1831: STRATEGY FOR THE LONG RUN
by Lou Jerkich
4 November 2001 (with minor revisions on 21 February 2002)

CONTENTS:
1. Initial Considerations
2. Companies and their Merits

Companies with 10% President's Shares
Companies with 20% President's Shares
Companies with 25% President's Shares
Companies with 30% President's Shares
Companies with 50% President's Shares
Summary
3. Common Stock
4. Investing
5. Doubling Initial Revenues
6. Trains

1. INITIAL CONSIDERATIONS

One premise should underpin all strategic considerations at the start of an 1831 game.  According to designer Carl Burger, in order "to win 1831, you must be running at least one system."  This is not a rule, but rather a strategic concept.  It is based on the fact that the growth and earning power of a system are clearly superior to that of a company.  Even the act of merging or taking over another company provides bonus cash to the new system.

If one must run a system in order to have a reasonable chance of winning, then the next consideration must be to decide where and how this system will be created.  To create a system, there must be a primary company that will either make a friendly merger with a company owned by the same player or will make a hostile takeover of a company owned by another player.    The possible options are:

1. Create one company at a high par level, and use it to take over an opponent's company as soon as possible.

2. Create two companies in the first stock round and merge one into the other.

3. Create two companies in the first stock round and have them both aim to make hostile takeovers.

4. Create one company in the first stock round at the lowest par level, buy all its stock, pay dividends +200%, sell common shares in that company, and use all the profits to finance a new company in the 2nd Stock Round at  $150 par.   Then make a friendly merger of the company with lower par value into the other company with the high par value.  (This friendly merger cannot occur until after the newest company has completed one full operating round.  Thus, the first opportunity to merge would be in the game's 3rd operating round.)

5. Create one company in the first stock round at the lowest par level, buy all its stock, pay dividends +200%, sell common shares in that company, and use all the profits to finance a new company in the 2nd Stock Round at  $150 par.   Then attempt to make a hostile takeover using the newest company.  (This hostile takeover cannot occur until after the newest company has completed one full operating round.  Thus, the first opportunity would be in the game's 3rd operating round.)
The original company would eventually try to make a hostile takeover as well, but that may be difficult given its lower par value.

A player must therefore decide which of the above options he will pursue, and where on the board he plans to do it.  The choice normally revolves around three main areas of activity on the map.  The first is centered at Cleveland in Ohio.  The C&O, Erie, and Nickel Plate (NKP) all start there.  Track is relatively cheap to build and there are plenty of large cities nearby.  Buffalo is a little more distant but very lucrative if reached.  Smaller companies (B&LE, PM, DTI, THB, GTW, PS&N, and BR&P) exist in sufficient numbers to permit two to three large systems to profitably operate in this area.  However, some of these companies are distant enough that it would take several operating rounds before mergers or takeovers could occur with them.  Moreover, there may be fierce competition for the easy shoreline route from Cleveland to Buffalo, with the advantage going to the player whose company operates first in this area.

New York City is the second focus of company activity.  No other single city pays as much in revenue, and the commuter run (White Plains-New York City-Long Island West-Long Island East, etc.) is highly lucrative.  Three companies begin in New York City (LIRR, NYC&HR, and DL&W).  The first two of these are clearly meant to be commuter railroads since they lack yard tokens.  Many other railroads originating around New York City will inevitably use track builds, mergers, or takeovers to extend their lines into it to maximize their profits. To the west this includes the railroads starting at Philadelphia (PRR, P&R) and even Baltimore (B&O, WM), not to mention other small lines such as the CNJ and the LV.  North of New York City are the NYC in Albany and the NYNH&H, plus a few small lines (LNE, NYO&W) plus the yard-only D&H in Albany.  All of these, too, could well look to anchor their lines in New York City.  Moreover, New York City can hold one yard and five station tokens.  Whoever can place that sole yard token has a very strong advantage and could earn much in track right fees.

The third starting point is the northeast, centered at Boston, home of the B&M.  Around Boston are several large, lucrative cities  The NYNH&H might have its eye on that area, and so might the NYC or D&H.  Nevertheless, the B&M can be a company which faces less threat of hostile takeovers thanks to being away from the mainstream of activity.  If the B&M starts strong, it may be able to merge easily with a friendly MEC to the north, or a weak NYNH&H.  When nine or more persons play, the Rutland may also be another merger partner for the B&M.

The choice of starting area may well be an indicator of how much risk a player is willing to take.  The greatest risks are in the New York City region, for that area has the potential to generate a lot of wealth but also has a lot of companies to vie for pieces of that pie.  In Ohio there is slightly less risk only because the number of companies is fewer.  Starting in Boston is relatively safe unless the B&M is insufficiently capitalized to resist takeovers.

For those who wish to maximize their chances to successfully form a system via friendly merger, even if it is not a very large system, there are a couple of additional possibilities.  One could start the Maine Central (MEC) and the Bangor & Aroostook (BAR).  Only the B&M is close enough to interfere, and even then only if the friendly merger is delayed too long.  However, there aren't any large cities in Maine, so profits would not be large, unless perchance the B&M was later taken over for bonds.  Another backwater system would be the Canadian GTW and THB combination.  This line would have the potential to reach Buffalo and Rochester, giving it an opportunity for some decent cash returns.  However, if you try this, grab the THB first before a player with a Cleveland based company opts to make the THB his own second company.  These least risky alternatives in Maine or Canada may help one safely launch a system, but they are less likely to lead to a win than the riskier ventures that result in big systems in very lucrative areas.

Having thus decided where to operate his company or companies, a player must then choose one particular company with which to start.  It may not be possible to obtain the optimum second company of your choice, so it is good to have some contingency plans in case someone short-circuits your strategy  by their own stock purchases.  Also, remember that if your first company has fewer preferred stock certificates than other players have, you should be able to buy a certificate in your second company before the other players can start buying shares in their second companies.  For example, in a six-player game if previous players have bought in turn the PRR, LIRR, C&O, NYC, and NYNH&H, the last player might decide to start in Ohio to give the C&O player some competition.  However, he should not start the Erie because that would let the C&O player grab the NKP as a second company.  Rather, he should buy the NKP first, with its 20% President's share, thereby finishing his buying before the C&O player and thus getting first chance to get the Erie.  In this same example, the LIRR player will get to buy his second company before the PRR, NYC, and NYNH&H players.  So it can be seen that going first doesn't always guarantee the best buying opportunities, and sometimes the weaker and smaller company should be bought first in order to grab a better second company.

