Steve Thomas
26th May 1999


The 1830 rules published by The Avalon Hill Game Company are not, unfortunately, the model of clarity they would be in an ideal world. Players are therefore obliged to make rulings; these are not always obvious, and problems often arise when different groups meet. This page is a collection of problem areas, with solutions where practicable. I've tried to quote authorities where they are available.

On occasion, Avalon Hill issues things they call "clarifications". These range in scope from clearing up ambiguities to contradicting clearly-written rules. There was an issue of The General, Volume 23, Number 6, which devoted some space to an 1830 Q&A. Francis Tresham, the chief designer, also makes rulings from time to time. They frequently differ from Avalon Hill's rulings on the same topic. 1830 is also available as a game played on a PC. The program can be used as a source of rulings, but to add to the confusion it differs from both The General and Francis.

Comments are welcome.


There are very few statements in the rules about what is hidden information and what isn't. Rule 11.0 says, of Corporation resources, "The number of tokens available and the number and type of trains owned must be clearly visible for inspection by other players. The money may be kept in a stack and the amount need not be divulged!" Rule 23.1, discussing the buying of Private Companies by Corporations, says "The price paid ... must be publicly declared." No statement is made either way about the amount of money in the Bank or in players' treasuries, or whether the amounts paid by Corporations buying Trains off each other, Presidents assisting their Corporations to buy Trains, or players buying Private Companies from each other, must be revealed to other players.

Faced with this, players appear to react in several ways, influenced by the rules as written and personal preferences. Some groups keep all cash holdings secret, and such groups often ban note-taking in order to increase the level of uncertainty. Others treat everything as public information; this is the way the PC plays, some tournament directors have been forced to adopt this style to combat attempts at cheating, and it's the only practical method for postal play. In between is my own rather large group of British players who traditionally keep players' cash holdings secret, but everything else, including Corporation treasuries and the Bank, public. (This style is weakening under several influences including the availability of computer aides and games such as 1841 where everything is open.) Another intermediate group keep everything secret except that a shareholder may request a "statement of accounts" from the President.

The only one of these styles which agrees with the rules is clearly the first. None of the people I've ever played have observed this style, though, since it makes the hardest part of the game something of a lottery. Personally, I prefer playing with everything open.

Auctions 1

If two or more players have placed bids on a Private Company, rule 7.2 states that "an auction is held in which all bidders (but no one else) take part. The starting price for the auction is the highest sum bid, and the minimum raise is $5." When the number of interested players is only two, the simple and obvious style of auction is that the players raise their bids alternately until one decides to pass. Doing it this way seems universal. When there are three or more bidding players, some groups hold an organised auction, where players bid or pass in player order; in some groups a player passing may not rejoin the auction. Others (including my own group) have a free-for-all, where any eligible player may make a bid at any time, and the auction ends when all players agree to stop.

Auctions 2

Some groups insist that bids must be raised by exactly $5. I suspect that this behaviour follows from a misreading of the rules, rather than a belief that this way makes a better game. Other groups insist that bids be raised in multiples of $5; again, I suspect a misreading of the rules. The PC plays this way, noting it as an intentional change from the board game.


Rule 4.0 states "During his turn of a Stock Round a player may buy ONE stock certificate and sell ANY NUMBER of certificates. Either or both of these actions may be performed (and in either order)." This precludes selling, then buying, then selling again. In practice, the only time this makes a difference is when the player wants to buy and sell a single share of stock (in order to depress its price, for example) and must sell other stock to raise the necessary cash or create space in the portfolio.

It is believed in some quarters (without any evidence that I've seen) that the designers' intentions were to allow sell/buy/sell, and many groups play this way. My group normally forbids sell-buy-sell unless one of a small number of players is taking part.

Multiple Sales 1

If a player sells more than one share of a given Corporation in a single turn, rule 15.0 states "Sales of stock have the effect of lowering its value but the change does not affect the price the seller receives for the sale." Combined with rule 4.0 "During his turn of a Stock Round a player may buy ONE stock certificate and sell ANY NUMBER of certificates. Either or both of these actions may be performed (and in either order)." it would appear that a player may not sell multiple certificates in a single turn "one at a time" in order to raise less than the maximum possible yield. In the case of forced sales, rule 24.0 uses the word "immediately", so there appears to be even less scope for manoeuvre here. However, Avalon Hill have apparently made the ruling that the player may sell shares "one at a time", adding that normally the player would choose the method which yielded more money. The PC doesn't follow this style, but my group does.

