!8xx (1829) Module

I’d like to play 1829 but, having downloaded the 18xx module, I can’t get it to work. I get a warning message that: “This module contains outdated custom code, which is not guaranteed to work with versions of VASSAL released after 6-Aug-2021” but I don’t know the dates for various versions of Vassal. The wizard operates normally until I get to “Select Setup” when the options don’t appear logical. At the appropriate point I opt to join as “Banker”, one of the players or an observer but, when the module sets itself up, it is without a map, tiles, counters or anything else. There seems no way to play a game.

I use Vassal V 3.5.8 and am unsure if this is too recent for the 18xx module to work.

I’ve also looked at the Images folder after unzipping the module and can see no game board. I assume I am either missing something in terms of what I should be doing or that the module is broken in some way. Can anyone help?

Vassal 3.5.8 was released in June 2021, so you are not using a version of Vassal released after 6 August 2021. We’ve improved the warning message to be clearer for 3.6.0, which will be released at the end of this month.

The other issues you’re describing sound like module-use ones. Where can we find the module?

Hi Joel:

Thanks for the heads-up. The module is listed on the Vassal site as “18xx”. I couldn’t find 1829 (the game I wanted to play). Hope that guides you to the appropriate file.


18xx is one of those odd modules where all of the functionality is split out into module extensions. You need to also download the extensions you want available (also listed on the module’s page) and add those to the module before opening it (right click on the module name in the Module Manager, select “Add Extension” from the context menu). If you do that and then open the module, you’ll find there are additional boards, setups, etc.

Thanks, Joel. My son seems to have located the 1829 module and I’ll check where he found that - it may solve my problem as I’m not that interested in the other games in the 18xx stable. However, I will have a look at the extensions “just in case”. Having spent some time reading the Vassal manual and watching tutorials, I am now imparting my knowledge to my son, so he can also benefit from all the help I’ve had from the guys with you at Vassal Central.


Hi Mike,

I play various 18xx titles, and am very interested in getting some 18xx working on VASSAL. I haven’t tried the existing 18xx module because I don’t know how to get a module with extension to run. Also, per the module history text, the last update to the module was 2007. Through BGG I know a contributor, but he told me his memories of the module are very vague. Since 2007 other digital/online platforms have been developed specifically for 18xx. A couple that I am familiar with are Board18 and 18xx.games.

You may also be familiar with these. In case you aren’t, Board18 has a huge variety of gameboxes, modules, but requires the keeping of separate files to log the game events, everybody’s moves, transactions and running balances. The “state of the art” for this is a Google Group with a Google Doc log file and Google Sheet spreadsheet, and I find it very cumbersome. 18xx.games is easy to use, automates almost everything, but has a limited number of titles available. The limited number of titles is mainly because the platform is about 18 months old. For the platform’s age, it has a lot of titles.

Creating a gamebox for Board18 to me seemed not to difficult. However, not working in the IT field, I find documentation for helping to implement titles in 18xx.games to be almost in a foreign language. So I have decided to try my hand at making a module for an 18xx game in development. I created the Board18 gamebox for this game. I’m helping with the play testing, but I’m getting really tired of all the effort to maintain the game log and spreadsheet.

Also, since the existing 18xx module is more than a decade old, I’m sure that there are new features in VASSAL that would vastly improve the play experience.

Right click on the module entry in the Module Manager. Select “Add Extension”.

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Thanks for this heads-up. I’ll take a closer look at what you have done and the Google Group in a day or so. I don’t, myself, have sufficient interest in 1829 to examine “Board 18” very thoroughly but my son may do. If you want to be involved in what we’re doing, I’ll let him know and maybe we can involve you (bearing in mind this is a teaching project for us and I don’t want to confuse things).

I suggest we follow this matter using private mail - I’ve responded to your other e-mail separately. Keep in touch.

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I’m a huge fan and advocate of Vassal, however I’m also a fan of using the “right tool for the job.”

I play a LOT of 18xx games and used to use “Board 18”. However, now my “go-to” site for those games is “18xx.games.” Unlike “Board 18” (which handles only map/tiles), “18xx.games” handles finances, full rule enforcement, etc.

You may want to explore that option…

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I’ve checked out the 18xx.Games site and am struck by something: my main reason for kicking this thread off was my search for a module that would allow play of 1829 - the original Trefoil title. All I could find was “18xx” and the original thrust of my query was “is there a module somewhere for 1829 itself?”. 18xx.Game does not seem to include 1829 either. Is there a reason for this?

My main interest is not in playing 1829 itself - or any of the other versions for that matter. My son & I are using the game as a way of my helping him to learn module design. He is a fan of 1829 and decided to go in this direction so he ends up with a module for playing 1829.

