18India/18Africa are board games that belong to the family of 18xx games. The goal of both the games is
on a map, running fictitious trains to generate money and using the money to either enrich investors or
by upgrading the network, buying better trains etc. Players are investors in different railroad companies with
the majority investor then performing operations on the board on behalf of that company. The richest player
(money + assets) at the end of the game wins.
With the release of 18India a group of us took a weekend off to play a few games as well as a few games of
18Africa on which 18India is based. All in all, 18India is a fun game but I personally believe that it is
bit too sanitized for my taste in comparison to 18Africa.
The following is a gameplay summary for someone experienced with full-capitalization and
incremental-capitalization 18xx titles. Differences are color coded.
A random selection of companies are in the game providing gameplay variability. 18India, the map is
divided into regions with companies picked from these regions thereby enabling a bit more varied
development. Also, 18India features guarantee companies that pay out a certain small amount even if
do not pay a dividend thereby maintaining stock value.
Players have a hidden hand of certificates from which they can purchase shares or from the IPO.
an initial draft to seed one's hand and a certain number of certificates are thereafter
off. In 18India, the remaining certificates are then laid out on top
each other in 3 different piles
form the IPO. Thus, the location of most of the certificates can be assessed. In 18India,
there is also a small
of certificates in the initial bankpool providing a small starting incentive for some companies.
the presidencies are set aside and are always drafted/auctioned off. Players may buy up to
open shares from an IPO stack. 18Africa takes a more
route with the IPO all in one stack
with the first certificate face up. Players may choose to flip a certificate, choose to purchase it,
thereafter flip another certificate and purchase it for a maximum of 3 purchases. Every pass action
results in a certificate being flipped/exposed. Players may also simply buy any number of exposed
certificates as an action but they all need to be bought in order. Should the bank deck be exhausted the discard pile is shuffled and placed face
replenish it, the top card being flipped to start a new discard pile. Should the combined bank deck
discard pile be reduced to a total of three cards all are faced up and available
simultaneously. In both titles, players
certificate from the pool and pay the market price for that company / listed price for the private.
In 18Africa, when playing certificates from the hand, one may
as many as they would like. In
18India, one may play any number of certificates of a single company only.
Incremental capitalisation with fixed par values. Whenever a share is purchased from the IPO or a
player's hand, the company gets that capital.
Companies float with just the presidency or if there are 3 individual shares out (either in players'
hands or in the pool). Companies with a director's certificate in play are referred to as directed
companies and those without are managed companies. In case a company floats during an OR it starts
operating the subsequent OR. The manager is the first player to play the company certificate.
Companies may never manage/direct other companies. In 18India, the
game starts with a few
certificates in the pool leading to a
boost for certain companies.
May only sell once per turn as a first action, may only buy thereafter. May never sell the
however, the presidency may be transferred if there is another player with 20% or more holdings. There
no ownership limits and players can hold 100% of a company. May however buy back what was sold. In
18Africa, A player may not buy back from the bank pool any share in a company which they have sold
in the current stock round. However, they may buy shares in the same company either from their hand
or purchase from the IPO.In
18India, the first round of every SR is a
selling round followed by buying rounds. Thus, 18India provides more information to
In 18Africa, priority changes to the left of the last player to
take an action. 18India features
No train rusting. Companies
are not required to own a train and there is no forced train purchase. The trains are quite funky with
early trains being standard but late trains allowing skipping dits, taking the best 4 cities, double
value of cities, recession-proof trains, etc.
Train limit is always 2 and trains may be sold back to the bank (early trains can be sold for close
100% of face-value). More expensive trains have a lower resale value.
In 18India companies are limited
only one phase 4 train.
In 18Africa companies may only purchase 1 train from the bank
OR but may
purchase multiple trains from other companies. In 18India
companies may purchase multiple trains from
however a train that is bought from the bank may not be sold back to the bank in that same
both titles prevent cycling of trains in order to quickly buy more expensive trains even if companies
have enough capital.
In 18India trains may hit multiple revenue locations on OO and
triple-town tiles (providing a legal
route exists) with the exception of Mumbai. Nepal is also eligible to be hit twice.
In 18India express trains may count all 4 cities that do not
any token as long as such a legal
route exists. Moreover, tokens are also not required to collect the location connection
All track tiles are available from the start regardless of train phase, however track upgrades must
follow progression: yellow -> green -> brown -> gray.
Companies may lay 4 contiguous pieces of yellow track or 1 upgrade. Towns may be upgraded to cities.
