This is something rare in the 18xx world: randomization and a very short game time. A small publishing house from Estonia is raising money to publish such a game.
The game seems to be very simple and what is an important factor: it looks very nice 🙂
A large part of the mechanics contains the 18XX elements, but the duration of the game means that the author had to give up something. So not in, for example, my favorite element, i.e. the rusting of trains.
It can be a good title when you have an hour left and you want to play something related to 18XX.
Below I have placed some graphics straight from their website, which describe the mechanics and description of the game prepared by the author.
Link to the fundraising: https://gamefound.com/projects/2d6ee-games/arabella-a-18xx-roll-and-write
From the publisher:
The main incentive behind creating Arabella has been busting the myth,
common with boardgamers, that 18XX games are something that take really
long time to play and are difficult to understand. Yes, some of the
titles (if not the majority) are perhaps indeed – but we wanted to
provide alternative, so that the new players would get the general
feeling of an 18XX game without being overwhelmed with rules and
decisions. But at the same time we also wanted to keep the “18XX spirit”
so that the seasoned players would also have something for them in this
game. And I believe that we have succeeded in that, as we’ve demoed
Arabella in UK Games Expo and Essen Spiel and both experienced and new
18XX players have equally enjoyed playing it.
In order to have Arabella playable in a hour (yes, after getting some
familiarity with the mechanics it’s quite common) we had to do some
streamlining, with most important being the addition of victory points.
In 18XX games the winner is the one with most combined wealth; in
Arabella the one with most victory points. Money doesn’t actually give
you anything at the end of the game but it’s still an important tool
during the game to get those VPs you need. Despite of streamlining
everything that defines 18XX genre is still there: laying tracks, buing
shares and trains, running trains for income and dividends, trains
getting obsolete etc. To make the game more interesting for two players
(or playable even solo!) we have included the AI “The Cat” module – that
AI doesn’t just block/collect the resources as they usually do but will
also collect victory points on their own, so the players will actually
compete against the AI.
So, about the game play? Without trying to explain all the rules here…
during your turn you draft one or more dice from the common dice pool
and then perform one action from the five available: take basic income,
build track, buy shares, buy trains or run trains – as simple as that.
The dice you drafted, though, set some restrictions on your chosen
action – what type of track you can build, how many trains you can run
etc – so when drafting dice you must also keep an eye on what options
you’re leaving for other players. When the common dice pool is empty all
the used dice are re-rolled and the game continues in that way (players
taking clockwise one action each) until one of the game end conditions
is triggered: either the last 6-train is being bought or somebody
reaches the end on one of their money tracks (meaning they have a really
good money engine going). After that everybody adds their VPs together
(for shares owned, for objective cards completed, for extra dice
unlocked etc) and whoever has most is the winner.