(this article first appeared in Avalon Hill's periodical GENERAL volume 23, issue 6. It is reproduced here with permission of the author)

Take A Ride On The Reading

by Alan R. Moon

This is the first time Mr. Moon's work has graced these pages since he left The Avalon Hill Game Company in 1983. Since then, he has relocated to Massachusetts, has married, and now does free-lance game design and consulting.

I first played 1830 in the summer of 1983 at the Detroit Origins. The Tresham brothers had brought the game over for Bruce Shelley and Tom Shaw to look over for possible publication by The Avalon Hill Game Company. We played several games of the original version that weekend, and while the game had some great ideas and a lot of potential, it just didn't quite work right. Still, a contract was negotiated and Bruce began work on the development. Three years and many versions later, the game became a reality. Was it worth the wait? Well, would I be writing my first article in over four years if it wasn't?

The biggest problem in the original design was the seeming inevitability that every game would end wish one player going bankrupt, rather than the game ending with the bank exhausted. It is certainly still possible for the game to end in bankruptcy, but it is unlikely. Outfoxing a player on the stock market, the type of action that used to spell doom for that player, now usually just ruins his chances of winning instead.

Of course, there have been numerous changes in the game since 1983, but since I was not directly involved in the playtest, I am not the best person to describe them. Perhaps Bruce will volunteer some day. What I do have to offer is a variant for the game which consists of changing a few hexes and tiles, and adding a ninth company.

After you've played five to ten games of 1830, you will have probably been president of each of the eight corporations in the game. At this point, you have also probably figured out all the best tile combinations and possible stock manipulations. For some people, the game is then "learned" and there is not enough variety and incentive to play it much more. Others, however, will go on in an attempt to master the game, rather than just "know" it. I think this variant offers something for both types of players. The "Reading" variant adds some variety to the game. It also places a premium on player decisions involving the purchase of diesels, since they are now slightly cheaper and probably even more valuable, especially if you prolong the game by adding the extra $8000 I suggest.

The Reading, like all the corporations, has definite advantages and disadvantages. Its major drawback is the number of tokens, allowing it to place only one station besides its home base. This will make the placement of this station extremely crucial because of the almost certain competition with the B&O, PA and C&O over the same routes. The main advantage lies in the president's triple-share certificate. Perhaps the best way to run this corporation is to bring it on late in the game and set the price at $100. With the $1000 the company receives as operating funds, it will be able to buy a diesel and place the extra station, and run for cash each turn.

The proposed tile changes make the southeast section of the mapboard a hotbed of activity instead of confining it to simply B&O runs. In addition, there will be fierce competition for Boston and more chances for the B&M to expand to the north and northwest, and more chance for the CP to build southeast to New York City.

The new rules regarding obsolete trains are to ease the pain of the player who buys a new engine one turn before it becomes obsolete. Now he at least gets one turn to use it and can get some of his money beck. This also gives each player a chance for the trade-in for a diesel.

Taking A Ride

  1. The Reading is added as a ninth railroad for purchase.
    1. The Reading's base hex is H14. This hex is now a permanent grey hex (as shown on the New Tiles Chart). All routes may be traced through this hex; the Reading base station does not prevent a route being traced through this hex. Any corporation may begin or end their route by counting the Reading station as in the normal rules of play, but only the Reading itself can count the base station as an intermediary stop on a run.
    2. The Reading President's Certificate is a 30% share. (Note that this modifies several rules, especially 13.0.)
    3. The Reading has two tokens.
  2. The Pennsylvania's base hex, H12, is changed to a different permanent grey hex, similar to the Reading's base hex, as shown on the New Tiles Chart. All the rules in 1.a now apply to this hex as well.
  3. Baltimore and Boston have different green and brown tiles. Grey tiles K15 and D24, and the red section for the Deep South (K13) are also changed. Consult the accompanying New Tiles Chart.
  4. Train Changes:
    1. Add one more "4" train.
    2. Use the Optional "6" train.
    3. Diesels now cost $750 with a trade-in engine, or $900 without.
    4. Trains that become obsolete are not removed until after the owning corporation's next operating turn. For example: Player A buys the first "4" train making all "2" trains obsolete; Player A, who owns a "2" train, does not have to remove it until after his next operating turn. And if Player A owns a "2" train, he would not have to remove it until after his next turn of operation.
  5. The player who buys the Camden & Amboy private company now has a choice of taking a share of either the Pennsylvania or of the Reading.
  6. Increase the number of certificates each player can hold by one, regardless of the number of players in the game.
  7. Optional Rule: add $8000 to the game bank. This will guarantee al least three more operating rounds in the game and will make the decision of whether to buy a diesel more important.


Reading shares and new tiles: reading.zip