Multiple Sales 2

If in a single turn a player sells stock in more than one Corporation, the stock price tokens may end up on the same space of the stock price chart. In this case, it is not clear which of them ends up on top. Rules 8.2 "... the indicator is moved downwards ... one line for each 10% of Corporate stock sold into the Bank Pool." and 15.0 "Sales of stock have the effect of lowering its value but the change does not affect the price the seller receives for the sale." are unhelpful. Most groups, including mine, play that the active player may choose to sell his shares in any order and this governs the final ordering of share price tokens.

'Brown' Stock

Rule 10.0 states "Stock valued in the brown zone is exempt from the rules limiting stock buying and holding, and may be bought in any available quantity during the same turn." This rule must be a contender for the worst-written rule of all time. Taken literally, one could purchase stock already sold that round, from another game, and without paying for it, and not necessarily during one's turn! In practice, two styles have emerged. The first is that a player may buy, in a single Stock turn, any or all shares in a single 'brown' Corporation as are in the Bank Pool; the other is that shares in a single 'brown' Corporation may be purchased from either the Bank Pool or the Initial Public Offering, or both. The main argument for the former interpretation is the form of words "stock valued in the brown zone", but that is far from conclusive. The former interpretation is the one used at AvalonCon and by the PC; Francis Tresham supports the latter. My group follows Francis Tresham on this.

'Coloured' Stock 1

The descriptions in rule 10.0 about the effect of the coloured areas on the stock chart use a curious mixture of phrases: "when an indicated stock value descends into the orange zone", "certificates whose value has descended into the yellow zone", and "stock valued in the brown zone". The wording for the 'yellow' zone clearly suggests that such stock retains its special properties even if the share price subsequently rises into the white zone. As far as I am aware, nobody plays this way.

'Coloured' Stock 2

The wording of 10.0 does not make it clear whether stock valued in the orange zone counts towards overall stock limits, i.e. whether the orange zone counts as yellow, too. All the authorities agree that the orange zone acts as yellow, but I have encountered one group which played the other way. There seems less scope for manoeuvre when stock falls into the brown zone, but that one group played that 'brown' stock was neither 'yellow' nor 'orange'.

Unsold Private Companies

Rule 7.3 states "If a complete Stock Round fails to sell the Schuylkill Valley Navigation and Railroad Company, then another Stock round is commenced immediately.", and goes on "If any other Private Company fails to find a buyer after a complete Round, ... Another Stock Round is then commenced." Some groups misinterpret this in two ways. Some lower the price of the Schuylkill Valley Navigation and Railroad Company after all players have been offered it at face value, even if some of those players have chosen to bid on something else. Others forbid the sale of stock until the Stock Round after the one in which Corporation stock is first sold. In both cases, these interpretations are unsupported by the rules as written, all authorities, and my group.

Private Company Sales 1

Rule 23.1 says "Private Companies may be bought by Corporations but not sold by them." Some groups read this to mean that Private Companies may be traded between Corporations, but that the transfer must be done during the buying Corporation's turn. Others read it as an absolute prohibition. All known authorities, and my group, support the latter interpretation.

Private Company Sales 2

It isn't stated anywhere that a player may not buy a Private Company which he has sold earlier that Stock Dealing Round. Nonetheless, many groups, including mine, play with such a restriction in force, on the grounds that omitting this restriction allows players to donate money to each other.

Tile Laying

Rule 18.0 states that "A tile may not be laid so that track runs off the grid". If the red areas form part of the grid, allowing connections to districts beyond the edge of the board, there is no prohibition against track running off the south-west edge of hex H2. On the other hand, there is then no prohibition about laying track on the red hexes themselves, either. Most groups, including mine disallow the laying of track in red hexes or running off that edge in H2.

Tile Replacements 1

There are two basic styles in use limiting tile replacements, often called "open" and "closed". In the "open" style, a replacement is legal if at least part of the track on the replacement is part of a route reachable by the active Corporation. In the "closed" style, either some piece of track on the replacement which is not on the original must be an extension of a route, or a city on a route must have its value increased. In both cases, of course, existing track must be maintained and the new track, if any, may not run off the grid.

Adherents of the "open" style usually justify their stance by pointing to Rule 18.1, which states "A Railroad may only replace a tile if at least part of the track on the new tile is part of a route which is open to that Railroad." Francis Tresham, the PC, and my group all play this way.