In 18Africa, track may only be laid from one location in a
contiguous line and track building stops the
moment one hits/lays a city or lays a sharp curve/town. In 18Africa connecting cities with track for
first time provides companies with a bonus which is the value of each city connected. An important
to note is that in 18Africa, companies starting in OO locations may upgrade their home to green as a
yellow track lay and continue from there. Another very important point to note is that in 18Africa
companies may not lay any upgrades if they do not have a train (this makes running shell
a lot more tricky). Finally, in 18Africa to upgrade a town or city tile the company
a train with the nominal capacity to reach that tile.
features gauge changes which count as
making running routes slightly more difficult at the start of the game. However, track and tokens
freely laid across gauge changes.
Towns may be upgraded into green cities. In 18Africa, only a few
green cities allow upgrading all the way to grey and others do not. In 18India, towns are upgraded to single location green cities however
they upgrade to a regular double city brown tile.
Towns are free, i.e. do not count as a stop, however trains are required to run from a city to a
i.e. a city + town is not a valid route.
Both titles feature variable value cities that generally add between 10-40 to the highest value city
the route. These are generally located on the edges of the map and are very lucrative locations. A
with a +40 and a gray 60 can clear 160 with a 2T. There are also certain north-south and east-west
The stock market is linear and company stock only moves if a company pays out or withholds with 4x
18India features guarantee companies that do not fall-back for a 0
payout. Instead shareholders get
paid 5% of the current stock value as compensation. However, if a company ends its turn trainless it
falls back 1 space. Thus, trainless regular companies fall back 2 spaces and trainless guarantee
companies fall back 1 space.
In 18Africa, trainless managed companies fall back 3
If companies fall too far back, they close taking their tokens out of the game. Assets are returned
the bank pool. Certificate limits are adjusted down and shares are eliminated without compensation.
In 18India, the relevant certificates are also removed from the
Company stock actions:
Companies may purchase certificates from the bank pool. In 18India
they may also purchase from the IPO
and are limited to 3 certificates and may only ever hold 1 share of each company. In 18India they
allowed to purchase their own certificate from the bank pool however they may not purchase their own
certificate from the IPO. In 18Africa, companies may never
purchase their own certificates but do not
have a certificate limit.
In 18India companies may also buy a bond as a single action and in
phase IV may convert 1 bond into a
GIPR share paying the difference as a single action. However, the GIPR may not convert a
bond (likely due to the fact that since a company may own multiple bonds, converting them could lead to multiple shares of itself).
18Africa also has a concept of economy:
Boom: This is when there is no share or private in the Bank Pool. Each city will count £20
above its printed value.
Variable cities will thus be based on the enhanced value of the most valuable city on the route.
Bonds yield £10 per round.
Recovery: When there are 1 or 2 shares/privates in the Bank Pool. All stations count
values and Government
Bonds yield £15 per round.
Recession: Occurs when there are 3,4,5 or 6 shares or privates in the Bank Pool. All
pay £10 less than printed
values thus towns are zero. Govt. Bonds yield £30 per round.
Depression: Occurs when there are 7 or more shares or privates in the Bank Pool. Towns
zero, cities £20 less than
printed value. At the start of the first of the two operating rounds all companies have their price
moved backwards on the Share Price Index. Govt. Bonds yield £40 per round.
Note that the game always starts the first 2 operating rounds in Recovery. However, a very
aspect here is that the economy takes effect immediately. i.e. a company might operate and sell a
into the bank pool thereby affecting the runs of everything operating after it!
final value of a company includes a percentage of the value of its assets. In 18India this is = Current
stock value + ((face value of trains + face value of privates + sum of all certificate stock values +
company cash) / 10) rounded down. In 18Africa you add 5% of
the face value of trains (rounded down) + 10%
of certificate stock values and private face values (rounded down) to the current stock value to get the
final calculated stock
value.Thus, a company valued at 300/share with 1 share of
90/share company gets +9 along with say +30 for a 300 value train and +60 for a 600 value train bringing
the total to 399/share in 18India. If it had 11 in the treasury this would make it an even
Both titles feature privates but in 18India the privates are slightly
better as they can be closed to get
the money back during operation or also simply sold back into the pool, whereas in 18Africa they do not
close and may be sold to the bank pool but this also affects the economy.
Both 18India and 18Africa feature Government Bonds which do not count against certificate limit and pay
out a certain value per OR. In 18Africa, this value is tied to the
economy and the bonds are worth 100
each at the end of the game. In 18India these bonds may be
converted into shares of the GIPR by paying the
difference. The GIPR is a special company without a presidency but with 10 10% regular shares and 10
potential bond conversions bringing the total to 20 10% shares. When it floats, it picks any empty spot
the map and the majority shareholder operates this company.
Both 18India and 18Africa feature concessions, which are bonus values for running particular
18India the first company to run a route with a concession token thereafter gets the ability to claim
bonus if it runs that route again. In 18Africa, there is an
auction after the 2nd OR (i.e. just before
SR2) for the right to pick a concession.
