I organized a game of 1825 Unit 3 today at the local library. We ended up playing Unit 3, because Olli was the only one who came… Rest were busy or not willing to travel all the way to the suburbs. It’s not a big deal, though, as Unit 3 is made for two players.
Unit 3 covers Scotland and Northern England, from Maryport in South to Aberdeen in North (a regional kit covering the Highlands was planned, but hasn’t been published yet — I wonder if it’s ever coming). Glasgow stands in the middle and is a central point, as all three major railroads (Caledonian, Northern British and Glasgow and South West) start there. Of the three minors, two (Highlands and Great North of Scotland) start in the northern edge and one (Maryport & Carlisle) starts in the south.
In the beginning one of the players will take NBR and the other takes CR, so Olli got NBR and I got CR. NBR started heading north, while CR aimed towards Edinburgh. NBR didn’t pay dividends like CR, so eventually NBR’s share value dropped while CR climbed to 100 pounds per share. I was able to sell few shares to invest in GSWR, the third major. In retrospect, that’s something the NBR player probably shouldn’t allow, as CR and GSWR can play really well together. They have excellent synergy.
So, CR and GSWR built the south and east side of Glasgow full of cities. Very effective! Meanwhile NBR connected to Aberdeen, where GNS started, operated by Olli alone. GNS was pretty good for Olli: it has very little room for expansion, because it can only run one train (Olli would’ve bought a train from NBR otherwise), but it kept running constant dividends to Olli, raising the share value while doing that.
In the end CR and GSWR were running few trains each. CR made 320 £ and GSWR 440 £ per run — not bad at all. NBR was very mediocre (losing the 2 trains hurt it pretty bad, even though it bought a 3 train for 200 £ from GSWR — thus helping GSWR to get a 5 train). Olli started the M&C in the south, but it didn’t do much as the game was soon over.
So, in the end, I won. We thought that was obvious, but the final scores were 5294 — 4993, much closer than we expected. While I had the two heavy hitters, Olli had shares for both of them. I had no shares of GNS, which was pretty effective money-maker for Olli.
In retrospect few mistakes were obvious. Of course Olli should’ve started HR instead of M&C — he would’ve won had he done that. Then again, I should’ve built more stations with CR and GSWR, blocking GNS at Perth, for example. So, I could’ve lost but I also might’ve won with a wider margin as well. It was a learning game for both of us, so no wonder we didn’t play the sharpest game possible.
But it was fun! It took us about 30 minutes to do the setup and go through the rules (Olli had played another 18xx once before) and then two and half hours to play the game. Not bad. Instead of paper money or poker chips we used pen and paper bookkeeping, which worked well. There’s a lot of calculation, though, and counting the bank was a bit of a pain. Still, it’s a fairly nice method and I would use it again. The best way would still be a computer spreadsheet (this was basically an analog version of spreadsheet).
It was pretty smooth sailing, but promoting tiles gave us some headache. We played it correctly in the end: when promoting tiles, you need to maintain all the connections leaving the hex, but you don’t have to create all the connections entering the tile. That is, you can place a tile so that tracks run to an empty side of the tile. That’s fairly critical for Glasgow on this map. There’s a bit of a confusion in the rules, as they say you can’t run rails to a blank side of a brown hex — to figure it out one must realize that the brown tiles players play aren’t actually brown, they’re russet. Brown means the brown tiles that are printed on the board. Slightly confusing, I’d say!
We finished off the afternoon with a quick match of Schotten-Totten, which I also won — and it was a close game as well, 5-4. Rather excellent session in general.