Carl Burger's answers to the following questions posed by Lou Jerkich via phone calls and letters are shown in italicized bold type, prefaced by the notation "CB." The questions are arranged here by applicable rule number, with a date at the end in brackets indicating either when Carl responded to the question or when I asked the question. Carl's responses date either from 7 July 1998 or from the autumn of 1999.
The responses from the 7th of July 1998 were from a phone conversation I had with Carl shortly after I had acquired the game. They arose during an initial reading of the rules when I was still quite a novice with his game.
On the 5th of September 1999 I sent Carl a long letter with a set of questions that was the result of reading the rules very carefully and looking for every discrepancy and inconsistency. After my initial series of questions, I sent a few follow-up letters and additional questions to Carl during October of 1999. Some of the unlikely situations I used as examples did actually occur in my early games of 1831, but some are merely hypothetical. I admit to being nit-picking in some of these questions, but my experience has been that eventually these little things may become a real concern in the middle of a game, so I was hoping to get the final word from Carl. Sometimes Carl answered one of these questions as if it were a question on game strategy rather than on rules and procedures. I learned some useful strategic concepts that way, but unfortunately Carl's answer in such questions doesn't definitively settle the question. Now that Carl isn't available to settle such issues any more, we will have to extrapolate from what rulings he did make to get a satisfactory resolution.
My final questions arose in the course of a PBM game of 1831 that ended prematurely when Carl died, for he was the Gamemaster. These questions are from a letter I sent to Carl dated the 16th of November 1999. Carl's phone call to me on November 24th answered my questions, but that was the last conversation I ever had with him regarding 1831 rules.
I welcome any 1831 rules clarifications others may have had from Carl Burger. As I am the GM in an 1831 PBM game, I am in a position to adjudicate questions which may arise, so I plan to post my own rulings eventually.
4.2.1 - As far as I can tell, once Government Intervention is drawn, there is no further point in drawing cards from the First Buy deck. Correct?
CB: Yes. [5 September 1999]
126.96.36.199 - Since the Stock Bank Pool may not have more than 5 shares of any one company or system, what happens when a company merges with or takes over another company, and the combined total of the shares of both companies already in the Stock Bank Pool exceeds the five maximum shares allowed? For example, if there is a merger of the LIRR and the NYNH, and the former had 4 shares of common stock in the Pool and the latter had 3 shares of common stock in the Pool, there would then be 7 shares of the same system's stock in the Stock Bank Pool. What would happen?
CB: In this case, the Stock Bank Pool will hold more than the 5 share limit. No player, company, or system would be forced to buy any of that system's stock in the Stock Bank Pool, and the excess shares can legally remain there. However, no further shares of that system could be sold into the Stock Bank Pool until the total there was reduced below five shares. [24 November 1999]
188.8.131.52 and 4.6.4 - Since the Stock Bank Pool may not have more than 5 shares of any one company or system, what happens if a player wants to sell 5 common and 2 preferred shares of the same stock, with the intention of having the corporation immediately buy back two of the shares? Does it take two turns to do this or can all 7 shares be sold together? What price does the corporation pay for the certificates it buys back?
CB: The player may sell 6 or 7 shares simultaneously provided that he will immediately buy back any excess shares over the five that the Stock Bank Pool is permitted to retain. The sale of the shares of common and preferred stock would be simultaneous, so their sale prices would be from the same location on the Stock Market Chart occupied by their Stock Marker Token at the time of sale. Buying back the shares takes place immediately after they have been sold. The one or two shares of common stock bought back by the company would be purchased at the new, lower price of the stock after its Stock Marker Token had been moved to reflect the original sale. [24 November 1999]
184.108.40.206.1 - After sales of common stock, does rounding occur after tallying up the total stock marker token changes (.5 + .5 + .5 + .5 + .5 = 2.5, and then do the rounding), or is the fraction first rounded up or down for each certificate and then totaled? For example, if I have "Paid All" and then sell five common stock certificates, will the marker move down 3 squares or 5 squares? We have been using the former, since otherwise the rounding seems fairly pointless--why not just use whole numbers instead of fractional drops or rises?
