- Oct 27, 2015
- Reaction score
Explain 18xx to me please. It's obviously about railroads - I grew up playing Railroad Tycoon and Railroads on the PC - and now find myself spending WAY too much time on Railroad Empire on steam. Is the board game as satisfying?
18xx is a tad difficult to explain, but i'll give it a shot. it is a series of economic board games using maps based on all sorts of real/historical regions; the games are roughly intended to mimic the history of the development of railways in the location, and will feature actual railroad companies that competed for control.
a game alternates between stock rounds - where all you do is take turns buying/selling stock shares of the available companies, increasing and decreasing share values as you do so - and operating rounds, where you lay hexagonal tiles to expand the railway networks of any companies you control, and purchase and run trains for companies you control to generate revenue and pay out dividends to shareholders. better and better tiles (with increasingly complicated track layouts) and trains (how far they can travel) become available as the game goes on, and the purchase of newer trains will "rust" older trains, which are usually removed from the game. trains can also be bought and sold between companies for any value.
a critical and interesting feature of these games is that your (the player's) assets and the assets of the companies you control are kept completely separate; since the winner of the game is the PLAYER with the most net worth at the end, this creates incentive to rob companies that you control of any cash you can, and if you plan well, dump companies with no money left on unsuspecting opponents (by selling off shares so that you are no longer the majority stakeholder). and since every company must own a train they can run, and the controller (president) of a company is responsible for paying for trains if the company doesn't have enough funds, this can lead to drastic downswings and bankruptcy (which ends the game for everyone immediately).
the variability and nuance from game to game for one title is awesome, but beyond that, there are tons of titles, all featuring varying levels of different rules beyond the base rules (commonly referred to as "chrome") that can drastically alter how the game plays.
in short, they are long but fun as hell (if you like toasting your brain), highly variable, and very much a mathy, thinking-man's game. i'm happy i stumbled into them.
here is a brief intro video: