Published by Chris Lawson AG (email@example.com)
Designed by Peter Jacobi
Reviewed by Stuart Dagger
In the Trainspotter's Guide to 18xx that I wrote for Sumo 28 I mentioned a couple of mini-games: Trinidad, which had a twelve hex board, and Lummerland, which had a seven. My gut feeling, based on just a look at the boards, was that neither was big enough to make for an interesting game. Chris Lawson felt differently about Trinidad, tried it, liked it and this game kit is the result. It consists of boards and components for the two versions of the game, one of which is based on 1830 and the other on 1835. The name change is the result of Chris contacting Francis and getting the design licensed.
The 1830 version has three share issuing and four private companies, with the most expensive of the private companies carrying with it the presidency of one of the majors. The rules and the stock market are straight 1830 and the share certificates for each of the majors follow the standard pattern of a 20% president's share and eight 10% ordinary shares. The one difference you will notice comes in the early operating rounds when the combination of the rules which say that you can't run track into the sea and you can't lay track on a hex containing a privately owned private company mean that it takes three or four rounds before the initial majors can pay a dividend. With only three companies and such a small playing area, the route building side of the game has almost nothing of interest to offer: all the companies are likely to be running roughly equivalent routes and the blocking opportunities are limited and almost certainly of temporary effect. That means that the game turns on the manipulation of the stock market and it seems to me that, particularly when you have four players, this has to be played on a basis of driving prices down at every opportunity. Whether you like that style of 18xx will determine your attitude to this game. If it is your preferred style, Chris has done you a huge favour by delivering it in concentrated form; if, like me, you prefer a more constructive game, the game is less likely to appeal.
The 1835 version has a board made slightly larger by the addition of three off-board areas and these result in greater flexibility when it comes to tile laying, partly by offering extra destinations and partly by transforming the three home bases from coastal hexes to inland ones. The game also has an 1835-style stock market and, because hexes containing private companies no longer impede development, a faster start on the dividends front. Missing from the standard 1835 menu are nationalisation, and anything to do with a version of the Prussian. As before, there are four private and three share-issuing companies and the only differences here are the prices and the fact that the third major has a delayed launch and a share package consisting of three doubles and four singles. This game is more to my taste, though, in the shorter 18xx stakes, I'd still put it behind 1849, a tweaked (faster train turnover and changed stock market) 1825 and the unpublished North of England scenario that I devised for my own entertainment.
As anyone who has seen either of Chris's previous game kits will expect, the graphics in this one are superb and the kit makes up into an extremely handsome looking game. Don't let my lack of enthusiasm for the 1830 version put you off buying it. I am conscious of being in the minority when it comes to the fun or otherwise of share trashing and at this price you can afford to get the game and make up your own mind, with the added insurance that if you don't like one version, you will quite possibly like the other. You could also try playing it with a variant rule that I intend to try and that it is to have a limit on shares rather than on share certificates. With only three major companies, it can be argued that the directorships are too important and this change would downgrade them and increase the strategic options for players.
The kits come in a box and are complete apart from the basic 1830/35 rules. A very proper respect for copyright means that these can't be included and so to enjoy these games it is necessary that you already own their parents. Chris's e-mail and postal addresses are:
(Sometimes Chris gives Hampshire as the county and sometimes Surrey: I presume that Yateley is on castors and they move it whenever the taxman comes looking.)
The Game Cabinet - firstname.lastname@example.org - Ken Tidwell