North, you can Albany and the South Baltimore. You will seek to control these to impact late game revenues. [img]http://home.comcast.net/~markshot/tempimages/18op.jpg[/img] Here is an end game portfolio which I won. You see each players' stock value and cash value from dividends. [img]http://home.comcast.net/~markshot/tempimages/18endport.jpg[/img]

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24 AUG 2008 at 5:54pm

MarkShot

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Here is a very close game that practically ended in a photo finish. I won the game by $87 or effectively about 1% variance in net worth. [img]http://home.comcast.net/~markshot/tempimages/18c1.jpg[/img] How did I pull off this win? Kratzer v Huntington? First, you see how close we are going into the end game. Our graph lines are overlayed. You see a tiny little slope line where I appear to break out and get in front of Huntington. What was that? That was a victory seized during the Stock Round in trading. Observe that Huntington is President of the NYNH RR (New York New Haven) [orange]. He hold 4 certificates for a total equity of 50%. [img]http://home.comcast.net/~markshot/tempimages/18c2.jpg[/img] I was at my certificate limit going into this Stock Round and had to get rid of one certificate. I had a number of certificates that in terms of the value of my porfolio were more or less equal. However, I looked at the net worth graph to see Huntington destined to win the game. Thus, I chose to sell my single share (10%) of NYNH. Whenever, you sell stock it drives the share price down. Generally, selling stock has the biggest impact of the RR's President who will usually be holding 50% or 60% of the corporation. Here we see the stock market and the location of the NYNH token. [img]http://home.comcast.net/~markshot/tempimages/18c3.jpg[/img] Share prices increase going up and to the right and decrease going down and to the bottom. Some very simple rules: (1) Pay a dividend and the stock token moves right (increases in value). (2) Withhold dividends and the stock token moves left (decreases in value). (3) No open interest shares (available to buy) and the stock token move up (increases in value). (4) Sell a share and the stock token moves down (decreases in value). Also, you can see that reistance levels for stock prices are modeled. So, my selling my single NYNH certificate drove the price down from $140/share to $120/share. For Huntington who was holding 50% of NYNH, this represented a loss of $100 in the valuation of his stock porfolio. That's the small almost pixel shift you see that meant the difference between winning and losing for me. Here you see the final break down of the end game net worth. [img]http://home.comcast.net/~markshot/tempimages/18c4.jpg[/img]

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24 AUG 2008 at 6:22pm

MarkShot

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I decided to make this photo finish a little easier to see by blowing this up by 8X. So, you can see exactly where the Stock Round trading took place. You see Huntington (Blue) clearly having overtaken me (Green) and heading towards a win in the final Operating Round. By the way, this technique is very commonly used by the AI in the end game to win. This is one agrea where the computer does not cheat, but does exploit at the hardest levels to win. How? Well, each of the AI players will buy and then dump shares in succession ... shares of the one or two corporations in which you are president. Thus, the AI will in the final stock round push your share price down and put pressure on your portfolio. There is little that you can do to avoid this. Of course, you could always win by being mainly vested in the RRs of other investors. However, this is easier said than done, since being heavily vested in non-own RRs is risky, since you have no control over their operation. It is not at all unlikely that the president may milk them dry for profit and then transfer their assets to another one of his RRs and dump the worthless empty shell on you his major share holder. So, it is quite dangerous to be too heavily invested like this. Rather than taking the extreme measure above, you can: (1) Hold 50% equity as opposed to 60%, since the former is sufficient to maintain control of the presidency. This will usually allow to hold two more certificates of non-own RRs and be a little less vulnerable to this AI exploit. (2) You simply need to have a large enough winning margin that you are immune to this approach. (3) The further right you have your stock token on the stock market, the less the price can be pushed down by dumping. Remember "support levels" as a stock concept are modeled. A "support level" is a price that a stock is unlikely to fall below. In the game, you get support basically by very consistently and regularly paying dividends which moves the token to the right raising the bottom of the stock pricing table. When a stock is sold and the token hits the bottom, then price will not drop any further. The reason I call this a computer exploit is that in a human game of 1830, it is not that common or easy for player to play cooperatively. So, what the AI players do to one after another batter your portfolio is very unlikely to happen with humans. Also, you cannot really do the same to the a computer player, since you are buy one player. The computer can easily push a stock token down by 3-6 levels. You, at best, can push it down 1-2 levels. [img]http://home.comcast.net/~markshot/tempimages/18c5.jpg[/img]

