1832 Game Strategy Compendium

This article contains suggestions and comments on game strategy by both Bill Dixon, the designer of 1832, and by other players of the game.  All of this information is derived from emails found in the Yahoo! 18xx egroup.

Q. What do people see as the best use of a takeover merger in 1832?  It seems at first glance...the takeover is a lot more difficult to use beneficially (as opposed
to the system).  (Mike, 29 June 2006)  [celerasys_mmcguirk]

A1. I imagine it would mostly come in handy in the late game, when you have been running a company in the yellow or green for a while and find that you'd like its tokens (and perhaps its train), but not at the cost of hammering your other company's share price.   (David G. D. Hecht, 29 June 2006)

A2. Takeover mergers are useful (defensively) to decrease your share count where you are approaching a cert limit or (offensively) to lower the cert limit and force your opponents to sell certs at the next stock round. Though hitting the yellow seems more optimal than the former and the latter is still theorycraft in our games (hasn't happened yet--but much discussion).  (Trev Dewey, 19 July 2006) [tdewey100]

On 19 July 2006 Trev Dewey inaugurated a discussion with the following comments.  It should be noted that Mr. Dewey and his group were playing on a game board that had Kansas City worth $80 from Phase Eight.  Bill Dixon clarified that this was an error and subsequent maps produced by John Tamplin for this game have Kansas City correctly shown as worth $60.  Nevertheless, the discussion prompted by the original comment provides insight (along with some humor) on  game strategy in 1832.

(Trev Dewey, 19 July 2006):
Played 1832 about five times now and I think we've found one major map flaw. To whit - the general unworthiness of Atlanta. Atlanta starts as a 20 goes to a 40 and ends as a 60 (brown). Almost all the offboard starting areas are better until browns (Miami excepted but the FCL [FEC] gets a +50 token), so development up until browns has almost completely ignored Atlanta. But it gets worse! The West Virigina Coal fields at 40/60 (yellow/brown) are as good or better than Atlanta in every phase and its much easier to hit them multiple times. The Southern, L&N, Seaboard and N&W spend their time ignoring Atlanta or Charleston/Savannah and hitting the WVCF as much as possible. But it gets worse! Finally when you get to phase 8 (grey) - Kansas City hits an 80 and the magic run is usually from the Richmond offboard to Kansas City (if you can make it). But it gets worse! Companies starting in Atlanta have a heck of a time getting out as they're surrounded by town, mountains and minor cities (dots that can upgrade to a city). Now all of this wouldn't matter if Atlanta hit a grey 80 (tying it w/ KC as the best dot on the board). If that were the case companies would try to hit Atlanta early to get a token in for the late game run.

My question then is: where is my grey 80 Atlanta tile?

P.S. The game is otherwise very enjoyable and I can unreservedly recommend it to any 18xx player -- but our group considers it humourous that in a game dealing with the south-east companies are best off ignoring Atlanta until phase 8 or so (after all the other brown city tiles have been used up). We've complated stealing the
Toronto tile from 1856 and using it as an 80-grey for Atlanta.

(John A. Tamplin, 19 July 2006):

You do realize that at the beginning of the game, Atlanta (initially called simply "Terminus" and then "Marthasville") was a very small town, then was totally trashed during the Civil War, before growing up to be the metropolis it is today, right? So, I don't think the scenario in the game is necessarily historically inaccurate, other than perhaps it is too valuable in the early and middle game. Besides, even if there are higher values on the map, that doesn't mean that a 60 city is something to ignore.

(Trev Dewey, 19 July 2006):
The historical accuracy of the game isn't in question. Though I'm a firm believer that in 18xx games playability is much more important than accuracy. My Atlanta problem (tm) - doesn't make the game unplayable (1832 is a strong #2 in my favorite 18xx game list after only 1856). Every 18xx game has standard openings and standard opening companies (one day if I ever have $10,000 to burn I'll get a friend of mine--and the best 18xx player I know to write a coffee table book of 18xx openings for the more popular 18xx games). What we thought was odd about 1832 is that Atlanta isn't a part of the "standard" opening in 1832 and gets ignored until it's a 60. You already know my proposed "solution" to (what may only be my) problem--get some variant tiles for Atlanta. Many (most? all but my gaming group?) 18xx players would not consider it an issue at all.

