18xx with Ambie: Accessories

September 25, 2018

18xx with Ambie is Ambie's video series about 18xx board games featured on The Dice Tower's YouTube channel.

In this video, Ambie goes over some accessories that are useful for playing 18xx games.


Hi! I’m Ambie, and this is my video series about 18xx games. If you’re not sure what 18xx games are, check out my 18xx intro video. In this video, I’ll go over some accessories that are really useful to have with you when you play an 18xx game.

Although you can play an 18xx game with just the components that come in the box, there are some things you can use that can greatly improve and speed up your experience. The first thing that’s a necessity for me is poker chips. If you’ve played other board games that involve transferring money, you may have acquired a distaste for paper money. Lots of games have alternatives like metal coins and money cards. But in 18xx games, money is exchanged a LOT. Every turn you’ll be exchanging money multiple times - with the bank, with your corporation, between your corporations… basically you’ll be handling money a lot, and you’ll want something that’s quick, easy, and enjoyable to handle.

Poker chips save the day when you’re playing 18xx games. A stack of poker chips makes it really easy and clear to see how much money you have, and it’s also really quick and easy to count out money for making payments. Another perk is that after you play a few games with poker chips, you might start getting good at different poker chip tricks.

Another thing that 18xx games have is a lot of arithmetic. Unless you’re really good at mental math, you’ll probably want a calculator to help you do the dividend calculations and stock value calculations at the end of the game. I just use the calculator on my phone, but any four function calculator works!

I also use a pen or pencil and paper at the end of most of my 18xx games. At the beginning of the game, the track and routes are changing all the time, but usually near the end of the game there’s less track being built and the routes that each corporation are running are more stable. Writing down how much each corporation is making can help speed up the game, so you don’t have to recalculate each time, and you can just note down what has changed since last time. You can also just write down dividend amounts instead of exchanging poker chips at the end of the game to save even more time. Some people also use spreadsheets to keep track of the money, but I prefer minimizing the electronics in my board games.

Those were all accessories that are useful for dealing with the money in 18xx games. Another big part of 18xx games is the tiles. There are a bunch of different types of track tiles that you’ll want to see laid out on the table. What I’ve found really useful is these jewelry trays that I got on Amazon. The compartments are about two inches wide, and each hex tile in an 18xx game is usually about one and a half inches wide, so we can easily have the tiles separated in the compartments of the tray. Also, when someone wants to see the track, instead of having to look across the table, we can pass them the jewelry tray with all the tiles in it!

Sometimes dealing with the tiles can be difficult since you have to pick them up off the board and replace them when you’re upgrading track. This can get difficult to do when there’s a lot of track on the board, since when you reach in to move one you can disturb the ones around it! I’ve seen people using vacuum suction pens to pick up the tiles so that they don’t have to grab the tiles with their own fingers. The suctions are very effective and easy to use.

These last couple of accessories may not be applicable for your situation, but some 18xx games have paper maps. For instance, if you print and play your own, you might just want to print the map on different pieces of paper instead of mounting it on a board. There are a couple different things that people use to hold together paper maps on the table. One simple one is just placing weights on the edges, like poker chips. Since you already have poker chips to use for money, it’s easy to do this.

Another cheap alternative is using post-it notes to stick the pieces of the map together. They’ll keep the map together for the game, but they won’t leave sticky residue and damage the map like other tape would.

Our group uses a large sheet of plexiglass to cover paper maps. It’s definitely not a very portable accessory, but if you’re going to be playing at your home, then it’s great having a sheet of plexiglass to cover the board both for making it lay flat and for protection. Also, you can use it for other games - I’ve used our plexi to cover the map in Sherlock Holmes: Consulting Detective, and we could even use it like a detective whiteboard!

And those are all the accessories you’ll need to play 18xx games. Now, you don’t actually need any of these, and there are probably lots of others that you might find that are useful, but these are some of the starting ones that I’ve found useful, so I hope you’ll find them useful too!

Thanks for watching 18xx With Ambie! You can comment below or email me at ambie@dicetower.com with any questions, comments, or suggestions for future videos!
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