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24 AUG 2008 at 6:25pm

GJK

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Again, based on recommendations here (yours obviously), I installed this one last night via DOSBox and started tinkering around with it.  The game looks simple to play but I soon found that I need to actually read the game manual to at least learn the rules.  Looks to be fun though; and I know that 18xx has quite a following so there must be something there! My girlfriend is an upper management business woman who loves stocks and market watching, etc.  I'm just now getting her into boardgames (we purchased "Acquire" which we haven't had a chance to play yet but her son and her ex-husband did and said that they had quite a good time (don't ask for details here - long story!).  So I'm thinking that 1830 might be something that she'd really like.  She doesn't do computer games however, so I'd have to hunt down the boardgame version, and I understand that the game is long OOP and quite expensive to obtain.  Is there a cheaper "variant" (one of the many 18xx games) that is fairly easy to obtain but just as fun?

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24 AUG 2008 at 6:30pm

MarkShot

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If you are just joining us, then you should know that 1830 is a PC port of one of the best business board games ever made. It is a very faithful port. It has been recognized for superb AI. Unlike most board games, there is almost zero change elements. Only the initial seating order is random. Everything else follows from what the players do. Here is an article by Bruce Shelly, famous game designer and partner of Sid Meier, on the 1830 PC project: http://www.westpark-gamers.de/1830dev.html And here is an excellent article that introduces the beauty of the game: http://www.henning-kantner.de/061004Guide%20to%201830.pdf

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24 AUG 2008 at 6:38pm

MarkShot

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GJK, I strongly recommend the PC variant for you and your CFO-other. Why? (1) Much cheaper/easier to obtain. (2) The board game is the same, but much slower, since you must do all the book keeping manually. Like work out all the potential revenue combinations. The board game will take 5X as long to play with not added value. (3) The PC game has a hot seat mode. The game is totally open and transparent. So, there are no problems playing in hot seat mode. (4) The best game balance is generally regarded as the 4 person game. (Most of the guides and West Park discuss the 4 player game ... totally different with more or less players.) With the PC game, you can play with her and still play 4 players; two AI. (5) PC game easily offers all the popular 1830 variants like the a 9th. Reading RR. (6) Only PC game offers a random map option. However, I understand that the AI does not do as well with that as the standard map. Obviously the game logic is hardcoded towards the subtleties of the North East map. You can PM if you need more info about getting started with the PC game/DOSBOX. You can still always go out and buy the board game (expensive) later.

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24 AUG 2008 at 9:34pm

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GJK, I own Acquire and I had good fun with it, although, to be fair - it is a bit more math oriented than most of my friends cared for. The board play is very bizarre, and really adds to the random aspect of the game, as well as the cutthroat corporate aspect. I immediately thought of Acquire when I saw the screens, and I think that 1830 must have been the predecessor for Acquire (which was recently remade, but is now back out of print, I think).

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24 AUG 2008 at 10:00pm

GJK

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Acquire seemed readily available; we had seen it at a few "game" stores around town, those that sell mostly "Euro-games" and so we picked it up.  I remember owning the old 3M version of Acquire.  This version is an updated version - I don't know the publisher, she has the game at her place. [b]MarkShot[/b]: I'm going to get comfortable with the PC verison of 1830 and then see if she'll watch me play a bit on the computer.  She's very much not a computer gamer type though - if I have any chance at introducing her to the game, it will need to be on her dining room table.  I'll have to keep my eye open for a lucky sell of the game (or one of its variants).  Thus my question, I recently saw someone on CSW Marketplace selling an 18xx game (forget the exact name); do they all play the same but with subtle differences, or is each a completely different animal altogether?  Looking at BGG, I see that there are quite a few variations of this game!