2. COMPANIES AND THEIR MERITS

With up to thirty companies available for play, 1831 may appear to present a bewildering set of choices for a player who wants to manage some well-run railroads.  Inevitably, players will wonder whether some railroads are favored more than others.  Yes and no.  Any railroad can be an important component of one's overall strategy.  No railroad is intrinsically bad, for even one of the small coal lines with only six yard tokens may end up becoming the head of a larger system.  On the other hand, a company that starts off with a very large number of both kinds of tokens will obviously have some advantage in the race to reach distant regions of high revenue.  There are seven companies that only have six tokens, but four of these only appear in games of 9 or more players, and one appears only in games of 7 or more participants.  When there are four players or less, the least amount of tokens a company would have is 8 (LV, GTW, and MEC).

1831's companies are biased toward yards rather than stations.  Of 21 companies having both kinds of tokens, only the NYNH&H (7 stations, 4 yards) and the THB (5 stations, 2 yards) have more stations than yards.  Five of these 21 companies have an equal number of station and yard tokens, with the C&O, at 7 of each, being the largest.  The others are the B&M (5 each), GTW (4 each), CNJ (4 each) and WM (3 each).   The LIRR (9 stations) and NYC&HR (8 stations) are the only two companies lacking any yard tokens at all.  Both of these also happen to start in New York City, in the heart of the game's most important commuter run, which requires a station train. On the other hand, seven companies have no stations at all.  Two of these (B&LE, D&H) have 9 yards, one (LV) has 8 yards, and the other four (EBT, PS&N, LNE, C&PA) all have 6 yards.  These are the companies that I call the "coal lines," since many of them were involved predominantly in hauling coal and other freight.

The game's bias toward yards presents problems in the early part of the game.  In the first few operating rounds, when 2-trains and 3-trains prevail, there are very few yard trains to be had.  Available station (passenger) trains outnumber yard (freight) trains by at least 3-2, but more often 3-1 or 4-1.  There are also "mixed" trains, that must include at least one station and one yard.  These are available up through 5-trains, but their availability diminishes over time.  When 4-trains are in play, the number of station trains is equal to the number of yard trains in a  five- or six-player game; otherwise, the station trains are slightly more numerous.  With the coming of the 5-trains, the number of yard trains tends to be greater than that of station trains, except for games of three, five, or six players, where they are equal in number.  Thereafter, the availability of yard trains is at least equal to that of station trains, but more often is higher.  They are markedly higher when the 15-trains appear just prior to game end.

What does this mean for company selection on the first turn of the game?  Unless a player starts a "coal line" at a high par level, with a view to operating first, he could well find himself without access to a yard train when it is his company's turn to operate.  That is because companies such as the Erie, the P&R, the NKP, or the PM (and the C&O if it starts in Virginia), all with home tokens that are yards, may opt for a yard train in preference to a mixed train.  In fact, these companies must be able to get a yard train or a mixed train on their first turn or they won't be able to make a revenue run, since one of their two cities must be a yard.  In a five- or six-player game, of the 22 companies available for play, 5 cannot run without a yard train, 4 can run with yard or mixed trains, 10 fare okay with station or mixed trains, and 2 can only earn dividends with a station train.  The C&O, because it has two different starting locations, is unique in that it can use any type of train, depending on where its home token is placed.  In general, because of the shortage of yard trains, it is usually safer to start a company that can use either a station train or a mixed train.  However, if one's company will operate first, it would be safe to opt for one whose home token is a yard.  Also, if no other company operating previously will have need for a yard train, one might gamble on starting a "coal line" company.  I say "gamble" because there is nothing to prevent a company from buying a train it cannot use just to keep it out of a competitor's hands.  Note that of the total available 2-trains and 3-trains in a five-player game, only 2 of those 15 trains are yard trains.  Thus yard-only companies such as the B&LE at Pittsburgh, the D&H at Albany, and the LV at Wilkes-Barre tend to be far riskier to start than the station-only LIRR and the NYC&HR.  Starting in the high-revenue New York City with its commuter-run advantage often makes one or both of these passenger lines popular starting companies.

The chart of Railroads in 1831 - Grouped by Number of Players shows that the first nine companies listed have 10 or more tokens.  They represent the largest railroads in the game and all of them have both stations and yards.  Of these nine companies, the first eight are the only companies in the game to have president's shares of 10% preferred stock.  Eight companies in the game have 20% presidencies, of which one (NYC&HR) is only available if five or more play and another (CNJ) if seven or more play.  Their total number of tokens is either 9 or 8, with the exception of the NKP's 10.  Companies with 25% president's shares include the GTW and MEC with 8 tokens, the BAR, PM (these two for five or more players),  and NYO&W (seven or more players) with 7 tokens, and the Rutland (nine or more players) with 6.  There are six companies with a 30% president's share, having either 7 or 6 tokens, and only two with 50% presidencies, both having 6 yards.

Note that the only way a player can start a company at $150 par and still start a second company in Stock Round #1 is if the first company is one with a 25% presidency.  Otherwise, to ensure control of his company a player must retain 30% of its preferred stock, thereby reducing how much he can sell off in order to fund his second company.  Note further that a company with a 50% presidency must start alone since the player cannot sell off any preferred stock.  He will own that company for the entire game, barring a close-out of the company.  Only the PS&N (in a game with five or more players), and the C&PA (in games of nine or more players) have these 50% presidencies.  These two "coal lines" are unlikely to be among a player's initial companies (although they may occasionally serve as a second starting company), but their one great virtue is that the the President's share counts as only one certificate.  The 30% and 25% president's shares are also valuable in this way as well, while being more flexible in regard to sell-offs.

Companies with 10% president's shares:

PRR (9 stations, 12 yards):  The Pennsylvania Railroad with 21 tokens is the largest company in the game.  It's home token is a station.  Is the PRR a good railroad to own?  Certainly.  When formed into a system, it can make use of 10 additional stations and 7 more yards, maximum.  It stands a good chance of  ending up in the system with the largest number of tokens in play.  However, the number of tokens a company has and its location on the map never alone are sufficient to guarantee that the owner will win. A lot depends on whether or not it makes a good merger combination.  Philadelphia is a good starting location, with easy access east to New York City, southwest to Baltimore and Washington, and northwest to the large cities of Wilkes-Barre, Scranton, and Binghamton.  However, it will be paying for river terrain over much of its routes.  Although rarely seen in practice, the PRR is capable of reaching Pittsburgh and then extending to the rich Cleveland terminus.  Especially if it has merged with a smaller line around New York City, this would make the PRR a very strong contender for victory with a mainline worthy of the biggest trains in the game.  Normally the PRR would be eager to merge with one of the railroads that start in or close by New York City.  Alternatively, the PRR could attempt to merge with the B&O to form a very large system, or with the P&R to create a buffer between the New York City area and Baltimore, thereby inhibiting the B&O from heading northeast.  On the other hand, the PRR can also appear to be a very tempting merger target for a smaller line that wishes to grow rapidly in size!