CB: If the stock is sold as a block, [the marker will move down] 3 squares. If the stock is sold one at a time, [it will move down]5 squares with five different prices--one [square] for each stock sold, killing the stock seller and the holder! [5 September 1999]
Observation by Lou Jerkich to Carl Burger: It appears necessary on account of this rule to keep good records on each corporation's dividend payments on the last operation round of each set so that one knows how to adjust the Stock Marker Token when common stock is sold in the Stock Round. (When we play in our circle here, we always record dividends and train purchases for each company, each Operation Round, in all our 18xx games. It helps remind us how our companies have been doing, and tends to save time when stock rounds come along and players ask what kind of dividends a company has been producing. Your 1831 rules add to the value of doing this.)
CB: Good choice. [5 September 1999]
4.6.4 - As far as I can tell, a company can never buy its own stock certificates unless someone is selling them into the bank pool, and then only at that very moment. Is this correct?
CB: Yes. But the company or system may at that point buy up to its limit of holdings -- 20/25%. A company or system may not buy preferred stock! [5 September 1999] (See also the above clarification of rule 220.127.116.11) [Note: In Stock Round #2 of a PBM game that Carl himself was adjudicating at the time of his death in December of 1999, three companies each bought back two 10% common shares of their own stock, proving that the 20/25% refers to a percentage of the total of all existing stock, both common and preferred combined, even though only the common stock can be bought back. That same game turn also proved that corporations which buy back stock may simultaneously buy up to the 20/25% limit even when players themselves are not permitted to buy more than one certificate at a time.]
4.6.4 - Are Initial Offering certificates considered ASSETS of a corporation? Since payment for such certificates goes directly into the company or system treasury, logic might say that they must be ASSETS. However, if that is so, then company takeovers would become much more difficult because of how ASSETS impact one's ability to take over another company. In our most recent game, the precise definition of ASSETS created considerable discussion. Normally, we do not include the Initial Offerings when thinking of a company's assets, since we never stack them on the company's mat. Moreover, the Initial Offering certificates don't actually represent cash until they are bought by the players. However, only you know for sure whether they should be considered assets, so let us know.
CB: Unsold assets are treated as having no value for takeovers. Only stock (common) that has been bought back into the company or system treasury is considered as ASSETS. In takeovers of companies, the stock bought back is included in the company's net worth. Trains are not included. Cash and buy-back stock divided by two (and then rounded up) equals net worth! [5 September 1999]
18.104.22.168 - "Stock that has been Cycled, is valued at the final price after all Stock Marker Token movement has been completed, and not before movement." Since I cannot imagine a situation in which the value of the stock makes any difference until the stock marker token has come to rest, this rule appears so obvious that it would seem to be unnecessary to state this. Consequently, I wonder if I'm missing something here.
CB: The Cycling concept is tough! It refers to stock that has not had a chance to have a dividend payment. At the beginning of the game, there is no Government Intervention and you can buy--and then in the next round sell--stocks as you wish, provided there is space in the Stock Bank Pool. After Government Intervention occurs, buying a stock from the Initial Offerings or the Stock Bank Pool and selling it in the same Stock Round is considered Cycling if the player nets no profit from the play. He then is paid at the lower price after the Stock Marker Token's Movement. [5 September 1999]
4.7.8 - After a merger, are the common stock certificates that are valued at 5% (or 10/5/0) purchased at the full price on the Par Bar Chart or for half of that?
CB: They are purchased at the full par value on the Par Bar Chart. They are always worth one full share, but pay only half the dividends a 10% share normally does. [7 July 1998]
4.7.10 through 4.7.11 - For a system with 5% certificates, does the Stock Marker Token rise when 80% or 90% of ALL certificates have been purchased from the Initial Offering of that system?
CB: Oh yes. Once you water down the stock you can get the "pops" [i.e., the Stock Marker Token rises]. The reason is that the company you now own in your system did not receive these and should have its parent system get the advantage. [5 September 1999]
…That's how we've been playing it since if one goes by the 10/5/0% certificates alone, the stock rise could occur after only 65% and 70% of total stock had been sold in a system. However, I now realize that the rules specifically mention "company," so does this mean that systems don't get these bonus stock rises?