Both 18India and 18Africa look like they are very operationally heavy games and it is true that a lot of
player interaction is on the map. However, given that sales are only allowed at the start of one's turn,
managing one's portfolio is critical to winning the game. Here are some strategy tips that worked for our
High-ownership, low-par + high-par, low-ownership
Getting 1 2T into a company is fairly easy but getting 2x2T into a company is harder and requires some help.
Moreover, while trains do not rust, at a certain point companies hit a wall and cannot pay out enough to
advance on the stock market, nor finance a bigger train.. This requires significant investment and since there
is not forced train purchase
there are only 3 ways to inject money into a company:
Buy shares: for a low-par company buying shares will provide some capital but at 74/share the maximum it
can make here is 740.
Withhold: planning for the future is necessary and some withholding at critical junctions might be
Loot other companies: This the best approach and the trick here is to float a high par company with say
individual certificates and then funnel that money into another company which you own more than 50% of.
the shell has been sufficiently looted it can be dumped in the SR and a new pig can be found. Moreover, if
the shell is nearby, it can lay valuable track/upgrades for its buddy.
18India with its open IPO makes it easier to run shell companies whereas there are always some risks in
18Africa as it is quite possible that due to some unfavorable IPO flips, a company gets stolen. In 18India,
the GIPR is a viable backup plan as one can always dump shares of a mediocre company and go all-in on the
GIPR. It fires up with a lot of cash, tokens to spare and can start making 800+ off the bat, thereby
encouraging even more investment.
High-par, high ownership
A company with an IPO of 90+ can get significant cash into its treasury with 4-5 shares sold. This in turn can
help it take off early thereby potentially encouraging further investment, or if the president can pull it
off, high-ownership. Such a company can make some great early money which the president can use to start other
companies or simply cross-invest. Note that in 18India it is easier to keep jumping up on the stock market so
simply paying out with 2 trains for 5-6 ORs is a viable strategy.
In both 18India and 18Africa, having the presidency is a very valuable thing as it provides the flexibility of
maintaining ownership. If one has say 70% of a company including the presidency, it might be wise to first
play the five 10% shares and keep the option of being able to get rid of the shell if required! Sometimes just
having 3 certificates in play might encourage others to steal it which could result in some free capital! Note
that the first person to get a majority will then get the president's certificate if it enters play.
When all else fails, the goal ideally should be to get high ownership of a company. This encourages one to
make that company amazing and will definitely attract investment, i.e. players holding 1 or 2 shares will want
to play them to get a piece of the action. Since early money is critical, getting early investment is amazing
and that is why as a president you want to fund your company to the max as soon as possible.
Similarly, it might be wise to not let someone collect a lot of a single company in the initial draft/auction.
This has the added advantage of denying them early capital and if they do make an amazing company, there is
nothing like playing the last share of a company valued at 300+ for 70 odd bucks.
Given that every company has a fixed starting location there are some not so great companies which will be
readily chucked in the initial draft. An interesting strategy here is to shoot for that company as the obvious
plan and keep a backup plan in your hand. Moreover, in 18India there is a private company that allows a
place a station marker for free in any city even if it is completely blocked thereby allowing just about any
company to become amazing.
Manipulating the economy
In 18Africa, having a high and a low par company is great as one can buy up a couple of certificates with the
last operating company leading to a boom for the lead company. The lead company can then dump a certificate
back into the pool to make the world miserable for the rest of the companies :). This is best done with a
couple of cheap privates.
Apart from the standard tokening, players also have some agency in destroying juicy routes by upgrading towns
to cities and then tokening them, forcing companies to waste valuable track points building around. In
18Africa there are even two types of green cities, one that allows upgrading all the way to gray tiles and one
that stops in green.
18India vs. 18Africa
The goal of 18India was to minimize the randomness of 18Africa and the designers mostly succeeded. However, to
my opinion, a few of the levers that a losing player could pull are missing in 18India making it a fairly
sanitized run-good-companies game. For example, the economy in 18Africa is a great lever that can be pulled to
make the world terrible until one pivots to a different plan. 18India does have a more balanced company
distribution however in our games since getting early track built is so critical, a lot of companies clustered
up in one region anyways. A lot of companies even from across the board made a beeline to the hotspot and
All-in-all my current preference is for 18Africa or even 18India with 18Africa rules. I would like to
experiment with having a partially open IPO, e.g. maybe have 3 closed stacks with the first certificate open
from each stack to increase a bit of choice. Admittedly, 18Africa does have the problem that one can have a
runaway winner if they manage to steal a company and/or get funding from other players. Given that the
presidencies are always out in 18India, chances that everyone gets a decent start are higher. I am also quite
curious to see how both the titles play out at 2P :).
Many thanks to Ot, Boris & Tom for a wonderful weekend and for
reviewing the article.