NYC (8 stations, 9 yards):  As with the PRR, the New York Central has to contend with mostly river routes, so terrain costs can be frustrating.  However, its home in Albany is further from New York City than Philadelphia is, and once it aims for New York City a drive toward Buffalo seems to falter under the lure of New York riches.  Ideally, if the NYC should connect Buffalo with New York City as did its historical counterpart, it would have a line that easily could use the big 12-trains.  To be a major contender, the NYC must manage to merge with a very strong company out of New York City while at the same time building a network worthy of its 17 tokens.  Mergers with the B&M or the NYNH&H perhaps could fare well, but it normally would still prefer to aim for a New York City line that had built north to Albany.  Whereas the PRR can usually make good use of both stations and yards, the NYC seems to be stuck on river routes that require mostly stations, and its home base is also a station.  Unless it reaches Rochester and Buffalo, or heads east to Vermont and New Hampshire or to Boston, its yard tokens don't seem to get much use.  In large games of seven or more players, the presence of an active BR&P company may encourage it to take the path toward Buffalo.  Even though the D&H's home yard is also in Albany, the prospects of these two companies making a prosperous merger don't seem high.  Perhaps if the D&H built northeast or east to the larger New England cities, while the NYC focused on the New York City-Albany route, the NYC might eventually share the D&H routes and thus with their combined efforts they perhaps would produce a mighty system.  Playing the NYC thus requires a sound long-term strategy that will take advantage of its many yards.

B&O (7 stations, 8 yards):  The next largest railroad (15 tokens) is the Baltimore & Ohio, which starts with a station in Baltimore. Although able to establish a commuter run between Baltimore and Washington, the profits from that are not as compelling as those of the New York City commuter run since the Baltimore-Washington commute can't make efficient use of anything larger than the 5-trains.  Curiously, the B&O has few close neighbors in a game of 6 players or less.  The WM and the C&PA are in play only if there are 9 or more players.  The CNJ requires 7 or more players to be active.  Otherwise, that leaves the two Philadelphia lines, the PRR and the P&R, as close neighbors to be feared or targeted for takeovers considerations.  The LV, EBT, and three lines starting in New York City are also near enough to form mergers, but generally its relations with the PRR and P&R will be the decisive factor in how the B&O fares.  The B&O should definitely consider a takeover of the PRR if the latter has a much lower par value.  If not, it should see whether the P&R is a choice target.  On the other hand, if the B&O allows itself to be an easy target for the PRR, there is a high probability that the PRR owner will aim to create the game's largest system by taking over the B&O.  Finally, one unusual option can occur if the B&O merges into a C&O-headed system that starts in Virginia.  Per a ruling from Carl Burger, the C&O can later start again in Cleveland as well, thereby allowing it to play a role in both the northern Ohio and the New York-Philadelphia sectors.

C&O (7 stations, 7 yards):  Historically, the Chesapeake and Ohio should start in Virginia, not in Cleveland, but as with the Erie it appears Carl was searching for big-name companies to start in this important location.  As it is, the C&O is the only railroad company in 1831 that has a choice of initial home token placement.  Usually its station in Cleveland is chosen as the starting location since the plains of northern Ohio offer not only cheap track building but also a decent revenue from the large cities.  Starting in Virginia normally makes sense only if it sees that it will have no choice but to buy a yard train, or if it wishes to merge with the B&O.  It still would have the option of beginning a new line out of Cleveland at a later point in the game, so it has the potential for operating in two major areas of the map.  Furthermore, if it starts secondly in Cleveland after having merged with the B&O, the C&O would be invulnerable to takeovers by companies previously started in northern Ohio.  On the other hand, if the C&O starts in Cleveland with no competition, then it should merge quickly with the Erie and subsequently should have an easy path to victory.  More often (assuming that the players are wise), there will be at least one other competitor in the Cleveland area (probably the Erie) so there will be a race to get tokens in the key hexes to build the best lines.  The NKP will probably be the most desirable merger partner, but the B&LE, PM and THB could be good matches as well.  If starting in Virginia and unable to merge with the B&O, the EBT "coal line" may be its next best choice, unless in a game of nine or more players, in which case the C&PA or the WM could be additional partners.

Erie (6 stations, 7 yards): Carl Burger's starting location of the Erie Railroad in Cleveland is historically incorrect, since that railroad originally built from the Hudson River above New York City to Dunkirk on Lake Erie, southwest of Buffalo.  However, in the game it is one of the major contenders starting at Cleveland, along with the C&O and the NKP, either of which would be good partners in a merger.  Most often, it can be expected that at least two players will start in Cleveland, and the Erie and the C&O are likely to be their top choices.   Even though it has one less station than the C&O, because its home token is a yard, the Erie may at times be preferable as the first choice company.  The Erie President may find that starting with a yard and building a freight route early in the game may be more lucrative than waiting to add freight yards to his line late in the game when they are very expensive.  This is all the more desirable as only one player can own the shortest freight route along the shore of Lake Erie to Buffalo.  The train choices the owner expects to have in his first operation turn will also determine whether the Erie or the C&O is the better choice.  If the Erie is unable to gain the NKP as its merger partner, it may find the B&LE, the PM or the THB to be its best prospects.  Rivalry with the C&O player is almost a certainty, and if one starts at a much higher par than the other there will be strong incentive to make a takeover attempt on the chief rival.  In larger games, there may be a separate investor starting the NKP, providing fierce competition for the remaining merger partners.

P&R (4 stations, 8 yards): Unless one has a strong desire to start a company with a freight yard in Philadelphia, the Philadelphia & Reading (usually called the Reading) will generally appear to be a poor cousin to the much larger PRR that starts in the same city.  It simply doesn't have the reach of the mighty PRR, although it has the same circumstances for building track and making mergers.  It's importance as a potential first investment increases the more players there are in the game.  However, the B&O, PRR, and the three companies starting in New York City may all find it to be a very suitable merger partner.  The nearby LV, which is a freight-only company, is less suitable as a partner since it leaves the resulting system very shy of station tokens.  If yard trains should prove hard to come by, then a P&R/LV System would limp along with poor revenues for its few stations.  On the other hand, there is some advantage for the Reading line to follow in the footsteps of the PRR because revenues will rise more quickly and track improvements will be less expensive if the two companies share the same routes.

