|1826 STRATEGY GUIDE|
David G.D. Hecht
(with some help from Chris Lawson)
10th April 2000
There are six Private Companies. Two of these come with President’s Certificates, and one with a companion share. The other three each have a special power that can be used on behalf of a company. These powers often make sense only with a limited subset of the companies.
The Alsatian Private Company (Ligne Strasbourg-Bale) is a very good company, especially since the Alsatian railroad is an outstanding company to start early. At F220, it provides two shares of Alsatian, which should never be valued at less than F110 each, plus F30 in dividends. A modest premium of up to F25 will yield a net profit. One should be cautious, however, to retain enough initial capital to protect the Alsatian company.
The Paris Private Company (Ligne Paris-Rouen) is moderately good. At F160, it provides two shares of the Paris railroad, which, again, should be valued at F110 each, plus at least F25 in dividends. The only downside to this Private Company is that the Paris railroad itself is a bit of a dog. It really cannot run well unless it has at least a 4H train, possibly with a 2H train as well. This can be a bit difficult to arrange, as the 2H trains tend to go quickly. Nevertheless, the Paris Private Company should go at a modest premium of perhaps F25 or F30.
The Belgian Private Company (Grand Central Belge) comes with a companion share of the Belgian railroad. Assuming that someone else opens the Belgian at minimum (F75), with only F20 in dividends it can be seen that the owner of the Belgian Private Company can actually lose money. However, it is very imprudent to open the Belgian early, as it can only with difficulty achieve the dividends easily within reach of other companies. Hence the Private Company should provide a source of income, which, at F20 per Operating Round, is attractive. It should go at or near face value.
The Algerian Private Company (Chemins de Fer D’Algerie) allows a company to increase its train limit by one. This is a power that generally will be most attractive to a company that can actually run three trains, such as the Alsatian or the Grand Central. In addition, the special power can be used to save a company from death when the Etat. The Algerian should go at or near face value.
The Mail Private Company (Regie des Postes) allows a company to increase the value of a city by F10. A simple arithmetical analysis will show that the Private Company is more valuable until the benefiting railroad can run at least two trains. Naturally it is even more valuable if one can run three trains, but this seems unlikely. The Mail should go at a modest premium of F10 to F20.
The Bridge Private Company (Ponts et Chaussees) allows a company to build on a river hex for free. As with the Algerian, this can only come in handy if one has a bridge to build. Nevertheless, the Bridge is a perfectly safe buy.
Unlike in most games, little capital is required to start a railroad. In a game with four or less players, all the players should be able to start a railroad with ease. Even five players poses little obstacle. At minimum, a railroad with no shares distributed with Private Companies requires F225 in capital (three shares x F75 = F225). Even at maximum, only F330 is needed (three shares x F110 = F330).
However, starting too low will delay the desirable revenue stream. Ideally, almost every company will want to start with two 2H trains. At F100 each, this requires F200. Since few companies can actually make two runs with only one token, an additional sum will be needed to drop a station marker, or possibly to build a bridge, in the absence of the Bridge Private Company.
Although there is a superficial attractiveness to opening the Belgian (with one share already outstanding, it can be brought out with as little as F300, four shares x F75 = F300), it is not attractive due to its starting as a Ten-Share Corporation, as opposed to the other corporations which all start as Five-Share Corporations. A Five-Share Corporation in effect pays double dividends: each share is worth twenty percent of the corporation vice the normal ten percent.
It should also be noted that it is rarely advantageous to buy shares of opponents’ corporations in the initial stock round: it adds capital to their corporation and, in the absence of par values, the shares will always be less expensive in the second stock round.
