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The Age of Steam List
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Age of Steam is Martin Wallace's great gift to Euro gamers who want to play a train game, but don't have the 4-6 hours necessary to invest in a meatier option like the 18xx series which AoS was inspired by.

AoS was originally published in 2002, and became an almost immediate success. Because of the positive reaction, both Warfrog and Winsome games have since produced several expansion maps to add further life to the game.

As of 2005 AoS is also starting to develop a very healthy fan made expansion community. 3 of these (The Bay Area, Reunion Island, the Moon) were released at Essen 2005 and as of 2006 the expansion releases are accelerating at an alarming rate.

This list is a simple recounting of all of the AoS maps available to date, and is intended as a way for aficionados to debate the relative merits of the various maps as well as to detail the different options available and what they do to the game for those who are looking to pick up the game and an expansion or two.

As I noted above, as of 2006 the sheer number of free fan-made expansions is starting to become overwhelming, and it will be my policy from here to add them to the list as soon as a finished version of the map and rules exist in an immediately useable way. There are a number of prototypes available at any given time, but maps will not join this list until they are finished products.

The new Geeklist ordering function is now allowing me to fix the order of this list up a bit. From here on out officially licensed / commercially released expansions will always be moved to the top of the list and organized by date of release, while finished, internet download fan expansions will be later in the list.

Note: I am now associated with AoS Team, the group that released Moon, Mars, Iraq, NY Subway, 20 000 Rails Under the Sea and so forth. I will never rate my own maps, and I believe I can rate expansions other than my own with as much "objectivity" as I can other games, but for those of you who are skeptics, consider this your good-natured warning. All comments about maps that were released prior to Essen 2008, at the very least, should be taken as "pure" because I was not associated with AoS Team prior to that.
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1. Board Game: Age of Steam [Average Rating:7.73 Overall Rank:60]
Michael Webb
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Where it all began.

Basic AoS includes John Bohrer's Rust Belt US map and only incorporates the basic rules for the game.

A good way to learn the game, and by most accounts, best with 4 or 5 players with the extreme high and low end scales having some problems.

Initial print run was 3000 pieces and has long since sold out. The second run was also 3000, and is also exhausted as of Fall 2006. A third run of the original game (not to be confused with Mayfair's "Steam," which is a complete redevelopment of the game) was initially released in February of 2009, published by FRED, with new, Railroad Tycoon inspired art, plastic train track markers, and the Barbados/St. Lucia maps thrown in as bonuses from bezier to enable solitaire and 2 player play. The FRED edition of AoS, as of 2011, is still in perpetual print with no end in sight.

A Korean edition of the game was also produced which featured the Warfrog era graphics and a double-sided map with the Rust Belt on the front and the Korean map from the Expansion #3 on the back. It also included paper money rather than the Warfrog coins. The print run of that edition was 2000.
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2. Board Game: Age of Steam Expansion #1: England & Ireland [Average Rating:8.08 Unranked] [Average Rating:8.08 Unranked]
Michael Webb
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The first expansion was designed by Martin Wallace and includes 2 additional maps, Ireland and England. The print run was 2000 pieces. Long OOP, but now available as a print and play in the game's entry. This is the gold standard of free releases, as Expansion #1 provides a good 3 player map in Ireland and a good high scale map in England. Print this one out if you only have a base game!

The English map is essentially the same as the Rust Belt, and only has a couple of minor rules changes; London is the only red city (no urbanisation in that colour is allowed either) and red cubes that it would normally receive from production are instead sent to one of two points north of it to insure that none are left stranded. This map was intended to make the game better with 5-6 players, and I would only play it with that many at the table, as it is very wide open otherwise.

Ireland is a smaller, tighter map designed for 3-4 players only and has significant rules changes. Urbanization no longer exists and is replaced with Deurbanisation, which allows the person selecting the role to remove one cube of their choice from the board. Additionally, the locomotive no longer gives a free upgrade to ones engine, instead allowing one to skip both moves on that turn to upgrade twice. Oversea routes also exist (for 6$ each) which allow the delivery of yellow, blue, or red goods. Finally, there are a number of cities which start with goods, but have no colour, and as such, have no demand for goods.

Overall, a worthwhile expansion if you have a smaller group to take advantage of the Irish option. England simply felt too much like the Rust Belt to differentiate itself, though it is useful when you have 5-6 players, and that group contains newbies. Ireland is unbelievably nasty though, and I've gotten a tonne of play on it. The rules changes are interesting, with Deurbanization in particular adding a new dimension of thinking to the game. Ireland is still a fantastic map that is well worth pulling out when you only have three people at the table, and is my favourite map for 3, still..
 
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3. Board Game: Age of Steam Expansion #2: Western US and Germany [Average Rating:7.85 Unranked] [Average Rating:7.85 Unranked]
Michael Webb
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Expansion #2 was originally released at Essen 2003 in paper form by Winsome (60 pieces), but was reissued professionally by Warfrog at Essen 2004. The set contains 2 maps, Western US and Germany, both designed by John Bohrer. The Warfrog print run was 3000 pieces. The German map was also reprinted in 2009 by FRED as part of a 2 sided hardboard expansion packaged with France from #4 on the flip side. The print run of the new edition is unknown.

The Western US map has, as is now expected, some substantial rules changes. Players start with an extra 10$ in their coffers and must begin their rail empires on either the western or eastern seaboard and have all of their rail in one continuous network until someone establishes a transcontinental link, the owners of which will receive a quick jolt of income on the track. An additional 1$ bonus is also paid each time someone delivers a good from west to east or vice versa. Additionally towns start the game with goods cubes, but these will be lost if the town is urbanised prior to having the good shipped out. Finally a new terrain type, the swamp is introduced.

Germany sees the town of Berlin always receiving a good cube during production (hence making links to it rather lucrative). In addition, there are a number of foreign cities, which accept a random type of good as determined at the start of the game by drawing a cube for them from the supply. The linking hexes to these cities have very high costs associated with them, so the engineer allows one piece of track to be built at half cost instead of its normal ability of laying 4 pieces of track. There are also some zero length links, and incomplete track section building is not allowed.

I thought Germany was quite enjoyable, and probably the easiest progression from the basic map to date while still throwing in some interesting changes of pace via the foreign terminals and the lucrative links to Berlin. The map is tighter than it appears!

The Western US, while more thematic than most AoS maps, seemed to have some issues with balance and the number of available goods to start the game. Even with 5 there were simply too many goods out, but playing with 6 seems like a bad idea as well as the difficulty of starting in the extremely mountainous west means the scale is probably best at 5 with 3 in the east and 2 in the west, or perhaps even 4 in the east and 1 in the west for that matter. Even with a 4/1 split, I still think there is a problem with the colour distribution in the east, as the person who sets up shop in St. Louis will have much better access to colours, and even though other players will be angling for their territory, I still think they are at a large advantage in the opening frames. All of this said, maps that aren't balanced aren't inherently bad (actually, quite the opposite, symmetry is often the enemy of competition, which is what makes games like AoS interesting), and I can see the value in playing this with 6 because the number of people who would start in the east would potentially increase the value of starting in the west to the point of profitability. I rarely play with more than 5 players though, so it could be a long time before I try this one out again.
 