NYNH&H (7 stations, 4 yards): The New York, New Haven & Hartford line can easily reach within two turns to Boston or to White Plains or to Albany, thereby providing it with six potential partners for mergers.  If it merges with the B&M first, it can attempt without fear of takeover to push into New York City to benefit from the wealth of that region while simultaneously getting good earnings from the Boston area.  Shielded from outside interference by the NYNH&H/B&M System, its owner might later develop the MEC and BAR in Maine as a second system.  If the NYNH&H starts at a high par level, it may even be able to rush toward New York City while the B&M builds toward the New Haven's home station, thereby increasing it's chances of building a route into New York if competition should be fierce there.  Moreover, the New Haven may be able to merge with a New York City line (LIRR, NYC&HR, DL&W) by hostile takeover and establish a commuter run there.  If the player also owns the B&M, the latter can then seek to merge with the MEC (or even NYC) creating two solid systems in the northeast that would be hard to beat.  Establishing links to either of the two Albany lines is more expensive due to rougher terrain, but in games with seven or more players, it is possible that the New Haven player may find his company surrounded by other strong hostile lines with only the NYC or the D&H as a viable nearby merger partner.  Since the New Haven has only four yards, an ideal merger partner would be one that added 5 or more yards to the system to give it better balance. Thus the DL&W would be a better partner in New York City than the LIRR or the NYC&HR which have no yards.  Nevertheless, the NYNH&H is in an ideal location to be flexible in choosing a game strategy.  It can also be a good second company to any of those lines mentioned here.

B&M (5 stations, 5 yards):  As noted previously, Boston is a good starting point for someone who hopes to avoid the worries of takeovers from multiple neighbors.  A player who selects the Boston & Maine may find that his nearest neighbor is the NYC or NYNH&H, but he would still be able to look northeast toward the MEC for a friendly merger partner.  This is especially so if the B&M starts with a high par value.  If its neighbors to the west (NYNH&H, NYC, D&H) are weak, it can consider making a takeover of one of them.  When starting with one of those three companies, if no one else bought the B&M, the B&M could be just the right second company for them to start.  The B&M is surrounded by high-value large cities in low terrain--a definite advantage in track building and upgrading.  Its one significant disadvantage is that most of its track expansion will likely be based on its own efforts.  The B&M is evenly balanced between station and yard tokens, but it must become part of a larger system if it is to make any worthwhile income with trains larger than the "5" trains.  One final point of interest: the B&M is the company best able to profit from "Doubling Initial Revenues" [see major heading below].

Companies with 20% president's shares:

NKP (3 stations, 7 yards): The Nickel Plate Railroad has as many yard tokens as its two chief competitors (the C&O and Erie), but it only has half as many stations.  Thus it is the weaker of the three companies that start in Cleveland.  The NKP is potentially a desirable merger partner for the C&O or the Erie, but if it is started by a third player, there will be considerable competition for routes and merger partners in the west.  The NKP player, similar to the Erie player, will be eager to build a yard line connecting Toledo to Buffalo via Cleveland, but only one of them can manage to own the most desirable shoreline route.  If the C&O starts first with a mixed train, it also can compete for the same route, creating more challenges for the NKP.  Thus, being the first to operate out of Cleveland may be a major advantage.  If unable to merge with the C&O or the Erie, the NKP may find the THB to be its most advantageous merger partner, since the latter has more stations than yards.  On the other hand, if it somehow could be sure of having no trouble obtaining yard trains throughout the game, the B&LE's 9 yards would give it enough tokens to use the largest yard trains at game end, thereby providing it with a tremendous revenue advantage.  If a player can choose only one of either the NKP or Erie companies, the Erie would always be preferable to the NKP if only the number of tokens mattered.  However, there may be times when buying the NKP first would help that player also gain the Erie, or some other important merger partner in the area, thanks to the NKP's president's share being a 20% certificate.  With less shares to buy, the choice of a second company will come sooner.

DL&W (2 stations, 7 yards), LIRR (9 stations) and NYC&HR (8 stations):  All three of these companies start in New York City.  That alone makes them important as first or even second companies for the players.  The Long Island RR may well be one of the favorite companies to start.  If started at a high par value, it probably won't be easily taken over in the early stages of the game and if bought by the first player, it should also get the station train it needs so much.  The NYC&HR (New York Central & Hudson River) is only inferior in this respect because it has one less station token (and is only available in games of five or more players).  However, neither of these companies can function with yard trains, and only the use of track rights would make a mixed train viable.  Thus, if not started with high enough par values to end up running early in the first operation round, these companies risk the problem of not being able to buy a suitable train, thereby possibly leading to receivership problems.  They can risk starting slightly later and at slightly lower par values only if the companies that operate first happen to be companies unable to use station trains.  The Delaware, Lackawanna & Western can function with either station or mixed trains on the first turn, and later can build a decent yard route.  Note that it also can place a yard token in New York City itself, which is the single highest-paying token on the map.  Under fierce competition, it may even be able to do this before losing the opportunity to all other contenders for that plum (PRR, P&R, LV, CNJ, NYO&W, LNE).  Thus it is the least risky of the three companies starting in New York City. Nevertheless, the DL&W cannot run commuter trains as its New York sisters can.  It needs to be part of a larger system with more station tokens in order to do that.  The NYNH&H can be an ideal merger partner because the resulting system would have 9 stations and 11 yards.  The PRR or NYC could likewise be good partners.  Alternately, the DL&W may wish to merge with the LIRR or the NYC&HR to provide the latter two with the yards necessary to function when station trains are lacking.  For the LIRR and the NYC&HR, their prime interest is in laying tokens on the White Plains-New York City-Long Island West and East commuter run.  Finding a merger partner with yards is next on their wish list.  In a game with seven or more players, it is highly likely that all three of these companies will be in play.  Even with six or less players, at least two of them will probably be in play.

B&LE (9 yards), D&H (9 yards), and LV (8 yards): These are the large freight lines in the game.  The Bessemer & Lake Erie starts in Pittsburgh, the Delaware & Hudson in Albany, and the Lehigh Valley in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania.  All suffer from being forced to use yard trains only, so unless they operate before any other company, they each run the risk of owning no train capable of earning revenue.  However, with only one yard-type 2-train available in three- and five-player games, and only two such yard trains available with games of four, six or more players, only one or at best two of these companies could safely start a game.  Why would one want to even do that with so many larger companies around?  Suppose one is investing last after the other players have bought their companies and the others all started with 10% president's shares.  If they started at mid-range par values, the last player might wish to start one of these freight lines at high par value, guaranteeing that he will operate first and get his vital yard train.  Moreover, he would be able to invest in his second company sooner than the other players because his 20% president's share would save him a turn of purchasing.  Thus he might get a good combination, such as either the D&H or the LV paired with the NYC&HR, the D&H with the B&M or NYC, the B&LE plus one of the three Cleveland lines, or the LV and the B&O.  In doing so he might not only help create a viable system for himself, but thwart another player's second buy, such as the PRR hoping to get the B&O.  Moreover, if able to build those yard routes early, they can pay off quite handsomely in the end game when yard trains are more plentiful and competitors are struggling to build freight routes at exorbitant prices.  This is not a strategy for the timid, nor perhaps for the novice, but it is one possible route to success.

