My first ever 18xx convention in Mechelen, Belgium was an amazing experience. The start was a bit rocky as my connecting flight from Frankfurt to Brussels got cancelled and I barely made it on to the next one 2 hours later. Unfortunately, my baggage could also not be loaded on time and dealing with that mess made us miss the train to Mechelen with the result that we were too late for our first game on Friday evening. On the bright side, I met up with Asbjørn from Denmark who was also scheduled to take the same cancelled flight so we kept each other good company throughout.
My second ever face-to-face play of 1817 was a blast. Everyone at the table was experienced with the game so we got started right away and it was a fairly friendly start. Being 5 players, the privates did not get bid up too high but a couple of players did grab 1 private too many. We also had a fairly standard start and everyone made a few mistakes but when the 4T exported a the end of OR 3.2 a few players found themselves in tight spots. I had started out with a strong cash position and had managed to get a 3T in 3 2-shares companies to push the trains at the expense of earning money. However, when Koen merged 2 trainless 2-shares to create a juicy 5-share short target and then proceeded to defend it, it was time for him to short the world.
From that point on, things went downhill rather quickly as some players decided to defend their companies and the interest quite rightly got jacked up to $55/loan. This pretty much ensured that everyone was just recycling money to stay afloat and Koen was looking like he even just might win it!
I somehow managed to get rid of a couple of my liabilities via acquisitions and friendly sales and combined all my assets into a $55 value 10-share wih 3 trains (3T, 3T, 4T) and 8 loans. SR5 saw a lot more shorting and while I was expecting to have to decide on how best to save my company, I was thrown a bone when Guido decided to get 2 of the company's shares. I then dumped it on him and shorted it to deny Koen more liquidity. I also started 2 new companies and with Koen proceeded to raise the interest to $70/loan.
From that point onwards, it was just a matter of survival. Koen was the first casualty in the war of high-stakes financial shenanigans and after a hilarious liquidation bid by yours truly where the table had to pay ~ $100/share to cover their shorts, Ot bankrupted on his company's liquidation. We called the game in my favour then as both Guido and Daniel would not have been able to survive a $55/loan interest the next round :).
18Scan is a small but very fun incremental capitalization game and I enjoyed it a lot more than I thought I would. The game starts with 3 minors, 3 privates and players bid on being able to purchase 1 item. The privates come with shares but cannot be bought in as such. They do however combo well with their respective companies so being able to start the same company as the private in order to avail of its power is critical.
The minors make ok money but they are mostly useful in late game as they convert into a share of the all powerful national railroad company. Interestingly, the minors are not required to own a train so they can also be used to scam trains into a major.
Our game was fairly tight and Ot bankrupted due to a few early mistakes made at the start of the game. The 3 of us continued with Guido leading most of the way but when I managed to start the national railroad it started running for 3x the rest of the companies. We had to call it due to time constraints and we all agreed that my national railroad investment would win me the game :).
After a quick rules introduction we got into a game of 1822mx that started off fairly friendly. Again, everyone made mistakes and I was stuck with 2 permanent trains (2P/LP) and an inedible minor (FCM + M16) for most of the game. Daniel ended up running the MC with an E train for ~900, however he owned only 50% of it with the rest of his portfolio being fairly weak. Asbjørn and Tom both had ~80% ownership of their lead majors but they were only running 1 non-E train each. I had 80% of the FCM running an LP + 6T + 6T with the FCP running a 2P + 7T. We had to call the game due to time constraints and decided on a draw between Daniel and I :).
After a quick teach, we jumped right into our game of 1880 - China. The bidding for privates was mostly fair although it is to be noted that there can potentially be a lot more than expected number of ORs as companies dodge trains or drip-buy trains in order to keep running. The goal here is to time the SR so that you are the one heading into it flush with cash with operating order priority mattering a lot.
Despite having a few interesting features like the dynamic SR timing, phase-based building permits and multiple presidency share densities, 1880 is essentially a run good companies game. During the mid-game, Craig successfully managed to drip-buy 3Ts and 3+3Ts to run 3 trains in 2 companies which, along with priority deal in the SR gave him an edge which could not be overcome. He won with yours truly ~300 behind. It was a fun game but it felt too long for what it offers.
18mm is an 1817-esque game that comes with a random map, 18USA like privates, a fixed OR/SR schedule and a half-baked ruleset. We attempted this with a sense of adventure and mistakes were made but we gave up after the rules got too contradictory to handle. Gilles and Craig were in the lead in any case and since the game did not allow any shorting it was pointless to continue further.
We decided to fire up a quick 1849 and mistakes were made right away. All the privates went for face and I stole the ATA from Gilles @ 68/share. Craig had started the AFG in Terranova and the ATA was able to buy 2 4H + 6H in its first operating turn. I held on to the ATA for 1 SR and then dumped it on Gilles. Unfortunately for me, the ATA was still a fairly strong company and I had to start the SFA to push trains. Gilles proceeded to just run the ATA and still buy in his private companies while I struggled to run a 6H on the SFA.
We also made some critical rule mistakes like not dropping company stock when shares were in the bank pool which made the game fairly straightforward for the others to simply run and pay out. By the time the 10H popped, Gilles had an empty ATA close to 0/share with an 8H and the CTL with a token in Palermo and tons of cash. We called it in his favour and decided to play a few party games to wrap the evening up!
My last game of the convention was another blast. We had a fairly rich map with lots of subsidies and a strong great northern combo. The bidding for the privates was fierce and Daniel overpaid for some items and entered the SR with very little cash. I had a strong cash position along with Dimitrios and the table was split up between companies starting in the north and others going for the the cash subsidies around Denver.
Since I did not really stake out a position, I bade my time and landed a couple of sweet spots with Denver being the best of the lot. I also picked up a couple of $30 cash subsidies in order to be able to run 3 companies along with Vincent with the others running only 2 companies each. One of my companies started in cleveland and tragic tracked Vincent's Chicago metropolis so that he was also effectively only running 5 trains rather than 6. This gave me a slight edge over the table which I managed convert into a few more 2-share assets.
SR2 even saw a few shorts and with the arrival of SR3 and the auto export of 3Ts, mayhem ensued with Vincent trying to defend both of his overvalued companies. Unfortunately, he was far down in priority and the 4Ts popped before he could shuffle money into them. He bankrupted fairly quickly and the rest of us played out another SR. This time around, Koen was playing it fairly safe and we managed to keep the interest around 30 for most of the game. Everyone dodged the 4+T in order to get the 5T which helped me the most as I was able to run 2 3Ts and 2 3+Ts for a full OR netting me 2 times the cash compared to the rest of the table. In the subsequent OR I was poised to buy 3 5Ts and we called the game in my favour at that point :).
A big thanks to the organizers for such a well-run and fun event. I hope to attend again in the future!