1831: Grid System for PBM/PBEM

Grid Specifications:

Horizontal rows running East-West begin with row "A" on the northern edge of the map and continue down to row "X" on the bottom row that contains the starting hex for the C&O in Virginia.

Numbered columns run diagonally on a SW-NE line. They begin with the two-hex column #1 in the northwest corner of Michigan below the Stock Bank Pool, and end with column #26 on the Atlantic coast of Maine.

Rationale and Examples:

Using this system, it is quite simple to calculate the location of a given hex. When a list is provided of the grid coordinates for the named cities and for some of the other obvious locations, such as the starting hexes of the various railroads, one can often easily calculate from one or more of these points the grid coordinates of nearby hexes. This avoids the necessity of counting from grid coordinates on the edge of the map. Because no numbers are skipped in a given row, westward or eastward movement from a fixed point is easily determined by counting the rows and adding or subtracting as the case may be. When both the letter and the number change from one hex to an adjacent one, the movement must be diagonally up or down, and also in a general northwest or southeast direction. If the number doesn't change but the rows do, the direction is either southwest or northeast along one column. (For example, see the locations of the BAR, MEC and B&M home stations, all on the same diagonal (#24) and all easily located.)

In this grid system, if a player running the NYC System wants to upgrade a line from Albany to White Plains along the river, he could specify hexes K19 (Albany), L19, M20, N20, O21 (White Plains). The winding path of the river clearly is reflected in these coordinates as it flows southwest from Albany, turns southeast into M20 and then continues southwest again to N20, ending up turning southeast at last to reach White Plains. It is easy to double-check and confirm the track line using this method. In another example, one route from Philadelphia to White Plains via New York City could be Q19, Q20, Q21, P21, O21, which is clearly Philadelphia and two hexes east then two hexes northeast.

The traditional 18xx grid system of having the lettered rows contain either all even or all odd numbers is much more difficult to utilize, especially the larger the map size is. The same route indicated above from Philadelphia to White Plains would be written E29, E31, E33, F34, and G35. This is harder to visualize, and that kind of coordinate system normally requires following lettered rows and numbered columns from their coordinates on the board edge into the map board. Over long distances, a ruler might be needed to keep track of the vertical columns. My experience as a game master and player for 18xx games has proven to me how easily recording errors tend to be made in the traditional 18xx coordinate systems. It also takes more time to locate specific hex coordinates the further from the board edge one goes.

Carl Burger, the designer of 1831, approved of this coordinate system and sent copies of the board with this grid layout to players in the 1831 PBM game he started in the fall of 1999.

Key hexes in the "A-X, 1-26" Grid System, arranged by state or province:

"Named Cities" that have special hex tiles are designated by the letter (N). Other city names are based on geographical and historical considerations.


B24 - Millinocket - BAR home station
E24 - Bangor - MEC home station

New Hampshire

I23 - Portsmouth - Large City on SE coast


F18 - Burlington - Small City on east shore of Lake Champlain
H20 - White River Junction - Large City in Eastern Vermont
J20 - Bennington - Large City in SW Vermont


K24 - Boston (N)- B&M home station
K23 - Worcester - Large City west of Boston


N23 - Groton/New London - NYNH&H home station

New York

P23 - Long Island East (N)
P22 - Long Island West (N)
P21 - New York City (N) - LIRR home station
Q22 - New York City extension - NYC&HR home station, DL&W home station
O21 - White Plains (N)
M19 - Campbell Hall - LNE home yard
M18 - Monticello/Liberty - NYO&W home yard
K19 - Albany (N) - NYC home station, D&H home yard
H18 - Whitehall - Rutland home station
L15 - Binghamton - Large City
J12 - Rochester - BR&P home station
J10 - Buffalo (N)
I10 - Buffalo extension


C15 - Montreal - Large City


H8 - Toronto - GTW home station
I7 - Hamilton - THB home station
H5 - Kitchener - Large City


K3 - Detroit - Large City
L4 - Monroe - PM home yard


M5 - Toledo (N) - DTI home station
M7 - Cleveland (N) - C&O home station
L 7 - Cleveland extension - Erie home yard, NKP home yard
N8 - Youngstown - Large City
P6 - Columbus - Large City
R7 - Chillicothe - Large City

West Virginia

U9 - Huntington - Large City


X20 - Newport News - C&O home yard


U18 - Washington (N)
S18 - Baltimore (N) - B&O home station, WM home station
R14 - Cumberland - C&PA home yard


Q14 - Broad Top City - EBT home yard
P10 - Pittsburgh - B&LE home yard
M12 - Bradford/St. Mary's - PS&N home yard
N17 - Scranton - Large City
O17 - Wilkes-Barre - LV home yard
Q19 - Philadelphia (N) - PRR home station, P&R home yard

New Jersey

Q21 - Red Bank - CNJ home yard


T20 - Dover - Large City

Grid system created by Lou Jerkich, July 1998.  Text and list of key hexes composed by Lou Jerkich, 19 September 1999 and 20 March 2000.
Permission granted to all 1831 players to use this grid and hex identification system in their PBM and PBEM play of 1831.
Permission granted to use this coordinate system in any future published editions of this game.

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