My sense is that 1829 isn’t that popular, when compared to other 18xx games.

The development paradigm for 18xx.games appears to be similar to that for Vassal modules - they are (primarily) done by people who love the game enough to invest the time & effort into creating something that lets them play their favorite games.

If you primary intention is to learn Vassal, then of course that is the framework you should use…

As a relatively new module designer, I got involved by fixing/updating one of my favorite games… My sense (other may contradict this), is that it’s easier to learn Vassal by making improvements to an existing module, than jumping into creating something brand new…

To add to what Korval said:
Another reason for 1829 not being on 18xx.games may have to do with lack of permission from the copyright holder. Francis Tresham, the designer of 1829, past away in 2019. I believe his company that published 1829 is no longer in existence. I don’t know who holds the copyright to the game nor whether they might be inclined to give permission for a digital implementation of the game.

Like you, I don’t know who holds the copyright but I would imagine it’s Francis Tresham’s son. I met Francis once and he gave me the impression he would be unlikely to part with the rights. My interest is, as I said, to assist my son in learning to design modules. I started adjusting existing modules - agreed with Korval, the easiest way to start - and have only recently started one from scratch. I finished that (Kingmaker - I was on the play test team for Gibson’s upcoming revised version) and then another (Down with the King by AH) and am now play testing a game I designed myself (Maker of Kings), using the Vassal module for the testing - notice a theme developing here? :wink:. I have no desire to publish MoK so won’t have issues with Gibson.

I usually try to contact the game designer and request permission. If appropriate, they will generally refer you to the publisher if their permission is required.

Curiosity got the better of me this evening. I down loaded the 18xx module and the 1889 extension to my computer. I looked around in the module with the module editor enough to see that the module has currency pieces for money. So it works similar to playing in person in that financial transactions involve moving pieces of currency.

I know that I want to abstract the money by using properties to keep current balances for all the entities that might hold money and subtracting the transaction amount from the property representing the cash balance of the buying, or paying, entity and adding the transaction amount to the property representing the cash balance of the selling, or receiving, entity.

My son & I decided to design a module specifically for 1829 to help him learn and to challenge my progress. We’ve come up against a couple of issues:

  1. We want to be able to place a counter to mark ownership of a station. However if the counter is placed on a tile rather than just the map board, it constantly snaps to the bottom left corner of the tile. How do we stop this to allow the counter to be put on the station section of the tile?

  2. We want to limit the amount of cash available in the bank at game start (start-up stack, I think) but we want this amount of money to be constantly in circulation for players. We’d also like the system to advise how many of each denomination is in the bank and each player’s hand at any one time. This looks like a complex question and may not have an answer that can be properly conveyed on this forum - I’m happy to receive a private e-mail if so.

Although I’m also fairly new with VASSAL, I’d like to offer a few of suggestions.

For the station tokens, I’m thinking that the Does Not Stack trait may have some options which will let you place them where you want them without any snap. I’d also suggest that you make sure the tokens and tiles are on different piece layers. This may mean repositioning the token(s) whenever the the tile is upgraded if the station locations are in a different position.

For the money: If you want to use currency pieces, then decks or at start stacks would be the way to go. If you want to keep track of where currency pieces are throughout the game, I suggest just not having currency pieces at all, and using global properties for the cash balances in the bank, with each player, and each company that can have a cash balance. The properties could be displayed with pieces each having a Label trait to display the current balance. You can make pieces to effect the transactions to move money around by manipulating these properties for the cash balances. (Note: I have successfully done this at least to some extent with the module I have been working on.) To keep track of currency pieces, I believe you would have to do something very similar and certainly no less difficult. By abstracting the money using properties then you save yourselves the trouble of dealing with the currency pieces and images, and the module would be smaller as well.

By default, all pieces will stack with each other. Either use the Does Not Stack trait on one class of piece, or employ Game Piece Layers on your map to both prevent two types of pieces from stacking together and regulate the drawing order of different types of pieces.

The How to calculate total of numeric Property of all pieces in particular location/state tip/trick maybe helpful with keeping tabs on the money when using currency pieces. Of course this assumes that your module will have a distinct Zone or Map Window for the bank and each other entity that can hold money.

Here is a link to a version of my module as uploaded to Google Drive with a map window for the bank and one player:

Bank & Player Mod

I developed and tested this for moving money virtually between the bank and a player. Money transfers can go either way, and to keep things simple I omitted the currency symbol. In this trial the bank starts with 9,000 and the player starts with 0. In many 18xx games the bank starts with a fixed amount and gives each player a starting amount which varies with the number of players before the game begins.

Notice that I have each transaction reported in the chat log.

This was what I did and it worked a treat. Thanks, Joel.

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