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Game review: 1844/1854 lets you build rails, buy stock and accumulate wealth
The railway history of both Switzerland and Austria can be explored in 1844/1854, two previously self-published designs both based on the 1829 game system created by Francis Tresham that have thoroughly revised for this new edition. - photo by Ryan Morgenegg
Some of the best in-depth and detailed train simulation games bear the title of 18xx. A new game in the series called 1844/1854 by Mayfair Games is set in Switzerland and Austria. It involves managing stock, building rails and gathering wealth.

1844/1854 is really two games in one. Gamers will get two rule books in the box with details for games set in the railway history of both Switzerland and Austria. Players will deal with all kinds of exciting challenges no matter what scenario is selected.

In 1844, gamers will run local railway companies, which merged into a larger company called the SBB. Chances to invest in multiple companies is possible via stocks. Depending on the type of rail company, players will form different strategies. For example, rail companies earn big bucks by connecting to destination stations, so this is a priority. These rails can go through tunnels and mountains using a variety of different locomotives.

The game 1854 is set in Austria, but players will have to deal with a stock split during play. Similar to 1844, companies will grow and lay track connecting cities together across plains and through tunnels and mountains. The Austria map is different and provides different challenges for players. A unique part of this version of the game is a separate game board where players operate private rail companies in the Steyr region of Austria.

A game turn for either version of 1844/1854 consists of purchasing stocks from a variety of companies. As things get rolling, stock can also be sold for profit. When a majority of stock is owned, a rail company can begin.

A starting company gets to place a free station at specific locations on the map and the majority owner gets to decide the starting stock price. Using company money, track is built to connect stations. When two stations are connected, a rail route can be run to generate money. The majority owner can then decide what to do with the income of the rail company, and money is paid out to stock owners depending on stock ownership.

The sheer number of locomotive stock companies available to players is astounding (15 in the 1844 game). Strategic play is required to decide which companies to invest in and which companies to avoid. As play continues, the map board will fill up with connected railways across the country. Play continues until there is no money available in the bank. The winner is the railroad baron who has accumulated the most wealth.

1844/1854 is not for beginning gamers. It is a heavy game that delves into the nitty gritty details of train building and financial management. This is a niche game that will attract specific gamers who desire a deep and engrossing experience. Plan on four hours to complete a game.

For the right gamer, 1844/1854 will be an exciting adventure into the history of the development of the railway systems in Switzerland and Austria. There are tons of components, cards, a rail map and cardboard tokens that help set the tone. Overall the game does an excellent job of simulating financial stock management and building railroads. Click here for more.
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