1825 Port Variants

Compiled by Lou Jerkich

1829, the railway game designed by Francis Tresham which inaugurated the 18xx genre and which is a direct ancestor to 1825, has special rules for Steam Packets which make use of certain designated port cities.  These Steam Packet Lines are essentially expensive private companies which provide a fixed revenue to their owners each operating round.  They also provide £40 in company credits to any railway with a token in the port.  This sum cannot be used as dividends, but does serve to provide some added income to the company.  In 1829, the Steam Packets give the players something to do with their excess cash later in the game, and simultaneously provide railways with a small amount of extra income.

In the 1825 game, certain coastal cities have their name repeated in large white capital letters just off to sea from the port location.  It is presumed that these were deliberately identified this way to serve as the ports for a special K4 kit for Steam Packets for 1825.  To my knowledge, this K4 kit has never been published.  In the absence of a set of rules and Steam Packet Cards for incorporating something similar to the 1829 Steam Packet Rules, some of us who play 1825 have looked for ways to make use of the ports despite the lack of a special K4 kit to address this issue.  What follows are two approaches that have been designed as variant rules to incorporate these ports.  Both are designed to add variety and interest without having a dominating influence on the game.  Neither requires the use of any additional game components.  In the rules that follow, by definition, a coastal city noted by white capital letters which contains one or more station tokens is a PORT for each company that has a station on that city.

Port Variant #1 for 1825 -- by Dave Berry

Increase the value of all port cities by 10.  This includes those port cities, such as Dover and Barrow, that are given fixed values on the map.  The only exception is Leith, as this is already a high-value city and would also require a rule about how to distinguish Leith from Edinburgh.  The full list of affected cities is:
            Unit 1: Dover, Harwich, Southampton, Weymouth
            R1: Fishguard,  Holyhead, Swansea
            R2: Falmouth
            Unit 2: Hull, Barrow
            Unit 3: Oban, Stranraer
(This also encourages the building of routes to more distant towns and cities.  See below for an alternative rule).

[Note: This variant replaces an earlier version in which the revenues gained for "Port" tokens scaled up with each phase as follows: Phase 1 - £10 credits, Phase 2 - £20 credits, Phase 3 - £40 credits, Phase 4 - £50 credits.  Dave found that this variant was problematic so he has replaced it with the above version, which keeps the variant simple.]


Port Variant #2 for 1825 -- by Lou Jerkich

1. If a company places a Station Token in a PORT city (named in white capital letters on the map), then on subsequent turns (but not the turn of placement), the company receives a £20 bonus in company credits at the very end of its turn, immediately after purchasing any trains. This amount remains in the company and is not distributed as dividends. This £20 represents the return on investments made in the Port facilities, steamship lines, etc. at that mapboard location.  It is received regardless of whether a train actually ran to the PORT.
2. For each of a company's trains that does run to the PORT, add £10 in company credits to the £20 bonus automatically received by rule #1 above. Once again, this is retained by the company and not paid out as dividends.  Thus the more trains that a railway can run to a PORT the greater will be its bonus for that PORT.

3. Any number of railways may use a PORT provided that the company has placed a station token in that hexag.  Most PORT cities, however, can never be upgraded.  Examples of cities that cannot be upgraded are Dover, Harwich, Swansea, Holyhead, Oban, and Barrow-in-Furness, all of which are brown hexags.  These can have only one PORT station token, and (if playing with Minor Companies) in one case that token can only be placed by the company that starts in that location, namely the Furness Railway, a Minor Company starting in Barrow-in-Furness.  In three cities--Stranraer, Fishguard, and Falmouth--it is not possible to make a tile promotion that will permit more than one city.  Only three cities (Hull, Weymouth and Southampton) may have a second PORT token placed in them, provided the appropriate tile upgrade has been made to allow for the second token. 

4. In the Edinburgh/Leith hexag, only the northernmost station circle on the tile can serve as the PORT.  Once a railway places a token to serve as the PORT of Leith, no other railway can place a PORT token there unless the earlier railway goes bankrupt and its PORT station is therefore removed.  Note that once a token has been placed and identified as the PORT of Leith, that token will continue to represent the PORT of Leith even if a subsequent tile promotion in that hexag results in the PORT token no longer being the actual northernmost station on the tile.
This variant makes use of the PORTS named in white capital letters that are present on the 1825 map boards, such as Dover, Harwich, Swansea, Hull and Leith.  It stands as an alternative method to the use of the Steam Packet Lines of the original 1829 game which to date have not yet been published for the 1825 Units.  This variant adds some incentive for companies to build to PORTS and place station tokens in them, yet it does not have an overwhelming or unbalancing effect on the game.  (We have found that over the course of the game the accumulation of the PORT bonuses may enable a corporation to buy a U3 or 3T-train.)   If a station is placed in a PORT in the early part of the game, it will have made a useful contribution to the finances of its owning company by game end.  The £20 bonus that must be retained by the company may eventually accumulate enough to help it buy another train, place a station token, or build through difficult terrain without having to withhold revenues first.  The second rule of this variant provides a £10 bonus for each train run by the company to a PORT containing its station token.  It is a minor financial incentive which may incline the railway companies to actually use the PORTS in which they place a token.  Some companies such as the LNWR and the GWR will have many options available to them for placing PORTS.  Others, such as the GER (running to Harwich) or the SECR (running to Dover) will have only one place that they can easily reach and place a PORT token.  Most of the companies on the Unit 2 map will have only one place (Hull) in which to attempt to locate a PORT, and there may perhaps be some competition for it.  (As noted previously, if Minor Companies are used only the Furness railway may place a token in Barrow-in-Furness on the Unit 2 board.)  Incidentally, my local 18xx group had not found the city of Hull to be used very much in our previous games due to the river expenses entailed in getting there.  However, with this PORT rule Hull has become an early destination for railways and has become significantly more important than hitherto.

Granted that there are other towns and cities on the 1825 map that may have more claim to being a significant port than the ones that have been specially marked in white lettering by Francis Tresham, 1825's designer, my goal is to find a way to utilize the PORTS so marked.  Since many of these locations are in the areas least likely to receive rail traffic, the effect of the variant is to encourage railroads to build more lines to these peripheral areas.  This Port Variant is only partially successful in this, since some places, such as Stranraer, Fishguard and especially Oban are still not very likely to see track built to them, let alone to receive a PORT station token.  At the opposite extreme, Leith and Southampton don't necessarily need the bonuses since track will inevitably be built to those cities by the players.  Still, I have kept them as PORTS so as to make consistent use of the white PORT lettering found on the board.  While such railway investments in port facilities and steam packet lines are not necessarily fully justified in all of these locations on the basis of history and geography, the overall effect of the PORT Variant rules is that more track gets built to these peripheral PORTS and more stations are likely to get placed in them.  Since track did go to those places and the rules have been found workable in our games, I'm satisfied with the end result.

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This page created on 10 June 2008.   Revised on 7 July 2008, 27 August 2008, and March 25, 2009. 
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