Many adherents of the "closed" style do so because they believe the game plays better that way; it's also the rule used in many of the newer games such as 1856 and 1870. Others, though, believe that Rule 18.0, which states that "The tile and position chosen must constitute an extension of a route already available to the Railroad building it." applies not only to yellow tiles but to green and brown/russet ones as well (though if it does it's not entirely clear why the clause in 18.1, quoted above, is there since it adds nothing). The special case about upgrading city tiles cannot be inferred from the rule book directly, though "closed" upgrades do not work at all well without it. The brown New York tile, for example, contains no track which is not present on the green one. An Avalon Hill "clarification" mandates "closed" upgrades.

Tile Replacements 2

When replacing tile #59 (a green OO tile) with one of #64, #65, or #67, it is physically possible to do so such that the broad curve on the brown tile connects the two edges of the green tile which had track on them. Doing so at least arguably maintains existing track though it clearly disturbs the connectivity of the two cities on the tile and leads to difficulties should either or both of the cities bear a token. Most groups, including mine, forbid such upgrades. I am not aware of any authoritative ruling on the matter or what the PC does.

Use of Delaware & Hudson

A Corporation owning the Delaware & Hudson Railroad Company may lay a tile on the D&H's home hex, for the usual mountain-bashing fee of $120, and lay a token there without further charge. The unhelpfully- located Table 1 says that "Placing the token is not required, but if placed in a future turn, it must be paid for." It is unclear whether the Corporation must have a route to the D&H home hex if it delays laying the token. It is also unclear whether the owner of the D&H has any rights if some other Corporation lays track on the D&H home hex. These questions rarely arise in practice; the one group (not mine) which I've seen address the issue ruled that the Corporation must have a route to lay the token in a subsequent turn, and the D&H's owner loses all rights if track gets laid on its home hex by some other Corporation. That's probably what my group would do if the issue ever arose.

Forced Stock Sales 1

If a President is obliged to sell stock because one of his Corporations must buy a Train, "stock sales must not lead to a change in president in the Corporation concerned." (rule 24.0). 24.0 does not prohibit a change in the Presidency of the Corporation selling the Train. Rule 24.0 uses the word "immediately" to describe these forced sales, but this does not tell us whether a transfer of the selling Corporation's Presidency occurs before or after the sale of the Train.

Most groups, including mine, play that the transfer of the Train occurs after any forced stock sales, and that if a change of President occurs the new President must agree to the sale.

A "clarification" from Avalon Hill forbids buying a Train from another Corporation if the President must assist from his own funds. This solves this problem, but in my view at the expense of at least one useful manoeuvre sanctioned by the rule book.

Forced Stock Sales 2

If a player is selling stock to finance a Train purchase, some groups, including mine, insist that he may only sell enough stock to raise the needed sum. Others allow the player to sell as much stock as desired, subject to the normal limits of stock in the Bank Pool and the Presidency transfer rules.

Forced Stock Sales 3

At least one group, not mine, interprets the phrase "if necessary" to mean that a player may not charge one of his companies enough to force stock sales if some lesser amount can be paid for from a combination of corporation treasury and player cash.

Immediate Stock Sales

Rule 12.0 lists several restrictions on the sale of stock. These are "No stock may be sold during the first Stock Round. No further stock in a Corporation may be sold if the Bank Pool already holds 50% of the stock in that Railroad. The president's stock certificate may NOT be sold into the Pool." This list does not include stock acquired earlier in the same turn of a Stock Round. Nonetheless, some groups, not including mine, play with this restriction. Avalon Hill have specifically ruled that stock may be sold in the turn in which it is bought, provided that the other restrictions are observed.

Corporation Running Order 1

The Corporations run in an order governed by their stock price and position: 16.0 says "The Banker examines the Stock Market to determine which share has the highest value. This Railroad operates first, then the next highest value, and so on. When tokens are in the same space of the Stock Market, the Railroad whose token is on top operates first. When shares have the same value but in different columns, the token furthest to the right determines which Corporation operates first." These rules do not provide an ordering for Corporations priced at $67 in the red-outlined area and the two squares immediately below. However, everyone seems to play that Corporations whose stock price counters are nearer the top of the board take precedence. There is also a loophole in the phrase "The Banker examines" for malicious or incompetent Bankers, but I don't suppose many groups take advantage of it!

