In my opinion, 1870 is the best train game ever designed. Any of
the 10 public companies can be the best stock at the end of the game.
It provides an excellent balance between stock value, operational
revenue and anticipating the train purchases. Price protection,
redemption, reissue and the yellow zone provide multiple opportunities
for complicated decision-making.
Because the Frisco always starts and the Katy often does, the
CB and MP can be good first companies because track will develop
quickly in their region. But if two players start together (IC and GMO;
2 of the 3 Texas railroads), they can develop track just as quickly.
Buying and selling other people's shares to take them out of the
Initial Offering and to get instant profits can have value but doing so
religiously will probably put you dead last in the priority SR
after SR. This is usually fatal. Pick your moments.
First priority is usually to get the full number of cities you have the
train capacity to run. Second priority is either reaching your
destination or upgading the cities on your run to full value. This
depends on how big your train is, how far away the destination is, etc.
As a general rule, the only early company that should sprint to
its destination is the Cotton Belt.
The $40 token is almost always worth laying but the $100 tokens of the
4 northern companies (ATSF, Katy, MP, and Frisco) are an iffy
proposition. Don't lay one if it is going to keep you from getting the
train you need or force you to withhold an extra time. (If you own 60%
of a company, a withhold can cost you $300 in stock value at the end of
the game in addition to the lost revenue of the one turn).
In 1870, the most valuable trains are the 3-trains and the 6-trains.
valuable are the 2-trains. 1870 is not about mindlessly pushing
trains but about when you push them. I have often seen 2-trains that
were purchased in OR1 and never
ran at all because the first 4-train was bought in OR2. A train, even
an $80 train, that never runs is overpriced. But every decision in 1870
is based on what the other players do (and what you think they will
do). That is why it is endlessly fascinating and not sitting in the
bottom of my closet.
As previously stated, the 3-trains and 6-trains are the best trains in
is usually worth a great deal of forethought and some maneuvering to
acquire two 3-trains if you can. Two 3-trains is almost always
and three 3-trains is
right. The math is simple enough. 1 2-train and 3 3-trains cost $620. 2
2-trains, 1 3-train
and one 4-train is $640. 3-trains cost 60% as much as 4-trains and run
for at least
75% as much. They can get 100% of Chicago, or a Port or Cow bonus
that 75%). Since track is not always fully developed, they may also get
of a 4-train's payout for awhile. Frequently, 3-trains
and 4-trains disappear on the same stock round, since 6-trains
are the cheapest
and they consequently sell very fast. Often, the 3 6-trains and the
are bought on the same operating round. So 3-trains often last as
long as 4-trains and 4-5
2-trains. The people I run into in 18XX tournament finals put a
high premium on getting two 3-trains.
The period between the purchase of the first 3-train and the first
4-train is critical in 1870. If you can get your private company bought
in before the other players, you will have two ORs in which you own
more shares than they do. Also, if you can get two 3-trains and your
full embezzlement, you are far better off than a player who gets 1
or 1 4-train and his embezzlement. Moreover, any player who has
fall back trainless to buy a 4-train is obviously worse off.
What I see most often in a 4 player game is one player buying 2
2-trains and 3 buying 1 2-train. That means if one of the other 3
players want their rip (embezzlement) early he has to buy 2 more
2-trains and the first 3-train. He gets all (or maybe only part) of his
money 2 ORs early but he guarantees that he only gets 1 3-train. 2 of
his opponents will likely get 2 3-trains and one may get a 3-train and
the first 4-train. He gets an advantage in shares at the expense of
weakening most of his shares in his initial company. If a
second player buys a 2nd 2-train, then one player may get 2 3-trains
and his embezzlement. That player is in the driver's seat (or
maybe the engine). What you do not want is to give a player 2
3-trains and their full rip. That is too good. If they have to buy 3
2-trains to get the early rip it is a mixed blessing.
Sample Scenario with a 4-train appearing in OR2
PLAYER 1 - Frisco
$100, also has Cows) Buys one 2-train.
PLAYER 2 - MP (started at
$76, has Bridge and GRSC) Buys 2 2-trains.
PLAYER 3 - Katy (started
at $68, has Katy private) Buys 2 2-trains.
PLAYER 4 - GMO (started
at $680) Buys 2 2-trains, 2 3-trains & Port for $160 (exactly $680).
FRISCO - Buys 3 3-trains
cows (He has spent $840 w/ track but can run up in the KC/Topeka area
on Katy track and down to Little Rock or Memphis. Moreover, as the only
player with 1 2-train, he should push trains).