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24 AUG 2008 at 10:43pm

MarkShot

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There is a whole collection of 18XX board games. I wish I could help you out, but I am not a board gamer or really an 18XX gamer. I just know 1830. I found it while exploring the genre of RR, Tycoon, and business games. The Westpark Gamers site I think would be a good place to start. I seem to recall it looks at the various games in the series. Different games focus on different aspects of RR and locales. However, I understood that 1830 was perhaps the most business focused game. I think the only criticism I have with the 1830 rule set is that bankruptcies result in an instant end of game with whoever has the greatest net worth at the moment winning. What tends to irritate most about this particular rule is that 1830 is a game with an opening, middle, and end. You play the game to win in the end. You get nothing for being ahead in the opening or the middle. Thus, it is almost a certainty to be winning in the end game that you will be losing in the open and the middle. Winning in the end game usually involves a transition that happen towards the end of the middle game: (1) Either a gradual overtaking of the lead due to a better dividend rate. (2) Or abrupt taking of the lead due to the fact that chaos in the stock market/technology forces the other investors to dig into their own pockets to keep their RRs operational. The rules say that if a RR has no rolling stock and does not have money in the treasury to pay for it, then the president must pay out of his own pocket. That pretty much cements losing the game. Or sometimes a president to avoid that withholds dividends to build up the treasury which also costs him/her dearly. Going back to bankruptcies, they throw off the whole careful packing aspect by bring the game to an abrupt end prior to the player making his or her move for the win. That's my one single criticism with this rule set. I understand what your are saying about PCs although I find it odd that anyone who is a senior manager is not completely intimate with PCs as productivity and analytical tools. Really consider the PC ... it beats being a book keeper. You're not really playing a PC game if you hot seat, you are just using it as a calculator and score board. Good luck.

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25 AUG 2008 at 1:55am

MarkShot

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In a previous post, I spoke of two strategies of winning in the end game. First, there was gradually over taking the competition with superior revenues and stock appreciation. Second, there was creating total chaos and turmoil in the operational and stock spheres. Here is how turmoil is accomplished. I previously held the B&O RR. The B&O was under capitalized (it was floated with a very low par value {IPO} meaning not too much money in the treasury). This would clearly present problems down the road for me the President of the B&O, since the company would not be able to keep up with technology advancement and buy additional rolling stock. This would leave me with two options: (1) Withhold B&O dividends to build up the treasury so that the B&O would be ready when its existing rolling stock obselesced. The main problem with this approach is that I would receive no dividends to increase my net worth and it would depress the value of my B&O shares making me even poorer. (2) Later pay out of pocket to purchase rolling stock for the B&O. Generally, #1 is more attractive than #2. At least, with #1 all share holders of B&O share the pain. With #2, only the President of B&O would feel the pain and the other share holders invested in 40% would get bailed out by the President, me. But the above were not the only options. As it turned out, since it was early in the game and other investors low on cash were looking to ride on my coat tail having floated the B&O, they also bought stock in the B&O. (If an investor holds 20% or more a RR, then the presidency of the RR can be dumped on that investor.) Given that one investor was foolish enough to buy a 20% or more stake in B&O, this gave me another option. I totally ignored the treasury and depleted buying "make a quick buck" rolling stock to up the dividend payments. Most of that dividend would go into my pocket as President. Then, when we got back to the Stock Trading round, I dumped the B&O with soon to be obsolete rolling stock and no treasury the stupid investor. The above allowed me to get me out of B&O and dump the stock at top dollar. I then took the cash and floated another company with a fresh and healthy treasury. Thus, I screwed one fellow investor and also would accelerate the pace of the game with the extra cash I received which would cause more problems for the others too! So, I said I would tell you how I created stock and operational chaos. First, you must understand that technology (trains) goes obsolete in this game. Unlike many games where there is a calendar or clock, 1830 has no such mechanism. The sale of particular more advanced trains causes the obsolescence of earlier models. So, you can cause problems for other RRs and their presidents by purchasing advanced technology before they are in a position to deal with the situation. This is exactly what I did. [img]http://home.comcast.net/~markshot/tempimages/18hit1.jpg[/img] Look at my train holdings here the Erie and the B&M. These trains forced everyone else's rolling stock to go obsolete. I did this with the money I made in the stock market above by dumping the B&O. Here you see, Ames (#2 from the top) has purchased rolling stock for his RRs which they could not afford. So, he had to pay out of his pocket. How can you see that? You will see that the treasury of his two RRs, the B&O (the one I dumped) and the NYNH, are at $0. This means the treasury was wiped out to buy rolling stock and Ames made up the rest from his own pocket!
Now, look at Drew and Gould (the next two investors). They will be in exactly the same position. They don't have rolling stock. The rules say that a RR must have rolling stock and if the RR cannot pay for it, then the President must. First, he will use his cash on hand. Second, he will sell stock if necessary to raise additional cash. Third, if he still doesn't have enough, he will go bankrupt, and the game will end immediately. [img]http://home.comcast.net/~markshot/tempimages/18hit2.jpg[/img] Now, look at the net worth graph following this Operating Round. Notice the sharp drop in everyone's net worth, but my own. That's the result of me leaving them all high and dry in the operational round unprepared for the pace at which I introduced new technology into the game. So, it hit them in their wallets hard. You can just see them beginning to make money again. However, it is already too late. They have all taken a hit that will be beyond their ability to recover from this game. Unlike many financial games, 1830 is not a game of slow careful building. It can be, but it definitely doesn't have to be. It's a game of brutal trading maneuvers in the stock market and disruptive practices in operations that would make Rockefellor or Bill Gates proud. So, although 1830 is technically a "business game" for a "business game" is in quite a few respects has the attributes of a fine war game as you see.

