Playtester feedback for 1839:

We want a danger meter! Danger! Danger, Will Robinson! Danger! Every time someone floats a company it goes up toward the red, and back down when they nationalise companies.

(You know, you build a slippery slope for someone and what do they do? They stick warning signs and DoNotGoHere on it -- and I thought risk-taking was the name of the exercise)


@jcl have you thought about adding geometric progression to your risk triggers? (E.g. the risk isn't floating the company be a use it will cause problems, but is more tied to what actions in what sequence occurs with said company and only a subset of sequences cause issues, aka "a sword is both useful/dangerous")

That doesn't solve the warning signs issue (I'd argue it obfuscates them), but does offer the option to make it more innocuous at the cost of adding a parsing element to the risk.

@jcl to that end, something I've daydreamed about was what if company actions weren't just the domain of the president-esq role but were broken up such as one builds/maintains/leases track, another can call & decide dividends, a third can issue shares/loans for capital generation. That would likely build a mighty thick web of mental mud once you float a few companies (e.g. I'm treasurer for these two, track chief for a third, and I can issue dividends for this fourth one...)

@gpage I almost gave a snap answer if that just not working. And it really doesn't work...unless....a lot of things.

Shared control models depend on not only shared incentives, but shared liabilities and thus shared fates. Without those, defectors become both too capricious and determining. And I followed that rathole for a chunk of yesterday.


Imagine multiple parallel overlaid simultaneous games of Captain Sonar... What I have ATM dies in the muddle, but the prospect is delightful.

@jcl that middle paragraph was the type of response I was hoping to elicit. Thank you (and best of luck).

@jcl do you think it ever works, and if so, does it depend on how high up in the game's focus it is? Cole's John Company has a shared steering of the proverbial ship with some actors wishing it to prosper and some not and that can shift. That's a high level focus though, whereas my original thought was at a lower level where that shared steering is at the individual train company level.

@gpage I'm not sure. ATM the muddle is so morassed that the value of defections seems about the same as cooperation or alignment. Or, there is clearly only one dominant path. Argh.

@gpage What I have right now is companies consisting of 4 offices (CEO, CFO, COO, etc). CEO holds all other offices from above and has limited veto power,. CFO control whether/how dividends are paid. COO control all track/stations. CXX controls all train movement (need a title for this one).

( @18xx )

@gpage @18xx Each office is effectively a 5-share distribution within the larger company. A single player may not hold more than one office in a single company, but the CEO can hold from above if they are vacant.

In each action phase, the appropriate officer (or held from above) chooses what to do (plurality vote if not held by a majority position, CEO holds from above or by exercing limited veto ability (has a cost)).

@gpage @18xx Office shares can be sold...IFF there is another player buying, or (non-CEO shares) the company buys the share (at a discount?) voiding the power back to the CEO. Possibly some ability to exchange non-CEO shares for CEO shares to allow resignations/assumptions.

@gpage @18xx Otherwise, the company is a standard 10-share company (public) shares, with dividends being tr-level: withhold, pay office-holders-only, pay public shares and officers. (Not clear how money is allocated across those) CEO limited veto is which pay-type.

Simple arithmetic suggests that company income is effectively doubled with half going to treasury or public shareholders and half to officers or treasury. Stock price only improves on public shares being paid.

@gpage @18xx CEO has veto rights over terrain costs and station placements. CEO has veto rights over train buys & sales, to the extent of enforcing not more than face value, but can't control IF the buy or sale is made.

Most everything else is pretty standard 1830-ish , except this is probably minimum 4-players, ?possibly? ?best? with 5. Otherwise basically a cash-rich revenue-centric game with a linear stock market that's fairly flat at the lower levels and then acceleratingly steep.

@gpage @18xx Oh, all shares trade at CMV, office shares are end-game valued at ?twice? CMV. Likewise, stock market may be 1.5D or even effectively cylindrical (3-4 rows) to enforce stock value-change ratios for various action-types (eg sell public share vs sell office share, etc) -- ie some actions go left/right, other actions go up/down at an angle, bouncing off the edges.

Oh: Negotiation is strictly forbidden! Ya just have to figure it out from context guys!

@gpage @18xx Play-time might be a challenge, so probably a small/dense/simple map a very simple fat train roster, and no more than 3 or 4 rusting events.

@jcl @18xx any thoughts on having office shares be paying during game but nothing at end game (thus a balancing act between power/money now with office shares and money/good money with public shares)?

Same Q regarding differentiation of liabilities for forced purchases between office/public?

@jcl @18xx the other Q that came to mind; can the liabilities for defections from "good play" fall predominantly on another/different specific office (and thus create an attack vector)? E.g. "you floated too many new shares (which get paid before officer shares), and now the train manager has to give up X shares of revenue this round unless they can generate higher returns"

This could turn into a cacophony of pitfalls, but it would be different fwliw.

@gpage @18xx Aarghh. Yes? No? Not sure. Probably? Maybe? Getting the incentives right, so it stays muddled and doesn't tend to resolve to an automaticity is already a bugbear.

Entanglement is the base idea...

@gpage @18xx There's a challenge in getting offices to be interesting investments at all (before there are no other choices), and then also keeping them as not strictly dominant. A way I've been looking at is having offices be disproportionately valuable in end-game scoring, but generally low on cashflow & liquidity during the game.

Like most of these things, it is a question of how the problem is phrased.

@jcl @18xx why does issuing general shares need to be an option before >50% office shares for a given company are issued?

You groused in your original post about how they want to put up warning sides and avoid issues, why give them an option if progress is going to be made at all? The offices aren't pleasant, work sometimes isn't, but if you want those sweet sweet public shares that pay better dividends, then you have to put in some effort and do a job in the company.

@pgh_gamer @gpage @18xx I expect the first challenge is in getting the bookkeeping and constant who-does-what and is-it-countermanded etc down to a dully deafening roar. Then there's driving enough amplitude on the incentives to make prediction interestingly uncertain -- and this is where I expect the real game design chops will be.

@gpage I think I can come up with a cogent scoring system, maybe, but I have little idea what sort of game it would be.

You are with the other players in a room of many levers you can pull. Sometimes, points happen.

@gpage @18xx this entire thread inspires me, although i've no experience in 18xx design. trying to implement JC's ideas over an 1830 skeleton and it's bringing up a ton of interesting problems like incentives to actually compete with someone for a position. i'm not sure i can do this myself but i'll be posting notes and further ideas at some point

@gpage also, i'd say check out iberian gauge if you haven't, it's not quite this but it definitely has a similar dynamic where multiple people NEED to cooperate to not completely tank a company (as opposed to a bad actor just losing potential for a company in other cube rails games), probably the closest thing i can think of other than joco2e

@sareneFactorial I had it from the original Winsome set that year. I think there are some changes that Capstone did (removed two columns of hexes in the middle and maybe something regarding the opening of a line in Valencia) but I don't fully remember the details.

I *really* need to read the final rules to 2e; I played a few games early in playtesting but didn't have the time to commit to it so I dropped out, and other then it's a giant rulebook, compared to 1, don't know what actually changed.

@gpage i'm unfamiliar with joco1e but 2e is probably one of my favorite games ever at this point, definitely try to play the final version if you can

@gpage Somewhat, but not so much. That approach ~encourages both specialised nouns & verbs and high player-owned control (you control ~most of your own fate), which I avoid.

What I have thought about, which is semi-related, is deferrable risk, with players fighting over that deferment with more than progression/pace. But I've not got far there.

Hurm. The challenge to do this with generic interesting.

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