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4. Board Game: Age of Steam Expansion #3: Scandinavia and Korea [Average Rating:7.84 Unranked] [Average Rating:7.84 Unranked]
Michael Webb
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Expansion #3 was released along with #2 at Essen 2004. It includes two maps, Scandinavia and Korea, both designed by Martin Wallace. Like #2, the print run on this is 3000 pieces.

Scandinavia includes Irish style sea routes which cost 6$. There is also a new action wherein players can utilise a "ferry" to ship goods from one coastal city to another, and thereby create some very interesting shipping possibilities, both for ones own scoring, and as a defensive manoeuvre.

Korea is very mountainous, much like the Western US, but has a very unique new rule: rather than having a certain, set demand; cities demand goods based on what they currently have. z.B. if a city has a red and a blue cube presently, they will accept either. If a city has no cubes, it is effectively dead, though production might change that of course! Newly urbanised towns thusly start with 2 cubes (their first two cubes from the goods display) on them, with replacements drawn for these used up spots immediately. As a minor aside, hills cost 3$ to build upon.

After having played both of these maps I must say that this is a solid addition to the game. Both maps substantially alter the game, and offer new challenges for veteran players.

Scandinavia for instance offers a tight resource allocation, and the ferry action ends up feeling a lot like deurbanisation from Ireland with the bonus that the stolen cube additionally creates income for you.

Korea is a brain melty good time, again as advertised. There are more goods on the board because of the way urbanisation works (brings the first two cubes from the production chart out with the city so that it starts with a colour) but there are also more ways to screw with your opponents as stealing a good in Korea can mean not only a single loss of income, but several when they were depending on a certain city to be a certain colour.
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5. Board Game: Age of Steam Expansion #4: France and Italy [Average Rating:7.43 Unranked] [Average Rating:7.43 Unranked]
Michael Webb
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Expansion #4 was originally released at Essen 2004 by Winsome and had a print run of 80 pieces. It was then picked up by Warfrog and professionally released at Essen 2005. Apparently, the Warfrog print run is 3000 pieces. It contains 2 maps: France and Italy, both designed by John Bohrer. The map of France was also reprinted in 2009 by FRED as part of a 2 sided hardboard expansion packaged with Germany from #2 on the flip side, the print run of the new edition is unknown.

France has some basic changes to the rules, but seems evolutionary, not revolutionary. Paris is a multi-colour city (all colours but black), starts the game with 8 goods on it, and has growth on 1-6 (every number) on the production chart. A number of the special actions have been changed as well: the engineer now allows you to build on "difficult terrain" (the mountains), production now allows the player taking it to name a city and then draw a cube to be placed directly onto the map at that location. Meanwhile, urbanisation counts as one of your three track placements. Players can also not go below 0 on the income chart.

Italy has no towns (hence no urbanisation). Track building has been altered to a modified Germany, as players can not leave dangling track anywhere, but they can build an unlimited number of hexes to complete one link per turn, with the caveat that they must take the most direct route possible between the two points. Additionally, there are no share limits and the penalty for issuing shares is smaller than usual during the end game. Shares can additionally be issued during the "action" phases of the game, but only give players 3$ instead of 5$ in such cases. This rule change is crucial because black goods now function as uber spoilers, reducing the income of any player whose track they are carried over. To mitigate the black goods, the urbanisation action is replaced by a modified deurbanisation that allows the player taking it to remove a black cube from the map and then draw something new to replace it. The engineer is also altered, allowing one track (re)placement to be free instead of the normal build 4 ability. Finally, and most interestingly, the map has 7 new tiles which are each unique and new to the game. These vary from the odd (double tight turn, one on each side of the tile) to the incredibly complex (triple crossing tiles).

In regards to Italy: I didn't know quite what to think of the map, but I'm leaning on dislike. The map is very tight, and has a lot of choke points available, which is usually good, but it also seems to focus a little to heavily on screwing the other players, or preventing oneself from being screwed. This focus seems to come about not only because of the existence of the black goods rule, but because of the artificial link number limit. Taking the engine often means that players have more engine power than they can use, which encourages them to just use the extra power to screw people with black goods as often as possible. The black goods were pretty interesting, despite that though. The main complaint I actually have with the map presently is the way it bogs down at the end game due to the complicated track builds that become necessary. I don't mind playing a long game if it's because players are making tough decisions, but the long turns on Italy seemed to be occuring just because it was hard to figure out how to build from one point to another. By the late game track was running out left and right, and we needed to come up with extremely elaborate ways of making links work. I didn't find it particularly fun. I will give the map another day in court though, because I did like some of the new ideas it had, and the way the play seemed drastically different from the base game.

France is a strange map, when I first played it, I didn't care for it that much. Then, we got to it again, and I was much more impressed with it. There are a few subtle things going on here that actually make the map more interesting than it would appear. To begin with, there are only 7 starting cities. Paris is absolutely critical to get into, because it starts with a boatload of goods, and because it is every colour but black, but that is also a curse if you don't find a way to put it at the end of your line...so some early races develop because of that. Elsewhere on the board, the engineer rule, which allows you to build on the hill/mountain terrain, actually makes this map quite tight because most of the southern portion of the board is dominated by that terrain type. This actually takes the game in an interesting direction because engineer stays valuable, and in some cases, it is actually necessary to take it over the traditional power role of Locomotive because of its utility. I now think this a really solid map for 3, a nice, smooth transition beyond the Rust Belt with some interesting play and recommended on that basis.
 
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6. Board Game: Age of Steam Expansion: Austria, Switzerland & The Netherlands [Average Rating:7.30 Unranked] [Average Rating:7.30 Unranked]
Michael Webb
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Austria, Switzerland & The Netherlands is a special 3 map set designed by John Bohrer which was released by Winsome at Essen 2005. The print run was limited to 80 pieces. The set includes one extra hex, a 5 exit town marker for use in Austria. Warfrog is no longer in the AoS expansion publishing business, and therefore this map was not re-released as a hard-board like the previous 2 Winsome expansions. Instead, this set is slowly being reissued through other channels. The Austria map is part of the Steam Brothers second set of expansions, and the May 2007 issue of Spielbox came with a reprint of the Netherlands. Switzerland was re-released as a free print and play that is available via the AoS Yahoo group.

