18xx with Ambie: Suitcases

June 7, 2020

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

In this video, Ambie talks about suitcase companies.

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’m going to talk about suitcase companies. This is a topic that builds up on a few earlier principles, so if you’re confused on some things, you can watch my earlier videos - specifically the ones on Capitalization, The Train Rush, Personal vs. Company Money, and Purchasing Trains. In my last video I talked about buying trains and how you can do some neat things when you’re the president of multiple companies. But I’m going to go into a specific example of something you can do with a new corporation, and that’s called a briefcase or suitcase company.

I’ve talked earlier about how most of the time a company needs to own a train, and how that causes the train rush. But a lot of times the rule is that the company must have a train only if it has a legal route. In some games, there are places that corporations start that won’t necessarily be connected to anything else for a while, so in that case they won’t need to buy a train right away. Their stock price will still go down for not running any routes during their turn, but all the money in that corporation can be used for other things. If this is the only corporation you’re the president of, then not buying a train is probably a bad idea, but if you have another company that you’re invested in and it needs some cash, you can use this new company to fund it! This is called a suitcase, since it’s kind of like you got a suitcase full of money. This works especially well in games where there is full capitalization, since the company starts out with the full amount of money even if all the shares weren’t sold. For example, here in 1830 the Canadian Pacific, or CanPac, is far away from other cities and companies so it’s unlikely to have a route when it starts. So let's say you have another company without any money or a train, but has some really nice routes. Instead of having to force purchase a train and pay out of your own pocket, you can start up the CanPac, use all the money to buy a permanent train, buy over that train with your other company, and then sell your shares in CanPac so you just have the President’s share and aren’t losing too much value from the dead company.

But while suitcases give you a lot of money to use, they also come with a high risk. When other players see you getting to use the CanPac’s money for free, they’ll naturally want to stop you from profiting! The way they can do that is by taking away the ability for your company to be a suitcase. Remember, suitcases are possible because the company doesn’t need to own a train if it doesn’t have a route. But once it has a route, then it must own a train and you’ll be liable again! Even if you don’t build track, or you try to build track to avoid making a route, other players can be “helpful” and build track with their companies to connect it up to your suitcase company. Then you'll need to buy a train for it anyway. But even though you didn't actually get a free train from the suitcase, it basically allowed you to delay the purchase of a train, and in that time you might be able to save up some money in other ways so that purchasing the train isn't too difficult.

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