1889 Strategy

Guidance Towards Skillful Play

What follows are notes to get you started, especially if you’re coming from 1830, along with a list of articles worth considering. As we play 1889 more frequently, I will attempt to update this page with game-specific strategies.

Floating Initial Corporations

During the opening auction, be sure to keep enough money on hand to float a company in the first stock round. If you don’t do this, you will likely fall a turn or more behind the other players, losing money the whole time, unless you have another viable plan in mind (e.g., collecting revenue from a private company, opening another corporation with help, and/or investing smartly in other corporations).

You need five shares to float a company (one less than in 1830). This means you will need to keep at least five times the minimum par value of ¥65, or ¥325. In 2–4 player games, you start with ¥420. If you want to float a corporation on your own during SR1, you only have ¥95 available to bid on private companies (a mere ¥65 in 5–6 player games). Keeping additional funds on hand means you may be able set a higher par value, which would in turn mean that the corporation will have more money to work with during its operating rounds.

The exception to this guideline applies to the winner of the Dougo Railway. The Dougo provides the owner with free stock, thereby reducing the amount of money required to float the corresponding corporation. The owner may claim a free 10% share of the Iyo Railway corporation. This means that he needs only four times the minimum par value of ¥65, or ¥260 total, to float the IR. Note that you lose the Dougo Railway private company as soon as you claim this bonus, meaning you lose the ¥15 revenue. Technically, you “exchange” the private company for a 10% share in the IR.

Outside Resources

As usual, 18xx expert J C Lawrence offers some fascinating insight, pulled from a thread on BoardGameGeek:

1830 is a stock game. In general 75% or more of a player’s final score in 1830 will be stock. 1889 can be a stock game, or it can be a dividends game, or it can be a mix. Where 1830 played well is always a fast trains game, 1889 can be a very fast trains game, but isn’t always. It can also be a route building game, or a getting-the-right-trains-into-the-right-companies game. 1830 still has the largest strategic range of any 18xx I’ve seen, and not by a small margin, but 1889 has more variability in form.