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2038

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  • Mike Hutton
    I ve heard a bit about this 18XX variant, & it sounds completely different to the rest of the series. Could someone give me a quick overview of what it s like
    Message 1 of 6 , Jul 12, 1999
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      I've heard a bit about this 18XX variant, & it sounds completely
      different to the rest of the series.

      Could someone give me a quick overview of what it's like (including game
      length, suitable # of players, how good it is, flaws etc...)?

      Thanks,

      Mike.

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    • Steve Thomas
      (Administrivia: my email address used to be sthomas or Steve.Thomas@insignia.co.uk or @insignia.com. The domain insignia.co.uk has been deprecated for a while
      Message 2 of 6 , Jul 13, 1999
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        (Administrivia: my email address used to be sthomas or
        Steve.Thomas@... or @.... The
        domain insignia.co.uk has been deprecated for a while
        but now appears to have gone off the air completely.)

        Mike Hutton wants to know about 2038.

        2038 is set in the Asteroid Belt. It has the usual
        18xx mixture of stock and operating rounds. The
        stock rounds are mostly standard, and most closely
        resembles 1835 of the existing titles. The operating
        rounds also follow the same general outline, but
        instead of laying track and running trains, companies
        discover and develop mines and run spaceships. The
        whole thing is familiar to any 18xx player, who will
        get the basic idea very quickly.

        The board consists of about 100 hexes, 90 or so of
        which are blank at the start of the game. As the
        game progresses, these blank hexes are explored by
        visiting spaceships; in practical terms you draw a
        tile from a shuffled pile and place it. Each tile
        has one or two mines. Each mine can produce Ice,
        Rare Earths, or Nickel, in one of three grades (two
        for Nickel), so there is an element of chance in
        the game. Companies can pay to claim mines, which
        improves the value of the mine and reserves it for
        that company. Each mine can only service one
        spaceship each complete round, and it's first-come,
        first served.

        Spaceships have a range (how many hexes they can
        travel in a turn) and a capacity (how many mines
        they can visit). There is the usual progression,
        with later ships causing earlier ones to go rusty.

        I seem to play the game about once a year, and
        enjoy it when I do, though I prefer 1837 and 1841.
        It's a long game, though there is a simpler version
        which takes only 4 hours or so. Those who criticise
        it tend to do so on three grounds: the element of
        randomness annoys the purists; the dominance of one
        of the companies (TSI) is hard for novices to
        overcome; and there are loads of small fiddly
        components which are hard to read at a range of a
        metre or so (so players with eyesight like mine get
        backache through bending over the board.)

        On the other hand, it's a game of development, more
        than many 18xx games, and, rather paradoxically for
        a game with no track, route development pays off
        more in 2038 than perhaps any other game in the
        series. There is an alternative start available
        which weakens the TSI so that it's a more balanced
        game with novices.

        The game was devised by Tom Lehmann and Jim Hlavaty,
        and developed mostly by Tom. I was acquainted with
        both of them while the game was developed and Tom is
        a friend of mine to this day. I was heavily
        involved with early playtesting. This may cause
        some bias.

        Steve
      • Michael Brünker
        I know it s late but I hadn t had the time to answer... Your discussion of 2038 in the spring was very interesting and so I decided to play it. I like the
        Message 3 of 6 , Aug 31, 1999
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          I know it's late but I hadn't had the time to answer...

          Your discussion of 2038 in the spring was very interesting and so I decided
          to play it.

