1849, survival of the fittest.

May 12, 2020

Set in Italy in a time of rampant chaos, this is a very challenging game where the winner is the one who is left standing after the initial train rush, which generally happens around the third operating round. Read this for a sum up of rules differences with 1830 first.

Next, take a look at the map and note the company starting locations and the terrain costs.

The map of 1849.

In case you did not manage to read the rules, here's a quick round-up:

  • This game features partial capitalization where shares bought from a company give the company money and a nice exit hatch whereby a company can simply issue the shares in its treasury to raise capital. Note that a clever little rule that does not allow a company to issue of stock unless it has completed one full operating round guarantees that a company starting without enough $$$ to buy a train from the bank might require emergency financing from the president.
  • None of the above really helps too much since the par prices are fixed at 68 and 100 at the start and players only begin with 375 cash in a 4 player game.
  • The order in which companies may start is fixed and randomly determined at the start of the game. Moreover, each company has a fixed token cost it needs to pay when it floats (placing the tokens when operating is free). This makes every game interesting but also skews valuations as some companies pay a lot for their tokens and some get them for rather cheap.
  • Company cash is extremely critical in this game as building track just about anywhere costs money.
  • Add to this the fact that there are only 4x2H, 4x6H with the 8H rusting the 4H, companies find themselves in extremely tight spots a few ORs into the game.
  • Shares of a company in the market at the end of a stock round lead to a drop in stock price (this provides a lot of incentive for stock trashing).

The game does provide some interesting escape hatches in the form of being able to close a company if its stock reaches the bottom-leftmost space and a bankruptcy not quite ejecting a player out of the game. A failure to own a required train leads to emergency financing from the president à la 1830. After selling all the stock that they legally can, if they still owe money, the company in question closes but if the player still holds stock (likely another presidency or stock that could not be sold because there were 5 shares already in the market), they continue the game. If the player does not have any stock left, they may take a L.500 loan and jump back into the game. A sum of L.750 would be subtracted from their final score in this case. While these escape hatches might let one get out of a sticky situation, a player does not generally fare well after employing these :).

In my experience, the inital private auction is rather critical and the private providing the presidency is great value for money. Getting it for under 200 will allow one to par at 100 and buy 3 shares and be guaranteed to get the fourth share for $90 in the second stock round. In fact it is even better to simply get the first private and come into SR1 with $$$ depending upon the turn order and the companies available to start. After having played a few games, I have not been successful with a 68 par as of yet :(. My favourite is the ATA (green) with the Port private but I will happily take whatever the presidency private offers me. I do not like RCS (orange) mostly because the tokens cost a lot and CTL (yellow) does not have a great run unless RCS is helping it reach Palermo. Getting a 10H which is the first permanent is usually a game winner. Certificate limits are very tight so if you can also somehow manage to grab a double share of your own company and put a permanent on it, you are coasting to victory!

Unless you are in the lead, most of this game is spent wallowing in misery. However, this game is also a very good teacher of the Priority Deal as it is much more beneficial to dump non-performing companies, especially at the start since the routes are closely linked together. Oddly enough, after the initial train rush, things ease up as there is a lot more $$$ to be made and after the sale of the first 16H, one can get a R6H for around L.300 so things are not so bad. There are only 2 of the cheaper permanents though, so again, operating order is critical!