CNJ (4 stations, 4 yards): In games of seven or more players, the Central of New Jersey starts with a yard home station immediately adjacent to New York City.  If one has been shut out of starting a New York City company by the investments of other players, the little CNJ gets one close enough to perhaps grab the yard token slot or to even get some of the commuter slots.  Much will depend on its position in the operating round.  It also may make a nice merger partner for companies such as the PRR, P&R, and B&O (or even the WM in a nine-player game) that want to approach New York City from the west and have not been able to grab one of the lines starting in that city.  Even the LIRR, NYC&HR or DL&W may wish to merge with the CNJ.  Yet it would probably be a rare game in which the CNJ is actually a player's first starting company.

Companies with 25% president's shares:

GTW (4 stations, 4 yards):  This company is far too small to be the great Grand Trunk of Canadian history, and is misplaced to be the American component of the Grand Trunk, for the Grand Trunk Western was really a Michigan-based company connecting Detroit to Chicago.  The tokens only have the herald GT, not GTW, adding to the confusion of what to call this line.  Starting it in Toronto makes little historical sense for the GTW, and a new location and/or new name might have been a better choice for Carl Burger to make for this Canadian line.  {Perhaps a large GT company in Montreal, or the Great Western in Hamilton, or the GTW in Detroit would have been better.)   Furthermore, Toronto is a small city with stations only, but after building a short passenger run the company must turn to building a short freight line.  I consider the GTW to be less valuable than the THB which begins in a larger city and is closer to Buffalo.  However, if played the GTW will also generally build toward Buffalo, often trying to connect the large city of Hamilton, Ontario, with Buffalo via a freight line.  Obviously, trains bigger than 4-trains will be wasted on this line, and normally it would need one yard train and one station train in order to be profitable.  So a merger is highly important for this line.  For a player who wants to stay in a quiet backwater, the GTW could merge with the THB, but similar to an MEC/BAR System, this would not alone be a game-winning system.  One of the Cleveland lines (C&O, Erie, or NKP) might also wish to merge with it in the vicinity of Buffalo, or the PM or PS&N might be other potential partners, but these latter two are small companies and would again not be likely to produce a game-winning system by themselves.  A third company might be targeted for bonds, and then the system would have a stronger chance of success.  In games of seven or more players, the BR&P would be another potential partner, as would the DTI.  Nevertheless, the 25% president's share permits the owner of the GTW, if started as his first company, to buy his second company in the west earlier than competitors who had invested in large companies and also with more options for the par prices. At times, especially in games with a large number of players, this might prove useful.

MEC (3 stations, 5 yards): If one desired to play the B&M but was choosing last in the first round of stock investments, one could do very well by selecting the Maine Central first.  It's 25% president's certificate would then probably permit one to start the B&M before any competitors could, and would give the player two companies capable of a friendly merger.  There would be considerable flexibility in the starting par values, with the MEC able to start high or low depending on whether the NYNH&H, NYC, or D&H were likely to be targeting the B&M.  The other option for the MEC is to seek to merge with the BAR while the B&M attempts a hostile takeover against a western neighbor.  The B&M could be given the higher par value and the MEC would bide its time until the owner was able to start the BAR and arrange the friendly merger between the two Maine companies.  If the B&M was not able to effect a takeover, it could still fall back on merging with the MEC provided the BAR hadn't already become a factor to consider. Aside from the mergers with the BAR or the B&M, there is very little for the MEC to do.  There are no large cities in its home state of Maine, so it is not by itself a very lucrative company.  With the BAR it has the advantages of a system, although not a very rich one.  On occasion the MEC may be able to make a hostile takeover of the B&M, but rarely would a MEC/BAR System be able to effect a hostile takeover for bonds of a competitor's B&M since as the game progresses the B&M will likely have become part of some other system or will at least have become harder to take over.  The MEC can be useful, but never forget its limitations.

BAR (2 stations, 5 yards):  Available only in games of five or more players, the Bangor & Aroostook is dependent on the existence of the MEC in order to be a line of any significance.  It's home token is a station but with only two of them it wastes a station train unless it's part of a larger system, especially since it is unlikely to be one of the companies started in the first turn when 2-trains are available.  Perhaps in a game with nine or more players someone would want to stay out of the path of hostile takeovers and would elect to start the MEC and the BAR to form a system by friendly merger.  Such a  player might not come in last, but would not be likely to win unless he somehow also managed to invest very well in the best systems that developed in the game.  Where a B&M/MEC System already exists, it is unlikely anyone would want to start the BAR since it would be an obvious and probably easy target for a takeover for bonds.

PM (3 stations, 4 yards): The Pere Marquette company with its yard home token is the westernmost company in the game.  The PM is only available if five or more are playing 1831.  It could aim north and east to merge with a Canadian line (GTW or THB), but this would form a relatively weak system unless it connected all the large cities from Detroit to Buffalo north of Lake Erie. Adding Toledo or even Cleveland would also improve such a system, but track rights might be necessary.  More often, however, the PM is likely to be a takeover target or a second company for a player owning one of the three Cleveland-based companies (C&O, Erie, and NKP).   In this role, it could be part of a game-winning system.  In a large game with 7 or more players, the DTI starting in neighboring Toledo becomes another merger partner with which it might find wealth in a line through the large cities south of Toledo where track-building costs are fairly cheap.

NYO&W ( 3 stations, 4 yards):  The New York, Ontario & Western is only available in games of seven or more players.  This small line at least has both kinds of tokens, making it more likely to be in play than its adjacent neighbor, the LNE, whose home token is also a yard.  Nevertheless, it is one of the companies least likely to make an appearance in 1831, since it is surrounded by river and mountain terrain and needs a yard train to have any decent prospects for income.  A desperate LV, NYC, or D&H company might want to merge with it, or perhaps a New York City line that can't find any other merger partner.  If it managed to have a route into New York City it would be far more desirable, but it is likely to be too far away to beat the competition for the New York City token spaces.  Most players will find other companies more appealing for revenue purposes.  Actually, the only advantage this company has is its 25% president's certificate.  No other company so close to New York City or Albany has a larger president's certificate.  Consequently, a player who plays last (or perhaps second last) in the first stock round may want to choose this company just so that he can have first pick of a second company in the area.  This may work to his advantage if the other companies begin at $135 par or less and he starts the NYO&W at $150 par.  The NYO&W would then have the first opportunity at making a merger or a takeover in this region.  The weaker secondary companies of the other players might have to guard against him, perhaps thereby postponing their own friendly mergers.  In fact, sometimes the NYO&W player might even be able to start his second company elsewhere if he is confidant of making a takeover.  Or it might merge with the NYC or D&H, and then as a system make a takeover attempt for bonds against a New York City company.  In the long run, the NYO&W is not very good as a company, but just might turn into a powerful system if played correctly.  Incidentally, the historical predecessors of this company started in Oswego on the shores of Lake Ontario with a view to running a line to Jersey City.  It might have been more interesting if this railroad's home location were two hexes northeast of Rochester, the starting location of the BR&P.