CB: No. If a fully funded company takes over a recently floated company, the resulting system is at 75% issued stock (25% being still in the Initial Offering). The "pops" [i.e., the Stock Marker Token rises] occur again at 80% and 90%. See above. [5 September 1999]
…In addition, if systems do benefit from this rule, then answer the next question. If 80% of the stock in a company had been sold, and then that company became a system so that only 65% of the stock had now been sold, would there be another stock rise when the system reached 80% again?
CB: It would occur at both 80% and 90%. [5 September 1999]
22.214.171.124 - In regard to the special red city hexes for New York City, Cleveland, and Buffalo, exactly when do the extra Stations and Yards on those hexes become available for play?
CB: At the start of the first Operating Round of the game, these cities already have a total of four locations each for stations or yards. For example, both Cleveland and Buffalo would each have one open station location upon placement of the first yellow large city tile, plus the extra station and two yards of the special red hex. New York would have an open station upon placement of its initial yellow tile, but it would also have two more stations and a yard in the special red city hex. [7 July 1998]
5.2.5. - Explain the two starting locations for the C&O.
CB: The C&O may start at either Cleveland with a station or in SE Virginia with a yard. It may start either of them on any turn of the game. Thus, it could begin with a station in Cleveland and on a later turn start a yard in SE Virginia, thereby having two unconnected routes. [7 July 1998] (Note by Lou Jerkich: It seems that a player could even start the C&O with one station in Cleveland and one yard in SE Virginia simultaneously, although he would not be able to build a route for either location on the same turn unless he used "track rights" on an adjacent company.)
126.96.36.199 - Explain further how the reserved token locations work. Must token sites with company logos be reserved for companies that are not playable because there are too few players in the game? Can a track tile contain more tokens than the locations shown on it?
CB: Rule 188.8.131.52 has an exception that makes it theoretically possibly for hexes that have locations reserved for home tokens of companies to end up with an extra one or two tokens. When a site is reserved for the start of a company, it just means that the company can always start there with the proper station or yard token, even if the space with the logo is already occupied by another token. For example, if other companies had filled both of the two station locations for Cleveland before green tiles were available, the C&O could still start by placing its token on the black station location on the yellow track tile, per rule 184.108.40.206. However, if the C&O started after the blue tile was laid and there were already three stations placed over the three available Cleveland station locations, the C&O could start a fourth station token on the Cleveland hexes. This could also be done by the Nickel Plate or the Erie if their home logo locations were already occupied by another token. In essence, a "reserved" location does not prevent another company's token from occupying the space, for the company with the "reserved logo site" cannot be prevented from placing its proper token in the city hex reserved for it. Placement of an extra token or two on a hex tile or red city hex would not happen very often, but should a company in receivership disappear during play and then later reappear, it would at least never be blocked from "resurrecting" as a new company again due to a shortage of open token locations. Just remember that the logos for companies reserve a token placement for those companies in that hex, but do not reserve the exact location shown by the logo on the map. There is thus never a problem with placing tokens on logo locations of companies not available in the current game being played. By the way, always make sure that the track tiles are oriented correctly, especially those that border on the Red City Hexes of Cleveland, Buffalo, and New York City. [7 July 1998]
5.3.3 - "If a corporation is required to purchase a train and no trains are available in either the Stock Bank Pool or The Bank, if the president cannot arrange for the purchase of a train from another corporation, the corporation goes into receivership. It will be allowed to exist without a train, but must purchase one later during this phase if one becomes available in the Stock Bank Pool…."
The segments in the above-quoted rule in bold type raise questions. First, taken literally, this situation can only happen if every available type "15" train has been purchased from the Bank, for otherwise there would always be some train in the bank. Moreover, at the point in the game when all type "15" trains have been bought by corporations, it seems highly unlikely that any other trains are likely to end up back in the Stock Bank Pool, let alone in the same "buy train phase" of the corporation that needs the train. So, is this a rule that exists for some unusually rare occasion that players will probably never see, or did you have something else in mind? Please give specific examples of the circumstances that you see causing this rule to be invoked.