As an aside: we've been (unsuccesfully) discussing ways to implement the Civil War (Dixon's proposed variant is too random for 18xx). Suggestions included: automatically halving all runs during four trains, using the minor city tokens and letting each player place 3 of them on 3 cities of their choice. Value for that city goes to zero for a set of operating rounds. We're all seeing why Dixon chose to just exclude it from the game.

(Bill Dixon, 21 July 2006):
You ignore Atlanta until it's a 60? Boy does my group want to play with you guys. To be given free reign to lock up Atlanta while you fiddle in the outskirts is a dream.

[Bill proceeds to discuss how Chicago is the only US city that should be worth 100 in an 18xx game, new York, Los Angeles and probably seattle should be worth 80, and the next level of major cities, including Atlanta, should be 60.  This and further discussion on Atlanta's history  and its impact on the game can be found in the article on 1832 Game Design.]

Responding next to Trev's remark that "Companies starting in Atlanta have a heck of a time getting out as they're surrounded by town, mountains and minor cities (dots that can upgrade to a city), Bill Dixon continues:

Have you heard of mergers yet?  It's part of the game. You take a small company with a token in Atlanta and merge it with one outside of Atlanta. Works well!

(Trev Dewey, 21 July 2006):
More than happy to play you guys. 3 v 3 or 2 v 2 at Dragonflight 2006 in Seattle--Aug 25 & 26th (also 27th but no 18xx events). I'm running all the 18xx events. Come on down--we'll be happy to coal train you to defeat in West Virginia while you guys party it up in Atlanta ;.

We've played a lot of 1832 since I received it from John and we've tried lots of different starting strategies FCL [FEC], GMO - starting the GC early -- yet every game was won by the person who started either the SAL, SR or L&N and ran to the coalfields early. After a lot of debate and track laying we noted that Atlanta was underused until it hit 60.

[In response to Dixon's mention of mergers:] Well - you have to connect to Atlanta first to be able to merge. And you're better off laying track elsewhere if Atlanta hasn't been upgraded so by the time you reach Atlanta a six is out and merger time is over.

(Chris Acreman, 22 July 2006):
[Responding to Trev's acceptance of Dixon's challenge to play the guys from Vancouver:]

This challenge comes under the heading of "Be Careful What You Ask For."

The guys from Vancouver divide the 18xx world into three kinds of players: Minnows, Chum, and Sharks. Minnows are new players to be nurtured. Chum are experienced players who are not nearly as good as their self esteem would warrant. Sharks are those who enforce this discipline.

The guys from Vancouver are NOT Sharks. The guys from Vancouver scare the hell out of Sharks.

Don't say I didn't warn you.

(Trev Dewey, 23 July 2006):
Heh. It's smacktalk time on WW18xx. No worries mate--the Seattle-Texas-Florida gang that'll be at DF aren't bad (should Dixon & co chose to come on down) ;-).

(Bill Dixon, 24 July 2006):
[Responding to a game design remark from Trev Dewey:]
Since when is Kansas an 80? It should be 60. It looks like an error slipped in somewhere? What does dropping KC to the lower value do to your strategy?

(Bill Dixon, 24 July 2006):
While the Sharks are based in Vancouver, I do not consider myself one of them. You would be happy to play me. You would not be happy to play the
sharks. Don't know if any of them are going to Dragon flight in Seattle (except perhaps Dr. Diddle) but I'll ask around. I would be there except for those two major problems, Vacation Time and Lacka Wampum.  [Note: John Tamplin replied that indeed this was an error and added:  "If anyone who purchased a copy from Deep Thought Games wants an overlay tile to place over KC, please email support@deepthoughtgames.com and we will get it to you."]

(Bill Dixon, 24 July 2006):
In the winning strategy you are playing that the Coal Co. rights are not available until the company has been purchased right? Who pays for all the mountains? How slow are the trains going?

Actually thinking about your comments I would suspect that trains go very slowly in your games, right? In games where the trains go fast, there isn't time to develop the North.

(Trev Dewey, 25 July 2006):
In our games to date: coal company is always purchased during phase 2 by either the SR (most often), SAL (2nd most) and N&W/L&N (once each).

