Game summary by David Hecht
1841 is set in Northern Italy during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Although containing many historical elements, it is really two games in one: an early phase, which lasts from the starting auction to the purchase of the first 4 train, which is deeply historical, and the balance of the game, which appears to be somewhat less so, as it relies heavily on starting up companies which appear to have no historical basis.

1841 is not a game for the inexperienced player or the faint of heart. Due to the very steep train gradient (the least expensive train costs 100, the first permanent train costs 800 and the most expensive permanent train costs 1450) coupled with speedy train obsolescence (3 trains are rusted by 5 trains, 4 trains by 7 trains and 5 trains by 8 trains), 1841 rapidly becomes a game of pure financial management: play is dominated by the need to raise the funds to start a new company to gain access to the capital to buy the trains to replace the trains that have just been bought. Added to this is an extreme asymmetry of the map that forces a "Milanocentric" approach to track development: those companies that start in the southern half of the map must struggle to establish a position north of the Apennines in order to remain competitive.

Companies are incrementally funded, and can sell their own stock and buy and sell other companies' stock (they can even open another company during their operating round!). Companies can be started with as few as two shares, and have a very limited range of starting values. Additional, higher starting values become available as the game progresses. Companies can also merge with other companies, which is the core mechanism of the game (and probably its least well understood): the key to victory is to arbitrage the minimum number of high-value shares with the maximum number of low-value shares. This not only minimizes the player's own capital losses but maximizes access to capital. This means that there are rarely more than the usual eight or so active companies among the 24 that are available to be started.

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This page is maintained by Chris Lawson (chris.lawson@virgin.net)
Last Updated 18th April 2000