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The Baghdad Railway


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About This File


Map Properties

Time frame: 1885-1914 (30 years)

Players: Single or multi (up to 4 players); no AI

Restrictions: Players may only start one company; track laying is limited (see below)

Medal goals:

Single player:


-Connect Istanbul to Ankara

-Haul 20 loads of clothing to Istanbul


-In addition to bronze goals,

-Connect Istanbul to Baghdad


-In addition to silver goals,

-Haul 20 loads of oil to Istanbul

-Haul 4 loads of weapons and 4 loads of ammunition to Baghdad



-Have the most track mileage of all companies

-A winner will be declared as soon as a continuous rail line from Istanbul to Baghdad has been completed. If the line is not completed by the end of 1914, all players lose.

Historical Background

The Ottoman Empire had been a grand power in European politics since the middle ages, laying siege to Vienna twice, and conquering Constantinople, renamed Istanbul thereafter, from the Byzantine Empire in the late 1400s. With the advent of industrialization, however, it fell back behind the Christian nations of Europe. By the time this map puts you in the chairmanship of a railroad company chartered by its Sultan, it had become increasingly weak, economically and militarily. The main reason that the Empire was not divided among Christian European powers was the jealousy among the latter. For example, Britain and France joined forces with the Ottomans against Russia in the Crimean War of 1857, to fend off Russian gains on the Balkans. Yet, at the same time, both France and Britain had their own designs to annex parts of Ottoman territory, like Egypt and Mesopotamia (nowadays Iraq).

After the 1860s, the Sultanate embarked on an aggressive course of modernization, inviting European knowledge and capital to strengthen its military, streamline its administration, and build industry and railroads. British, French, and German businessmen started ventures in the Ottoman Empire, often competing for charters amongst each other. You assume the persona of one of them in this map.

The Baghdad Railway, which was to connect the capital of Istanbul with Baghdad, was primarily of military importance, promising to tighten Ottoman rule over Mesopotamia, which was being challenged by Arab nationalists supported by the British. It also promised to bring the fertile and oil-rich land along the Euphrates and Tigris Rivers closer to the European markets.

German business interests were put in charge of the project in 1885, though protests by Britain and France later led to the opening of the company to investors from those countries. In a multi-player game, the four player characters are representative of these different interests, competing against each other, yet forced to pursue the same goal, the completion of the Baghdad Railway.

In reality, the Baghdad Railway was not completed by the time the First World War broke out. The Ottoman Empire ended in 1922, and was succeeded by the secular republic of Turkey in its Anatolian heartland.

Author's Comments:

Strategy Hints

If you want to haul lumber and steel, you will have to build most of the industries that supply and demand these cargoes, and make sure you'll be able to haul some lumber and steel on your initial network of 600 segments - otherwise you'll be stuck with no way to expand your line.

To help you get started, industry buying and building will be slightly cheaper until the end of 1889.

If you have lumber and steel mills, but the cargo won't board your trains, build industries that demand lumber (furniture, toy, and weapons factories) and steel (tool & die, weapons and ammunition factories) in cities served by your railroad.

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