R (2 stations, 4 yards): The Rutland Railroad requires nine or more players in order to be in play.  For some reason presumably related to play balance, Carl Burger placed its home station in what amounts to Whitehall, New York, rather than in Rutland, Vermont itself.  (If there were a large GT company starting in Montreal this would be a good merger partner.)  As it is, the Rutland's only merger partner is likely to be the D&H, or occasionally the NYC or B&M.  The 25% president's share is less useful with the Rutland than with the NYO&W, since it would likely be used only to help start a secondary company in Albany.  Chances are, the NYC will already be taken, and the D&H is risky as a secondary company.  As with the other three companies added on in games of nine or more players, the Rutland is unlikely to be purchased in the game.  In fact, it competes with the LNE for appearing to be the least useful company in the game. Once in a while, it may be useful for a player who wants an additional company to operate independently in a quiet backwater where the threat of a takeover is minimal.

Companies with 30% president's shares:

THB (5 stations, 2 yards) and BR&P (2 stations, 5 yards):  These two companies are the ones most oriented toward profiting from the large city of Buffalo.  There must be five or more players in order for the Toronto, Hamilton & Buffalo Railroad to be in play, and seven or more players for the Buffalo, Rochester, & Pittsburgh to be available.  The 30% president's share makes both of these companies valuable in regard to the stock certificate limit.  They may well be the best of the companies having 30% president's shares since they also have more tokens than the others in this category.  Moreover, they are better placed to prosper independently than others of this group, especially if they can reach Buffalo early, before other companies out of Cleveland reach it.  The two would make good partners for a merger if there are at least seven players in the game, since their numbers of stations and yards exactly complement each other.  The THB should emphasize the passenger route to Buffalo while the BR&P would emphasize the freight line.  Despite its name, the THB will have little interest in going to Toronto in this game, since Toronto is a small city with no importance except as the home station of the GTW.   The GTW may be a potential merger partner, but the large companies of Cleveland will no doubt eye it as well, as may also the PM or the PS&N.  Ideally, starting the THB first and then selling off two shares in order to buy a second company will probably give this player the first chance to buy a second company in a typical first Stock Round.  If all players have made one purchase and only one other player has bought a Cleveland company, the THB owner should have his pick of the remaining two. If he wants to be in Cleveland and two lines have been chosen there already, he might as well start with the THB and then pick up the remaining one since even the NKP player would choose his second company after the THB owner.  The BR&P's merger partners are most likely to be the THB, GTW, one of the three Cleveland lines, the PS&N, or perhaps the NYC or D&H.  The THB and the NYC are perhaps the easiest mergers to effect.  In fact, the NYC is more likely to head for Buffalo if it has the BR&P as a friendly ally for a merger or if it is vulnerable to a takeover attempt by the NYC.  Both of these companies start with home stations.

EBT (6 yards) and LNE (6 yards): It would be a strange game that saw either of these "coal lines" begin in the first Stock Round.  Both can place only yard tokens, and available locations for these tokens are chiefly in mountain or river terrain.  Early in the game they face the problem of a shortage of yard trains, and late in the game the yard trains are too big for companies with only six tokens.  Neither of these companies is in a prime location for mergers or takeovers, and if one dares to start a yard-only company in Stock Round #1, it is more likely to be one of the bigger ones with better prospects (B&LE, D&H, LV).  The LNE appears only in games of nine or more players, whereas the EBT only requires at least five players.  Thus, the LNE will rarely be seen in play.  If it is started, it will likely be only because some company in the New York City or Albany vicinity lost its expected merger partner and needs another one close enough for their track lines to connect.  The EBT might be a suitable partner for other "coal lines" such as the B&LE, LV, PS&N, or its near neighbor the C&PA, if it was confident of its ability to gain yard trains every time it had to purchase one.  Since this kind of absolute confidence in unlikely, it is more likely that one of the lines in Baltimore or Philadelphia would be a better match, especially if they had been shut out of New York City.  In a game with nine or more players, such a thing might happen, but in five- or six-player games, the EBT will probably not be considered very relevant for mergers.  However, if the C&O starts in Virginia, and cannot merge with the B&O, then the EBT might be its only other possible merger partner.  The fact that these "coal lines" have a 30% president's share might encourage some players with extra money in their hands to buy them in mid-game so as to have extra income along with a gain in stock holdings.  However, if players wait too long the combination of terrain costs and high-priced yards may make these companies only marginally profitable at best.  They need to be part of a system to bring better profits, but usually there will be better merger options for most companies than these small lines.

DTI (2 stations, 4 yards): Seven players are required for the Detroit, Toledo & Ironton railroad to be in play. Its merger options are similar to those of the PM, which has one more station and therefore might be slightly more preferred.  However the DTI is ideally suited for building a line south through the large cities of western Ohio, making it a very favorable partner for one of the large Cleveland-based companies.  Moreover, unlike the neighboring PM, the DTI's home location is a station.  The 30% president's share may also offset the token advantage of the PM.  It can be used in the same way as the THB to possibly latch onto a Cleveland company as the second  investment of the first stock round, but if both the DTI and THB are in play, the one which started first with the higher par value will have the edge in that contest.  The DTI might even consider the PM as a merger partner.

WM (3 stations, 3 yards): The Western Maryland begins at a station in Baltimore, but only if there are nine or more players in the game.  The B&O is always a better choice as a company, leaving the WM as the secondary choice for a company looking for a merger partner in the Baltimore region.  The C&O, if starting in Virginia, may consider it along with the C&PA or the EBT for mergers or takeovers if the B&O is not its partner.  If fearful of its neighbors, the B&O player may start the WM only for the convenience of creating a quick friendly merger to protect against advances by the PRR or P&R.  As with the three other small companies (R, LNE, C&PA) added in for games with nine or more players, this company is not likely to appear in many games, although it is perhaps more likely to appear than one of those other three.  Outside of providing extra stock holdings due to its 30% president's certificate, the other advantage of the WM is that it is located in a large city near two other large cities (Washington and Philadelphia), thereby giving it some usefulness as a merger partner.

Companies with 50% president's shares:

PS&N (6 yards): Available in games with five or more players, the Pittsburgh, Shawmut & Northern "coal line" should usually forget about Pittsburgh and head for Buffalo which is closer, less expensive to reach, and more remunerative.  As with the EBT and LNE, most of the nearby terrain is expensive for track-laying.  The 50% president's share allows for no sell-offs to start a second company, so it will be unlikely ever to start in the first Stock Round.  The BR&P, THB, GTW, EBT, and the three Cleveland lines are the lines near enough for mergers, but chances are that most players will consider other companies to be more useful than the PS&N as a merger patrtner.  On its own, the company is likely to be only marginally profitable at best, but as part of a system with a long yard route it could pay off fairly well in the endgame.

