This is an old article translated into English finally. Read Polish version here: https://www.railsonboards.com/2018/01/25/18cz-lubic-czy-nie-relacja-z-pierwszej-rozgrywki-z-vaclavem/
I have already played all 3 variants of this game. And what? I have mixed feelings. Because what to do with a game that I did not like before? Sell it, of course, but after the last game, I’m not so sure anymore.
Recently, I played a full 2-person variant with a virtual player Vaclav, who pretended to be a 3rd person. And I must say that I am impressed with how cleverly it has been thought out.
Because the 2-person variants in 18xx lose the most in the stock market aspect. Especially the games that draw the most from the principles of the classic 1830. Meanwhile, in 18CZ the stock exchange is ‘average’ from the very beginning. The game is largely based on the right management of companies and company mergers at the right moment of the game. Therefore, the full variant for 3-6 people received a low grade from me, because my favorite mechanism is slightly emphasized here.
But the stock market in 18xx games works fine when 3 or more players are playing. In a 2-player game, the stock market loses a lot. That’s why so far I thought that 18xx for 2 players looks rather poorly and in this respect, 18CZ stands out. Here, the stock market is not the main element, but the rest of the features remains to be considered, which work really nicely in this game.
- We have the fancy acquisitions of smaller companies by larger ones. This is the coolest feature that poses a lot of dilemmas for the player, to which, as always in 18xx, there is no clear answer.
- We have a certain number of rounds throughout the game. I like it because the game doesn’t last too long and if we spend too long on poor technology, the game will end at the same time as if we were pushing it forward.
This feature is especially important from the point of view of novice players – because when you start your adventure with 18xx, you may not know that you need to develop the technology (sometimes even by force). Otherwise, the game can drag on for a long time and bore the most persistent enthusiasts (yes, here we are talking about our beginnings).
- Next plus: blocking stations was a big advantage, I experienced it for the first time during our two-player game. I was blocking Michał, and Michał was blocking me. It was not permanent and after x rounds, the companies emerged from oppression, but their CEOs were under fire from investors and worried about their jobs for at least a moment 😉
How does Vaclav work?
He always has the cheapest one train and a majority share in 3 companies: small, medium, and large, which he assumes when they are unlocked in a specific phase of the game. So his stocks almost always rise and can be considered a good investment when the opponent’s movements are uncertain. Very nice solution 🙂
- The only drawback is the train rush, which was painful only in one game with the full variant. Is that a minus? Too early to judge, because it changes quite a lot from game to game.
To sum up: I liked this variant very much. We will probably play it from time to time, especially when the number of players is not enough.
How does it compare to the other two variants?
Variant 2-3 players The game board for 2-3 players is a quick 1-hour variant that I would suggest only for learning the 18xx rules. When we want to show someone what these games are about. It is really fast in this regard. It is a very impoverished variant compared to the full one, but you can’t have everything, because there is a full version for two people.
Playing time: about 1-1.5 hours
Full game for 3-6 people Unfortunately for me, it is average. Compared to other titles, I miss a few 18xx elements. The game focuses on taking over companies at the right moment at the expense. But it has its group of enthusiasts and it may be an interesting proposition for beginners.
Playing time: about 3-4 hours
How did we play?
At the last meeting, we planned a completely different game, we were supposed to have a guest and we had to practice the English language. But Dean got sick and there were two of us left. To tell the truth, I admire someone who, being in a foreign country, wants to travel over 100 km on Polish railways to play with two crazy guys 😉
But maybe it’s not about our magic, only 18xx can attract people so much? 😉
Being already in a team of two, we used the reserved BIG table. And we played what was supposed to await just such an opportunity.
It’s a pity to talk about strategy and bore you with crap this time 😉
Play and discover your ideas for 18CZ, let me comment briefly that despite Michał’s big mistake at the beginning of the game and our completely different strategies, the final result was very even.
Result: Magole 5794, Elemele 5546
Playing time: 3:26