Games Gazette Logo


Based on the brilliant original 18XX games of Francis Tresham 1846 The RACE for the MIDWEST (Tom Lehmann) is a more than acceptable entry into this famed series. The review that follows is by esteemed Author and games enthusiast Michael Oliver. Apart from the box cover the photographs on this page have been gleaned from the internet via and, and are copyright of whoever made them available. If you play the 18XX series then it's likely you will also collect the 18XX games and thus this is a game you will be more than happy to own.

1846 – The Race for the Midwest - 1846-1935  




1846 – The Race for the Midwest


GMT Games have released the latest version of this 18xx railroad game, derived from the Francis Tresham classic 1829. Set in the said Midwest of the USA, the map covers from Springfield in the west (fame at last, Homer) to Erie in the east.

The very attractive and robust box (that we have come to expect from GMT Games) contains lots of high quality goodies. From the heavy card mapboard, through to the 120 hexagonal railway track tiles, everything looks and feels top notch. The contents are listed as:

1 x Board; 6 x sheets of track tiles (120); 1 x sheet Game counters; 7 x Corporate Mats; 63 x Stock certificates; 10 x Private Company certificates; 29 Train cards; 5 Player cards; 1 priority deal card and $12,000 of money in eight denominations. The money is printed on very durable, heavy paper. The one thing they forgot to list is the Rule Book of 24 pages that is replete with diagrams and explanatory panels.

I haven’t played 1829 for many years but have copies of several of the games that derived from it over the years. All of them have some rules variations from the original and 1846 is no exception. However, players of 1829 will recognise pretty well most of what is on offer. The main visual differences are in the private companies and their associated playing cards; these companies do operate a little differently in 1846 from the way they do in 1829 – however, the principles are not dissimilar.

One big plus is the detailed run-through, in the Rule Book, of a couple of turn of a sample game and, on page 19, details of the main differences between other versions of the 18xx game series and 1846, broken down into sub-headings.

My advice is to go to GMT’s website and download the latest edition of the Living Rules: Then you can check out the sample game and difference details before buying.


The designer of 1846 was also the designer of 2038 – set in space. And has one other (unpublished) title set in New England (1834), so he has some experience in producing games that use the underlying systems. The Private Company arrangements have been changed from the auction system used in 1829 (which was a bit confusing in the early stages of learning that game) to one where the companies are allocated on a semi-random system. The players are given a choice from a randomly-determined set of cards until all the companies have been taken. However, nobody is obliged to take a company if there is not one they want – they can select a “pass” option which is limited but makes for a fairer distribution.

Another difference I noticed but which isn’t mentioned in the rules book, is that Companies use the same money as the players and do not have separate corporate cash that can only be used for the companies’ purchase of trains, etc. Corporate money is kept separate but it is the same cash.

One thing that new players should be aware of is that the 18xx series are not, primarily, railway building games – they are stock market games and running a railroad is not the purpose of playing (although it is the most enjoyable in my view) which, in fact, is to make the most money through investing in railroads run by others as well as one’s-self.


Regrettably, I didn’t get the chance to play a full game of 1846 but I felt that what I did experience was very much in the 18xx genre and offered similar experiences but within a different environment and with interesting novelties in game play. Almost a must for experienced 18xx players and a relatively easily understood option for new players

Reviewer: Michael Oliver



© Chris Baylis 2011-2015