CB: I have never seen all type 15 trains purchased. However, if a company or system needs a train and cannot get one--tough. Bad planning. [It goes into] Receivership. I made Receivership very tough on the player who mismanages his income. This game is played for the long [term, and] not the 1830 quick profit! [5 September 1999]
…A Related Question with nothing said in the rules (that I can find): What happens when a corporation is required to purchase a train and no "usable" train is available in either the Stock Bank Pool or The Bank, and the President cannot arrange to purchase one from another corporation? This is a situation very similar to rule 5.3.3 but far more common. I have seen on a number of occasions a corporation with only station tokens stuck with buying a freight train, or one with only yard tokens stuck buying a passenger train. The train is worthless to the owning corporation and it therefore ceases to acquire revenues and backs up on the Stock Market. (In real life, either the train manufacturers would build more trains to the buyer's specifications, or a corporation would make do with whatever trains it had, even if they were not the most efficient kind for the job, rather than stop running trains and lose all revenue.) At any rate, how do we proceed when no "usable" train is available, but a train must be purchased?
CB: He buys the train available and it does not run! Plan ahead. The players are in the game to do exactly this to another player. Your opponent may just need that price to back up so as to take you over and run the train you had to buy! [5 September 1999]
220.127.116.11 - A. "…Corporations that have just entered receivership by being forced to purchase a train, will pay the interest starting with the next Operation Round."
CB: No, it starts as soon as the corporation or company goes into debt for the train. [5 September 1999]
18.104.22.168 - B. Suppose a corporation has borrowed just a small amount and its revenue run gives it sufficient cash to pay off its debt at the end of the same Operation Round that it incurred the loan. Does it get away with no Interest payments at all?
CB: No! But it holds for as many rounds that are left! No dividends occur and no stock price rise is possible because the company or system does not come out of Receivership until the end of the next Stock Round. [5 September 1999]
22.214.171.124 - C: New Question from Oct. 9, 1999: According to rule 126.96.36.199, "At the end of each Buy Trains Phase (Phase 3) of any Operation Round in an Operation Set, if the corporation is in receivership, it must pay a 10% surcharge (rounded up) for its outstanding debt. This is the interest on the loan and is added directly to its paper debt. Corporations that have just entered receivership by being forced to purchase a train, will pay the interest starting with the next Operation Round."
Problem: Since technically Receivership occurs in the next phase that immediately follows buying the train, no Interest should be charged before that, according to your rule. Also, since the company would have no debt at its next "Buy Trains Phase," once again Interest doesn't seem required.
Here is an example of what can happen:
The C&O incurs a debt of $100 while buying a train and goes into Receivership. Then it runs its train and earns $300. At the end of its turn, it has sufficient cash to wipe out the debt. If it has paid off its debt, there will be nothing on which to charge Interest when the next "Buy Trains Phase" occurs.
In your answers to "A" and "B" above, you apparently negate your last sentence of rule 188.8.131.52 and clearly indicate that interest must be paid. However, you have not provided a mechanism to do this that doesn't conflict with your rule. The only way to pay Interest would be to have the Interest accumulate as soon as the train has been purchased, just before Receivership is announced, which would also be inconsistent with your original rules and sequence of play.
Can you rewrite all of rule 184.108.40.206 (or at least the necessary portions) so that it reads as you intend and covers all contingencies without any rule conflicts?
CB: Delete the sentence that reads: "Corporations that have just entered receivership by being forced to purchase a train, will pay the interest starting with the next Operation Round." Interest is always paid. (Carl recognized the conflict in his rules, so he resolved it this way.) [9 October 1999]
5.4.7 - May a company that paid track right fees before entering receivership still use that same track after it goes into receivership?
CB: Yes! This only occurs in multiple Operation Rounds when the company or system goes into Receivership in the 2nd, 3rd or 4th Operation Round. You can't buy track rights when you don't have the dollars. [5 September 1999]
5.4.9 - What happens when a corporation doesn't own enough tokens to meet the token requirements of rules 5.4.9 and 5.4.10? For example, suppose a company with 6 freight tokens (EBT or C&PA) ends up in receivership and has to buy a type "15" train. It doesn't own the minimum 8 tokens required by this rule. Exactly what happens? (I have encountered this situation a few times!)
CB: It lays its complete token allotment. Don't raise small companies near the end of the game. It does not work unless you plan on a small permanent train transfer from a system to the company and have the cash to bail the system out of train problems. Note! Systems should always be running the maximum train capacity each round! [5 September 1999]
5.4.10 - This rule is unclear in several respects. First, exactly when does the corporation lay the required track and build the required minimum number of tokens? Immediately? During the next "Lay track and buy tokens phase"?