          I like the rules because they contain so many details which allow a
          corporation and its president to concentrate on spaceship routes and placing
          station markers and refueling stations.
          But I thought by myself that there would be so much work to manage the game.
          Placing "used mine" markers or switching "owned mine" markers, removing them
          after the OR or reswitching them etc. And I thought that it would be very
          difficult to see the best routes even if you can refuel up to three hexes.
          And those were the main problems of the game. We played the game with
          Lemmi's moderator in 4 hours but most of the time we spent in doing this
          work. Another problem was that so many privates, companies and bases have
          special abilities. We were beginners and had to look at the shares etc. all
          the time. It was terrible and now I understand why the 18xx game system of
          Tresham is so successful:

          The 18xx game system is a very simplified game system that neglects those
          details that add more realism but are hard to play:
          Sure it is more realistic to let a train cross mountains slowlier than to
          run over plains. But is such realism needed? Isn't it sufficient to have
          only a reach in stations (or in hexes).
          Sure that it is possible to refuel the trains but who can see the most
          valuable routes, especially if you have no tracks but the movement goes from
          hex to hex (as it is possible in the 1829 Midland railway system).
          Sure it would be interesting if you distinguish between goods and
          passengers, between paassenger trains and freight trains. But do we need
          this additional complexity?
          Aren't the games with their rules complex enough that we wouldn't prefer
          simply playable games with less management work so that we can concentrate
          on the strategic or tactical possibilities?
          etc. etc. etc.

          I like 2038 very much. Its ideas are great and I also like the setting. But
          I will never play it again because I don't like games where I have to do so
          much (for me senseless) work. This leads me to 1828 (my new game in test
          stage) where a phase exists between share dealing phase and operation phase
          where each station marker may promote its tile (if possible) because the
          large map (300 hexes) must be developed. I don't like this rule very much
          but with this phase the companies may concentrate on building tracks during
          their turns because most (or all) stations are promoted. This phase seems to
          be a kind of administration work but it is necessary and the companies
          profit by this because the routes are much more valuable.

          Are there any variants you have in mind which contain administration work
          (except share price index movements) and how are they played to save time?

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          Steve Thomas wrote:

          > From: Steve Thomas <Steve.Thomas@...>
          >
          > I posted last week a description of an 1841 game I'd
          > played, in which I was the recipient of a large batch
          > of dumped companies. It has since been represented to
          > me that I may have inadvertently reinforced a common
          > misconception about the game.
          >
          > Corporations may not merge until they have each
          > completed at least one operating turn.

          If corporations could merge every time it would be to easy to speed up the
          game. In my new game (1828) I experimented with this possibility and it led
          to the point that players merged as soon as their companies took their turns
          so that a) money was concentrated in one company and b) they could use this
          money to buy new trains. And even if they killed their own trains in other
          companies they owned they had no problems with it because they merged them
          immidiately into the company with the safe train. I think that Vellani
          created this rule to prevent this and I am very grateful to him.

          > Newly-formed
          > corporations do not run in the round in which they are
          > formed. Thess rules are often overlooked, and without
          > them the formation and merging of companies is a great
          > deal easier.

          This is only a consistent continuation of the corporation starting step of
          the SDR.

          > In the game I posted, it took me three rounds to merge
          > the inherited corporations down to a manageable number.
          > I did much of this while possessed of a 4- and a 5-
          > train which were shuffled about between the companies.

          Isn't this an ordinary game situation? If someone buys too much shares of a
          company he always takes the risk if he gets president of a plundered
          company.
          I don't think that this is a misconception of the game. It is a rule and
          everybody knows it so you have to make the best oft it.
          Doesn't a game live from the rules (which are nothing else then
          limitations)? If there weren't these limitations wouldn't it be real life?

          Michael
        • Michael Brünker
          I know it s late but I hadn t had the time to answer... Your discussion of 2038 in the spring was very interesting and so I decided to play it. I like the
          Message 4 of 6 , Aug 31, 1999
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            I know it's late but I hadn't had the time to answer...

            Your discussion of 2038 in the spring was very interesting and so I decided
            to play it.

