Based on Avalon Hill's board game of the same name, 1830 is a railroad empire building game that is along the same lines (although a different style of gameplay) as the much more famous Railroad Tycoon.
Capturing the very look and feel of the board game, all the way to the hexagonal playing field and track tokens, 1830 is a turn based game that emphasizes the successful running of a company and manipulating the stock market rather than managing a railroad. Tracks can be laid, cities connected, trains purchased, and schedules set, but the ultimate goal in the end is making money, even at the cost of your company; you'll wind up buying and selling a number of them during the course of the game anyway.
1830: Railroads & Robber Barons is a turn-based game where the aim is to become the most successful railroad builder in north-east America. It is based on Avalon Hill's board game of the same name.
You start off by choosing a character to play as and setting the difficulty level. There are four difficulty levels, and you can choose to have up to five computer opponents. You then need to decide who owns what - this is done by bidding on the six private companies who own the land. Once these have been divided up, you can start buying shares in the railroad companies. Once you own six shares in a company it can start operating, so make sure you buy enough shares in one company rather than buying one share in every company.
You then move to the first operating round. Here you can lay track hexes onto the map or modify the existing ones. You can also buy trains, bid for private companies you don't own and place stations. Once you have a train the game will automatically assign it to the most profitable route so you don't have to worry about working it out. After the operating round there is a stock round when you return to the stock market to buy and sell shares. This is where you make your own money, so buy and sell carefully. These stock rounds get further apart as the game goes on.
The game ends when a baron or the bank goes bankrupt. At this point everyone counts up their assets and the winner is declared.
1830 is one of the best boardgame conversions I have ever seen. It could keep you entertained for hours. I have heard rumours of ten-hour games of this, though I lose easily within the first hour! I would recommend exploring the multiplayer option as I found it fun on my own but due to the extremely good AI another human player will probably give you a better chance of a good game, especially when you're new to it.
Copy protection bypass:
The first time you play, you will be prompted to look up a word in the manual after the first round of stock purchasing is complete. Simply press ENTER to bypass all of the protection verification prompts. The manual claims: (after verification)... you will never need to worry about copy protection again unless you copy the program to another machine or reinstall it. After initial testing, this seemed to be the case.
Undeniably SimTex' most underrated game, 1830 is a complex and faithful PC conversion of Avalon Hill's popular boardgame. As with SimTex' other games, strong computer AI keeps the gameplay fresh and interesting even in the beer-and-pretzel design (a normal game here lasts 8-10 hours).
In addition to conventional decisions found in other railroad-building games, e.g. laying tracks, 1830 features a unique and challenging stock market model that truly is the best I have seen in games of this type (and, being a Finance person with a passion for business sims, I've seen quite a lot). Before the "Operation Round" can begin, you must first decide on which stocks to buy and what companies to float in the "Stock Round," using a very clever stock bidding interface. The game isn't all about planning routes, either: as opposed to most railroad games in which the focus is on matching supply and demand (e.g. Sid Meier's classic Railroad Tycoon), the focus in 1830 is clearly on a more macro-level decision making. Instead of worrying about what types of goods to carry and how soon to replace obsolete trains, here your concerns are about cutthroat competition, hostile takeovers, and being ousted from the CEO chair. As can be expected from the designer of Master of Orion, the AI in this game is top-notch, and accurately reflects history: fearsome speculator James Fisk will concentrate on buying up stocks of other companies and taking them over, while famous engineer Westinghouse will concentrate on the operations of his company and laying the most efficient routes.
In the end, whether or not you'll like 1830 depends on your preferences. If you are a fan of miniature railroads who likes to watch the trains go buy your designed route, 1830 isn't a game for you. On the other hand, if you are a business sim buff like me who loves managing the company and keeping an eye on the Treasury Stock as much as doing the job, 1830 is simply a must-have.
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