BGC OTK 18xx Day is back!

EXCERPT. With us slowly getting back into Meetups in this RMCO period, we were glad to be able to check-off one 18xx session this month. Here’s a recap of our session last Sat where 10 ppl explored choo-choo trains in Czech Republic and Mexico.

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by jack208

Hi we are New in Mexico (18MEX)

The first table was hosted by me and since the other four are 1st timers to the 18xx series but not to Euro games (and they do played medium-to-heavy Euros), I picked 18MEX for their intro title.

Depending on your group – and their experiences with Euro games in general – 18TN, 1889 or 18Chesapeake could be more suitable intro 18xx title. YMMV.

18MEX was chosen as an intro title for this group as it goes beyond the plain vanilla features of the standard 18xx series yet I felt those additional chromes are manageable if the group have some solid Euro Games background

  • Privates go thru standard 18xx auction, and do not have fancy special abilities (only one has a tile-lay power).
  • It has two types of railroad companies (RR); Minors and Majors – so this adds an extra layer of challenge to the proceeding.
  • Major RRs float on 50%, there’s distinction between IPO (Initial Public Offering) and Open Market, and the Stock Market is 3D with a yellow zone only.
  • It has a Mail Contract payout which helps to provide some needed cash cushion as Mexico can be an “expensive” terrain to lay tracks.

The only feature I was wary of is the NdM (National Railways of Mexico) as it’s only allowed to be formed later, and has a merger round. But hey, it’s a learning game for everyone! 😛

The early RR starters were the usual suspects except with Mexican Railways starting with UdY, there’s gonna be some tension down south-east.

Four starters. Five players. One of them (SH) was in passive investment mode (invested a bit heavily into the NdM private and minor during the Initial Stock Round).

With the Mexican Central (the solid black token in the middle) not starting, Chihuahua (bottom-left of pic) made a beeline straight towards the lucrative city of Mexico.

Mexican Railways (MR) as expected were entangled with UdY (in the top-right of pic) before MR branched out northwards towards Chihuahua.

Texas-Mexican – the orange-token in the top-left of the pic – was left very much without competition in the north-eastern part of the map. But it’s disadvantage is that it’ll be slow – maybe even too late – for it to get to Mexico City.

I felt the Minors (those tokens with A/B/C) were not growing as fast as they should. One reason is that the Minors were not properly aligned with the starting RRs so there was reduced incentive to cooperate on the tile laying. Could still have been better but then this is a learning game for everyone.

I intentionally did purchase any Minors – there are only 3 Minors – as I’d wanted the newbies to own them so that they get the chance to learn how to run/grow/maximize Minors.

They were soon learning how tile laying and investing in trains form an key part of the Operations, allowing them to set longer term growth path for their RR companies. All the RRs owned by the newbies were returning similar EPS. Chihuahua has me as the President so you can exclude its higher performance (EPS=10).

EPS = Earnings per 10% share

Sam (fella in black Adidas tee) was the 1st to start a 2nd company – the Mexican Central Railways (MCR) – which already has a good network laid by Chihuahua and Mexican Railways. The downside is that it’s right in-between Chihuahua and Mexican Railways so has to act quickly to establish it’s own prominence.

However due to limited cashflow, Sam started MCR at low par which meant he’s getting himself overleveraged not to mention having to face the crunch of the impending train rush with less working capital.

SH – who’s been doing passive investment all these while – attempted to float two RRs – the Pacific Railways (PR) and NdM in quick succession. But before he’d time to properly capitalize PR, the NdM was floated (when enough of its shares were bought during the SR).

I was poaching on his PR – it’s north-side and next to Chihuahua – so he decided to let go of PR and focus on NdM (which is always likely to be a powerhouse in late game). After all, this is the National Railways. 🙂

Railway networks were in their advance stage now, and the (only) one lucrative gray tile was dropped next to Mexico City and quickly tokened out by NdM, Mexican Railways and Chihuahua.

With the looming (and painful) train rush incoming soon, everyone’s immediate objective was scrambling to raise funds to survive the inevitable “forced train purchase” (FTP).

The good times were over – where they just kept paying dividends and saw their share prices appreciated. Everyone’s now seeing their share prices moving backwards – and some had it worst when their shares were sold causing a sharper drop.

The game eventually ended on a Bankruptcy note when both the two T6s were sold back-to-back and rusted all trains in both Sam’s RRs. When he couldn’t raise sufficient funds to cover the FTP cost, bankruptcy was called and game ended.

This is a learning game so I would say the experience counts more than the result, and I hope 18MEX gave a good account of herself as a good intro map for 18xx newbies.

From my POV, it certainly offers a more interesting and challenging set of gameplay for seasoned Euro Gamers even tho at 5p count, there’s always the looming probability of bankruptcy ending the game ahead of bank break or max revenue.

Bravo to another four “graduans” of the OTK 18xx Finishing School; from left: Ying Ling, Wai Keong, Sam, and Suay Hwa!

Well done to these four newbies who can now claim to have done an 18xx proper and I hope they find this system interesting enough to continue exploring 18xx titles.

