Shikoku 1889: The Perfect Game for 'Spreadsheet Connoisseurs'


First one I’ve watched in a very long time.

Excellent video

Still remains the best intro title after how many times Ive played this: 30? 50?

18Chesapeake got a short lifespan and Wyvern and I cooled down on 1882: Assiniboia

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Every time he says “shi-koh-kuu”, I wince. But otherwise, fun viewing as always.


Having recently dipped into 18xx and acquired 1889 and 1846 as “entry level” games for the two main flavors, I’m happy to see this getting attention.

Also having recently played Indonesia for the first time, I’m surprised by how similar the two feel. Stock/development phases followed by operating phases, leaps forward where you can really get messed up if you are left behind, etc. That said, 1889 feels clumsy by comparison. In 1889 there are definitely lulls where everyone is turning the crank and playing “on rails” for a bit until the next inflection point comes. There’s also a winner decided before the end of the game - though you can’t always be sure who it is. But you know that you’ve done what you can and things will fall out as they do. You usually look back to somewhere around 50%, after the game, and all agree that that was the inflection point.

Indonesia feels much more fluid and porous. The tides of advantage are really sloshing around the south pacific seas, you feel like you have options to evaluate and are never sure if you are taking the right one. More room to be clever, more room to akido your opponents into a disadvantage, more time to salvage a losing position, and more decisions right up to the end.

Indonesia. Maybe another step up.


Yeah. There’s a phenomenon in bg commmunity where these two are always lumped together. But none of these Splotters are similar at all - except for Ur 1830 BC, which is an inspiration from 1830

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Yeah, that’s my problem with most 18XX, the end game isn’t great. There’s one in development from GMT, 18?? big Wyoming that addresses this big slowly nationalising the companies once the 6 trains come out.

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While I absolutely love Indonesia and consider it always amongst my favourite games I think it’s not without it’s flaws. The end game can be rote and it is possible for a poor move to throw the game half way through. I fond ot to be more consistently fragile than an 18xx. While 1889 can be won in the auction at the start that tends to fade quickly as players level up. The delicious fuzziness in Indonesia can take longer to get to grips with and leaves it liable to a poor move just killing it. I think 1889 has a little more resistance to poor player dynamics.

I also think as time’s gone on I’ve seen more 18xx decided later on. The 18West I played recently was very dynamic with pole position switching up through out and winner only decided late on. The end was still better with a pen and paper calculation rather than actually playing last few ORs.

I think an advantage Food Chain has is you often find a winner by positive player action, I’ve seen far more Indonesia games handed to someone by a bad choice of a player. I also think 1889 I’ve seen more gambles that are worth taking not pay off as someone else has read the situation a little better and done something similarly front foot timed slightly better.


I can’t really tell which one is more fragile. I’m not good at tell. What I can tell though is that Shikoku 1889 fragility can be broken easily on capital control. There are 7 companies in the entire game (compare to 8 companies in 1830) and if you float all of them at 65 Yen per share and 100 Yen, the game will give Y4,550 and Y7,000 to players’ disposal, respectively. So, that is the total capital range of the game. This is why newbie games of 1889 tend to end even before the 6 trains are bought


While I get the calculation I don’t see how it equates to fragility?

A low cap game is just one of the variables surely

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Fragility doesn’t seem like an issue that concerns me, to be honest. Players making silly mistakes will skew any interactive game badly. You just need to get enough plays to get over that hump.

Well, I say “just”, but getting any group of players to become competent at any game outside of the classics like Chess and Shogi is a remarkably rare achievement.