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1870: A Game Review

by Kristopher Marquardt

Winter 1995/Vol 2, no 4

Publisher: Mayfair Games, Inc
Designer: Bill Dixon
Price: $44.95

1870, Mayfair Games's latest offering in the 18xx series which started with 1829, is a Bill Dixon design that features some 18xx game system innovations and a few twists on concepts that Mr. Dixon introduced in 1856.

These innovations include Share Price Protections, Share Redemption, Share Reissue, half dividends, a new set of trains, and connection runs. In addition to these, there is the feature on the stock market known as "the ledge." More on these later

When you open the box, you will find a number of high quality components. The board and stock market chart are mounted on heavy cardboard with full color graphics. The mapboard is large with 150 playable hexes; only 1853 is larger. The map runs from Mobile, Alabama in the southeast to Austin, Texas in the southwest, and from Springfield, Illinois in the northeast to somewhere deep in the heart of Kansas in the northwest. There exist four off-board connections for Denver, Chicago, the Southeast, and the Southwest which are located at the corners of the board. The counters for the station markers are mounted on triple thick stock and the trains, charters, stock certificates, and track tiles are also well mounted. All in all this game should be able to take all the gaming you can dish out. In the box, you will also find the same plastic tray used in 1856 to keep components organized.

My complaint is for that missing component found on the 1856 stock chart--the par value calculation chart--which made calculating how much money would buy how many shares much easier for the mathematically deficient. Yes, I know that is what calculators are for but I have to nitpick about something!

The rulebook is in a a large, easy-to-read format and features a full color version of the mapboard on the back. Graphically, it is well laid out but suffers slightly for its organization.

Now for the innovations. Share Price Protection is my favorite. What this concept means is if someone sells stock in the company that you own the director share for you may buy it at current value. You must buy all the shares that were sold and you must have enough cash in hand to do it. Additionally, you must have room for it within the stock certificate limits. You may esceed the 60% stock rule in this way. The stock does not fall in price when you utilise Share Price Protection. If you later sell your own stock, you must sell all the shares in excess of the 60% limit.

Share Redemption allows a stock company to buy its own stock. The company may buy one share per stock round and may buy it from a player or from the open market. It may later reissue these shares, making those shares a second issue.

Tired of withholding dividends and watching your company's stock plummet? This next twist is for you--half dividends. This feature allows the company to pay half the run value in dividends and hold the other half in the treasury. The best part is your stock doesn't move backwards but stays where it it instead. Great for those times when you are ten dollars short for a station.

Another feature is the "ledge" on the stock market. It breaks the right part of the board into two pieces, a top story and a bottom story. Basically, two or more pieces of stock in a company must be sold to slip it under the line. The stock cannot move above the line until the end of the stock chart is reached or it is able to rise when its have all sold out.

The final new feature is the train set. Like all the other 18xx variants, it has trains from the 2s through the 6s. After the 6s, it changes. Instead of Diesels (unlimited stops), it goes on to 8s, 10s, and 12s. 8s still remove the 4s but 12s now remove the 5s.

The final twist is the connection run. When a railroad reaches its destination and is able to legally run a train to it, it may make its connection run. All companies check for connection runs after each company concludes its turn. The connection run is a bonus run utilizing all the company's trains. The only stipulation is that one train must run from the home station to the destination. The company is allowed to place a free station on the destination but may instead decline this option and use it for another $100 station instead. If it declines to place the destination token then it forfeits the connection run. A company may pay out or withhold the value of its connection run. If it pays, the stock token moves up and if it withholds the stock, the token does not move. When placedas a destination marker, it doubles the value of the city. A company may never token out of its destination as the destination tokens do not count as a regular station. This one takes some getting used to.

I like 1870 a lot because it has many innovative features that make it fun and fast. How fast? My group plays it in 4-5 hours. This is partially because the game allows you to lay two yellow tiles per turn or make one upgrade. This feature developsk the board fairly quickly. 1870 has become my favorite in the 18xx venue and I give it my highest rating. It's a bargain at any price!

Kris Marquardt is a member of the TGA board and a train gamer of many years. He has written game reviews for the TGG in past issues.


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