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Initial Game Thoughts: 1846

I got to play a complete game of 1846 for the first time yesterday. It is a really good game.

For those not familiar with the particular genre, players in 18xx games will control one (or more) railroad companies in a particular geographic location. Each turn will contain stock market rounds and operating rounds.

In a stock market round you deal with issues like founding companies, setting their initial stock values, and dealing in stock transactions. If you started a company you might not end up with it at the end of the game. This can happen by you dumping stocks to make someone else the majority owner. It can also happen by someone else getting a majority share of the company.

In an operating round players use the capital available to each company owned to set up rail lines from one destination to another and purchasing new and improved engines capable of collecting funds from an increasing number of stops.

In 1846 each player starts with $400. There is an initial number of smaller companies that can be purchased via a secret draft. The cost of these smaller companies are paid out and then a stock market round happens. Players then take turns either starting their own larger rail companies or buying shares in the companies of others. A company is funded when 20% of the available stocks are purchased by the President. Those funds go into the treasury. Any stocks purchased by any player will put more funds into the treasury of the corporation.

I had a really good starting position in the game. I was able to get the best of the minor companies (one that operates its own train) along with a very good companion rail company (Grand Trunk Railroad). I was building a very attractive company. However, I neglected to purchase enough of my own shares. Because of this another player was able to get a majority share of the company and take it over. In the next stock market turn I was able to force him to protect that company and in doing so I was able to obtain enough shares to take over his company. It was a good saving move, but not enough to save the game for me. I basically grasped defeat out of the jaws of victory. I had seen some criticisms online of the Grand Trunk Railroad and how it doesn’t play well for the long haul. However, if you can start it with the Michigan Southern private company I believe that is a very strong position. M.S. starts earning money immediately and you wind up with a very easy path to make an “East/West” route (something that gives you bonuses). I haven’t played the game enough to determine what the “best” starting position might be. However, with the randomness that comes with drafting private companies and who gets to start bidding, it is unlikely that a player will get the “ideal” start if it does exist.

After playing this game and 1830 once before, I look forward to playing more of these games in the future. I am hooked.

The Park Bench

In the writing class I took with Stephen Rea we had several assignments meant to help assist us with our writing goals. So I created the “class assignments” sub-category under writing. One of the assignments was a story, no more than 1000 words, about a woman in a park who notices a man on a bench. This is the story I wrote, slightly edited taking into consideration the comments received in class.


Sarah noticed the handsome man sitting on the bench in the middle of the park. She had often come here to exercise and had never noticed him before. He was older than what she typically went for but he was definitely attractive. He had an antique briefcase sitting next to him, which seemed kind of odd. Nowadays people typically carried laptop bags with them. She purposefully jogged by him and smiled. He responded only with a nod and scribbled something down on a small pad. For some reason the pad looked a little too thin for its size. She didn’t know why that stood out, but it just did. It was frustrating to her that she couldn’t get more than that out of him. She knew that while she wasn’t the most attractive gal in the world that typically a smile from her would earn more than just a simple nod. She completed another circle around the park and sat down on the bench across from the stranger. She opened her water bottle and took a slow sip, peeking at him as she drank. As she slowly twisted the cap back on the bottle she locked eyes with him again and smiled a hello. His response was a simple hi while he continued scribbling in his notebook.

“If you don’t mind me asking, what are you putting down in your little book?”.

“Nothing of consequence, at least not yet” he responded. This man had become a puzzle now and she felt challenged to solve him. She changed benches and sat down on the other end of his bench. He closed his notebook as she joined him.

“Has anyone ever told you that you are a bit strange?”.

He responded “Why yes actually, sometimes my mannerisms can seem a bit odd. But then again a lot of the mannerisms of ‘normal’ people seem odd to me”.

She laughed “I have actually feel the same way. Most of my friends don’t approach strange men in parks”.

“Likely a wise choice, you never know who you might meet. Would you like to see what is in my notebook”.

This was going to be easier than she thought. “Would I?Absolutely!”.He reopened it to the first page and there was a beautiful stipple drawing of a dog. “Tell me about the dog” she said.

“Well, he was my old family dog. I drew it mostly from memory, he has long passed away”.

“That is so sad, I am a dog person too. I love my beagle.”

The next page had another stipple drawing of a flower, and then a bird. He said “I like to draw things of beauty, and you can find beauty almost everywhere”. He turned to the last page and it was clear that it was a drawing of her. Her face flushed as she pushed the piece of hair not in a ponytail back behind her ear.

“Oh come on, I am just a sweaty girl running in a park. Beauty?”.

“Absolutely” he responded. “Unfortunately with you running around I can only draw a little bit at a time. If you would come back to my studio I could finish it”. She didn’t know why she agreed, but she did. She couldn’t figure out if it had just been so long since she had been with a man that she was just throwing caution to the wind or if she was just that stupid. But she found herself following him back to his studio apartment in the city.

He opened the door for her and let her in. As he closed the door she half expected him to just push her on his bed and ravish her, not that she would have minded, it had been far too long. Surprisingly enough, he told her to sit on the couch and brought her a glass of red wine. It was a good flavor, not too strong but not too sweet. It seemed to complement him perfectly. He set down in the armchair across from her and resumed making tiny little dots in his pad. He would get up occasionally to refresh her glass. The wine, just like the man, was growing on her.

He completed the drawing and grabbed her another glass of wine along with one for himself. “A toast, to my new work of art”. They clanged glasses as he revealed it to her. She was amazed at the detail that stippling could bring out. “I love it” she told him. He told her that it wasn’t quite ready yet. There just needed to be one final piece of the puzzle. She knew that this would be the moment that he would make his move. But instead she started feeling extra groggy. As she fell he caught her and guided her back to the couch. “Almost complete indeed” he stated with a wry smile.

A week later the man took his briefcase to a small cafe. He sat with his back next to the wall and entered the combination. He pulled out the small notebook, one piece of paper thinner. He had carefully removed the bits of paper that came with tearing the old page out. That page remained where his new piece of art was. Before he closed the briefcase he took a smell of the new lock of hair adorning the inside of the case. He set the case to the side of his chair. A waitress walked up and he ordered a cup of coffee while jotting a few dots down in his notebook. The waitress smiled at him and asked what he was putting in his notebook. “ He replied, “Nothing of consequence, at least not yet”.

Welcome to my new blog!

I have a blog for politics and a blog for saving money at Disney World. It is about time that I made a blog to handle everything else in my life. In the weeks to come I will be posting on all sorts of topics.

One of which is gaming. I am a nerd. I play many games (including miniature games like Warmachine and X-Wing, card games like Munchkin and Cards against Humanity, board games like Axis and Allies, Carcassone, Settlers of Catan, etc, or live action type games like Ingress). I may do reviews of games I have tried, turn by turn game reports, or general posts on my in game activities (like in Ingress, if you want to join the Resistance, email me)

Another thing I have been doing recently is writing. I took a class from local author Stephen Rea and it really got my creative juices flowing. I have had a book idea in my mind for years and now is the time to get the pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) and get those ideas down. In the class I also had some writing assignments that I will share with you. If I have any other story ideas that would not necessarily be for a book, I will also post them here.

I am sure there are many other things that I could list here as well. However, if the post isn’t about politics or saving money at Disney, chances are you will find it here. So welcome.