18MEX Strategy

Guidance Towards Skillful Play

What follows is a list of our own follies, ported from our experience with 1830. As we play 18MEX more frequently, I will surely update this list 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 $60, or $300. In a 4-player game, you start with $500. If you want to float a corporation on your own during SR1, you have $200 available to bid on private and minor companies (less if you want to par the corporation at a higher value, which you very well might). 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 Mexican International Railroad (MIR). The MIR 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 Chihuahua Pacific Railway corporation (CHI). This means that he needs only four times the minimum par value of $60, or $240 total, to float the CHI. Note that, unlike other 18XX games, you do not lose the MIR private company as soon as you claim this bonus, meaning you do not lose the $20 revenue. Obviously, this is a nice bonus.

Other minor and private companies also provide free stock, but none of them will help you float a corporation in SR1. Instead, you must wait until Phase 3½ to claim or make use of the stock awarded in this way.

Outside Resources

18MEX is hardly the 18XX powerhouse that is 1830, nor the modern introductory game that is 1889. As such, strategy articles specific to the game are rare. The only one of substance I could find is hosted on (of all places!) an Earthlink account. Still, it is worth a quick review of Lou Jerkich’s “Observations on the Playing of 18MEX.” And I might also suggest a review of some general strategy articles on 1830. The basic principles are still the same.

Although not specific to 18MEX, there is a suprising amount of concise (and humrous) advice in a single thread on BoardGameGeek, hidden in a discussion of 18MEX. Take a look at the highlights:

“No matter where you are in the game, someone is not profiting from the status quo, and needs to change it.”
—BGG User, “Morganza”

“18xx really is a game of pushing people off the bridge. There is no individual game in 18xx, in which everyone would do his individual best. It’s one game in which everyone knife-fights to conquer the limited sucess space there is inside the game.”
—BGG User, “BrenoK”

“I prefer to think of it as a game of getting the other players onto a bridge, and then blowing up the bridge. Repetitively.”
—BGG User, “clearclaw”