I recently went on a great trip with friends from our board games group. It was only a three-day break, but we managed to do some high hiking in the Czech mountains and play a lot of 18xx games. Everyone had a big bag full of different games, but there was only one title that was always on the table: 1817NA.
This title is a short version of 1817 designed by Marc Voyer (you might know him from 1882). The differences between 1817 and 1817NA are simple: fewer privates, fewer trains, and fewer loans. In most cases, you will need eight hours to play 1817 but to play 1817NA, you will need only 5-6 hours. This game works especially well for three players, and there were three of us, so we played 1817NA all the time. In summary, we played it four times, and I played it two times more before. So now I have six games on my account.
After the first two games, I was very interested, but there was a bell ringing in my head that this game might be far more different than 1817. Both of our first games ended with someone going bankrupt. And maybe that’s the point! Bankruptcy in the 1817 series doesn’t end the game, but in most cases when it happens, that player will be left alone. Sometimes it’s our host, and sometimes it’s someone who will need to wait until the end of the game because of the car and other players.
So both of our first games ended with bankruptcy, and I was very interested in how it would look the next time. Was it just an accident, or maybe the game is too fast? My initial feeling was that it was a matter of risky investments by one of the players, and once I was even angry about it because I played very carefully, and I felt very strongly at the moment when we decided to end the game.
In the mountains, at 1000 meters above sea level, our decision about what to play was an easy one: 1817NA. We played it on the second day too, and even twice on the last day. All of our games were as fast as lightning, not in terms of gameplay time, but the train rush. Everything you know about the train rush in 1817, you need to learn again.
In our games, it was like this:
End of I OR – all 2-trains exported (as in 1817)
End of II OR – all 2+ trains sold out and the first 3-train exported
End of III OR – first 3-trains bought
End of IV OR – last 3-train left
End of V OR – a few 4-trains left
End of VI OR – all 4-trains sold out.
In 1817, there are sometimes games where we use short sales very rarely, only when a company is in trouble. This should be the main idea of the short sale. However, in our 1817NA games, there were short sales every time, and in most cases, they were very risky. This was because of the train rush, and our companies opened at the beginning of the game were in trouble after a few stock rounds. So, there was a desperate need for money, and risky investments were made during every one of our games.
Maybe it is not the game’s fault, but we need to learn the speed once again when we want to play 1817NA. From game to game, my ideas on how to play were better, and I have new ideas again, so I would like to try them out during our next meeting.
And of course, three out of our four games ended in bankruptcy. In our case, bankruptcy is not a punishment because we finish the game after it. Otherwise, there will probably be much less risky things happening. Right now, it is like this: I will take this short sale because maybe this way, I will be the winner. If not, then we will just play something else or try again.
And the last note: of course, we are all learning this game, and learning how to play the same game every time is much more efficient. During our third game, Michał won because he opened two new 2-share companies when there were 4-trains available, and this way, he was earning big cash. We did the same during the next game, and the results were much more even.
If you want to learn 1817, then 1817NA is a good option, and it might be especially suitable for an evening game with three players. All you need is a map (available on BGG) and a copy of the 1817 game. Our games usually lasted about 5-6 hours (2-3 hours less than 1817 game time).