Here are the best texts, congratulations to the winners!
First place: Graham Walker
Second place: Thom Barchet
Interestingly enough, COVID-19 has had a positive impact on my 18xx life. I got really interested in 18xx during grad school, but my game group couldn’t (or wouldn’t) dedicate more than 1 hour to a single game, so my 18xx games languished in a closet for many years. On the plus side, the timing (2009) allowed me to get some of the great titles that I otherwise would not really be able to afford these days including a complete 1825 set, which I hold as one of my favorites due to a largely sentimental attachment (I know there is a missing piece up north in the picture, but it fell off the end of the table :D).
Fast forward to 2019, I was completely burnt out working in management consulting. I left that work in November 2019 and took some time to recover before starting a new job…in March of 2020. I only spent 3 days in the office before being sent home to work remotely due to COVID. I had been pretty isolated before COVID due to the job search, soloing some board games, including 18xx, but once everyone else was home, I was able to find ways to connect with other people, and I became more aware of the thriving 18xx community. 18xx.games really lowered the hurdle for people to organize and get into games, and I know I’ve played more 18xx in the past months than all of the years before COVID. My wife has started to play async games as well, and I never expected to see that. I wouldn’t say that COVID has been a positive experience for me overall, but I know that once this passes, I’ll be able to find the local folks via Slack/Discord/BGG and there will be face to face games again soon.