THREE VARIANTS FOR 1853

Created by Lou Jerkich, August 10, 2007

Share Certificate Random Draw Variant:

The procedures and the Initial Dealing Round described below replace the original 1853 rules for Contract Bidding and determining the initial seating order.

1. Take 5 single shares of each of the 8 companies and thoroughly shuffle them into one face-down stack of 40 cards, called the “Draw Deck.” 

2. Determine the seating order and initial holder of the priority deal Elephant using the place cards from the MIK 2 kit for 1853 or from some other 18xx game.  (One could also take a single share card from each of as many companies as there are players, mix them, hold them face down, and have the players each select one. Determine priority and seating sequence by the value of the cards selected.)

3. Designate a place for cards in the “Bank Pool” and also a place for “Available Shares.”

4. Conduct an Initial Dealing Round which will continue until all players have consecutively passed.  Starting with the holder of the Elephant, and then taking turns in seating order, each player may at his option sell one or more of his shares into the Bank Pool for $5 less than the face value of each share sold.  After selling shares or declining to sell, each player must also do one of the following:

A. Draw a single share from the “Draw Deck” and then either buy it at face value or place it in the “Available Shares” area.

B. Buy a share at face value from the “Available Shares” area.

C. Buy a share at face value from the “Bank Pool.”

D. Pass, but only if the “Draw Deck” is fully depleted and the player has insufficient cash to buy another share, or cannot legally do so.

5. None of the remaining 5 shares of each company that were not included in the “Draw Deck” may be purchased during the Initial Dealing Round.

6. No one will own any shares to sell in their first turn of this Initial Dealing Round, but as the Dealing Round proceeds, they will accumulate shares randomly from the Draw Deck or more deliberately from the “Available Shares” or the “Bank Pool.”  The selling of shares always precedes the other action taken by the player.  The first player to acquire two shares in the same company has the best chance of becoming Director of that company, although owning three shares is the only certain guarantee to becoming the Director when five shares are in play.

7. If a player has insufficient cash to buy further shares, he still draws from the “Draw Deck” and merely places the certificate in the “Available Shares” area.  After the “Draw Deck” has been depleted, each player must continue to buy shares from either the “Available Shares” area or the “Bank Pool” unless the player has insufficient cash to buy another share, and/or the player cannot legally buy any additional share due to having sold off shares of all types remaining for sale.

8.  After everyone has passed, place any shares still in the “Available Shares” area with the other 50% of those company shares that were not available for purchase during the Initial dealing Round.

9. Then, for every company that is able to start because it has the qualifying number of shares in either player hands and/or the Bank Pool, the player who owns the most shares and at least two of them exchanges two for the Director’s certificate.  A Manager must be appointed if no one owns at least two shares of a qualifying company.  In the event of ties, the player who has owned a share of the company the longest will become the Director.  In this variant, the Qualifying number of shares is reduced to 5 for a four-player game and to 4 for a six-player game.

10. The Initial Dealing Round ends at this point and the first Operating Round begins.

Optional Rule
:  If players begin a four-player game with $750, there should be enough cash to start all 8 companies—two per player.

Other Rules Variations:

I recommend using the Stuart Dagger and Steve Jones Variant rules titled Retuning 1853.  However, the use of this Share Certificate Random Draw Variant requires that Dagger-Jones Variant Rules #1, 3, and 4 not be used.  In addition, I have found that the version by Francis Tresham in Alternative rule 2.0 for Stock Market Prices (which can be found in his 1853 MIK 2 extension kit rules) may sometimes be preferable to the Dagger-Jones Variant Rule #11 for advancing multiple positions.  Treshams’s method allows for a company’s market value to advance two, three, four, or five spaces depending on whether the current total dividends are two to five times greater than the current share price, respectively.   Players should decide which method suits their personal tastes.


