During the winter of 1999 we played Chris Lawson's 1851 for the first time. After 1830 and
1835 this was the third game of the 18xx series on our table and we were curious to see if it would
become our new favourite. After two games of 1851 it was clear: 1851 is a very good game but it
doesn't match with 1830.
1851 however has some quite interesting elements for stock trading and we liked them so much that we decided to implement them as a variant to 1830. The motivation behind this was to reduce the "cut-throat" character of the stock market game and to adjust stock trading more to real life.
A first measure was to eliminate the"par prices". Instead, all stock are traded at the current stock price.
The next change we made affects the cash a corporation receives when it floats. Instead of paying out ten times the stock value (i.e. 100% capitalization) a newly floated corporation receives only six times its stock price (i.e. 60% capitalization) which is exactly the amount of money the bank has so far received for its sale of stock. The PRR is not treated as an exception although it floats after 50% of its stock has been bought (a 10% stock certificate is held by the owner of the C&A private railroad).
As a compensation for its lower capitalization each floated corporation receives the remaining 40% stock certificates from the "initial offering" into its treasury. These certificates are still available for each player to buy - a corporation must sell stock certificates to every player who wants to buy to in a stock round. The revenue paid for such stock is put in the treasury of the corporation. Remember that stock is always sold at current stock market prices.
In order to reflect the increased value of a floated corporation the corporation's stock price is increased at the time of floating by one field in upward direction on the stock price chart. Players buying stock of a corporation that has just floated pay a higher price.
To prevent easy manipulation of the stock price of a newly floated corporation it is not permitted to sell stock before it has completed its first operation round. For the same reason a player is not permitted to sell stock of a corporation of which he has bought stock in that same stock round.
If the owner of the Mohawk&Hudson private company wants to exchange the M&H for a 10% share of the New York Central Corporation he receives this share from the treasury of the NYC (if the NYC still owns one). In return, the NYC receives the current share price from the bank. If there are no shares in NYC's treasury the player receives the share from the bank pool. In this case the bank does not pay the NYC for this share.
During operation rounds a corporation may as an alternative to paying no dividend or full dividend decide to pay only 50% of its dividend. The other half of the dividend is put into the treasury of the corporation, rounding down if necessary. Example: in case of a full dividend of $70 the stock holders will share $40 and the corporation receives $30. Shares in the corporation' treasury pay dividend to the corporation itself. Shares in the bank pool do not pay dividents.
In all cases the stock price of a corporation is only increased if the paid out dividends are greater or equal to the current stock price. If the total dividends paid in a stock round are lower than the stock price the price it not increased. If no dividends are paid the stock price is decreased as usual.
As a last action in an operation round (i.e. after trains have been bought) a corporation may sell stock from its treasury to the bank pool. The corporation receives the current stock price times the number of shares sold and the stock price is reduced as with any other sale to the bank pool. Alternatively, a corporation may buy its own stock from the bank pool at the current share price. In both cases neither the bank pool nor the corporation may hold more than 50% of a corporations shares. Due to this sequence of play during an operation round a corporation is not able to generate money for buying trains by selling stock to the bank pool!
As soon as the first 5-train has been bought all corporations may build two instead of one yellow track tile in an operation round.
By these few changes the gameplay of 1830 is modified in some important aspects:
In our experience, the playing time is not increased by these changes but we are no "fast track" players as described in Alan Applebaums article "A Bed of Steel".