18-OKI or, can 2 player 18xx be interesting?

One toy I’ve always wanted for christmas was a 2 player 18xx that was fun, engaging, dynamic and interesting. I still don’t feel like I’ve got that toy, but I’ve got a few that are close to what I asked Santa for. 1860 plays well with 2, 1825 U3 is meant for 2 and it is the closest thing so far. I refuse to believe with a system as accommodating to revision and open to new ideas as the 18xx are that this is an impossible task.

Enter 18OKI, the little 18xx game you didn’t know you wanted published one day. I approached the game’s designer on BGG back in January of 2015 because I had seen pictures of his game on BGG and some of the tiles were narrow gauge. (I like games where track isn’t an afterthought…) I asked questions, received a kit and started to build. Here’s a brief description of the game from the rules:

 

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(Map is from many revisions ago, but is a good representative image.)

“18Oki is a two player 18XX game set in the southern area of Okinawa Island, Japan. The game covers the 50 year period from the first application to form a rail company in 1894, through to the U.S. bombing of Okinawa in 1944. The companies are all historical, although some never raised enough capital to float.”

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As of this writing, the game features 4 kinds of company, narrow gauge track, a tile manifest designed to please the masochist and has my vote for ‘best waiting for that other game to end” diversion going in 18xx today. Upon my first play, I was taken in by it’s charmingly difficult track choices, variety in play style choices and it’s size. (I’m a bit of a sucker for the ‘postcard 18xx’. I SWEAR THAT ONE DAY I WILL GET A 7 HANDED GAME OF 1876 ON THE TABLE!)

One on The game’s most interesting features are the historically weighted ‘Petrol buses’ that dominated public transit on the island at the time. Without going into too much detail,  they are like privates, but are MUCH more powerful.

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This game borrows heavily from the 1825 family of games and is not shy about it. If you’re in and around Medicine Hat around the 19th-21st of May, why not give this game a try while you wait for players to arrive and get that game of 1831 going. 😉

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