Notes on Strategy:

Seeing that the Directorship of a company is either certainly or very likely to go to another player, players should find it useful to divest themselves of shares in that company (by selling them to the Bank Pool) in order to have the needed cash to clinch the Directorship of another company or two.  Nevertheless, players should not be too hasty to sell shares since once they have sold a share they cannot buy another in that company during the Initial Dealing Round.  Once a player has enough shares to be sure of obtaining the Directorship, he is likely to still want to retain some shares in other companies likely to be profitable.  There is also the possibility that the presumed Director only has one more share than everyone else and sales by other players may allow someone else to pick up more shares than the one expected to become the Director.  The penalty for selling shares may eventually leave a player unable to buy another share.

This variant should see 23 to 27 certificates in player hands in a four-player game by the end of the Initial Dealing Round, with five or six companies started although it is theoretically possible for all eight to be started if players buy and sell enough shares to allow this to happen.  The more companies there are that start, the bigger the impact on the transition to new trains.  Certainly the necessity of having a 3-train bought before the 2M trains appear can have a significant impact on which trains and types of track a company eventually has.  As it is, some Minor Companies may find that they must buy non-metre trains or forgo revenue runs temporarily.  

This variant should be easier to use than the original rules for Contract Bids and it also works more simply than the Stuart-Jones Variant rules for the Contract Bid.  It also has an advantage over Francis Tresham’s alternative starting procedure given in his MIK 2 rules.  Treshams’s alternative limits the number of starting companies to at most the same as the number of players, and then limits available shares to just two other companies in any given Dealing Round, with the requirement that those companies are chosen in numerical order.  In this variant, more companies can start the game.  All are likely to be in play early in the game, if not at the end of the Initial Dealing Round.
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These two additional variants may be used with or without the previous variant.

Port Variant by Lou Jerkich

Without a means of transport, how does a railway get the locomotives and track to a city to begin its operations?  This variant thus requires that track be built to an inland city before it can become a base from which a company expands its routes and runs its trains.  All railroads must start from coastal cities or Ganges River cities until track reaches their inland bases.  Thus, the BNR can only begin from Calcutta, the BBCI can only start from Bombay, and the NWR must have its home base  at Karachi rather than Lahore.  When track from any railway reaches their other home base cities, they can begin to use them as well.  The EIR and GIP can still use both home bases from the start.  The SIR cannot begin laying track until a track line reaches Trichinopoly.  However, the Director of the company can pay another company the track costs to build to Trichinopoly.  If the SIR is willing to pay for such contracted track, the designated company (most likely the MSM) must build the route, if legally possible, but the company building the route can use the gauge of its choice.  For each hex in which track is built, the building company receives an extra $20 for its own treasury from the SIR.  If the SIR finds itself without sufficient funds to pay for this track building, the designated company may return to building track wherever else it wishes.

Optional: Following the same procedures and restrictions as the SIR, permit the BNR, BBCI, and the NWR companies also to make an arrangement with a designated company of their choice to build track to Nagpur, Ajmer, or to Delhi, respectively.  Because of the distances involved and availability of treasury funds, this type of contracted building will probably be limited to occasions when the track of another company has otherwise already come reasonably close to one of those potential home bases.

Commentary: This variant will change the dynamics of the game due to the initial building restrictions and some new home bases.  Delhi will not be reached quickly by the NWR or by the BBCI since they cannot begin from Lahore or Ajmer, respectively.  Building from the coasts and rivers is more historically correct than using some of the starting locations given in the rules of the game.  It does mean, however, that some companies will fare differently in revenues during the early part of the game due to these new limitations.  Players must plan accordingly in regard to their investment strategy.  There may also be some profits to be made for companies that are in position to build contracted track to reach an inland base city of another railway.  At the same time, there may be some strategic reasons for also diverting another company from its planned building strategy to build instead toward your own inland bases.

North Western Railway Variant by Lou Jerkich

Require all players to buy one share of the NWR before making any other purchases from their starting cash.  There will be no Director; a manager will run this company per the regular rules.  Players may neither buy nor sell further shares in this company until the first 4-train is bought, after which a Director may be appointed if any player holds two or more shares.  Karachi is the initial home base of this railway, rather than Lahore, and Delhi only becomes an additional home base after it is reached by any railway’s track. This variant reflects, in part, that historically the NWR was a government-run railway.  It also fits in well with the Port Variant.


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This page originally posted on 22 December 2007.   Slightly revised 8 January 2009.
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