1880 China




1880 is as all other games in the 18xx series based on 1829 by Frances Tresham.

In this review I will not enter on details of the basic rules, these can be checked in other reviews or several rules, that are easily available on the web, among them those of 1880, too.

I will concentrate instead on the deviations from the basic game, on that what is new, and – let me tell you at the start, there are more of those than in most other versions of 18xx.

Designers Helmut Ohley and Leonhard Orgler have previously published other versions of 18xx, most of them self-published by Double-O games. So is 1880. Their games are usually offered in several different versions, from the cheapest do-it-yourself version, with plastic chips and without money to ready-to-play versions, pre-cut and with wooden chips instead of plastic and with paper money.

As all other versions published by Double-O, and most of all 18xx versions, 1880, too, offers a new map, China, and a few new rules that make the game different from others.

In 1880 an entirely new step was taken, which I have so far seen nowhere else, these time the designers interfere with the basic mechanism of the 18xx games. There are still stock dealing rounds and operation rounds. But - differently from most games where usually a stock dealing round is followed by a fixed number of operation rounds in which all companies operate their trains in turn - in 1880 the stock dealing rounds interrupt operation rounds when certain events take place. Operation rounds should no longer go by this name, companies operate in turn in a never-ending cycle until the game end condition has been met.

The event that initiates a stock dealing round is the disappearance of the last engine of a type from the display. This can happen in two ways: On the one hand due to the classic standard buy by a company. On the other hand each time a company buys an engine, this buy is marked. When no engine is bought for a whole cycle, that is, until the company who made the last buy, operates again, all engines of this type are taken out of the game.

This new course of the game of course changes the game substantially, in a positive way as well as a negative one. A positive change surely is that the game is simply different and offers some new strategic considerations, for instance, that after stock dealing rounds, depending on the current situation, one or more of the companies tend to have one more operation possibility than another company. A negative aspect surely is the long duration of 1880, which is only partly due to the changed mechanism, but this change makes the use the classic support programs for PCs, which can accelerate 18xx games considerably, difficult.

Another important new feature is the division in 4 construction phases (A, B, C and D). When a company is founded, a player has the choice to acquire a 20%, 30% or 40% director’s share. A 40% company can only build in one building phase, a 30% company in two phases and a 20% company in three building phases.

In this context the Jeme Tien Yow Engineer Office should be mentioned among the private companies that are auctioned at the start of the game, it offers a company an additional right to build in phase D- The other private companies offer advantages which are familiar from similar companies in other variants and need not be mentioned especially.

Well worth mentioning though are the foreign investors. These investors correspond to European powers owning a trade post that is marked on the map, the so called home station. After the auction of the private shares each player can choose exactly one investor. He receives one share of the first company which this player opens. The foreign investors operate before the stock companies and can build track as usual. They borrow the currently available engine from the bank and “harvest” with it. The money is kept, though. As soon as the investor is connected to the company whose share he holds the player receives the share of the investor as well as a bonus of 50 Yuan. The operation capital of the investor is handed to the corresponding stock company. Which requires a decision on whether connecting early to have one more privately owned share early or to wait long to acquire a high operation capital for the company for the end game.

Another interesting feature is that from buying the first #4 engine until the buy of the first #6 engine the share values of the companies do not change. This is meant to mirror the Maoist times from the Communist revolution to the opening of the Shanghai Stock Exchange.

The rest of the rules adhere to the usual spectrum known from other 18xx versions.


My resume is that 1880 is a very interesting version, especially for very experienced 18xx players. Especially due to the new course of the game 1880 offers a welcome diversion from the standard games and therefore plays differently, too.

For newcomers to the 18xx games I would think the game not ideally suited, but this is a personal opinion, I did not have the opportunity to really test it.

For the rest, there is not much or next to nothing to criticize. The rules are well structured, clear and easily understandable. The components are well made and are well above the usually low 18xx standard. The quality of the components is typical for self-published games, so for instance has the board not been printed on very sturdy cardboard, but still, if is sufficient.


Review by Markus Wavra


Players: 3-7

Age: 13+

Time: 300+

Designer: Helmut Ohley, Lonny Orgler

Artist: not stated

Price: 39-75 Euros

Publisher: Double-O Games 2010

Web: www.lonny.at


Genre: Railway and stock market game

Users: For experts

Special: Many players

Version: multi

Rules: de en

In-game text: some



18xx version * many new features * long, complex rules * rules easily understood * takes a very long time to play


Compares to:

All other games of the 18xx family


Other editions:

Currently none


My rating: 5


Markus Wawra:

1880 is an interesting 18xx version which introduces a different feeling due to lots of new rules. Unfortunately, the duration of the game is very long, even compared to other 18xx games.


Chance (pink): 0

Tactic (turquoise): 2

Strategy (blue): 3

Creativity (dark blue): 0

Knowledge (yellow): 0

Memory (orange): 0

Communication (red): 0

Interaction (brown): 2

Dexterity (green): 0

Action (dark green): 0