Austria is the first official 2 player only Age of Steam map. To tighten the game up, there are some rules changes that take that into account. Shipping, for instance, now has 3 phases instead of 2. A very major change is the lack of shares, instead, players each start with 15$ in their coffers, and have to generate income the old-fashioned way. Track costs are also quite high and at the end of the game, money also generates VPs at a 20$ per 1 VP rate.

The Netherlands is the first 7 player map, and it incorporates several special rules to accomodate this including the ability to have two players with the same "interurban" link between some cities (later seen again in slightly modified form in the Eastern US & Canada), and the creative use of variable city colours which is handled by a special display which is filled with random cubes prior to the start of play. Track costs in this map are very low, but to counter that, the maximum number of shares is capped at 5, and they do not pay out as much money when you issue them. Many of the special actions are also altered to accomodate the 7 player game, as there are now options to simply take money (2$), and to switch city colours.

Switzerland is the plainest of these expansions; though it is also quite restrictive because of the large number of thick black lines, and forbidden hexes. Rainbow cities appear in this expansion, and unlike France's Paris, they actually accept everything. Track building is much more expensive than in the normal game, and money can additionally be used to buy back shares at 8$ per once per round. The main thematic touch in this map is the tunnel hexes which are automatically built midway through the game.


I have now played Austria, and I quite enjoyed the experience. The map is very restrictive, which to me is a must for an exciting Age of Steam experience, especially with fewer players. The odd economy where you have to ship goods to get the positive cash flow moving was also well-thought out and snazzy. My only real beef is the potential for sameyness, because the restrictive nature of the map is based on heavy black line use, which means the routes that are available are not going to have a lot of variance from game to game. Certainly good for occasional AoS when only 2 people are available though.

The Netherlands has also hit the table, and I have to say, don't pull this out unless you have at least 6, or probably the 7 that this one can support. The "always fill up the cities" goods growth scheme injects nearly the entire goods bag onto the board at the end of each round, and even though the links were drying up quickly by the late-mid game, there still were just too many goods to go around. With the 7 scale this would probably be somewhat less of an issue, though I am not sure about that. Beyond that, the low shares thing, and the changed track costs really make this map feel significantly different. The variable city colour is probably my favourite new idea in this map, but the implementation is just tough, as you have to reference a secondary chart to see what colour the cities are. We were lucky to have wooden Elfenland cylinders on hand, which meant we could mark the cities on the map proper to see what colour they were, but even with that, the entire board became a huge mess of player stones and goods and it was difficult to see what was going on some of the time. I wouldn't mind trying this again with 7, but overall I didn't care for it all that much.

Switzerland doesn't have a lot of amazing new rules that will shock you, but it offers some tight track building and high expenses. The presence of the rainbow cities seems to draw players into the west, but there is also the temptation of the Zurich area, which is full of cheap links and plentiful goods. The heavy use of black lines means that players have to be very careful with their track, because it is rather easy to screw oneself with an ill-planned link. The tight corridors also make First Build a much more lucrative role than one would expect in 3 player AoS. There is nothing here that absolutely blew me away, but this is a solid AoS map.
 
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7. Board Game: Age of Steam Expansion: Bay Area [Average Rating:7.06 Unranked] [Average Rating:7.06 Unranked]
Michael Webb
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The Bay Area is a fan made expansion by Ted Alspach, and among the first crop of those to get approval from John Bohrer of Winsome.

Not much is known of this map yet, but it is apparently going to be full colour paper, and is to be initially distributed at Essen 2005.

Amongst the known features of the map are 2 Bay area bridges, and San Jose, a massive triple hex city that always receives goods during production.

Additional note: Ted's comments more fully explain what this map is about. This map is officially collectible now, as Ted is releasing a new board featuring Northern California on one side. The NorCal board is a reworking of this Bay Original, and has some minor rules changes, and also is slightly larger. Thus, the Bay now exists as a very limited curiosity item.

Final note: I have finally played this map, and I really like it. It's more suitable for 3 players than Ted's reworked NorCal version, and it offers some very tough decisions about where to start your network, and how aggressive to get in the auction. The thing that I particularly like about this original version is how there are no natural deliveries on the first turn (well, unless you count the 10$ bridge, and I certainly don't ), everything has to be cobbled together from the get-go, and the goods lack is just as nasty as it is on the newer map. This is up there with Ireland as a fantastic basic yet brutal 3 player Age of Steam experience.
 
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8. Board Game: Age of Steam Expansion: Reunion Island [Average Rating:6.48 Unranked] [Average Rating:6.48 Unranked]
Michael Webb
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Reunion Island is another fan made expansion map for Age of Steam designed by Ludovic Gimet that was released at Essen 2005.

This particular map is, like Austria, for 2 players only and features a few rules changes to help tighten the game up. To begin with, in the auction, each player has the ability to "lock" one of the special actions. The same action cannot be locked two rounds in a row, but this does keep some of the power roles out of the mix with enough consistency to augment the game. Additionally, purple goods are eliminated, and red goods only have one potential place that they can be delivered to. Track building is somewhat cheaper, and you can build 4 pieces even without the aid of the engineer. 2 sea routes exist ala many AoS expansions, but one of them will disappear shortly after mid-game if the other is built. Finally, and most famously, a volcano is present, and its lava flow can wipe out track on the board in a semi-random fashion.

My overall impression is that this map has not convinced me that 2 player Age of Steam is worth playing yet. I think the action locking mechanism works, and the goods shortage is a nice idea. The volcano is definitely random, but I think in many contexts players can basically build track with the intent of only having to use it for a round or 2, and then write off any losses due to the flow. The thing that I didn't care for was the board size. Even with players being able to build a full 4 pieces of track each round there was still simply too much space on this board and it didn't feel tight enough to me. I think this map is decent for what it is, but given its scarcity and high price, I cannot recommend it.
 
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9. Board Game: Age of Steam: The Moon [Average Rating:7.64 Unranked] [Average Rating:7.64 Unranked]
Michael Webb
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The Moon is a bizarre fan made expansion board by Alban Viard that was originally packaged with Reunion island in a special box and was limited to 180 pieces. The Moon was also re-released as part of a new two map set with Mars on the flip side. As of 2011, it was re-released as a hardboard map by FRED with the Berlin Wall on the flip side.

The rules changes on this map are extremely extensive, for instance, the boards wraps around, so if you build off one edge your track will appear on the other side. To make the game even tighter, all the cities must be connected to the centre of the board (the landing port) and cities do not receive goods during production unless they are connected to the network.

Perhaps most strangely, there are Night and Day changes. Each round half of the cities on the board change to black ones. There are no black cities otherwise, as the 4 urbanizable ones are removed prior to the start. To make things even harder, track building is very restrictive: you can only buy 2 pieces of track, and the engineer only allows you to buy 3. Track is also pricier. To slightly alleviate the pain caused by lack of track, Low Gravity; a new special action is introduced. This allows you to, once per move, to use another player's link as your own.

