I’ve known Marc for a few years now. We met at a board game convention in Calgary through our mutual interest in 18xx and other finance focused games. A few years back he brought a game he had been working on and 5 of us sat down to play it. It was a well made prototype of a game he was calling 1872 and it had Medicine Hat on map, which pleased me a great deal. (I was even more pleased because it was a genuinely interesting map point!) It had some bells, and a broken whislte. We played into the 4th OR and called it once we had obviously broke the design. This is what playtesting is, for those of you who have not had the joy.
The part where Marc has always impressed me is his ability to think his way out of, around and beside a problem. The sheer volume of creative thought that pours out of the man could power a small lawnmower. And it doesn’t stop. He always has ideas to try and new ways to deal with old problems. He kept going with the new information he had learned that day and has something put together that I hope you will find interesting because I sure do. I asked Mark to share his intentions for what is now 1872: Pacific Scandal and what follows is his response.
“My design goals are fueled by an appreciation of accomplishments the 18xx system has delivered to gaming. Countless variations have been produced in the last 30 years. I am precariously trying to take 18xx to the next level, an “18yy” if you will. It is definitely an experimental project. Here’s a broader list of goals:
- Make a relatively historically accurate train game set in my home area of Western Canada.
- Make a train game that is substantially different than other train games.
- Piss off as many 18xx players as possible, by forcing them to print out new track tiles.
- Excite as many 18xx players as possible, because of pretty purple track tiles!
- Oops not a good start…
Some current prototype examples are: Separating population from track to give players control over population changes without having to own a railroad, major changes to the track laying and upgrading system, making the revenue and dividend systems more realistic, and the list goes on.
Although I have played hundreds of different boardgames, I am relatively new to designing. I love writing down ideas for game designs. I spend hours every day researching historical documents, scribbling down grandiose thoughts, and deleting 90% of them because they didn’t work. Another problem is that I refuse to follow “standard protocol”. I fiddle with Illustrator, waste too much printer ink, and environmentalists are knocking at my door for the paper I waste. I chug out prototypes like there’s no tomorrow. I playtest prototypes until my eyes are burning, and then burn them when I don’t like them. Play testers can’t keep up with me, which doesn’t help….
In the end, to be successful is not a goal. Game design is a game for me, and I enjoy it! Perhaps the train of success will come some day…”
Hattanooga hopes to help you buy your ticket Marc.
What you see here is a playable copy of Federico Vellani’s (of 1849 and 1841 fame) 1827. Originally beta prototypes were circulated in and around 1995 and it was advertised for open playtest in an Italian 18xx publication known as Iron Horses and Brazen Faces. Never published the game was in the form of two separate boxes titled: 1827 East and 1827 West.
1827 is unrivalled in variability, scalability, and sheer number of moving parts. Complete with 3 partial maps of the continental US which could be combined in different ways to accommodate different player counts and historical scenarios. Seating ranges from 3 to 12 players and the game boasts a time span of 4 to 14 hours long, includes Leaders, and Bonds of 4 types. It has Prestige Items, Lines and Trains. There are Privates, Minors, Majors, 1st Class Majors and Systems. You can upgrade trains at player owned train factories. And more…
We have found copies of both East and West and given the thing a good tune up with an eye towards playability and would like to offer you all the opportunity to experience one of the most interesting, challenging, and customizable 18xx games ever to not exist. It’s a piece of our history as 18xx gamers that the organizers of Hattanooga would like to give you a chance to see for yourself.
Addendum: It was eventually decided that the game was too much for a single release and was paired down to the much more manageable 1827Jr. (which we also have a playable copy of). Playable in closer to 5 hours and maintaining some of the features of 1827 but none of the scalability, this game also never saw the light of day for reasons unknown to the author. However, included here is a picture of the part of the Map where Medicine Hat would be located. We are an unnamed, unbuildable, non-descript hex, but a hex nonetheless dammit!
Well, we here at Hattanooga have been very fortunate in terms of our support for this event. GMT, purveyors of some of the best produced games available for the Strategic Gamer at your house, have put together an edition of 1846 that is truly impressive. Not only did they take the time to ask what was important to the 18xx community at large, but they listened and did the best job they could to produce something that both the old hand can enjoy, but that also has the draw of a well produced game for the new comers to this corner of the playground. The best part? When we asked them if they could find it within their organization to support our little train game convention, they agreed! And boy did they deliver!
We have 4 copies of 1846 to give away at our convention, The first of which you can take home just by pre-registering! We are going to give away a shrink wrapped copy to the 46th person to pre-register for the event. (Which of course, you must pick up in person at the event.) You have to register for Hattanooga before the 2nd of April to qualify and believe me, whether you are new to 18xx or you have worn out your Deepthought Games copy of 1846 showing your friends how to play, you want a copy of this edition!