MP - Buys last 3-train and
4-train. (He has now spent $720--assuming MP's token is placed
but it is going
to be running for $20 a share for a while.)
Katy - Falls back after
having purchased one 2-train too many in OR 1 (the one mistake).
has to to buy a 4-train with no run and only gets about $200 for the
Katy private in OR 2B.
By buying 3 3-trains, the Frisco player has eliminated 1/3 of his
competition. His chances of winning have increased. Other than
the Katy player, no one did anything insane or lost $1 out of their
private company embezzlement. And 4 of the 2-trains never ran.
I do not argue that this scenario is inevitable or even superior
to other ways of playing. But no one did anything insane or bought a
train that they knew they could not use. Buying 3 3-trains is unusual
the Frisco player was justified in this scenario.
As a rule of thumb, it is usually good to own one 5-train but not more
than one 5-train. If you own none, you often have to buy a 6-train and
before you are ready and therefore end up selling off shares. If you
own 2 or
more 5-trains, the other players have a strong incentive to make
12-trains come out and kill the 5s. But sometimes buying a lot of 5s
can force a bankruptcy at 8-trains, in which case 12-trains will
clearly not come
out. Figuring out the distribution of the 5-trains and 6-trains is as
Go where the track is. Some players choose a 2nd company they think
provides the best synergy with their first company, but this is only a
tie-breaker. Usually, whoever opens that company will lay similar track
to that which you would lay. Always select the company with the best
track at the moment you are selecting.
Yellow companies, or companies that withhold to get into the yellow
stock zone, are valuable in 1870. They can help your first company buy
trains and provide you with extra shares. In a 3- or 4-player game, it
is often wise to take your third company into the yellow. In a 5- or
6-player game, it is usually your second company that goes into the
yellow. The more players in the game, the less valuable yellow
companies are. (This is partly because it costs more of your
potential shares and revenue to take the company back and partly
because the more players there are in the game the more likely that
5-trains will survive to the end and that the game will terminate
3 ORs sooner).
If there are 2 or fewer yellow companies, yellow shares are
extremely valuable. But if there are 4 or more yellow companies (or 3
and a lot of shares redeemed into companies), "real" shares are more
valuable than yellow shares and should be bought first. Also, the
more yellow companies there are the less danger there is of a company
being dumped. All the shares will be sold out and the dumper will have
nothing with which to replace them.
1870 is a cash-rich environment (certainly compared to 1830).
Often, you can play an entire 1870 game without withholding except with
a RR you plan to take and keep in the yellow. Withholding with "real"
stock should only be done rarely (like once to secure a 6-train and
when you would just be falling back the next OR anyway if you do not
Players are more likely to over-utilize than to under-utilize share
redemption. It is usually wrong to redeem shares before the 3-trains
break. Redemption before you know how the 3-trains and 4-trains will
fall out is
dangerous. It might cost you a train or force you to withhold
otherwise could have paid. It is usually wrong to redeem shares when it
costs you position on the Priority Card. Be careful that you do not
redeem a share and then discover that you needed that money for a
marker or terrain payment. Only if none of these things are true should
Don't reissue shares unless you will be using that money for something
(trains, tokens, terrain) on the next set of ORs. When you reissue, you
are doing a favor to the person who will buy those shares and get an
instant profit. Be very careful reissuing shares that will be bought by
your main competition for victory.
Also, it is usually right to buy the shares you yourself will want
in that SR before you reissue. That helps you get the best shares and
also helps you with the Priority Card as players buy your shares for
Mobile and the Port Token
Letting someone run two 2-trains and a 3-train out of Mobile (or
anywhere else) with the Port is insane. Buy three 3-trains if you have
to. The first 4-train will appear. One 3-train with the Port is $10.
Two 3-trains is $18. Two 3-trains with cows is $20. Portboy is now
Play a lot
Success in 1870 is mostly about experience. Practice,
practice, practice. If you have a regular group that meets
weekly, you will get very
good at 1870 or any other 18XX game you enjoy. If you go to
you will meet good players from outside your own "group-think" and
even more about the game. Also, playing other 18XX games gives you new
ideas (cross-fertilization) and keeps you from getting bored. There are
a lot of good games out there and a lot of good players waiting to meet
you. When you meet someone who loves the game as much as you do, you
are halfway to making a new friend.
to Lou's Game Corner: Railroad Game Links Return
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This page originally posted on 31 August 2008. Slightly revised
on 6 Sep. 2008 and 9 Oct. 2008. A few corrections made 14 May
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