Hope to see you all back in our next 18xx Meetup? 😛

The Apache Chipping In!

Our new set of poker chips -the custom set made by Apache – came in a week earlier and I got to testdrive them in this session.

Similar in weight to the NexGen Pro set (which is used on the other table) ie 9 gm and featuring a custom mold of “railroad tracks”, the quality and feel of this set is supposedly equal to the highly regarded Majestic series from Apache.

Comes with a nice NCV (no cash value) chip with a Train logo which we can use as the Priority Deal marker. 🙂

A bunch of veterans doing the Bohemian Polka (18CZ)

While I was taking these four thru their first learning game of 18xx, five 18xx veterans (or sharks as we call them) did a session of 18CZ which is set in the Czech Republic.

18CZ is a Lonny map (of the O-O pair) and initially self-published, it’s now available widely commercially as a Fox in the Box release.

The three different Railroad company types (Large / Medium / Small)

As with all Lonny’s titles, there are a number of features added to the game. The key differences for 18CZ:

  • The Initial Stock Round allows player to buy as many Local Railways (Privates) as they wish. There are 18 Local Railways (6 ea of Small/Medium/Large). Those unsold are discarded and do not enter the game.
  • There are three sizes of RRs – Minor (Small 4-shares), Regional (Medium 5-shares), and State (Large 10-shares).
  • Stock Market is not 3D, more of an enhanced 2D variant.
  • Train roster runs in a/b/c… and each train can be bought as one of three types (red for Small, blue for Medium, and green for Large). Each RR types can only run their own “color” trains.
  • Local Railways (Privates) do not close. Instead they keep appreciating in value (from $40) until they reach $120 in which the game ends. Bank has unlimited funds. This is a unique game timer in the 18xx series.
  • There is an Export Phase after every SR where one of the trains is exported which may result in a train rush.
  • Train rust happens in different manner depending if the trains are rusted during an in-OR train purchase or thru the Export Phase.
  • No bankruptcy if President cannot afford to raise funds for FTP. You just take a loan but it seems “loan” is the “begging card” of Agricola. Ouch.

Eh no. This was not what those five sharks were doing…..

Instead they were seated down and were set up for 18CZ. I was hoping there were polka dances too. Disappointing, I know. 😛

Above: The starting tile lays for the starter RR (by default Minors ie Small Companies). Looks like MW and OFE (top right of pic) were already not being nice to each other in this early days. tsk tsk.

I was not in this session so couldn’t write a more detailed sessrep except to put up extracts of comments from those in this session.

18CZ: Capital quite tight. Major decisions on capitalizing company, buying train and acquiring company quite AP. Track development can be rote except for an early blocking case.


A defined game end mechanism maybe a welcomed recent development in 18-titles. Some people may lament the lack of dimension in the stock market…


The timer for 18CZ is even worse than 1880’s. It ticks on relentlessly and you have to factor that in into all your decisions.


The question of larger co acquiring smaller co, eg state>major major>regional is more of whether you start the co with enough capital to withstand train rust. Otherwise it may be useful to consume it and not worry about rust.


Certificate limit also played a role. Having one of each company sizes would comfortably max you out at 10 cert. I had 2 large at 10 cert. Having one of each size also allows you to threaten to rust trains and disallows same sized companies to be slack in their play.


Haiyaa…. I forgot about the rusting of trains only in similar sized companies. I was actually trying to rust everyone. Point to keep in mind.

dennis (in blue shirt above)

Look at that pile of cash Heng was accumulating towards late stages of the game. I’d thought he was running away with the game. Turned out Dith managed to catch-up and won!

Which led me to an interesting observation – and was kinda confirmed by the players in our post-game discussion – the key to 18CZ unlike other 18xx titles is more on Portfolio Management of your railroad companies.

ROI on the 2nd Large Company lost out to Dith and Heng’s small and medium companies ROI because I had less OR to earn profits from. Standard thinking in 18xx is to go big but that is not the case for 18CZ.


My final run with small company was 260 and I had 75% just with 2 certs. Which is 195 for 2 certs. The best large company final run was about 450. Even with 1 presidential cert and 1 normal cert, it’s 30% which is 150 for 2 certs. Large companies will have better runs but because their certs has smaller can be misleading. Though worth noting that large companies have double jump in stock price.


The final rail network as it stood. Gray tiles (lucrative income) are rare and one of them is a purple-edge gray which means it has to be laid by a Large Local Railways.

The large local railway power is significant if you plan to upgrade to grey.


The final share price on the 2D+ stock market. Minor / Regional RRs have advantage in high dividend ROI but likely poor share value return (due to lower num of shares).

18CZ seems to offer a different strategic perspective to the game that other 18xx titles do not ie optimizing your portfolio, where the more intuitive “go big” mantra may not necessarily be the better path to victory.

And need to abuse the export mechanism definitely. 6 player 18CZ will be fun.


6 would be better I think haha


For more photos of this gaming session, visit our Flickr Album.

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