1849 is set in Sicily and is based on a historical "what-if:" what if King
Ferdinand had accepted one of the several proposals by British consortia to
develop the island's railroads? In reality he rejected all these offers and
Sicily only began building railroads after the Italian Unification. 1849
covers the period from the mid-1800s to the early twentieth century. The
game reflects its mountainous terrain by using a second track type, narrow
gauge, which is cheaper to build but harder to run on.
1849 is a smaller game, but with many unique features. It has only 57
playable hexes, and of those, only 25 do not have some sort of terrain cost:
the remaining 32 hexes cost anywhere from 40 to 160 to build. This is made
worse by the need to pay the terrain cost each time a hex is upgraded.
Coupled with the relatively steep train gradient (the least expensive train
costs 100, the first permanent train costs 550, and the most expensive
permanent train costs 1100), this means that 1849 is primarily a game of
financial management, somewhat like Federico Vellani's other published
design, 1841, but on a smaller scale.
Companies are incrementally funded, and can buy and sell their own stock.
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. Trains have a range in hexes (4, 6, 8, 10,
12 or 16) rather than cities, although an optional rule introduces electric
trains that have a range in cities. An additional twist that adds to
replayability is that the companies (up to six) open in a fixed order that
is randomly determined at the start of each game.