Now that 18FR-RCE is getting publisher attention (more on this later), I’ve been working on two more designs: 1845 and 18RT. 18451 has been in flight for more than a year now, but 18RT has replaced it as the smaller, simpler vehicle for trialling some of the core notions of 1845 while also exploring its own area.
The current notion is for the map to cover the area from Darwin in the Northern Territory, down through Alice Springs to Adelaide in South Australia, and thence Melbourne in Victoria, and across to Brisbane in Queensland2. Perth (Western Australia), Tasmania and the various major ports would be represented by off-boards, the Nullarbor Plains likely being implied by a token surcharge in the Perth off-board or extreme terrain costs for a single hex connection there. The primary focus of the map however would be a morass of dits and terrain surrounding the cattle ranches, metal mines and other bulk-export production centres.
The general idea is for a slew of private companies with 1870-esque revenue bonus tokens, accelerated track-builds, terrain discounts and the like. The general idea is that these would either be assigned to major companies ala many David G Hecht games, or sold (at close to cost) to major companies ala 1846.
I’d like to also represent, if only partially, the excessively poetic GSR and Ghan. Wrapping them in a revenue-based private is an obvious route, but perhaps less interesting. Instead I’ve been toying with the idea of a president-less investment vehicle (akin to the bank of England in 1848) which pays liability-less revenues as a function of both the current train technology level and much of the connection between Adelaide and Darwin has been built. Something similar might be also done with the (recent) iron ore connections to China, the Tasmania produce connection, the vast emergent wine industry etc, but in those cases in a manner which more directly connects to major companies operating in those areas.
I’m currently toying with 8-10 major companies which can be incrementally capitalised or fully capitalised at the president’s choice3.
Trains, err, Trucks
A first notion is to change how trains are managed. Of course they’re not really trains, but bear with me as calling them trains makes the 18xx-relevant language easier:
- Unlimited trains per technology level
- No train limits for companies
- Maintenance fee due for each train at the end of that company’s operation of: ((current_tech_level – train_size)^2-1)*10. ie the sequence of $10, $30, $80, $150, $240 etc.
- A company may research the next technology level and upgrade all of its trains (for a $fee) to the next available train-level. When doing so the company may not run the trains that are upgraded. This may happen multiple times in an Operating Round with increasing expense for each acceleration.
- If no company researches the next available technology level in a given set of Operating Rounds, then the game does immediately before the Stock Round.
- The definition of a legal route is changed. Only stations and off-boards count against train-length. Dits count for revenue but not against length. At least one train’s route must intersect both one of the company’s station markets and a small town/dit. All subsequent trains must either intersect one of the revenue locations touched by a previous train and a dit and a city, or must intersect a station marker (in a city) and a dit in the normal manner. As a result, a single station marker can support many possible train routes that spread out somewhat like a peacock’s fan from a single starting station (ie a sort-of flood-fill)4.
- A company which pays a dividend and cannot profitably run a given train (ie income from the train is larger than maintenance fees) must discard the train (for no recompense).
The next area of exploration is a tentative form of impermanent track combined with an inversion of normal revenue allocations:
- Dits (towns) are generally worth more than cities and upgrade to be worth a lot more. Specifically dits appreciate faster and further than cities when upgraded.
- Bush “track” is represented by narrow gauge track.
- At the end of each set of ORs all narrow gauge track is removed from the map (dirt roads wash out with the rainy season)
- Most of the centre of the board is terrain interspersed with single and double dits.
- Yellow narrow gauge track can be upgraded to green standard gauge track, which is not removed at the end of the set of ORs
- Single dit track does not upgrade (ala 1830).
- Yellow double-dit narrow-gauge track can be upgraded a green tile to a mix of a narrow-gauge route and a standard gauge route. In this case at the end of the OR the tile is demoted to a green single dit of a higher revenue.
- Yellow narrow gauge double-dits can also be upgraded green track with to both sides being standard gauge.
- Green double-dit standard gauge cites can be upgraded to (standard) green/brown 4-exit cities.
- The offboards which ring the map allow train (gangs) which run to them to double-count N dits for revenue.
I’m interested in varying the rates of appreciation at different sections of a stock market, as well as stock markets which don’t have the traditional triangular shape5. What if the market had a different shape? What if the top-edge of the market weren’t flat? What if the rate of appreciation across the market were non-uniform in an interesting manner? What if navigating the marker’s new particulars were significant to gameplay?
A first toy idea is below6:
- The top row appreciates by 15% horizontally. The next row down by 14%, the next row again by 13% and so on down to 8%. Then the next row down by 9%, 10% etc back up to 15%. The result is a market that’s heavily skewed towards stock-appreciation at the edges, but is flat and uninteresting in the middle — that same middle that the shape of the market pushes all shares towards.
- The magnitudes of the stock-price increases toward the top, especially in the second section, and are thus rather large7. It is hoped that this will provide a balancing tension between being dividend/income-centric versus portfolio/stock-centrism.
- Arrows on ceiling cells by walls point down and to the right for when stocks bounce on the ceiling or hit the wall.
- Similar arrows for floor cells merely point vertically up (no acceleration).
- Red cells are possible pars (some will likely need to be removed)
- Players may buy past 60% from the Open Market.
- The coloured sections in the corner may be removed, or if they remain, are unlikely to have traditional definitions.
Stock price movement
- Up or follow arrow if 100% in player hands
- Right (at least) once if total dividend is larger than price
- Right twice if total dividend is more than double price and company is incrementally capitalised8
- No movement if total dividend equals price
- Left if total dividend is less than price but larger than half of price
- Left and down if total dividend is half of price or less
- Down on stock sales (possibly once per sale rather than once per share)
- Down if shares in the Open Market at the end of a Stock Round (maybe)
- Yes, a stock can pay a dividend and move right or up and find its price reduced as a result. Of course it can also pay an inadequate dividend and move left or left and down for the same reduced price result. Simply consistently paying dividends is no longer enough to prosper.
- (Not shown) the stock market is divided into diagonal stripes. Companies start with a limited and small number of station makers. As their stock prices move right across the various bars, they are allowed to buy and place additional station markers.
- On the sale or research of the first 6T all share prices fall to the floor, move left (if possible), and then fall to the floor again. (This ordering is deliberate and specific) Again, like 18FR-RCE’s all-the-trains-rust moment, this is in recognition of World War II. It is generally hoped that this will happen when several companies are near or shortly past the market constriction around $1059.
- The result of the steeply banked par values and stock-appreciation differences, encourages fully capitalised companies to par high in order to maximise capital and ease getting their price through the passage.
- Conversely, incrementally capitalised companies do not want to par high as later shares will (almost necessarily) be much cheaper than the initially parred shares, and will proportionally fail to raise capital. However parring an incrementally capitalised company low simply fails to raise enough capital to be viable.
- And more on 1845 later as well. ↩
- ie everything except Western Australia. ↩
- This may change. I do want to provide a choice regarding capitalisation, but I want it to be a real choice where both answers are frequently correct. ↩
- I am also toying with using something like 1873’s train-multiple concept here. ↩
- After 1828’s market which has a large new triangular section bolted on the end-tip of what is otherwise a normal triangular-shaped market. ↩
- The gray sections are for calculations and are not part of the market. ↩
- eg $210/share should a stock reach $1,600/share ↩
- The notion is to have both incrementally capitalised and fully capitalised companies, at the player-choice per company, with the choice as to which to prefer and when being difficult. ↩
- Recently termed the stock anus or sphincter in local discussions. ↩