C&PA (6 yards):  Everything said about the EBT is true for its near neighbor, the Cumberland & Pennsylvania "coal line."  The only difference is that this company is even better as a buy for those with an interest in maximizing their shares of stock, since its president's share is a 50% certificate.  However, nine or more players are required for the C&PA to be active, so it won't see action very often.

Summary:

The large companies will appeal to players for their greater numbers of tokens and consequent ability to use the larger trains in the endgame.  The smaller companies are desirable because they offer more stock shares per president's certificate.  This advantage should not be over-looked, especially by players who are last in the stock-buying sequence.  There is considerable advantage in selecting one's second company before one's competitors do.  It not only may leave you with the best combination to be had, but it may even be good as a defensive move to prevent the first player or two from getting ideal matches for their original companies.  Players must consider their own preferences in regard to region of the board in which to operate, the risks to be taken, and the options remaining after previous players have chosen their companies.   In games with many players, one might even avoid running a company and prefer to buy stock in other player's companies with the hope of having the winning mix.

The above summary comments on the companies do not take into close account a player's choice of starting a company at $77 par and buying all ten shares.  Buying the second company at a high par value would be delayed until Stock Round #2, and the merger of the two cannot occur until the third operation round of the game.  This delay entails some risk since the original company may become a takeover target before the second company has the option to make a merger.  Players are cautioned to use this buying strategy after careful consideration of what other players are doing and where the original company will be located.  This strategy is riskier the earlier in the stock round that a player must choose his company.  On the other hand, it can provide the player with considerable profit and give him an early advantage in overall assets.  This translates into more buying power early in the game.  Remember also that not all the other players will be able to effect a friendly merger on their second round of operation, since the market values of the companies may be too close or the available cash insufficient.  Moreover, some may even lose their second company to hostile takeovers.  1831 is a game that provides no absolutely safe starting strategies.  What happens is driven by the mix of players, their preferences, and the chances they are willing to take.  Excessive caution leads to stagnant growth, but lack of sufficient caution can lead to the loss of one's companies.  The winner will normally be the one who makes the most of all opportunities while keeping an eye on the threats to his own holdings.

3. COMMON STOCK

Common Stock presents players with opportunities and pitfalls.  Since the purchase of a company's third and fourth 10% common stock certificates from the initial offering cause the Stock Marker Token to rise one square each (rules 4.7.10 and 4.7.11), the value of company thus increases when it has become 80% and 90% funded.  Per a clarification from Carl Burger, a system will also get this advantage when it becomes 80% and 90% funded due to a new common stock purchase.  Thus, when a company at 90% funding takes over another that had no common stock yet sold, it would gain the 80% and 90% funding bonuses again when the 6th and 8th of the 5% common stock shares in the initial offering are purchased.  In addition, when all of a company's or system's stock is fully in players' hands, there will be another rise of the Stock Marker Token at the end of the Stock Round.  Needless to say, all these rises in value are very beneficial to the owners of that stock.

One of the initial investment ploys is to buy up all the preferred and common stock certificates of a company with a $77 par value in order to get it to rise in value three levels even before it operates.  Next, in the first operating round, by choosing "pay all plus 200%" of revenue as dividends, a player gains an increase (to the right) of two more levels of stock value.  A nice profit can be gained by selling off some of this stock in the subsequent Stock Round.  Combined with the large dividend profit he received, a player can then start another company at a high par value.  Thanks to the "pay all + 200%" high dividends, the original stock won't even fall much in value when some of it is sold.  Ideally, the company itself can buy one or two of the sold shares in order to provide a constant source of income every time dividends are paid out in the future.

Even aside from this particular initial investment strategy, players must always be mindful that anytime 80% and/or 90% of the initial offering shares have been purchased, a corporation will increase in market value.  Moreover, players should never forget that moving money around can easily result in an improved financial position.  When one buys a share of stock from initial offerings, that corporation gains cash to finance future track growth, or train or stock purchases.  If that purchase causes an increase in stock value, so much the better.  Selling off stock after it has just risen in value may sometimes result in the value of the company falling back to where it was before purchasing began in that Stock Round.  Sometimes there may be a small loss in value.  However, the corporation has still received an influx of cash and the player also has more cash (if the stock had gone up in value with his purchase) than when he started.  He can then use that extra cash to buy stock in another corporation.  Thus the player has not only gained more shares for himself, he has also simultaneously managed to place money into the original corporation's treasury.  Obviously, moving money around in this way can result in a better financial position for both the player and his corporation.

For example, let's suppose that player A is president of the B&O company valued at D165c,162p (Row D, starting from the top of the Stock market Chart, with common stock at $165 per share and preferred at $162 per share).  Let's make the par value for its common stock equal to $122 and we'll also assume that there is no "Government Intervention" card in play to prevent profit taking. If Player A buys the 8th and 9th initial offering shares of the B&O, its stock will rise in value to B195c,180p.  In his next stock turn, let's assume that Player A now sells two shares of B&O common stock.  If the B&O had "paid all" in its most recent operating round, then the B&O stock would only drop in value to C180c,171p.  The B&O corporation would have received  $244 when it sold player A those two shares, but after selling those shares Player A would have earned $390.  Thus, he made a profit of $146 for himself while giving his company $244.  The company can save this money to purchase track, tokens, trains, or track rights.  Or, it could immediately use it to buy one or two shares of the B&O that were just sold into the Stock Bank Pool.  Per a clarification from Carl Burger to rules 4.6.1.1 and 4.6.4, the B&O would be able to redeem these shares by paying for them at their new value, after the sale by Player A.  Thus, they could be bought for $180 apiece, or $360 total.    If the B&O did not have that much cash, it would only be able to buy back one share, since it would at least have $244.  This share or two would provide the company with income whenever dividends were paid on common stock.

In the above example, after benefiting his corporation, Player A would still have his $146 profit.  That's almost enough to buy one high-valued certificate or two low-valued shares.  Since this player has at least the $390 from selling the two B&O shares, he actually could now purchase 5 shares at $77 par, four at $95 par, or three at $122.  So both the player and his company profit.

4. INVESTING

The timing of investments can be crucial.  If it is obvious that company A is soon to attempt a takeover of company B, players who invest in one or the other may make a profit.  If preferred stock is available in company A, that is usually the best investment in this situation, since the resulting system can usually be expected to be profitable.  However, some concern should be given to the long-term prospects of the new system and also to whether its president is likely to be able to keep it out of receivership.  On the other hand, if no preferred stock is available, the purchase of common stock in Company B is definitely worth considering.  Normally, the value of the 5 common shares of company B's stock taken over by company A will increase to the market value of company A, thereby giving the owner of B's shares a nice increase in the value of his stock assets.  The one caveat here is that the purchase of company B's original offering shares may possibly cause the market value of company B to rise (at 80% and 90%), and/or give B enough cash that company A can no longer effect a takeover of B.  There are times when preventing the formation of a system in this manner may be useful for a player who either may be looking to create his own system in that region of the map, or who simply wishes to slow down the prospects of his competitors.