Corporation Running Order 2

Rule 16.0, above, doesn't say whether the running order of the various Corporations is evaluated at the start of an Operating Round or whether it is re-evaluated every time a stock price changes in the middle of an OR. Most groups, including mine, play the latter way.

Number of Diesels

The set comes with six Diesels. Although it almost never happens in practice, the question naturally arises as to what to do if a seventh is wanted. Avalon Hill have ruled that a Corporation may not buy past the sixth Diesel, and that this rule supersedes the necessity to buy a Train if the Corporation is "locomotively challenged". Francis Tresham has given the contrary view, namely that the number of Diesels in the set should not constitute a limit on play, and that more should be constructed if necessary. My group plays the latter way.

Buying Excess Trains

Some groups, not including mine, play that a Corporation may buy Trains in excess of the current limit, and then discard down to the limit. This is clearly a transgression of rule 21.0 "A Corporation may own a maximum of four trains until the first 4 Train is bought. The number is then reduced to three. After the first 5 Train is bought the number is reduced to two."

Buying Trains

At least one group reads into 20.2 "Any Corporation which is operating must have at least one train during its turn of an Operating Round unless there is no route available on which it could possibly run." that a Corporation with a legal route may not sell its last Train. Most groups and all authorities agree that this is untrue; a Corporation which loses its last Train during some other Corporation's turn need not rectify its position until its own turn.

Discarding Excess Trains

If several Corporations own trains in excess of the current limit, each must discard one, but the rules do not provide any mechanism for deciding which President must decide first. This is so rarely a problem that I've never seen any group make a ruling on the topic. Specifying that the Corporations discard excess Trains in running order would seem to be the obvious fix.

Buying Trains Summary

The morass of rules clarifications above has left some observers slightly confused as to how my group plays the buying of trains. We play as follows.

If the Corporation has at least one Train and at least $800 in its treasury, and a Diesel is available, it may upgrade any of its Trains to a Diesel for $800. If the Corporation has fewer Trains than the current limit and has at least one Train or no legal route, it may buy a Train from another Corporation, with the permission of that Corporation's President, for any amount between $1 and the money in its treasury, inclusive; or it may buy any available Train from the Bank or Bank Pool for the cost printed on the Train if it has at least that much in its treasury.

If the Corporation has a legal route but no Train it may buy a Train from another Corporation, with the permission of that Corporation's President, for any amount between $1 and either the money in its treasury, or the face value of the Train, whichever is more; or it may buy any available Train from the Bank or Bank Pool for the cost printed on the Train if it has at least that much in its treasury. If it cannot (or will not) do one of these, it must buy the cheapest available Train from the Bank or Bank Pool for its face value.

If a Corporation is buying a Train for more than its treasury, its President must contribute the difference. If the amount of the President's contribution exceeds the President's cash on hand, he must sell stock to raise the money. The President can choose the order of sales but must stop as soon as the debt is cleared; this means that the amount of money left to the President must be less than the price of the most expensive share sold. If the Corporation selling the Train changes President, the incoming President must agree to the transaction; if he does not, the game state is restored to its position before any train purchase and the active President must try another plan.


2.0 says "Eight Charters of Incorporation are provided ... Although not necessary for play, they are recommended as play aids." However, 11.0 says "The tokens, trains, ... and money are placed in the appropriate positions on the Charters of Incorporation." and "corporate funds must ALWAYS be held on the Charter." Thus, the Charters of Incorporation are both optional and compulsory.

18.0 uses both the British spelling "coloured" and the American "colored". This presumably reflects the Anglo-American origins of the game.

Table 5 doesn't show the amount of money each player gets in a 2-player game. Players must rely on their own resources to divide $2400 by 2, although I suppose this might be taken as evidence that Avalon Hill do not consider 1830 to be a playable 2-player game. (If that is their stance, they are misinformed.)

Table 8 is headed "Script Manifest". That doesn't mean what they obviously think it means - it should be "Scrip Manifest".

This page was last modified 26th May 1999.

Change log
09/09/98: Add change log
09/09/98: Note personal preferences throughout
09/09/98: Note PC style in Auctions 2, Multiple Sales 1
09/09/98: Reword Tile Laying, Tile Replacements 1
20/10/98: Minor adjustments to Tile Laying, Tile Replacements 1
22/03/99: Add section Buying Trains Summary
26/05/99: Correct Auctions 2, Buying Trains Summary
26/05/99: Correct my e-mail domain

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This page is maintained by Chris Lawson (chris.lawson@virgin.net)
Last Updated 27th March 2000