We Also Have Winsome

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It was recently brought to my attention that while 18xx games are very nice and we do have some rather interesting offerings not available at other train game conventions, the Winsome games we have to offer are also of interest to the general public and are often more accessible and attainable. What you see above is a sampling of some of interesting titles we have and there is a common theme among them (one beyond the thematic connection of trains that is). The first person to correctly point out what all these games have in common in the comments section below will win a special prize!

Oddball Winsome

Starting in 2001, Winsome started to release sets of games and made it so this was the only way to acquire their games. I have discussed their business model in other writings and if you are interested in that information, I will gladly share if you like. Medicine Hat is home to TWO gamers on the Mailing list and we nearly have 2 copies of every game released since 2001. (We absolutely have 1 copy of each…) If there ever was an oddball Winsome game you have always wanted to try out, this is your chance (see above).

Map of Titicaca

For example, Track to Titticaca (above). Not only does this game have the distinction of being one of my favorite non-18xx train games, it has just about the coolest shaped map ever AND includes an entire Epoch of the game referred to as the ‘Age of Guano’. It has been my quest to infuse an ‘Age of Guano’ into every other game ever made, because I can’t think of a single game which could not be improved by having an ‘Age of Guano’…. Can You?

One of our gracious hosts has constructed what we are calling ‘The Wall o’ Winsome”. 16’ X 5’ of pegboard mounted to railroad ties, this will make for a 16 foot long wall of Winsome clamshells for the convention attendees to peruse and select from. Below is a photo of the wall empty and ready for transport down to the con.

Wall o' Winsome

We look forward to seeing you all come out for Hattanooga. We have a number of people registered already and more are signing up as the day comes ever closer. (We’re a month out!) Make sure to sign up today if you plan to come, with this being our first year it is really helpful to know what we can expect in terms of numbers and such. If it’s something you’ve been putting off, make today the day. While you’re at it, do a little research and see if you can’t win a train game related prize. 🙂

Winsome Set for 2016

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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. 😉

1872: Pacific Scandal

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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.

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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.

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“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…

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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.

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Trains, Mines and BEER!

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And Heat. And Sweat…..

18DO is the next (logical?) progression in what is becoming the ‘family’ of Harzbahn/Ruhr titles. If you have played either of those games and enjoyed them, this title looks to be right up your alley. This game differs from it’s predecessors in a handful of ways and while there is potential for a TON of game in the box (as evidenced by Ruhr and it’s excellent expansion) We have a prototype copy and as of this writing, we only have the one scenario to play around with. All the same, I am really looking forward to playing around with this game and here’s a handful of reasons why.

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The map is as you might expect from a title in this vein, coal and steel mines all over, some of which are active, others passive. Just like Ruhr, there are 8 of each coal and steel mills, 8 of which are in play at a time offering tons of variety and challenges to explore. However, in this title, there are also breweries. At the very outset, (even before the ISR!) players are force-fed their choice of 3-6 private breweries (dependant solely on player count). Each player receives one, they all begin with different brewing equipment, but behave mostly similarly.

The breweries start small, buying small amounts of equipment and delivering small amounts of beer. Later on, the owners can choose to go public and really ramp up their production. (A nescessity really, for the budding beer barons out there.) The player owning a private Brewery can purchase the 30% directors certificate for a public brewery and at that time, exchange their private brewery charter for an extra 10% if they want. Once the big guys come out to play, they make more money and buy more equipment. (If you’ve played Ruhr or Harzbahn, you’ll know that trains and equipment are both the same cards for railroads and mines. Well, brewing equipment is on the backside and while the breweries don’t work directly with the railroads or mines, sharing the same pile of equipment adds a nice little pile of complications to the game…)

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Here we have an example of the front-side of an “investment card” showing a train as well as the green square showing the development tokens provided a mine were to buy the same card. (On the reverse is a picture of a brewing kettle) Some of the sharper eyed among you will have noticed that a) the trains are cheaper in 18DO and b) there are some funny blue squares on the development tokens indicator….. Whenever an ‘investment card’ is purchased for mining equipment, the demand for beer is increased.

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This is the beer market. There are three types of demand for beer in the region. Special demand, General demand and Exports. The Breweries in play have to be the best, using the best equipment, having the flashiest labels and delivery practices in order to maintain their customer base. The first player delivering beer gets the best prices because they can deliver to the choice customers. Those who show up late to the party have to deliver their beer to the general public and will have to take whatever price they can get. And only those breweries with advanced enough equipment can make a run of exporting their products… The market and how it represents demand is very novel and a very cool twist on the ways to make money in 18xx games.

Did 18Ruhr need more bells and whistles? I’m not sure yet, but After we play this beast 2 or three times at Hattanooga, I’ll be sure to let you know!
Hope to see you there this year, but if not, make sure to mark your calendars and book off next year now.

The 1827 Build

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.

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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.

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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!

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GMT’s 1846

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!

1846 prize

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!