I love to play old 18xx games where all territory is known very well and I have a plan for every step. Those games we play quickly, we know what we are doing. But sometimes, there is a new game coming and its rules aren’t so well known. There is a new land with new ideas and new things happen.
The author of both games is R. Ryan Driskel. His first title is 18CO: Rock & Stock. We played it half a year ago several times, but I didn’t have the opportunity to write my impressions yet. The second title is 18MT: Big Sky Barons. It uses largely the principles of its predecessor and only a small part of the rules have been improved. The map and the individual quantities of components have also changed. It is still a prototype that we managed to play. Our game was possible thanks to the fact that Marcin from Olkusz loves to cut 18xx games and he is not discouraged by the fact that we only play some of them 1-2 times.
There are many new solutions in both titles. The most daring idea of the author is the possibility of buying shares (also of other companies) by other companies. This creates a whole new space in the game and completely redefines what we already know from other 18xx.
Some of the 18CO rules have been smoothed out in 18MT, so I will focus on the latter title.
The capitalization of companies has changed slightly and in the new game, all companies run out from 50% of shares sold. Companies at the beginning of their operating rounds may buy or sell shares of other companies, but they may only be:
- shares from the stock market,
- shares from the treasury of those companies that have the same president,
- shares from the president’s portfolio.
Such purchased shares are locked for other players and are unlocked only at the end of the game.
Taking over companies!
If a public company buys such an amount of shares in another company that it has more shares than any other shareholder, that company is absorbed. The company only takes over all stations and trains, while if there were any shares in the treasury of the company that is absorbed, they are sold on the stock exchange and this money is divided equally among the shareholders.
What does this change in the gameplay itself? Train rush is no longer in the foreground because if the company does not have a train, we can easily get rid of such one! Obviously, it takes some planning, money in the treasury of the other company, etc, but for me, the train rush has always been the most important! Meanwhile, in these titles, the most important thing is to take over companies at the right moment in the game.
In 18CO, the author came up with three types of companies: small, medium, and large. At the beginning of the game, it pays off to run only the small ones, then they are taken over by the medium-sized companies (which have a larger number of stations), and then the large company with the most stations is to take over the medium-sized one.
In the new title, this restriction has been cleverly lifted. Then there are companies with a different number of stations, but the largest companies are in such places, that opening them at the beginning of the game is impossible or unprofitable. It pays to start them later, provided that they can absorb the smaller company and occupy its stations. Otherwise, a big company can only dream of good routes and income.
The takeover is impossible to block if we control 70% of the company’s shares, otherwise, the opponent may effectively hinder such an action. In our game, this was the case with the actions of one of Michał’s companies and vice versa. As a result, his first company stayed in the game until the very end, and that was the company that absorbed larger ones. Michał only lost the opportunity to expand his railway network, because he had only 2 stations on the map until the very end.
The game allows you to build two yellow tiles, but only until the 5-train phase, so the game additionally forces you to take over the ‘weaklings’.
For me, the biggest associations are with 1817 – it concerns what is happening in the game with capital and how important the stations on the map can be. However, the map is much smaller, the author significantly shortened the time of the game. But capital turnover is much clearer in 1817 – the train rush is very important there and we can’t just get rid of the company without a train.
After a few games in both titles, it is definitely too early to draw any conclusions. Remember that this is a prototype – I will certainly be very happy to check all the options that lie hidden in this title and I will be happy to test the author’s ideas once again.
Number of players: 3
Game time: 4 hours 14 minutes
Results: magole 6400 / Marcin from Olkusz 4500 / Grzesiek 1800
Number of players: 3
Game time: 4 hours 10 minutes
Results: Grzesiek 5500 / Ania 4300 / magole 3600
Number of players: 3
Game time: 3 hours 15 minutes
Results: Michał from Olkusz 6947 / magole 5072 / Marcin from Olkusz 4805
Game type (stock / engineering): 60% / 40%
BGG rating: 7.5 (for now)