Overall, this expansion is very, very impressive. The tightness of the map is extreme, and players seem to be forced to use each other's track a lot more than in normal AoS. This is my favourite map currently.
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10. Board Game: Age of Steam Expansion: China / South America [Average Rating:7.83 Unranked] [Average Rating:7.83 Unranked]
Michael Webb
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China and South America are yet more entries into the slew of fan related AoS releases this year. Like most of the fan released items, this expansion was very limited and only had 50 pieces in its first pressing. The second run was also 50 pieces. A third run was also made, and its numbers are unknown. In 2011, China was reprinted as one side of the Mexico/China hardboard by FRED.

Designed lovingly by the French-Canadian "Steam Brothers" (what is it with the French and AoS? I apparently need to move somewhere that speaks the language soon!) these two maps were self-released in lovely, fully produced format in 2005.

South America's primary flavour involves the special action for being the corrupt "El Presidente", which gives you extra income whenever goods are shipped through Buenos Aires.

China puts players in the role of world powers forcing their way into the country, and includes the new role "Diplomatic Pressure". This role interacts with a special rules that forces players to pay extra when they link into new cities (graft given to the government of China) by halving that extra expense. There is also a very lucrative "every turn production" hex representing Russia, which, similar to Berlin on the German map, is worth quite a lot to the person or persons who hooks up to it.

I quite liked the China board. The changes are pretty extensive to the base game, and money is agonizing in the early going because of all the extra costs associated with linking into cities. The Russian hex also seemed very well balanced by its expensive placement amidst mountains and deserts.

South America was decent but the layout of the board is the main point of interest with the east coast featuring several cities with very limited access. The special El Presidente action didn't seem that important, and the Buenous Aires continual production rule was ok, but it has already been used on two better maps. Solid, not much of an improvement on the Rust Belt.
 
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11. Board Game: Age of Steam Expansion: North Eastern USA / South Africa [Average Rating:7.51 Unranked] [Average Rating:7.51 Unranked]
Michael Webb
United States
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Northeastern US and South Africa are the second set of maps released by the "Steam Brothers" in 2005. 50 pieces in the first print run, and 50 in the second as well. A third run was also made, and its numbers are unknown. To the best of my knowledge, this map set is now in perpetual reprint and is being made available exclusively at Boards & Bits.

The Northeastern US board gets its primary flavour in the form of a special action called Commodity Speculation which allows the player selecting it to designate one good colour that will produce an extra income for the turn. This is dangerous though, because the other players can benefit from this as well, and cause a seemingly powerful role to backfire on you. The city colour distribution in this one is also interesting, and seems to force players to build their networks from one side of the board to the other, with each coast having its own benefits and shortcomings.

The Africa map is themed to the "gold rush" by the western powers, and seems to be a very cash rich board as players gain bonuses for connecting to new cities (contrasted with the penalties they must pay in China). Additionally, some cities have a larger column on the production chart, and are potentially more useful for the lategame as a result. Finally, there are two "always produce one random good during growth" cities in the north.

I found South Africa to be enjoyable, but too derivative of the other maps for a truly high ranking. While the extra money we earned for connecting to interior cities was not as much of a boon as I thought it would be (it just inflated the auction) the overall tone of the map was still pretty soft. A lot of goods cubes were available due to the two perpetual goods producing cities in the north. Additionally, there just weren't many choke points on the map, so getting where you needed to generally wasn't much of a hassle until the mid to late game, which always tightens up regardless of the map. I do think this map would be good for larger groups (5-6) who want something a little easier to play with for their first few games, but I personally found it only ok. There are no real balance issues with it, but it doesn't do anything really groundbreaking either

The NE US (and Quebec) seemed more solid and interesting. The map has a bit of a story built into it, as the distribution of the city colours forces players to start on one side of the map and then work toward the other. Players in the east benefit from cheap initial links, while players in the west benefit from more goods to work with...pretty solid. In many regards, this story reminded me of what the Western US map was trying to do, but it seemed to work better because both sides of the board were actually lucrative whereas the Western US board seems to put the player(s) who start out in California at a decided disadvantage. The speculation role doesn't do a lot to the game, but the mini-runs that it causes for certain goods each round was amusing and seemed to spice the game up slightly, so it gets the thumbs up from me. Overall this is a solid map...not super imaginitive, but it spruces the game up a bit and would be welcome on my table any night.
 
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12. Board Game: Age of Steam Expansion: 1830's Pennsylvania / Northern California [Average Rating:7.92 Unranked] [Average Rating:7.92 Unranked]
Michael Webb
United States
Western Mitten
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Northern California and 1830's PA

Ted Alspach's Bay Area map morphed into 1/2 of this new map pairing in 2006, which was a limited, self-produced print run with professional quality graphics on folding cardboard stock.

Northern California shares many of the Bay Area's rules including the unique "ship lane" of goods that are available to be shipped from Santa Cruz, but only once the previous one has been taken out. NorCal also has its famous bridges included, and San Jose is represented by a gargantuan triple hex city. The "to Sacramento" city hex also is interesting in that it changes colours based on what the next good available from the Santa Cruz shipping lane is.

1830's PA has some great historical twists, all centred around PA's powerhouse supply of coal from this era. Black goods (coal) are seeded across the western portion of the map and can either travel further, or be delivered for higher profits. Black cities are not necessarily easy to get to though, and though the value of delivering black cubes can be high, the extensive urbanised area in the southeastern portion of the map also seems like a good place to set up a very convoluted network in short order.


PA is a strange map because the ridiculous value of coal drives everything that the players want to do on this map. The eastern portion of the map is full of cities which make for very easy connections, but the west is where the black gold lies, and that coal is what is going to determine the winner, one way or another. The trick here is that because coal can either be delivered for double profits or up to twice as far, it is actually much more difficult to protect than one might think. If someone blazes out into the coal fields, it is not difficult to simply filch the good, give them the 2 or 3 they're owed, and send it around in your own network for an equal or greater amount of money. They're still getting paid decently, but without repeated doubles, it isn't any better than the other goods, and building in the west is very expensive. So this map provides an interesting tension, and first move is a much more important ability throughout most of the game. I like this map, though I wonder about replay. The focus in gameplay is novel and worth trying out though. I have to add that this is one of the maps where the game winner can be determined VERY early though, because someone who manages a couple of high multiplier coal shipments early is probably going to run away with the game. I don't know if this is fully balancable by skilled play or not yet.