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25 AUG 2008 at 2:04am

MarkShot

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I had previously spoken about how the computer players at the higher levels of difficulty exploit the practice of churning your RRs' stocks to depress the value of your portfolio. I said that one way to counter that is to be winning with another of a margin that this practice only does you minimal harm. My above example of creating chaos should give me a enough of a lead over the other investors that I should be safe. However, note that I am playing this game on level 3 of 4 difficulty levels. So, they probably will not churn my shares too seriously at the end. I am just coming back to the game after a break and giving myself so time to get my skills sharpened before I got into the water with the sharks at their best!


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25 AUG 2008 at 2:09am

MarkShot

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GJK, Maybe you should give Ms CFO this thread to read to see if the game interests her or you can print out Kantner's Guide for her. I think that will clearly highlight the elegance of the game. The rules and mechanics are pretty simple, but it is tremendously well balanced which leads to amazing variety and richness of play and techniques. The cliche of "easy to learn, but hard to master" is actually true of 1830. Okay, I got to wrap up my current game and get some sleep!

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25 AUG 2008 at 2:39am

MarkShot

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I have just finished that game. I highlighted three spots on this graph. Where I created chaos and where the AI attempted to "churn" my stock and depress my portfolio. You can see that it had little affect given the size of my lead. [img]http://home.comcast.net/~markshot/tempimages/18hit3.jpg[/img] Here are the final portfolios. [img]http://home.comcast.net/~markshot/tempimages/18hit4.jpg[/img] Beside competing against the other investors, this game like other Tycoon games rates the human players play independent of the relative score. This was truly a superb game in the ruthless column for me. I receive the following accolade which I have only received about 3 times in 1.5 years of playing this game (approximately 600 playings)! [img]http://home.comcast.net/~markshot/tempimages/18hit5.jpg[/img] Good night!

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25 AUG 2008 at 8:57am

Keester Klown

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Originally Posted By MarkShot
The board game will take 5X as long to play with not added value.
I disagree...the social aspect is an important element of all multi-player board games and represents the missing element in computer conversions.  Not one of them is nearly as fun and rewarding to play...although they can certainly be played more efficiently.  I could burn through games of this or History of the World in under 30 minutes when a board game would take 6 hours or more. But there was little sense of accomplishment; games designed solely for computer play tend to be less abstract and put more onus on the player's abilities.

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25 AUG 2008 at 10:14am

Braz24

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I have 1830 in both the board and pc versions. I never got around to finding any opponents for ftf play of the boardgame, but I did get to play a little on the pc version. As far as that goes, I have many other boarddgames like 1830; 1870 and even have some 3rd party expansions for other parts of the US. This thread really has gotten me interested in playing the pc version again. But alas, I'm on an extended travel agenda and didn't think to bring my copy of 1830 with me. Oh well, may be soon. Pretty cool thread guys!

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25 AUG 2008 at 12:00pm

GJK

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Has anybody played 18xx via VASSAL?  I see people are online playing it there all the time.  I think that there's another Java app for online play specific to 18xx as well.

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25 AUG 2008 at 12:11pm

ghostryder

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The best strategy game is hard for me to pin down. Capitalism II was pretty good. Railroads tycoon and the tychoon II but Railroads was for braindeads. There's an aweful lot of strategy titles out there. Too many to list and I can't of a sole one that reigns supreme. The original Civ probably had more impact on me than any other but that series has been drastically dumbed down.