Using the coal company the SR can,  for $180 or $200 (don't have map in front of me--is it 3 $60 or 2 $60 and an $80 for the SR and a $60 + $70 for the SAL for the 2 train runs), run 2 2-trains for 12 (WVCF at 40, Home Tile is 20). The SAL can do the same for slightly less IIRC. So for $180 + $160 + $80 you have the tile lays and the 2 two trains and $80 in your hand and $260 still in the company (assuming $68 par). Even if greens are out the SR will generally play tile through the WVCF to the city adjacent to the SAL allowing it to run 3 "2" trains for 18. OR1: Tight City, Gentle. OR2: Gentle, Straight (run for $12) OR3: Gentle or Straight City and something else (run for $18).

Since the SAL is almost sure to start the actual track lay is faster and the SR home tile is usually a green city by OR3 (if not sooner) so while the minimum run is $18 the usual run is at least $20 by this time (this is counting only 3 2 trains - again in the usual case the SR would be running 2 2's and a 3 at this time so the actual run is probably $22 (SAL home tile) or $23 (Louisville) by OR3). The SAL or L&N (if it connected through) is doing as well at this point.

With regard to how quickly trains come out: generally a company gets to run its two trains twice (once or never if it starts too late). We will run backwards (if necessary) to get fours out early otherwise whoever has the SR or SAL runs away with the game. As with 1870 - there is a sometimes a little hang-up on 5's - since
they are non-permanent as people manuever to try to limit their companies to 1 5-train.

With respect to the question you asked regarding the fix to KC in a different post -- the change to KC may change our longterm view of Atlanta--obviously Atlanta is now better than KC as a 60 that you can run through (vs a 60 that you can't). We're going to play with the correct KC tonight to see how it affects strategies. My suspicion is that it is just going to nerf the GM&O or L&N. One strategy people have done once or twice is where the L&N and SR are hostile to each other (and the SAL has tokened in the SR home tile) the L&N has ended up helping the GM&O head north to KC via Birmingham (with sidetrack to ATL of course) -- GM&O would token in the Birmingham and the L&N home tile -- cutting the SR & SAL out of the endgame KC run. There's much less interest on the part of the
GM&O heading that far north early when KC is only a $60.

We'll see. Thanks much for answering my questions.

(John A. Tamplin, 25 July 2006):
[Responding to Trev Dewey's comment about limiting a company to one 5-train:] In the games I have played, if there have been more than two mergers, the 12s haven't come out since you reduce the total number of required trains.

(Trev Dewey, 25 July 2006):
After the first 8 is out there is a slow "rush" [heh] to the 12's by whoever has the least 5 trains or most train power. Running backwards or sideways as necessary.

Now (unlike 1870) 8s run almost as well (or as well) as 12s in our experience in 1832 - but the effect of killing the 5s is usually worth it (to whomever brought out the first 12). Your mileage (and groupthink) will vary. We "know" 12s are coming out so we maneuver to bring them out and deal with the consequences of their emergence. Self-fulfilling prophecy and etc.

(John A. Tamplin, 25 July 2006):
The problem is if you withhold multiple times to buy a 12, if everyone else just keeps paying the game won't last long enough for you to recoup your losses. Granted, if someone doesn't have enough permanent trains for all their companies they are going to have to react to it, but otherwise, just run with the extra trains while you have them and then limp to the finish on what is left usually is the winning strategy (in these games in general, I haven't played 1832 enough yet to say what is or is not a winning strategy, but I suspect it is similar to 1850 and 1870 and in 1832 it seems more prominent, since the delta between the minumum and maximum number of trains is higher due to systems). If you have enough money after mergers/etc so you can do it with only one withhold or a couple of half-dividends, then by all means you should do it (assuming you aren't the one with the most 5s :).

(Trev Dewey, 27 July 2006):
With respect to John Tamplin's comments about 12 trains ... I don't see how you run out of money before bringing out 12's. 1832 has a lot of tokens and only a few key cities so we're seeing endgames where 8's are running only a pip or two better than 6's and 10's and 12's running only a pip or two better, if at all, than the 8's (picking up the odd town(s)).  (Indeed there was competition for the brown 20-town tiles last night to maximize those runs.)

In any event, at this point we all agree that 1832 is probably the #2 18xx game out there (after 1856). 1856 edges ahead because it remains the only 18xx game (at least that I am aware of) where all players have control over their own destinies at the start (that is in a 6 player game, in the usual case, all players should be able to start their own company).

(John A. Tamplin, 27 July 2006):
Any of the games with fixed player initial capital meets that criteria, including 1846, 18FL, and 1889, among others.

[To be continued]

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