NorCal is a basic map, Ted has said that the base of this map, the Bay Area, was fairly straight-forward because he was still getting comfortable doing map design work. So the map isn't going to blow anyone away with crazy new rules, but I think it gets simple, difficult Age of Steam just right. Everything is painfully far away in this map, colour demands usually have to be created via urbanization, and the minor rules adds, such as the Santa Cruz port and the San Jose shenanigans add just enough spice to the mix to keep it interesting for AoS vets. The board starts out cube poor, which is a nice combination with the tough track building. Profitability was rather long coming, and I would expect that to be the same with any group, because there just aren't enough cubes to go around. Fun map, and one that should appeal to people who like Ireland's tight economics, albeit at a 4 scale instead of a 3. Up with the Bay Area as one of my favourite basic yet brutal AoS experiences, an 8 for me, and only rates lower than the Bay because there are so many maps which play well with 4.
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13. Board Game: Age of Steam Expansion: Disco Inferno / Soul Train [Average Rating:7.72 Unranked] [Average Rating:7.72 Unranked]
Michael Webb
United States
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Disco Inferno / Soul Train is the second expansion set released by Ted Alspach.

Some notable features of the maps:

Disco Inferno allows players to chain deliveries, for instance, I ship one good for 3 to a city, and then grab a cube in that city and take it 2 links, using my level 5 engine. Additionally, cities are eliminated from the map when they are emptied of goods.

Soul Train has a rather revolutionary change in play, as the game map starts out with hell and Earth represented (each with 1/2 board) but when hell is reduced to 10 goods or less, then that portion of the board is eliminated and a new board section depicting heaven is added to the mix. Players can also build up to 6 pieces of track per turn, and goods delivery is significantly altered, as players must deliver goods to the next zone of play: i.e.: from hell to earth, from earth to heaven.


I have played Soul Train now, and I was actually surprised by how this map played out. On its surface, the map flipping and extra track building seemed they would just be interesting, not ugly, but this map definitely became crazy in a hurry. The fact that you must deliver goods from one zone of play to another means that one has to be very careful during track construction, because it is easy to put yourself in a bad position due to this. On top of that, this map has great tension, because players on one hand want to build track in hell in the first segment of the game, and have to, but they also desperately need to have connections to the northern cities on earth so that they can get the jump into heaven as soon as the board flips. The last 2 rounds of this game (the heaven turns) are excruciatingly ugly if one has not planned ahead, and the players that did are probably going to make an extremely large amount of income. One very nice thing about this map: it actually plays a little faster than normal Age of Steam, we had a 4 player game that went 6 rounds, very nice for a map with this much depth!

I will caution anyone who plays this: be sure to urbanize early in the game, be it to block goods shipments (very easy to do on this map!) or even just plop the city down in an area that's not in your way. The urbanized cities are the only cities that will be present in the heaven portion of the game, and if the colours you're connected to on earth are not represented in heaven then the last 2 rounds of the game are going to turn very, very ugly for you.


Disco Inferno is a unique twist on the game system in the realm of delivery, and I also quite enjoyed it. The combination of delivery chains with the destruction of empty cities made for a real balancing act in spots, as players had to make tough decisions about taking short term gains or making longer term investments with the key being that a timely ship by an opponent, like in Korea, can completely destroy your would-be destination city and leave you out in the cold.

Players seemed to reach solvency with more ease in this game, but I think that's an inevitable consequence of this softer delivery system. The flip side is that cities were being destroyed left and right by the end game, and people who had not adequately planned ahead, were left with very few options because of a lack of cities in their part of the board. I think it's, on the balance, interesting, though it does jack the value of the Locomotive even above what it normally is because maximum length deliveries are almost guaranteed because of the chaining.

Production also was very powerful on this map, as it puts goods directly onto the board. No matter what you draw, this was useful because even short ships are fine here (as you can just continue the chain) and goods have a side benefit of keeping cities alive, if you would prefer to use them for destinations.

Overall this is a good expansion with two solid sides.
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14. Board Game: Age of Steam Expansion: Sun / London [Average Rating:7.74 Unranked] [Average Rating:7.74 Unranked]
Michael Webb
United States
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The Sun & London.

These are the first two expansions created by JC Lawrence, and were originally released by bezier Games at Essen 2006. Production numbers are unknown.

The Sun is a rather peculiar looking map at first glance: there are no cities or towns at all. But this simply allows for some extremely original situations, as any area with track upgraded on it can suddenly find itself with a town. The 8 cities that are usually placed with urbanization in the base game are seeded onto the map before play by the players, and during the course of play they can be moved around via a "Restationing" action. Production is instantaneous as goods are immediately replaced by the next ones in line on the chart. In a final twist, players have the option to increase train capacity so that they can deliver more goods per round but that also increases the expense cost.

London's main flavour comes from the pervasive power of the union track builders. You can put down up to 5 pieces of track per round, but the costs increase for each additional tile that you build. The engineer is present to reduce this pain, and you will want to build as much track as possible though because track is worth 50% more at the end of the game. The auto production rule is also present on this map.

I have now played London, and was impressed. Though this map failed to excite me, because the rules changes seem fairly benign, the actual effect that they have on the game are good stuff. Players are allowed to build more track than usual, but with power comes a high price and the debt to match. This map really drove us up the share track quickly, and achieving profitability took a bit longer than usual. I like maps like this, which encourage players to over-extend themselves (to their detriment) but which can also reward people who are willing to take on the debt load at the right time. This is probably my favourite "more basic" map for 4 players plus, and is only beaten by the Moon at that scale.

The Sun has also hit the table. Here track building is of paramount importance, and the ability to both create shipping opportunities and to interfere with the other players depends heavily upon one's income stream. Early game mistakes will cripple players though, as the shares are more useless than normal, so the need to get a positive income flow up is even more urgent than usual. It's very easy to eat income reduction in the early going if you're not careful, particularly when the map has a tough cube distribution which forces players together.

Like PA, incomes can quickly spiral out of control in the mid-game because of the ability to greatly out pace the rate of reduction. On the plus side, that extra money can be very useful on this map, because the track building rules allow every extra dollar to be put to good use.

The auction hijinks are bizarre here as well...there is an incentive to win an auction so that one can simply have the opportunity to pass and go last next round. In the 4 player plus scale game, the auction also has a dangerous, pathological tendency to inflate because of the Engineer role, which allows a player to place two free pieces of track. This is worth 6$, which means that players start to think that they should up their bids, but if they go too high, the benefit is lost, and one person can easily be left out in the cold.

I like it, and I find it interesting, but this expansion is something that can only be pulled out with old hands, and even they will run into some problems here. The system isn't hard to understand in a theoretical sort of way, but there are a lot of ways that people can make game ending mistakes early here, and I have to be in the right mood to pull this one out. I love the track building ideas, but find the poor shares, rather than making the early game interesting, just tend to greatly increase bankruptcy potential. Similarly, I like the deterministic goods growth scheme again, but find that the endless goods supply that is used here tandems poorly with the uber Engines and creates massive positive income spirals in the mid to late game, and can easily create runaways.