            I like the rules because they contain so many details which allow a
            corporation and its president to concentrate on spaceship routes and placing
            station markers and refueling stations.
            But I thought by myself that there would be so much work to manage the game.
            Placing "used mine" markers or switching "owned mine" markers, removing them
            after the OR or reswitching them etc. And I thought that it would be very
            difficult to see the best routes even if you can refuel up to three hexes.
            And those were the main problems of the game. We played the game with
            Lemmi's moderator in 4 hours but most of the time we spent in doing this
            work. Another problem was that so many privates, companies and bases have
            special abilities. We were beginners and had to look at the shares etc. all
            the time. It was terrible and now I understand why the 18xx game system of
            Tresham is so successful:

            The 18xx game system is a very simplified game system that neglects those
            details that add more realism but are hard to play:
            Sure it is more realistic to let a train cross mountains slowlier than to
            run over plains. But is such realism needed? Isn't it sufficient to have
            only a reach in stations (or in hexes).
            Sure that it is possible to refuel the trains but who can see the most
            valuable routes, especially if you have no tracks but the movement goes from
            hex to hex (as it is possible in the 1829 Midland railway system).
            Sure it would be interesting if you distinguish between goods and
            passengers, between paassenger trains and freight trains. But do we need
            this additional complexity?
            Aren't the games with their rules complex enough that we wouldn't prefer
            simply playable games with less management work so that we can concentrate
            on the strategic or tactical possibilities?
            etc. etc. etc.

            I like 2038 very much. Its ideas are great and I also like the setting. But
            I will never play it again because I don't like games where I have to do so
            much (for me senseless) work. This leads me to 1828 (my new game in test
            stage) where a phase exists between share dealing phase and operation phase
            where each station marker may promote its tile (if possible) because the
            large map (300 hexes) must be developed. I don't like this rule very much
            but with this phase the companies may concentrate on building tracks during
            their turns because most (or all) stations are promoted. This phase seems to
            be a kind of administration work but it is necessary and the companies
            profit by this because the routes are much more valuable.

            Are there any variants you have in mind which contain administration work
            (except share price index movements) and how are they played to save time?

            Michael
          • Robert Jasiek
            ... Therefore some games omit special rules of private companies or private companies at all or terrain difficulties or maps at all. Some even think about
            Message 5 of 6 , Aug 31, 1999
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              Michael Br�nker wrote:
              > why the 18xx game system of
              > Tresham is so successful:
              > The 18xx game system is a very simplified game system that neglects those
              > details that add more realism but are hard to play:

              Therefore some games omit special rules of private companies
              or private companies at all or terrain difficulties or maps at all.
              Some even think about omitting the entire operation part since the
              system is about business anyway... Wait, maybe railways are just too
              exciting:)

              --
              robert jasiek
            • Steve Thomas
              ... 2038 is certainly at the fiddly end of the 18xx spectrum. This is at least in part because Tom Lehmann, developer and co-designer, has a much higher
              Message 6 of 6 , Sep 1, 1999
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                Michael Br�nker wrote:

                > Your discussion of 2038 in the spring was very interesting and so I decided
                > to play it.

                2038 is certainly at the fiddly end of the 18xx spectrum.
                This is at least in part because Tom Lehmann, developer
                and co-designer, has a much higher tolerance for fiddle
                than any European 18xx player I know. However, it's not
                as bad as you make out.

                In practice you never need to turn claims over to the
                "used" side since there's only one point where they can
                be used in each round anyway. Generic "used mine"
                markers are sometimes handy, but since there is in
                practice rarely competition for them between companies
                in the early or late stages of the game, you can leave
                out most of the placing of those, too.

                Some people spend a long time determining their routes,
                while others are quick. I think this comes down to a
                choice of algorithm. The slow ones count the value of
                all possible routes, then pick the best. The fast ones
                identify the n best mines within range, where n is the
                number of holds, and then see if there's a way to move
                their ships to collect these. If not, they swap a good
                mine for a worse one which can be reached more easily.

                In the late game, companies should be accessing only
                or mostly their own claimed mines. This simplifies
                identifying routes enormously. And the earlier game is
                more about developing these routes than many an 18xx
                game, which is a major plus.

                Remembering special properties is something that gets
                easier with practice, but all the information is on the
                cards and well displayed.

                > This leads me to 1828 (my new game in test stage)

                When Francis Tresham was developing 1829, he tried a
                design on an abstract map. This was called 1828.
                You might want to avoid the clash of number, even
                though 1828 was never released.

                Steve
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