18GB – questions and story from the game designer

We decided to do a small promo of all AAG games before the Kickstarter starts. We allowed all designers to prepare some stories about their games and publish them with new graphic designs. We hope this way you will know the games a little better and you will know what to buy for sure.

Today: 18GB by Dave Berry.

Our questions list and short story from the game designer:

I started work on 18GB because I wanted a game covering most of the island of Great Britain that played in a much shorter time than 1825.  I wanted to keep some of the features of 1825-style games, such as being able to sell the directors’ certificate to the open market but dropped some other features such as the way that companies had predetermined prices and became available in a fixed order.   This combination required some restrictions on train shuffling, and I copied the relevant rules from 1860.  18GB isn’t the same as 1860 but it uses some of the
same mechanics.  I also wanted more stock market volatility, so I made stock sales to reduce the share price as in 1830.

I added a level of variable setup, with the companies shuffled into two tiers at the start of the game, so that the track development and company development differs from one game to the next.  The number of companies in play depends on the number of players, which makes the games with fewer players more manageable; for example, a two-player game only manages six of the companies instead of all twelve.

The scale of the game and the geography of Britain led to the rule that a company may place two tiles each turn, but only one of those may be in a city.  The geography also led to the restrictive track upgrades, which is what people new to the game tend to notice first.  These changes make the engineering side of the game interesting and unusual, but players shouldn’t ignore the investment side and the management of capital.

What is the length of the gameplay?

This depends on the number of players.  A two-player game takes about two hours, and you can add an extra half hour per player, perhaps slightly more for five or six players depending on how quickly everyone plays.

What is the best number of players? Is it working with 2 players?

The two-player game is quick and fun and works better than two-player 1830-style games.  I enjoy playing the two-player scenarios, but there is more player interaction at higher player counts.  With six players, the game works but is a bit crowded. Overall, I prefer it with 3, 4, or 5 players, but I’m happy to play with 2 or 6 as well.

Are there other titles similar to the game?

Not really.  I think the heritage of 1825 and 1860 shows, but 18GB is different from either.

The train rush – how fast is the train race? Is it always the trains we buy are running at least once, have there been games in which they did not manage to run even once!

The train progression starts fairly gentle but speeds up when the first express train is bought because the first train of each rank of express trains makes the next rank available.  It’s not uncommon to see several companies without a train at this point of the game.

Private companies – how much this part of the game is interesting for the players?

The initial auction is very simple.  The private powers can be useful and different privates work well with different companies, but the privates don’t dominate the game.

Stock exchange – how extensive is the stock exchange, how often do we sell/buy shares, and how much does the sale of shares affect their price?

Share prices can move rapidly in both directions.  Each share sold reduces the price by one step, and when running trains prices can jump multiple spaces if the income exceeds multiples of the current price.  Multi-jumping is another feature that I kept from 1825 and 1860; it means that withholding can be worthwhile more often than in 1830-style games.

Operational game type – is the game the opposite of the stock exchange one?

18GB doesn’t have the intense focus on the stock market of an 1830-style game, but deciding which companies to invest in is a crucial factor, and altering share prices in order to manage the order of operation can be important.  Companies start as 5-share companies and can convert to 10-share companies during the stock round, so reducing a competitor’s share price before they convert can reduce the amount of capital they receive.  The decision on whether and when to convert a company can be crucial and will depend on a number of other factors.

The risk of bankruptcy – how often the game ends with the bankruptcy?

There is no bankruptcy.

The complexity of the rules – how big part of the rules are taken from 1830? Will it be possible to play the game after a short one-two page summary by advanced 18xx players?

18GB isn’t based on 1830.  The basics of track laying and buying and selling stock are similar, but much else is different.  The private railways are auctioned and used differently, company capitalization is different, there are restrictions on train shuffling between companies, director’s shares can be sold into the open market, and companies without a train become insolvent and lease a train from the bank.

The complexity of the tracks – are they more like 18GB or 1860, or simple ones like 1817/1822?

The track is very similar to 18GB 😉



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