Very creative though, and certainly in its own class when it comes to its challenge factor. I think the downsides will limit the table time for this one though.
 
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15. Board Game: Age of Steam Expansion: Eastern US & Canada [Average Rating:7.14 Unranked] [Average Rating:7.14 Unranked]
Michael Webb
United States
Western Mitten
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Eastern US and Canada.

This Winsome expansion designed by John Bohrer was released at Essen 2006, the print run, as per standard for the Winsome AoS expansions, was 80. In 2009 it was reissued in full colour in a 200 piece run.

This board is actually meant to be placed next to the standard Rust Belt map, and it introduces a rather interesting overhaul of the AoS gameplay, moreso than most of the official expansions to date.

The goods growth chart is removed from the game, and players are instead given an expansive amount of board to work with, with each city having 3 goods seeded onto it.

The turn structure is still the same, though track building is very odd. Throughout the first part of the game, players are allowed to construct track equal to the round number, which makes it easier to cross the vast distances on the map, and multiple people can purchase "interurban" links between the cities on the east coast which are directly adjacent to each other.

A new special action, Marketing, is also introduced, which allows the player taking it to skip a city while shipping goods (i.e.: I'm shipping a red cube, I can pass through the first red city I come to without delivering it).

The overall verdict on this one is good ideas but not the execution I was looking for. The track building rules are interesting, and pair well with the tight Eastern portion of the board (i.e.: the new board as a whole is well-designed and makes for an interesting early game). The fact that 90% of the goods in the game are completely deterministic (but for random production draws and the Pittsburgh draw) makes this map very rewarding of long term play with zero chances for odd rolls causing problems.

The economy in this is also interesting, because you start the game with only 1 share out, and because track is restricted so much in the early going, it is relatively easy to keep at the break even point. But because the track allowance is always increasing, it seemed to take an abnormally long time to break out into the positive and to actually make cash. Again, interesting.

What I didn't care for was the amount of space. I think the new portion of the board functions very well, but that the play on the Rust Belt side of the board is a lot less interesting. There are so many goods available, and so much track allowance, that the game starts to lose tightness just when AoS is supposed to be ratcheting it up. We were very close to complete simple track exhaustion at the end of our game, and there was still a significant amount of space to build on the board, and a number of cities that weren't connected to at all. Again, this, to me, is simply a board problem, and if these rules were reimplemented with a new, tighter board to add onto the well-designed new one, then this could be a very solid map. As it stands, I think the premise is solid, but the execution is lacking.
 
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16. Board Game: Age of Steam Expansion: 20,000 Rails Under the Sea [Average Rating:6.58 Unranked] [Average Rating:6.58 Unranked]
Michael Webb
United States
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20 000 Rails Under the Sea.

This is the third expansion released by the "AoS Team," and the second by Ludovic Gimet following 2005's Moon and Reunion Island Boards. Like those, it was limited to 180 pieces and available only at Essen.

The unique factors of this map are primarily tied to the modular nature of the board, but there are a few other twists. The map starts in a pre-determined configuaration dependent on the number of players at the table, and each round another tile is added to the board for free by the 1st place bidder from the prior round, and an additional one can be placed each round if a player selects urbanization.

Other unique things going on here include the nature of the cities, which are either "sea bed" hexes, which accept no goods (but provide goods), and cities, which produce no goods but can accept all 5 goods types, but lose colour demands as they fill up. Once they have received all 5 goods types, they empty back out again. Beyond this, track building is augmented so that players can buy as much track as they like, but at increasingly higher prices. Finally, the lack of towns on the map is cured by the selection of the Production action, which now allows players to place town markers onto the board.

I played this board with some amount of trepidation, as the buzz seemed to be that there were problems present, either because of the large number of auction items (to some degree justified) or a complete lack of space to build track. After having played this map with 3 players, I can safely say that the track space issue would be horrible with any more people at the table. With 3 we used up almost all of the tiles (only 2 left over at the end of the game due to aggressive urbanization) and there were still very few available areas to build track each round, with players tending to jockey for first in the order so that they could place the complimentary tile at the start of the round to expand a section of the board that was useful to them.

This map seems to ask different questions from a normal AoS board...here, the question isn't "Where do I want to build track?" it's instead "How should I build the board to best take advantage of it?", "Do I need to take first build to protect this completely?", and "Can I afford to take production right now to increase my income or to expand my network?". I do think that with 3 there are a glut of good options at the auction, but that winning the auction is still a valuable thing and worth fighting over because of the free tile build. Player cooperation also seemed to be somewhat higher in this map than normal because cities tended to have their exits filled up rather quickly.

I quite like this map. It's tight in strange ways, but the novelty factor is high, and I liked it with 3. With any more people than that, and there would be no space at all though, be warned.
 
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17. Board Game: Age of Steam Expansion: Mars – Global Surveyor [Average Rating:7.32 Unranked] [Average Rating:7.32 Unranked]
Michael Webb
United States
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Mars: Global Surveyor

Mars is a new map by Alban Viard, and was printed on plasticized paper on the back of a reprint of his first map, the Moon.

The Mars map is intended for exactly 4 players, and has some extremely unorthodox rules changes. To begin with, the player colours are auctioned off at the start of the game instead of simply chosen, because the colour you purchase dictates first round shipping opportunities. Players each choose a starting locale, with 4 set spots at symmetric spots on the map...the odd part is that while players select their colours based on their order in a special, initial auction, they then choose their initial starting locale in reverse order, which largely makes going "first" a significant disadvantage, as they are then stuck in some corner on the map, and also have to issue shares first for the first special action auction, which means they are likely going to be in tough there as well.

The other rule of note involves the presence of the green player discs as "martians" who can be delivered for bonus victory points at the end of the game and who appear when blue cubes are delivered to Marsopolis or to the newly urbanized blue city.

The play of this map is quite solid...the board play is not as revolutionary as the Moon is, but it still ends up being a good way to spend a couple of hours. Because the restrictive track placement from the Moon is lifted, the wrap-around track feature comes into fuller blossom here. Meanwhile, the Martians, the other significant rules change, functioned sort of like coal does in Alspach's PA, lending a certain focus to gameplay because of their point bonus, but were not so overpowered that having one player dominate them meant the game was over.

I do think the initial player colour auction rules are odd, and tend to lean toward playing it with accidental variants that I played with when we first sat down to this (due to a rough translation) where the colour auction and the special action auction are combined, so each player, in order, gets to choose an action, a colour, and a starting locale. This makes the first auction very high stakes, and severely punishes the person goes 4th...hence, early game inflation, bigger debt, tougher holes to crawl out of.

For the most part though, this board tends to play more or less like standard Age of Steam with some track wrapping, which generally just means players have more options for getting into each other's faces.