The president of a company that is in imminent danger of being subject to a takeover attempt should consider whether his company is worth saving.  If he wishes to avoid the takeover, buying more initial offering shares for himself may help prevent it since it adds to the company's cash holdings.  Other players looking to benefit from the rise in stock price after the merger may also make purchases, adding to the possibility that the company may become too rich to take over.  In addition, if enough common shares are bought the company will rise in stock value one to three levels during the stock round, further making it harder to take over.  Moreover, even if the company is taken over, those shares will usually appreciate even more in value, and one can hope for some dividend benefits from the forthcoming system as well. Holding back the revenues in a company during an operation round may not be as productive as investing in the company because the increase in company cash will be partially offset by a drop in share value.  So each step of the way the president must carefully calculate his likelihood of success in employing these various options.

5. DOUBLING INITIAL REVENUES

Carl Burger suggested a simple ploy to double one's initial revenues from train runs at the start of the game.  It is a ploy that not only may be an income booster for one's company, but could also be used to thwart other players' train purchases, track builds, and potential mergers or takeovers.

A company can only lay a maximum of four track tiles, of which only two may be city tiles.  Using the B&M as an example, the two city tiles could be placed in Boston and the adjacent large city immediately west of Boston.  Two more track tiles can be placed in non-city hexes.  If one of these is a sharp curve placed immediately south of Boston and its adjacent large city, such that the plain curved track connects both cities, then there will be two routes that can be run to connect Boston to its western neighbor.  If the B&M buys two identical "2" trains, it can earn revenues from both because they will follow different routes to the same locations.  In the case of the B&M, the trains would have to be both station trains or mixed trains, depending on whether the city west of Boston was given a station or a yard.

This ploy can be applied to many other locations, but it cannot be used by companies in places surrounded by city hexes, namely, the LIRR, DL&W, and NYC&HR in New York City; the CNJ next to New York City, and the BR&P east of Buffalo. Locations connecting two large cities should definitely have an advantage, but only the B&M and the LV are so favored.  All the rest connect a large city to a small one, or connect two small cities.  This ploy also works best on those locations where track can run through plains and is therefore less expensive.  A company in one of the suitable locations will have a good reason for buying two trains, and it will in addition deny such trains to its competitors, perhaps slowing them down in the process.

There are some places on the map where using this ploy might be counterproductive.  For example, players usually wish to connect Cleveland to Toledo.  Placing a sharp curve west of Cleveland connecting to the small city southwest of Cleveland would temporarily prevent track from running to Toledo.  This could be useful as a defensive move, however, if one didn't want the PM or DTI to be able to quickly connect to Cleveland for fear of a hostile takeover of your company by one of them, or to prevent a friendly merger between one of them and another Cleveland company.  Remember that you may upgrade a tile only if you connect to it or have a token in it.  Since non-city yellow track upgrades to double-tracked versions of the same track pattern, clever use of yellow track tiles may prevent a competitor's corporation from expanding into areas in which you don't wish to see it.

6. TRAINS

All corporations must have at least one train to operate, and systems must maintain a minimum of two trains once the first 3-train has been purchased.  A key factor in the success of any company or system is its ability to run trains of the proper type along its lines.  For example, the "coal lines" that have only yard tokens can make no use of a station train, yet to meet the requirement of owning a train they may sometimes find themselves having to buy the wrong type of train.  If unable to soon buy the correct type of train, such a company will lose market value from lack of dividends.  On the other hand, if a merger is imminent, an unsuitable train may become useful in the new system, thereby eventually earning its keep.  Generally, however, a corporation will want to own trains that it can actually use.  On some occasions, a corporation with extra cash at its disposal may buy a train it cannot use for the purpose of preventing a competitor from buying it and/or to resell it to a friendly company that will need it but must make its train purchase after another company would likely have bought it.  One of the easiest ways to slow down the competition is in fact to prevent them from obtaining the trains they need.

Should a corporation need a train but find itself lacking the financial resources to obtain one, the corporation will go into receivership.  Receivership is usually very hard on a company unless by chance it occurs in the last operation round of an operation set and the company would also earn enough in that operation round to pay off its debt.  This means that corporations should always be planning ahead for their next train purchases in order to avoid coming up short on cash when a new train is required.  Permanent trains don't appear until the 7-trains are in play, but the high expense of the larger trains makes it vital that a company receive increasingly larger influxes of cash on a regular basis. This usually means that a corporation will at times have to withhold some or all of the income from revenue runs, or will have to obtain additional cash from purchases of its common stock.  A merger or takeover is another way to quickly gain sizable sums of cash, partly from the merger bonus and partly from the funds owned by the company that is absorbed.  However, since a system must maintain two trains, this also will add to it a financial burden as the game progresses.  Normally, if a system is of decent size with both stations and yards, and if it is running two or more trains in the mid-game or endgame, it will generally be receiving plenty of income and may find that it doesn't lack for cash to buy trains.  Moreover, the president of a system may use his own cash to help subsidize the cost of a new train for the system, provided that the system will have no cash after the transaction is complete.  Owners of systems should remember this tactic and use it to avoid the problems caused by a train rush.

The purchase of a new type of train may cause an earlier type of train to become obsolete.  When corporations see their trains retired in this way, some of them may have to buy new trains.  If the purchase of new trains causes another train type to become obsolete, this "train rush" may cause some companies or systems to have to buy a greater number of trains at a higher expense than they were prepared to buy.  Thus a train rush can easily lead to one or more receivership situations. Using a six-player game as an example, suppose that the game reaches a state of five systems and 4 companies, necessitating a minimum of 14 trains to be in play.  The first five train has appeared, so there are no 2-trains running.  There will be eight 3-trains in play, seven 4-trains, and now the first of five 5-trains.  This makes twenty trains that can be in play when only 14 minimum are needed.  However, some companies and systems will be running more trains than the necessary minimum.  As soon as the first 6-train is bought, the eight 3-trains will disappear, leaving 13 trains in play.  At least one company will be short a train.  Companies that don't need another train may buy one anyway, chiefly to prepare for the imminent loss of the 4-trains.  So soon the 6-trains are all gone.  Then a 7-train is bought and the 4-trains all disappear.  Now only five 5-trains, five 6-trains and the new 7-train are in play.  That is three less than the minimum 14 trains required for existing companies and systems, and some of those corporations may have more than their own minimum.  This means some of the other corporations face the prospect of buying one or perhaps two expensive trains.  The specter of receiverships looms.  This can all happen very quickly, such that in the course of one operation round two types of trains may disappear.  Such a train rush can be disastrous for corporations unprepared for it.  As Carl Burger would say, "Don't let the train rush eat you alive!"



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