by Thomas Butcher
There are now a bewildering array of 18XX games
being played, though I
believe the “big four” for most players remain 1830, 1835, 1856, and
1870. On that account the
original 18XX game, 1829, which features many ideas that have since
been discarded in later games, tends to be
played rather less than skillfully,
at least in the U.S., where it is seldom played.
To make sure we are on the same page, let’s first
check on the map grid. For the South map, I am using the
cyberboard version, while Keith Thompson’s copyrighted map is another
standard map. In the former, Holyhead is at Q1, Hull at O17,
Birmingham at T10, and Dover at Y21. The same four hexes on
Keith’s map are P4, N10, S13, and X24. Looking at Keith’s North
map, these four are the same, his South and North maps having the same
grid. Glasgow on the North map is G5, and Aberdeen B12.
Also note that I am using the word “station” to mean
a token placed on a city circle to indicate that company’s possession
of that circle while Tresham uses it to mean the city circle or town
dot on the map. (The Americans and the British are two peoples
separated by the use of a common language.)
first at the overall situation. In games featuring England, the
designer must not allow the “sure-win” route of
London-Birmingham-Lancashire (Liverpool/Manchester). In 1829
(Southern), this is accomplished in two ways: London has three station
until brown (russet) tiles come into play and six for the rest of the
and Birmingham (T10) is impossible to pass through before brown tiles
appear. The tendency is therefore to aim for short but profitable
runs, as evidenced by the fact that the longest train in the game is
only a “7". Many games come to an end before the “7"s even go on
sale, and for most of the game “3"s and “4"s are the breadwinners, and
the "2"s last through most of the middle game.
To an extent this emphasis on shorter runs is true
of 1835 and 1856 as well, while in 1830 New
York to Chicago is an important aim, and in 1870 for some companies
this applies to St. Louis to Dallas or Kansas City to Southwest, all
requiring long-range trains. In 1829, because of the importance
of short runs, it is necessary to have at least two or three central
stations (tokens) feeding into surrounding destination cities. The
first two companies, the London & Northwestern (LNWR) and the Great
need careful planning in this respect since their original cities are
worth only £10 each. If they are retained throughout the middle
as central feeder stations every run must contain a £10 payout
the rest. With four trains, this means a difference of at least
£80 per OR (£10x4 instead of £30x4).
The LNWR must look to Liverpool, Manchester, and
possible station locations as well as R10 and S7, suitably upgraded
to 12, 14, or 15 tiles, while the GWR has Bristol (W7), X8, V8, and
perhaps W13, U13, or Birmingham. All this requires green tiles, meaning
that these alternative central feeder stations will have to wait at
first. However, these two companies’ owners must play from the
very beginning with this “base transfer” in mind.
There are several other points differing from the
kept in mind, particularly when the SPs (survey parties) are in play.
These are required for placing new tiles or stations, but not for
upgrades. As long as your SP has just vacated the hex, you
need no connection to another station of yours to place a tile there.
Upgrades are the same: you need no connection to upgrade any tile on
the board, making a players’ second company a valuable asset both to
upgrade the first company’s cities and to play upgrade tiles that
thwart an opponent despite the lack of a connection.
sometimes forgotten point about SPs is that they may not be converted
into stations at a location being upgraded to a city that same
OR. The reason is that the SP moves first, thus before the city
comes into being.
Getting back to big cities, there are four on each
of the two maps,
Birmingham, Liverpool, and Manchester on both, London on the
Southern, and Glasgow on the
Northern, with three separate station circles in all, except
London increases to six when brown tiles appear and that Liverpool
has but two circles. This is true of New York in the original version
of 1830 (as opposed to Alan Moon’s variants), Berlin and Hamburg in
1835, and Toronto in 1856, though the separation of stations within a
city ends at some point in mid-game. In 1829 the stations remain
independent to the end, and a single run may never include more than
one of the circles of a given big city. The effect is to lessen these
cities’ size in payout value while retaining the cities’ value overall
as separate entities.
The treatment of towns is another distinctive
big four, they are generally to be avoided since they count the
same as cities for train counts in runs but only pay $10 (10M in
1835). Each game has its own mechanism for improving the
desirability of the towns. 1830 is the worst, bringing them into their
own only with diesel runs. In 1835 they are the subject of very
unrealistic special trains with plus signs (e.g. 4+4) to handle towns,
1856 from phase 6 towns may be upgraded or eliminated–both rather
artificial solutions. In 1870 alone, towns may be upgraded to
paying $20 only when already upgraded to green $10 tiles.
Unfortunately, by that time they are hardly worth the bother.
1829, up to nine towns may be upgraded to city (£30) status using
12, 14, and 15 tiles, of which there are three each. Since these are
green tiles, this possibility
occurs quite early in the game. The 12 tile has the disadvantage of
being a kind of corner piece, not permitting a through route while it
is green, but it comes to its own later with brown and even gray
promotions. On the other hand, the 14 and 15 tiles, like their
counterparts in 1835, can never be further upgraded.
characteristic of towns that differs markedly from the big
four is that towns may never begin or end a run. Runs must be between
two cities only, realistically leaving
the towns as intermediate stops between cities only.
Perhaps the most striking distinctive rule of
the one which denies the use of any city whose token circles are
completely occupied by other players’ token or tokens. In the early
going this rule tends to close significant possible routes, though one
learns to live with it readily enough. No other 18XX game designer has
seen fit to continue this practice.
The stock market also deserves some study. First of
all, the order of
launching and initial stock value are predetermined, as in the
original form of 1835. Somewhat similar to 1835 with its 2-3-2
company groups, no company’s shares, except the first, the London &
Northwestern (LNWR), may be
sold until the company ahead of it in the predetermined order has been
launched. (The popular Thompson variant has eliminated this situation
for 1835). Therefore, the order of sales of the IPO shares is fixed
throughout the game. Since there is no effect of sales on prices, a
player may buy shares for short-term profit and then sell them to the
pool without hurting the directors involved, including your own
Also note that for a share price to rise from 58 to
82 requires six ORs with dividends paid, for an average of only
OR, and from 112 to 160 it is 3 ORs for an average of £16 per OR.
well worth your patience to push the price to over 100. Compare these
figures with comparable areas of the 1856 stock price table: 70 to 90
in four ORs, average $6.67 gain per OR, and 150 to 200 in 2 ORs to
average $25 per OR.
Another feature of 1829 which no other game has
picked up is the steam
packets. These are shipping lines of varying cost and payouts that run
from designated ports and additionally pay any railway company for a
token placed in the assigned port in addition to the payout to the
steam packet owner. This rule adds flavor to the game towards the end
and offers a source of income in addition to the stock market late in
the game, though it is marred by the fact that the steam packet lines
must be bought in fixed order, as with the companies.
1829 being the oldest of the now huge 18XX family,
it is now
unfortunately no longer in print, and the publishers, Hartland Trefoil
of Northampton, U.K., have superseded it with a similar game called
1825, which is an excellent game in its own way though somewhat
controversial in the UK.
Also note that the two versions of 1829, Southern
and Northern, use the
same rules, differing only to accommodate their respective maps, in the
South from the Channel to the row just north of Preston-Hull, and in
the North from the line just south of Birmingham to Inverness in the
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This page last updated on 18 January 2007.
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