I think both of the maps included in this package are solid offerings. Mars doesn't blaze new trails like the Moon does, but it does allow the track wrap to be more fully realized, and is quite a bit easier to sit down with for newer players. The map is in tough at the exactly 4 scale, which does limit how much I'll pull it out, but I like it.
 
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18. Board Game: Age of Steam Expansion: Mississippi Steamboats / Golden Spike [Average Rating:7.14 Unranked] [Average Rating:7.14 Unranked]
Michael Webb
United States
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Mississippi Steamboats & Golden Spike

The third expansion designed by Ted Alspach, and again, some unique rules twists are present here.

In Mississippi, the centre of the board is dominated by the river, and players are able to create floating cities ("steamboats") to more quickly deliver goods.

The Golden Spike is the first team-based game of Age of Steam and is explicitly designed for 4 players, each player still keeps their own score individually, but a race to the centre of the board drives the play, because players who are late to the party (the driving of the golden spike) will be eliminated from the game.

I have now played the Golden Spike, and I found it an enjoyable experience. Each "team" is effectively playing on half of the board, and need to aggressively ship goods to the cities on the central, pre-drawn line (which can also be urbanized) so that they can uncover the the line and reach Promontory for the driving of the Golden Spike.

I enjoyed the team collusion aspect, which is unfamiliar in AoS, and found that several of the timing decisions and auction choices were good here. Urbanization is in particularly hot demand, as the need to expand the colour options on the main line is extreme. The need to stay ahead of your "partner" without putting the boots to them too hard was also quite different. The biggest downside is the restrictive nature of the board and urbanization decisions, both of which will cut into the replay factor for this board.

Mississippi, well, it's clearly not for me. The board is split by the river, and the cities you urbanize float up and down the board based on dice rolls. In practice, this means that even if you bid aggressively to get the colour you need onto the river, you only can have it for one round before it floats away, and it's unknown at that point when or if it will be back. I felt this rule, while thematic and charming in a certain sense, injected an unhealthy degree of chaos into the system.
 
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19. Board Game: Age of Steam Expansion: Austria & India [Average Rating:7.37 Unranked] [Average Rating:7.37 Unranked]
Michael Webb
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This is part of a set of 4 maps that were released by the Steam Brothers in April, 2007. They were sold exclusively at Boards and Bits.

The Austrian map is a reprint that was originally printed in a limited Winsome set released at Essen 2005. That map is a very effective 2 player option, and I quite enjoy it.

India is a slight change to the base system, but does incorporate a new rule for Monsoons, which is essentially just an additional cost at the end of the round that is dictated by the dice. Probably more interestingly, there is also a special goods growth mechanic here, which makes goods appear as players connect to cities.

India, basically, is vanilla Age of Steam with an improved goods growth system. Though I don't think the growth system is ideal here, it does work, and it does remove the dice from the mix, which is always welcome. The monsoons are just slightly random extra expenses, and the board itself, well, decent in that it has a crowd of short links that are all the same colour, but not remarkable either. The terrain makes it somewhat more expensive to keep the ship afloat, and the monsoons contribute to that a bit as well though, so not bad, though very wide open. A good introductory or beginner map for those of us who want something slightly different when we're playing with newer players, but nothing here stands out in any particular way either. Loose with less than 5.

(For comments on Austria scroll up to the original release in Age of Steam Expansions - Austria, Switzerland and the Netherlands)
 
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20. Board Game: Age of Steam Expansion: Mexico, Spain/Portugal [Average Rating:7.75 Unranked] [Average Rating:7.75 Unranked]
Michael Webb
United States
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This is the second part of the second batch of Steam Brothers maps. In 2011, Mexico was reprinted as one side of the Mexico/China hardboard release by FRED.

Both of these maps are rather wide open and favour the higher scale that the Steam Brothers seem to play with regularly.

Mexico has a special action that involves player rail being nationalized. Though the player targeted does receive monetary compensation, they lose the use of the link, and subsequent use of that link requires payments to the bank.

Spain/Portugal is a team-based map, and additionally adds a new thematic rule called Insurrection, which allows players to remove New City tiles from the map (a large number of them start on the map...). The team-based play means that it has to be played in even numbered groups, with 6 apparently being preferred, though I feel that 4 fills up the board pretty well. There is an option for non-team based play as well.

I have played Spain now, and I personally am giving it the mild nod over the Golden Spike as my favourite team map, though I think both of them are only occasionally something I will be in the mood for. Spain's primary interest is driven by the lack of affordable blue delivery points, and the tension between working in the same part of the board as your team mate (hence: less cube competition) and the desire to actually collude with your networks, sharing income regularly.

The actual weirdest thing here, to me, was the complete lack of power roles beyond Locomotive. Insurrection is useful generally in the sense of making it easier to deliver things within your own network, and less often as an offensive weapon. I found it significantly less useful than Urbanization is in standard AoS. The main downside here was the play time, I think all team maps are going to have this problem, but Spain seemed a touch worse than Spike in this regard, our game lasted over 3.5 hours, which is very long for us. This will definitely limit the map's appeal. I actually might enjoy this map more without the team dynamic, which is an option in the rules.

Mexico, meanwhile, was interesting, but not as different as I was anticipating. The nationalization is an annoyance, but not a major one, and it was consistently going late in the order because we realized that it often helped the person you were using it on by giving them cash back to use, but yet it wasn't strong enough to pick to use on yourself. The map is very large, as standard for the Steam Brothers, and I would hesitate to play it with less than 5 in the future, as the 4 we had left way too much available space. A simple, interesting new role, but it didn't have the big impact I was hoping for.
 
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21. Board Game: Age of Steam Expansion: Montréal Métro [Average Rating:8.27 Unranked] [Average Rating:8.27 Unranked]
Michael Webb
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Montréal Métro is a 3 player only map that I designed. It was initially released in 2007 and as of 2011 has been printed 3 times in total with altered corner graphics in each case.

The map features a variety of rules tweaks, most of them designed with the intent of increasing player conflict, which I find can often be a problem with smaller scale AoS games.

The core mechanic featured here is the neutral Government Track, which the players will each have an opportunity to construct over the course of the game. The track is used for two things. First, you can use it to directly badger the other players (stealing exits, increasing their track costs). Second, you can use it to gain access to more resources (aka: Passengers), particularly with the aid of the split-level Locomotives.

As I said, there are a number of other facets involved here, but the core idea is conflict, and I enjoy the way this one turned out.
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22. Board Game: Age of Steam Expansion: War in Iraq & New York Subway [Average Rating:7.06 Unranked] [Average Rating:7.06 Unranked]
Michael Webb
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Essen 2007 saw the release of another pair of maps by Alban Viard, this time in a print run of 250.

Iraq is placed in the desert after the recent war. New oil fields have been discovered, and the players are trying to ship black cubes (oil) back to the US/EU via external links, with each one providing a bonus income at game's end.

