OTK Meetup Part 2 10/12/10 – 18Scan

Boardgamecafe.net Meetup Report Part 2 @ Old Town Kopitiam Cheras 10/12/2010
By jack208
A relatively quiet meetup with just one table in play, but it saw a mix of interesting games getting some table-time. Vasco da Gama as a first-play to a few of the gamers, and an old fave Wealth of Nations making a comeback and finally we close-out the night with 18Scan. Not bad for a single table session which lasted 9 hours! This is Part 2 of the sessrep. To read Part 1 (Vasco da Gama and Wealth of Nations), click here.
Gamers: Ang Xian Jun (ang), Neo Say Soon (neo), Phuah (phuah), Kareem Koh (kareem), Heng Aik Yong (hengy), and CK Au (jack208)
Games: Vasco da Gama, Wealth of Nations, 18Scan
Location: Old Town Kopitiam Cheras | Google Map | GPS: N O3° 6.195° E 101° 44.058°
Date/Time: 10 December 2010 8.00 PM – 6:30 AM (Fri)
To read Part 1 of this sessrep which featured Vasco da Gama and Wealth of Nations, click here.
We’d played 18Scan recently and it was a tense 3-player session in which I’d carved a gap early in the gap with my control of two railway companies – SNR & SJ – yet Heng despite his late start, managed to build two high revenue performing companies to successfully overtake me in the last straight. Click here to read that sessrep.
So how does 18Scan work for 4-players? Let’s find out. 😛
BGC Meetup - 18Scan
It was already 3.30 am when we started our 18Scan session among Ang, Phuah, Heng and myself. So some 4AM Syndrome may be seen in their gameplay.. Hehe.
The Initial Stock Round proceeded briskly with all three minors and private cos being auctioned off fairly equally among the four players. Three railway companies were started – DSB (ang), NSB (phuah) and VR (jack208).
BGC Meetup - 18Scan
I bought Minor #3 and also floated VR, the Finnish State Railways.
BGC Meetup - 18Scan
Heng went for Minor #1 and the Lapland Ore private which gave him a free SNJ share but leaving him with insufficient cash to float it.
BGC Meetup - 18Scan
Phuah didn’t buy into any Minor and started up NSB at a high par.
BGC Meetup - 18Scan
Ang bought Minor #2 and started the favourite DSB.
BGC Meetup - 18Scan
Early network expansions were quite predictable. And we got to the Type3 trains quickly.
At this juncture, a critical decision was presented to Phuah. His NSB has the opportunity to “kill off” Ang’s DSB! (see below)
BGC Meetup - 18Scan
Dark clouds sweeping over Ang’s DSB (bottom-left)…

Fortunately for Ang, Phuah made a gentleman’s decision and backed off…. (haiz)
For those who treat 18xx as a business management, you might want to descend into the world of the incompetent railroad engineers and learn a thing or two. It could save your company next time. 😛
BGC Meetup - 18Scan
DSB’s revenue suffered due to the setback above… VR and NSB were doing almost 3-times the revenue as DSB.
BGC Meetup - 18Scan
Given the low revenue yield, I think DSB did the right thing and pushed for the 1st Type4 train (which obviously obsoleted everyone’s Type2 trains).
BGC Meetup - 18Scan
18Scan has an interesting choice of trains whenever you purchase a new train; you can go for the simple train (as per the standard 18xx train types) or the (what I would call) Whistle Train ie. one that stops at more towns.
For eg instead of a Type3 train which can run through 3 stops (cities or towns), you can opt to buy the Type2+2 train instead (and at 10% cheaper) which allows you to run through 4 stops (but only max 2 cities). It’s an interesting option since the map of Scandinavia (especially the eastern side) has a good number of towns.
The other 18xx game that presents interesting train options is 1826 Paris, with it’s array of Hex trains, Electric trains and High-speed TGV trains!
BGC Meetup - 18Scan
Another interesting chokepoint in this game is the city of Stockholm (middle of map with token #2 and #3) which is controlled by two minors and until you get the SJ out, the VR is simply unable to break out into the more lucrative south-western side of the map.
BGC Meetup - 18Scan
Heng eventually kickstarted his SNJ but the question was “Is that too late?”. It also coincided with the formation of the government-linked SJ. By this time, Ang has improved his DSB revenue to a more respectable EPS of $11.
BGC Meetup - 18Scan
Phuah’s NSB leading the stock market with the 2nd company (my) VR almost 30% lower in market value. Ang’s DSB lingered dangerously in the shall-we-sack-the-CEO zone. 😛
BGC Meetup - 18Scan
Phuah’s NSB has emptied its treasury to secure a permanent Type5 train, and given it’s leading the stock market, I’d assumed it is in a position to push for a homerun.
BGC Meetup - 18Scan
Ang’s DSB was still living off it’s legacy Type4 train and it’s Treasury did not seem to possess sufficient funds to upgrade to one of the new permanent trains. FTP is coming man… Feel The Pain.
BGC Meetup - 18Scan BGC Meetup - 18Scan
I secured control of SJ when it was floated, and with SJ and my early company VR both already well set up with permanent trains, I can push with Phuah for the “finish”.
However I was mindful of the last 18Scan (read sessrep here) where in spite of me leading with permanent trains in two companies (one of them SJ also), I was over-ran in the last straight by Heng’s strong EPS late bloomers.
BGC Meetup - 18Scan
However in this session, Heng’s late start costed him the game as with only 5 railway companies and 4 players, a 2-company control is too large an advantage. Unlike a 3-player game where a 2-company control is good but not overwhelming and can still be caught.
BGC Meetup - 18Scan
The control of SJ becomes too important in a 4-player game, so much so I suspect whoever controls it would in all likelihood run with the game. For eg the SJ in my control opened up Stockholm and allowed my VR to get into the lucrative western map (above). Likewise an SJ in someone’s else control would close up Stockholm which would result in my VR rotting in the south-eastern part of the map.
The result was I ran away with this game at $5,500 to the closest competitor ie. Phuah at $4,500. A $1,000 point gap is too large for this map and confirmed our suspicion that this game is best optimized for three, and not balanced for four.
Well, you can turn it around and say that with 4-player, this map is very brutal and punishes you for early mistakes or lag.
With 3-player, each will likely start a railway company. And there’ll still be one left-over plus the SJ to be started as your 2nd company. Still a lot to fight for.
With 4-player, each will also likely start a railway company but that left only the SJ for four player to fight over. I would think whoever wins control of the SJ would likely win the game. In this sense, it is a very brutal game… coz right from mid-game – where most players would be tending to their treasury in order to avoid the dreaded train rush – you now have the added challenge of jostling for control of the key SJ.
With four seasoned 18xx players, this would be a very delicious fight. But with newer 18xx players, this simply unbalances the game. As such, I would highly recommend 18Scan as a 3-player game to intro gamers into the 18xx series (especially the awesome 18EU)  and would only recommend a 4-player 18Scan among veteran 18xx players.
Our session of 18Scan ended around 6:30 am. 🙂

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Categories: 18xx, Meetup, Meetup Cheras

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