CB: The next track phase. [5 September 1999]
…What happens if the company already has built some track and placed tokens to its normal limit (rules 220.127.116.11 or 18.104.22.168) at the start of its Operating Round turn, before entering into receivership? If it does not lay new track and tokens immediately, or if it cannot meet its full obligation for tokens in one Operating Round, then does it build up more track and tokens each subsequent turn until the minimum token number is reached?
CB: In the next phase, the company or system lays track and tokens to its limit per turn rule 22.214.171.124 or 126.96.36.199. Did you see the words "subject to the limitations of"? [Lou--Yes, I did.] [5 September 1999]
…What if the corporation is so hemmed in by other tokens and track that it is impossible to create a route for building the necessary track and tokens to achieve the minimum required?
CB: Bad planning--Too bad. The player should not have raised a company in this area. The game clearly allows people to be greedy and stupid. These people in general lose. [5 September 1999]
[Addendum, Letter from Lou of Sept. 25, 1999: Your answer only deals with game strategy (always useful!) but doesn't say what the penalty to the player is, or whether he can just ignore the rule [which possibly could then be good strategy for him!]. The rules need a clear statement that begins "A corporation that is unable to form the required route, or lacks sufficient tokens of the right type, to meet the requirements of rules 5.4.9 and 5.4.10…." Probably rule 5.4.15 should also be tied in to this rule, since it appears to negate rules 5.4.9 and 5.4.10 as well.
CB: Presently, he has no run and no way to build a run. This is harsh but, as the rules go, the player must buy a train since there is a "makes no run" option in rule 188.8.131.52.1. His stock is doomed until the company is taken over. I cannot see a system ever getting into this problem. Each round the stock price backs up and the company never gets to run. Sorry, no bail out! This player made a real bad choice and just gave his money to the bank freely. He will contribute all his free cash to pay off the company's debt every time this company operates in the Pay Debt Phase. Once the company is solvent it can do as it wishes. Personally, I suggest selling the train to another railroad and buying back a train with some of the cash, leaving some cash in the company to buy trackage rights. This is a very visual game. Raising companies in areas of zero growth is very poor play and cannot be rewarded. Just don't do that. Common sense must prevail. [25 September 1999]
Lou's response to the above, Oct. 9, 1999: Let's take another look at my previous question: "…What if the corporation is so hemmed in by other tokens and track that it is impossible to create a route for building the necessary track and tokens to achieve the minimum required?"
Even before your response I knew perfectly well that players should not get into such ridiculous situations if they want to win the game. Your suggestion of selling off his train and buying it back cheaper so as to have extra cash for trackage rights is an interesting concept but (oops!) it is absolutely illegal because your rule 5.4.7 says: "Corporations in receivership may not pay Track Right Fees to extend their runs."
This "no track rights" rule, I realize now, is the one that perhaps causes all the problems because it contributes strongly to a player potentially being unable to meet the requirements of rules 5.4.9 and 5.4.10. Your previous comments indicated that the company will buy its train and just keep backing up until another company takes it over. Your answer seemed chiefly attuned to a situation in which there is perhaps no token other than the home token. I was thinking more of a company with a short route that could not be extended. It would have some revenue coming in, even if only from two yards. I think there is also a situation you never considered, which means that one "possible interpretation" of your rules would make the poorest player in the worst track situation be actually better off than another player who is not hemmed in. On this issue there is some doubt as to how to proceed.
Here is an example. Let's assume in a game of 9 or 10 players two different players for their own very valid reasons decide to start the EBT and the LNE. Let's say they each intend for these new companies to become part of a system. The one player wants to link the LNE with the LIRR, because his other plans have gone awry and this is now his best way to pick up some yard tokens for a system. Each company sets up a two-city run on its first turn and both start their companies with type "5" yard trains. At this point, their prospects look fine and these appear to be the best companies available for friendly mergers for their respective owners.
Then the other players with systems already in place buy more track and many more trains. Suddenly and to everyone's surprise (these players aren't used to ten-player games and so much happening in a single round!), "9" trains come into play, the "5" trains go, and then the EBT and the LIRR find they cannot afford the $960 for a new "9" yard train, even with the president's help. Both companies will go into receivership.
