1830: Railroads & Robber Barons
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The game of Railroads and Robber Barons
The game takes too long to be played frequently, but once you get people to play it, it immediately absorbs you. You can--for strategy--do almost anything.
The game mechanics are truly brilliant, it gives the great feeling that the game by itself speeds up to a climax where stock prices rise and fall and corporations are bought and sold. However, if you screw up, you get stuck having a 3 and a 5 train corporation for hours and hours, while everyone else is passing you by.
The after-feeling of having played 1830 lasts for weeks! There is nothing like it and I have seen a lot.
A final note: there is a PC IBM version of it, but don't play that until you have at least done a few games of the board version. The PC IBM version has really excellent AI (especially considering the time it was made).