 

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25 AUG 2008 at 12:41pm

MarkShot

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Well, this thread isn't really the "What's the best Strategy Game thread".  Rather I've already stated my premise, but thought I would give people a look at the game, since I think only a small niche of board gamers or RR fanatics are aware of this game.  Unlike the original RT or RTD, 1830 doesn't have a big name like Sid Meier associated with it.  Of course, Bruce Shelly isn't a total unknown, but he never achieved Sid's stature in the industry. If I were to quickly compare some games: RT1/RTD v 1830:  1830 is much better balanced, less chance oriented, and more heavily focused on business.  Although of the Tycoon genre, RTD is one of the best. CAP1/CAPP/CAP2 v 1830:  All the ingredients for a very rich business game are in CAP2.  Sadly, the AI is weak and the game is not very well balanced.  A few simple techniques such as as vertical integration and R&
patenting high-end electronics will win CAP2 every time. 1830:  Does not lend itself to a set strategy that can be applied repeatedly.  The game is much more fluid than that.  Despite a small rule set and short game the variety of situations which are generated is impressive.  The player must take each situation as unique and cannot simply play by rote.  Balancing is superb.  As small edge in one area will often lead to a vulnerability in another, there is none of the usual snowballing momentum to victory commonly found in resource/economic oriented games.

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28 AUG 2008 at 5:49pm

MarkShot

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A quote I just found at IGN about 1830:
SimTex was a group of guys in Austin who burst onto the scene in 1993 with a game called Master of Orion, published by Microprose. Their second game was a port of an Avalon Hill board game called 1830, an abstract railroad game set in the era of robber barons. Their port was published by Avalon Hill themselves and it features the single best representation of a stock market in any computer game and a heart-breakingly good AI.
http://pc.ign.com/articles/085/085828p1.html

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28 AUG 2008 at 6:01pm

MarkShot

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More from an 1830 review (Tom Chick):
Most computer games are clothed in inscrutable mechanics, stuff running under the hood, algorithms and secret rules. When something happens, the computer tells you it happened and you trust it. Even board games hide things in a die roll or a shuffled deck of event cards. Games so often rely on the unknown, the hidden, that darkened corner out of your control where randomness and bad AI hide. This is perhaps what I love most about 1830. It is laid bare before me, without dark corners or under-the-hood machinery. I always know who has how much of what and where they have it. At any time, I can check virtually anything about the game. The only variable -- but what a variable it is! -- is what the other players will do with those things. I'm talking, of course, about SimTex's 1993 port of Avalon Hill's board game of railroads and robber barons. It's one of the handful of faithful board game ports you'll find among travesties like Hasbro's Squad Leader. There are really good ports of Civilization and History of the World. Eden Studios' port of Iron Dragons [http://www.irondragon.org/] is particularly impressive considering it was basically cobbled together in a virtual garage. But none of these games is as truly naked as 1830: Railroads & Robber Barons, since they rely on random drawings from a deck of cards (Civilization and Iron Dragons) or die rolls (History of the World). And more importantly, none of these games is as well played by the computer as 1830, which features a stunning AI, made all the more remarkable because there are no hidden advantages or cheats it could be given. I recall one fan of History of the World swearing that the computer AI cheated by skewing the die rolls in its own favor, something the developers at Colorado Creations denied. But there could be no such accusations leveled at 1830, because it plays out in full view, with the computer AI following the same rules and mechanics as any human player. When you lose to the computer, which you will do often, you can see just what it did to beat you. Because it plays so smart and provides such a challenge, 1830 is a timeless classic in the annals of gaming, particularly now that bad AI is such a commonplace shortcut in the design process, hidden behind muddled mechanics or randomness. Before you go running to download an abandonware copy of 1830, be forewarned that it is not a game about trains in the conventional sense. For love of railroads, you're better off revisiting Sid Meier's Railroad Tycoon or Phil Steinmeyer's superb follow-up, Railroad Tycoon II. 1830 is not about consists or routes or what type of engine you're going to buy. It is a game played on a level higher than mere day-to-day operations. Railroads are almost incidental in 1830, which is more about the robber barons than their companies. The point is to increase your personal worth, whether it's by nurturing a railroad company to increase its stock value or by gutting it and running with the money. The vicious buying and trading and speculating on the stock market is where 1830 is often won or lost.
Each day new games are announced, but few if any will come close to this classics elegance with: (1)  Perfectly balanced rules. (2)  Game play that counters the snow balling affect of a slight advantage gain. (3)  AI code/programming based built on proven five years of board gaming strategies by one of the very designers of the game himself, Bruce Shelly. I am off to trade again.  C U