The EBT has room to build more track, so in addition to buying its train, it goes further into debt (rule 5.4.10) trying to build track in the mountains to place 3 more tokens to meet the requirements of rules 5.4.9 and 5.4.10. With all this building, it ends up unable to pay its debt off by the end of the operations set, so it goes for another four rounds in receivership and just keeps backing up on the stock market. Unfortunately, its potential system partner (B&O?) has its own (undefined) problems and can't merge yet.
The luckless LNE however really got itself in a fix. Other systems have moved first and built in all the adjacent hexes with positions for yard tokens so there is no possible way now for the LNE to build the tokens and track required by rules 5.4.9 and 5.4.10. Now we are at the question I've really been asking all along! If the LNE for lack of usable routes can simply ignore rules 5.4.9 and 5.4.10, then it is entirely possible that without the extra debt incurred by building such track and tokens, the LNE from its revenues may earn just enough to pay off the debt in the current operations set. It would then get out of receivership and the LIRR might reach it with station tokens next turn so as to be contiguous and therefore create the friendly merger it intended. So the LNE, which was in a far more wretched position than the similar EBT, ends up being an asset rather than a liability. The poor EBT, simply because it was not fortunate enough to be confined by opponents' tokens, ends up required to obey the rules and fares the worst for it.
Do you actually intend for a company in the worst circumstances and unable to comply with the rules to potentially fare better than a similar company which is able to (and therefore compelled to) obey the rules? If not, please provide a workable solution for rules 5.4.9 and 5.4.10 that will be compatible with all other rules. Either way, I would be interested in knowing your rationale. Whether or not the owning players were wise to start the companies is not an issue here. My only concern is exactly what procedure is to be followed by the players when this occurs. I don't think you intended for companies that can legally follow the rules to fare worse than those that are so bad off that they can't, but until or unless you provide a solution to this dilemma in the rules, it seems that there is no other option.
CB: This isn't likely to happen, but if it does, just follow the rules as written. [9 October 1999]
184.108.40.206 - "Trains may only run to tokens of the proper type for the train as printed on the train. Mixed trains may only run to the correct number of each type of token for that train." Does this mean that a freight train cannot run through a passenger station, even when it doesn't count that station for revenue? In other words, aside from runs through cities with a vacant token location (rule 220.127.116.11), must the run be to contiguous tokens without any of the wrong kind of token intervening?
CB: Yes, you can't just "pass through" a token of the wrong type. Freight trains can only include yard tokens or "uncounted" vacant token spaces on their runs. Likewise for passenger trains and station tokens. Only Mixed trains can (and must) combine the two types of tokens in their runs. [7 July 1998]
5.6.5 - When a corporation takes advantage of track rights to run its train, can the entire run be on the track route bought by track rights or must at least one token belong to the corporation making the run.
CB: No, at least one token must belong to the corporation making the run. [5 September 1999]
18.104.22.168 - It appears that a "15" train is wasted on a White Plains--Long Island commuter run, or have I missed something?
CB: A type "15" train can make the run because it can finish by making the run from White Plains directly to Long Island West and back. The route runs as follows: White Plains (WP) - New York City (NYC) - Long Island West (LIW) - Long Island East (LIE) - LIW - NYC - WP -NYC - LIW - LIE - LIW - NYC - WP -LIW - WP. [24 November 1999]
22.214.171.124, 126.96.36.199, 188.8.131.52, 184.108.40.206 - These rules dealing with merger payouts all mention the value of a company's "par stock." Is this par stock value always the value on the Par Bar Chart?
CB: Yes, the value on the Par Bar Chart. [7 July 1998]
220.127.116.11 - It appears that the only way a "System" can make a merger is by conducting a Hostile Takeover for Bonds?
CB: That is correct. [7 July 1998]
6.1 - "…If The Bank runs out of money during a Stock Round it has no effect." Strictly speaking, The Bank would not therefore be able to run out in the Operation Round also since it would have already been depleted in the previous stock round. So just when does the game end when the bank runs out of money in a Stock Round?
CB: You may not sell stock to break the Bank during a Stock Round. Sales of this type are cancelled. The Bank thus always has some money in it and there will always be an Operating Round following a Stock Round. (See rule 18.104.22.168.) [5 September 1999]