18xx with Ambie: 1849: The Game of Sicilian Railways

August 24, 2021

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

In this video, Ambie gives an overview of the game 1849: The Game of Sicilian Railways.

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. You can check out the rest of my playlist for other general concepts about the games too, because I’ll be using some 18xx-specific terms here. In this video, I’m going to give an overview of the game 1849: The Game of Sicilian Railways.

General Overview [0:36]
1849 is one of my favorite 18xx games, and there are a lot of reasons I love it. In addition to playing well at 3 players and in a relatively short amount of time, it’s also a really exciting game with a lot of situational decisions and trying to get the right timing for things. There’s even a random start order to the corporations that will affect what you want to do in the game.

Map & Track [0:56]
The first thing you might notice when you look at the map of 1849 is that there are mountains everywhere! All of these spaces cost money to lay track, and unlike in other games where it’s a one-time cost, the cost stays on the tile and you’ll have to pay it again whenever you upgrade! But there are different types of track you can lay - standard gauge and narrow gauge. If you lay a narrow gauge track, you’ll only need to pay a quarter of the cost of the track instead of full price! There’s a trade off though, because when trains run across narrow gauge track it costs them double the distance as standard gauge.

Money [1:30]
If you can’t tell by all the mountain spaces on the map, money is tight in this game. It’s also more difficult to get money initially because it’s incremental capitalization, which means only the money you spend on shares gets into the corporation treasury. Furthermore, you have to pay all the token costs for a corporation up front when you start it, so you won’t start out with much cash to buy trains at first! Luckily, corporations can issue shares to get more money, but that also lowers their stock price!

Stock Market [1:58]
But lowering the stock price isn’t necessarily bad. Unlike in 1830, where the stock percentage jumps are higher in the top right of the stock market, the most valuable part of the stock market is actually near the bottom left in 1849. So you can use withholding and issuing shares to your advantage to have your corporation stay in the lower left area of the market. But if a corporation gets too far to the bottom left, it will close and be worthless! If you time it right, you can actually use closing companies to your advantage by getting the assets out of that company into another one.

Trains [2:32]
The trains in 1849 are hex trains, so instead of counting how many cities or towns a route has, you count how many hexes the route passes. So a 4H train can go across 4 hexes from where it starts, whether it hits 2 stops or 4 stops! The timing for the train rush is also interesting because you can issue shares to get more money into the corporation. But to use that money you need to issue shares the turn before buying trains, so you need to plan ahead and see when other people are issuing shares or getting money to buy trains!

As I mentioned before, when trains run across narrow gauge track, it costs them double the distance, so you can only go across 2 hexes with a 4H train. But one type of train, the R6H train, is the opposite of this - it runs normally on narrow gauge and has to double the distance for standard gauge! This train is a permanent train only available when the first 16H train is bought, so it can also be a cheap permanent train for a company that needs one. But there are only two R6H’s in the game, so it can be difficult to time it right to get an R6H. It’s really amazing when you’re able to get one or both with a perfectly planned out narrow gauge track route!

Shares [3:40]
One really neat thing about 1849 is the 20% share. Usually the President’s share of a corporation is worth 20%, or the equivalent of two other shares. In 1849, there’s an additional last share that’s also worth 20%. This is really important for increasing your share density, since it’s really easy to hit your limit on the number of shares you can hold. But the last share is, as the name implies, the last share in the stack. You can’t buy it unless the other shares have all been bought or issued, and then you have to have enough money to buy 20%! So you might not want to buy or issue the next to last share, since that’ll open up the last share for someone else to buy! The last share isn’t always good though, since owning 20% of a corporation lets the President dump it on you. So you have to decide if the reward is worth the risk.

Outro [4:50]
So much of 1849 is situational - in getting the train rush right, issuing shares, and getting the last share - everything depends on what other players are doing and timing things just right is always very exciting. 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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