The following table enumerates the best revenues achievable by each corporation absent outside assistance:
|Grand Central||F130||F26||F78||Assumes 2 x 2H Trains|
|Alsace||F120||F24||F72||Assumes 2 x 2H Trains|
|Paris-Orleans||F110||F22||F66||Assumes 2 x 2H Trains, station in Orleans|
|Midi||F110||F22||F66||Assumes 2 x 2H Trains|
|Paris||F110||F22||F66||Assumes 2 x 2H Trains, station in Rouen|
|Belgian (6 Shares)||F180||F18||F108 ||Assumes 3 x 2H Trains|
|Belgian (5 Shares)||F180||F18||F90 ||Assumes 3 x 2H Trains|
|Belgian (4 Shares)||F140||F14||F56||Assumes 2 x 2H Trains|
|Ouest||F70||F14||F42||Assumes 1 x 2H Train|
|Nord||F70||F14||F42||Assumes 1 x 2H Train|
|Est||F70||F14||F42||Assumes 1 x 2H Train|
|PLM||-||-||-||Cannot run with 2H Trains|
Given the above it is unusual to see any corporation start outside the top five during the initial stock round. An argument can be made not to start the Paris early as the private confers a F25 income and the money invested in a third Paris share may be best invested elsewhere. Conversely, a good strategy is to drive for Lille and drop a token there. With a pair of 2H trains this will initially yield only a F100 earnings, but will position the Paris to establish runs in the target-rich environment of Belgium once the Belgian starts.
Converting a Five-Share Corporation to a Ten-Share Corporation
The timing on this is critical. Bearing in mind that you must first connect to your Destination, no simple task for some (e.g. the Alsace and the Grand Central), you want to avoid this until absolutely necessary. While on the one hand converting allows you to get additional capital into the corporation, both from dividends and from share sales, and (most importantly) increases your train limit, it cuts your earnings per share in half. Consequently, you want to make sure that, having converted, you are in a position to actually make use of the fact, either by buying an additional train (a 4H or perhaps even the first 6H), by buying your own shares, or both.
The Merger Corporations (the Etat and SNCF)
Allowing a corporation to merge into either the Etat or the SNCF will almost certainly cost you share value due to the two-for-one trade-in. In addition, be very certain to avoid having an odd number of shares as the odd share is discarded without compensation. Avoiding the Etat is easily achievable and generally desirable: avoiding the SNCF is both harder and less attractive.
With that in mind the merger corporations are generally good ones to own stock in. Being the President confers little advantage since the President’s Certificate is a single share, and the corporations themselves are constrained in train buying and selling, which limits their utility as “train factories.” In this regard the SNCF in particular should be viewed as similar to the CGR in 1856. An additional consideration to be aware of is that one can maximize one’s stock value gain by buying after any loans have been taken, since one will then gain the benefit when the loans are paid off.
It may seem that, with the large number of 2H and 4H trains, the game is proceeding at a moderate pace. However, with the large dividends available at the start, a large capital overhang will develop which at some point will result in a train rush, often right after the first 6H is bought and possibly even with the last couple of 4H trains. Be aware of this possibility and keep a weather eye on how many 4H trains are left. If fewer than three are left, it is probably also not an ideal time to start a new corporation.
The cities are asymmetrically distributed on the map, with the northern part of the board a far more target-rich environment. Consequently it is critical, in the endgame, to ensure that the right trains end up on the right corporations. Corporations whose runs are in the north will want to have 10H trains if at all possible, while those with runs to the south will ideally want E trains. E trains are superior to 10H trains as long as the first TGV has not come out, but actually have a lower maximum earnings once the TGVs are in play (F500 for the 10H, F400 for the E, and F600 for the TGV).
The loans ensure that bankruptcies will seldom if ever occur. Unlike in other games, an emergency money raising will affect all the stockholders, although of course the president takes the biggest hit. Nevertheless, it is always nice to know that the Government will step in to help you rather than holding you to strict liability.
A single loan will generally be easy to work off while two loans will slow down a company considerably. As noted earlier, keeping a sharp eye for companies that are about to pay off their loans allows other players to reap the benefit of the loans’ effect on the company share price.
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