by Alan R. Moon
This is the first time Mr. Moon's work has graced these pages since he left The
Avalon Hill Game Company in 1983. Since then, he has relocated to Massachusetts, has
married, and now does free-lance game design and consulting.
I first played 1830 in the summer of 1983 at the Detroit Origins. The Tresham brothers had brought the game over for Bruce Shelley and Tom Shaw to look over for possible publication by The Avalon Hill Game Company. We played several games of the original version that weekend, and while the game had some great ideas and a lot of potential, it just didn't quite work right. Still, a contract was negotiated and Bruce began work on the development. Three years and many versions later, the game became a reality. Was it worth the wait? Well, would I be writing my first article in over four years if it wasn't?
The biggest problem in the original design was the seeming inevitability that every game would end wish one player going bankrupt, rather than the game ending with the bank exhausted. It is certainly still possible for the game to end in bankruptcy, but it is unlikely. Outfoxing a player on the stock market, the type of action that used to spell doom for that player, now usually just ruins his chances of winning instead.
Of course, there have been numerous changes in the game since 1983, but since I was not directly involved in the playtest, I am not the best person to describe them. Perhaps Bruce will volunteer some day. What I do have to offer is a variant for the game which consists of changing a few hexes and tiles, and adding a ninth company.
After you've played five to ten games of 1830, you will have probably been president of each of the eight corporations in the game. At this point, you have also probably figured out all the best tile combinations and possible stock manipulations. For some people, the game is then "learned" and there is not enough variety and incentive to play it much more. Others, however, will go on in an attempt to master the game, rather than just "know" it. I think this variant offers something for both types of players. The "Reading" variant adds some variety to the game. It also places a premium on player decisions involving the purchase of diesels, since they are now slightly cheaper and probably even more valuable, especially if you prolong the game by adding the extra $8000 I suggest.
The Reading, like all the corporations, has definite advantages and disadvantages. Its major drawback is the number of tokens, allowing it to place only one station besides its home base. This will make the placement of this station extremely crucial because of the almost certain competition with the B&O, PA and C&O over the same routes. The main advantage lies in the president's triple-share certificate. Perhaps the best way to run this corporation is to bring it on late in the game and set the price at $100. With the $1000 the company receives as operating funds, it will be able to buy a diesel and place the extra station, and run for cash each turn.
The proposed tile changes make the southeast section of the mapboard a hotbed of activity instead of confining it to simply B&O runs. In addition, there will be fierce competition for Boston and more chances for the B&M to expand to the north and northwest, and more chance for the CP to build southeast to New York City.
The new rules regarding obsolete trains are to ease the pain of the player who buys a new engine one turn before it becomes obsolete. Now he at least gets one turn to use it and can get some of his money beck. This also gives each player a chance for the trade-in for a diesel.
Taking A Ride
Reading shares and new tiles: reading.zip