Strategies for 1841

Compiled by Lou Jerkich from comments by Robert Jasiek

The text that follows is derived from the email responses of Robert Jasiek in the 18xx Yahoo! eGroup on January 1 and 2, 2007, to questions by Lou Jerkich regarding the play of 1841.  Much of the text is verbatim from Robert Jasiek, but the statements in two different emails have been re-grouped here into logical relationship with each other.  Some clarifications were added for the sake of those not familiar with 1841 or 18xx games in general.  At times, the question to which Robert responded has been converted into the first part of a sentence in which he has provided the answer.

There are two basic winning strategies:
a) tame play (bring your initial company through to the end).
b) aggressive play (print money, i.e. sell initial shares as quickly as legal, launch daughters ASAP at 340 value, merge with privately bought 68-value shares, and iterate until you lose track of what exactly you are doing).

In regard to the starting value of companies floated in a four player game with players who begin with L.840 in cash, 68 is lethal, 100 is risky, 340 is inefficient. If the price is wrong, then the leech wins, unless you scare him by withholding or buying the first 4-train, etc.

It doesn't matter much how many of the four concessions get bought by the players. However, sometimes it can be a disadvantage to have the wrong number and not be in a position to control the speed of train development. The concessions for Ferdi and Genovese are the most expensive ones. We bid around 95 in 1841 v.1 and a 4+ players game. (With 3 players, all concessions are worth much more.) If you play full rules of 1841 v.2, the Ferdi concession should cost considerably more than 95. 120 is a modest first guess, in my opinion.  The Ferdi is already strong in v.1, where the daughters are minors. In v.2 they are majors. This makes the Ferdi much stronger, so strong that we have decided to play v.2 with the rule change that Ferdi spilts into minors.

Usually it doesn't matter whether you start two companies at game start or focus on just one, if only you deplete any superfluous companies ruthlessly.  A company is superfluous if keeping it does not generate dividends for you, the player, and if it needs a train that you would prefer in another company. A superfluous company has fulfilled its major purpose once you have printed its money and depleted it.  Depletion is one option; merging to generate a well-funded company is another.

The optimum is to deplete a company of its assets and sell its shares so an opponent inherits it, but this requires careless opponents.

Merging away depleted companies is a useful option indeed. E.g., float two daughters, print money with each of them, deplete both, merge them (to get a high stock price), then merge that fusion with your (cheap) privately owned company. You might also omit the last merger and simply put a cheap permanent train in the daughters' fusion. If opposing players have shares in it (besides the directly controlling mother), withhold!

One thing you should note: It makes a big difference whether the Livornese is created out of 2 or 3 companies: either you halve your shares or you get only a quarter.

Needless to say, the purpose of buying trains is to kill them.  If a company does not need to buy a train because it is without a route or because all 8-trains are sold, write off the share values and simply leave it depleted.

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