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29 AUG 2008 at 7:30pm

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One thing that should be said about the AI for 1830 is it is you vs 5 others and they play as a team instead of individually when it comes to reacting to whatever you do. For instance when you play on the higher difficulties none of the other AI's will help you float your railroad. So, if you intend to get a railroad out there you better darn sure have enough money to buy all six shares to float it. Now, once you've floated it then they will ruthlessly buy up the rest and then dump it to make the price go down as many times as they can and guess what? Most of the time they all get to go before you do and the top ai will buy one share and the others will follow then on the very next round they will sell those shares and let the other ai's that didn't get one of the shares buy those up and then they will sell those shares so your opening share price gets to fall like rain down the price range till it's worthless sometimes. It's pretty easy to see this gangup by the computer ai as you play a few games and watch how they always help each other or puff up at least one of the others so far ahead of you you'll never catch up and wallop your stocks every chance they get. Notice also they will buy and sell to each other the last train of a given set for $1 and do you think they would ever help you or sell to you a train for $1? hell no. lol   The better name for this railroad game would have been Cut-Throat Tycoon cause that is what it does to you every chance it gets. Even with the ai as lopsided as it is and plays as a team effort against you it is still a fun and challenging game though. Just thought I would warn you of what to expect. Espeically floating your railroads. Now on normal and easy difficulties they will help you float and of course buy up as much of your rr stock as they can, but they won't sell it off so fast like they do in the hardest settings. Also, beware of trains that are obsolete the ai will burn you pretty badly if you get caught with some of those or have stock in a rr with trains due to become obsolete.   My favorite economic strategy game is still Transport Tycoon Deluxe the AI in the deluxe version is much better than the origional version and you get more activity building the rails and road lines and boats and planes and watchin all of it function. As long as you don't use the laying of railroad track over regular AI roads and then delete them exploit it's a very challenging fun time.

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29 AUG 2008 at 7:59pm

MarkShot

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I think in this thread I did cover the AI's stock churning and how generally you need to get enough of a lead that you can take the hit. I would say the most common is the 4 player game. It is the one most described in the various guides floating around the Net. Of course, one of the nice things about 1830 is how radically the game changes depending on the number of players. I did find with six players even at the higher levels of difficulty, the AI would help you float (never in a four player game). I think the reason you see it in a six player game is that cash is in much greater demand. Well, I must say it is really nice to come across someone who is actually familiar with the game. I've looked at Transport Tycoon and Open Transport Tycoon, but haven't played them. I like playing RTD. I must admit that the AI still knocks cr*p out of me with rate wars. Yes, 1830 is really a game of trading (the RRs are incidental). I think RT3 would have been a great RR game if only the AI has some "I". RT3's AI presents no challenge. The only challenge are the objectives themselves. Of course, many people don't like RT3, since you can do quite well by just buying up businesses on the leading edge of track expansion and not really focus RRing at all. Nice chatting about 1830!

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30 AUG 2008 at 6:09am

SpongeBob

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1830 definitely in the top running for a good challenging strategy game to play. One reason I like Transport Tycoon Deluxe model though is because they improved the ai in the deluxe version to give you a run for your money to win an efficient running business. In the older versions all you had to do was just race and get as many  trains and boats and planes out there as you could and just by sheer numbers you could pass all the computer ai's in that department, but, now you have to run a more efficient business overall in sales and deliveries and cargo hauled by distance etc. The ai of course can do an exact science of that while unless you're a mathematician of the highest order you really have to work hard to beat it in efficiency. It is really good at stealing your services if you aren't watching for it and it's hard to watch over the entire map.   I also agree RRTII and III weren't very good and neither was Sid Meiers Railroads that came out a couple of years ago. To this day the origional RRT he made is the best in that catagory and the ai will beat you silly in the early game buying your stocks and getting the best rr's started up. The only fun of RRTIII was riding the trains around the maps but that got pretty boring quickly.

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2 SEP 2008 at 4:08pm

MarkShot

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A quote I like by Steve Jones:
In contrast, 1830 concentrates more on manipulating share prices and less on running the railroad companies; indeed, the opportunities for swindle and sharp practices are many and various for the unscrupulous investor. It is not an easy game to play. While its mechanics are fairly straightforward, there are many elements involved during play, and the interplay between them is both complex and subtle. If one were searching for an appropriate single sentence to describe 1830, it would be "This is a sharp game for sharp players".
Another nice collection of 1830 links: http://home.earthlink.net/~gamecorner/lgc1830.html

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