Belgian 18xx Convention – summer 2019 – report

Two days ago I came back from the Belgian 18xx Convention. Just like the last time, I want to write some words about the event and games I’ve played. The report will be enhanced with some poor quality photos.

The convention was longer than the previous one (4 days instead of 3) and had more participants—in total 59 from 11 countries(!), if I recall correctly. I find this kind of size ideal: there are plenty of other maniacs yet the atmosphere is familiar.
Organization wast top-notch, everything was provided, nothing stood in the way of playing whole day. This time the selection of local beers was bigger which was a good choice, judging from the number of empty beer crates at the end of the event.

It’s a pity that they’re not in standard colours

30 different games were played (many several times):

1817, 1822, 1822MX, 1826, 1828, 1830, 1840: Vienna, 1841, 1844, 1846, 1847: Pfalz, 1848: Australia, 1849, 1854, 1857, 1880: China, 1889, 1893: Cologne;
18BL, 18Chesapeake, 18CZ, 18DO, 18Ireland, 18Mex, 18Neb, 18OE, 18Rhl, 18Scan, 18VA, Steam over Holland

Once again the game played the most was 1849. Not surprising, given its short length and attractiveness for both newcomers and seasoned players.

What I’ve played



There were 4 of us that wanted to optimize their time, which means play a warm-up game (the convention can’t begin earlier than at 7PM because it takes place in a school). Thanks to Luk and David for making it possible for us to kick off the weekend this way.

Two players were fairly new to the 18xx genre so it was a good opportunity for them to get to know what nasty things it offers.

Two first available companies were Palermo (that must pay a lot for stations) and Catania (that no one wants at the beginning). This led to passive stock round, when everyone wanted to avoid Catania. Finally it got opened by one of the novices. The company didn’t last long and then I offered the unlucky owner the Palermo firm with 3 6H-trains that were about to rust, making him bankrupt (he returned to the game with a loan).

I think I was going straight to the victory, but then started doing bizarre things… Suffices to say that I ended up after the player who had gone bankrupt.

Both closed companies got open again later on. This game often offers amazingly crazy scenarios.

Number of players: 4
Game length: 3h 15min

18DO: Dortmund

Prototype of upcoming Marflow’s game. I’ll write a separate text about it.

Number of players: 4
Game length: 3h 30min (called 1SR and 6OR early)



I took all of the mines privates, wanting to own the east side of the map, but it wasn’t so easy to execute.

Other players seemed kind of shy with short selling, which only made me do it more intensely which isn’t the best idea. Whilst I was able to get away with two first companies I had shorted (one of which I bought soon after for $10), in later rounds I was paying $700 per round of negative dividends (while making over $1000).

Coal baron mode on

Loans time

I came up third. The player who wasn’t involved in any short operation won.
Definitely the most impressive financial game I know.

Number of players: 5
Game length: 7h 30min


Next was 18Neb, game I had played once before. It’s a good introductory title but nothing more.

Number of players: 3
Game length: 2h 50min

1848: Australia

Last one was 1848: Australia. What a crazy game that was! Two companies went into receivership very quickly and soon got joined by another one. We hit the brown phase in less than an hour.

There was a reason for so many dead companies: one of players decided to go full Bank of England and we thought nothing could stop him (no company could match the Bank’s revenue of £490). In the end, he was £11 behind the winner (due to the poor stock appreciation of the Bank).

I love this game, its smoothness, elegance of Bank of England, fast pace, and different approaches a player can take. Some could say that the network is always the same, but I rarely care about track building anyway.

Number of players: 3
Game length: 2h 15min

It wasn’t even half of the game



I wasn’t motivated for that one even though I enjoyed my only play of 1844. The small board is not so burdensome if you operate it simultaneously with the big one.

The game was actually better than I had anticipated. Probably I helped get things moving by buying as many trains as possible and then dumping my company.

Number of players: 5
Game length: 4h 40min


The hottest 18xx games of last months. Technically my second play, but on the previous one we had completely misunderstood one of the crucial rules.

The design is quite clean, yet I still have problem to wrap my head around it. The main feature are systems that work as assets–losing mergers.

I went bankrupt just after we had hit the purple trains (so the game would finish at the end of the next set of OR anyway). In theory I could save myself by juggling my only permanent train between my two companies, which raised the old question of what is fair play. Fortunately the winner was known anyhow (which is another end game condition).

I’m definitely looking forward to explore that one more. Others found the game confusing.

Number of players: 5
Game length: 4h 20min

1824: Austria-Hungary

I had a chance to try a game whose second edition was recently funded on Kickstarter. 1824 offers several types of minor companies that later on are transformed into shares of majors. Apart from classic trains, there are also good trains that must begin their runs in mines and can collect revenue from N cities and any number of dots. Trains may be traded-in which resulted in surprisingly fast train rush.

The game begins with draft of privates and minors. I enjoyed the operating rounds that followed, but I must admit that they felt scripted. There is a risk that that draft is the most meaningful part of the game.

Another potential problem is the size of the bank which just felt way too big. Enough to say that we had still about 10 000 left when all companies were already floated and owned permanent trains. We didn’t bother with continuing after that point.

Number of players: 5
Game length: 2h 35min (called 1-2h early)



I wanted to try the strategy consisting of opening two companies on the first stock round. In 5-player game (with starting capital of £200) this meant that I couldn’t get any private and needed to buy both minors for £100 each. Luckily the fifth and sixth companies (they come up in order) were situated not far from each other, so I just waited until everybody had their own firm and then directly opened my two. Then I realised that one of them, DDR, is blocked in the yellow phase so I couldn’t build my connection fast enough and had to merge with others.

There were two truly hostile mergers (prepared by issuing shares, so they vote “yes”) which I don’t actually see happen often.

Called once every company had a permanent train and the winner was clearly known.

Number of players: 5
Game length: 4h (called ~1h early)

Two best games were those of 1817 and 1848: Australia. The Belgian 18xx Convention is, without a doubt, my favourite boardgaming event. Next edition will take place November 29 – December 1.

18OE–monster game

1880: China





(posted on my miniblog as well)

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