NY Subway is an exceptional change to the game system. Track tiles are placed face down, and players build stations adjacent to cities and towns instead of standard track. During goods shipment, they can then trace a hypothetical path between stations in the same tunnel. The goods are player disks, stacked in skyscraper formation. You may only ship the top good on each skyscraper, and when they are delivered, they are put on the bottom of the stack at the destination hex.

Iraq offers a few minor, yet enjoyable changes to the game. First of all, goods are pretty tight here, and are even worse if you play with the "veteran marine" variant where you only get to throw x-1 dice for each side of the chart. With a 3 player game, we only had 5 goods left on the board at the end of the game. Oil adds an interesting element of player competition into the map, as you know the oil fields are worth more, and oil is all clustered in a given area, so it is easy to try to exploit, but the strategy of going strong in the Baghdad area and taking advantage of its tri-colour nature is also there. The only real weakness with this map, to me, was the number of goods roles in the auction. There were still some high bids because of the uncertainty factor, but it occasionally led to some issues. Overall a solid lower scale map though.

NY Subway is a lot of major changes to the game, and I like the attempt, though I dislike some of the ways that it affects the game. On the good side, the decisions of where to place stations are tough, particularly in the mid-game because they are in short supply. Having to think in new ways about how to trace routes and build is always good. On the downside, I think that it is too easy to make maximum length deliveries throughout the game (just keep all of your stations in one long tunnel...) and the goods supply never really runs out, it just moves around the board. I think this map would probably be best with the 5-6 scale instead of the 4 I played it with though, because there you at least have some more uncertainty about what is going to be available to deliver on your turn. An interesting map though, and certainly worth some more plays.
 
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23. Board Game: Age of Steam Expansion: America / Europe [Average Rating:7.53 Unranked] [Average Rating:7.53 Unranked]
Michael Webb
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Essen 2007 saw the release of a new set of 6 maps by Ted Alspach. The first pair is hardboard mounted and features America and Europe.

The European map's critical rules change involves the existence of high speed track, which costs double, but also provides 2 income each time a good is shipped over it. Production is also altered.

America, meanwhile, is a clear nod to the Early Railways past of the Age of Steam system, as many rules from the AoS progenitor are present including set engine levels (6 in this case), which do not have an impact on expenses, and the ability to only ship 1 good each round. There is also a special action present to replace Locomotive which allows the player taking it to ship 2 goods in a single round.

After having played Europe, I can endorse it as a good higher scale map. The production rule, while less sexy than the double link ability, is actually the star here, as it allows the player selecting it to load up a given city or two with cubes in the early game. Then, combining that ability with a double income link can create huge positive income in very short order. That is why the map is better at the higher scale, so there is more competition for all of those cubes and so the board play stays tight. The map itself is well-crafted, and the return of the old ferries from expansion #1 are welcome. An easy enough map for newbies to understand (though the terrain is expensive), and interesting enough for old Age of Steam heads.

America, well, I think it's an interesting idea but that it has some issues. The greatly reduced number of ships combines poorly with an auction role that grants extras. In the normal game Locomotive does the exact same thing (you don't have to skip to bump once, so you're gaining a shipment) but in the normal game there are twice as many shipping opportunities per game. Loco is not all that useful for the first couple of rounds because everyone is busy scrambling to get their networks built to take advantage of the 6 engines, but by the early mid-game Loco is a beast and the advantage it can give can be substantial enough to allow well set-up people to run away with the game in dramatic fashion. The map is novel as a one-off, but I think it's weak in terms of replay and actual balance.
 
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24. Board Game: Age of Steam Expansion: Barbados / St. Lucia [Average Rating:7.34 Unranked] [Average Rating:7.34 Unranked]
Michael Webb
United States
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Barbados and St. Lucia were the second pair of maps released by Ted Alspach at Essen 2007. These were printed on heavy card stock. These maps are also included as a bonus in the 2009 FRED printing of Age of Steam.

Barbados is a one player map notable for the surfeit of yellow cities on the map at the start of the game, in fact, that is the only colour available without the use of Urbanization. It also uses a unique solo player innovation for the "auction" phase, as there are 4 actions, and each time one is used a track marker is placed on that box. The markers are only cleared once all 4 actions have been chosen.

St. Lucia is a 2 player board which starts with no cities, but a tonne of goods. Each time a piece of track is built onto a hex with a good, that good may then be delivered. There is also a modified "auction" which allows players to pay for the privilege of going first.

I've played Barbados now, and I give it a tentative decent but not remarkable rating. Solo Age of Steam is in tough, and I don't know if it's actually possible to design a map that offers enough variation and tough decisions to make me happy, but Barbados seems good for a few plays. The action selection scheme does create some decision points, but in terms of track building the size and layout of the map seems to greatly restrict viable patterns, all of them centred on the south. The growth scheme, as a random element, also means that there is no way to actually measure your progress accurately, because potential high scores are going to be heavily impacted by rolls, the order the goods come out, and this is in addition to the normal seeding.

All of this said, it's not a bad way to kill 20 minutes, and if you really need an AoS fix, it's always available.

Saint Lucia, meanwhile, is fantastic and pushes this expansion to a must purchase for people who like to play Age of Steam with only two players. The unique delivery phase and track building choices here make this map stand out not only as a 2 player map, but as an AoS map in general. Though the map starts out a bit soft because of the cube availability, the colour restrictions of the cities help to make up for it. By the end game, careful planning is necessary to keep the big deliveries flowing in. A very solid map.
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25. Board Game: Age of Steam Expansion: Jamaica / Puerto Rico [Average Rating:6.99 Unranked] [Average Rating:6.99 Unranked]
Michael Webb
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The final pair of maps by Ted Alspach released at Essen 2007 is this pair, Jamaica and Puerto Rico, which were printed on heavy card stock.

Puerto Rico is a solitaire map, putting players in the role of smugglers. Red cubes are delivered openly, and provide income. Black cubes, though providing no income, must be delivered because any remaining on the map at the end of the game penalize you 10 income.

Jamaica is a two player map, and uses the same modified auction scheme used in St. Lucia. In addition, goods paucity is a guarantee here, as the game doesn't end until the map runs out of cubes to deliver.

Puerto Rico, as solo maps go, is the better of the two officially released ones. If you crank the difficulty up to maximum, half of your potential 20 deliveries are chewed up just getting rid of the black cubes, which makes the map challenging. That said, the challenge is largely based on where the red, for profit cubes show up, and your maximum score, like in Barbados, is more a function of that cube distribution than solid play beyond a learning game or so. Adequate, but I don't think I'll get much play on it.

Jamaica, meanwhile, is a tight to the point of no options map which I do not plan to play again. There are only 4 town spots, 4 urbanizable tiles, and the potential track building patterns are restrictive. If the players are hyper competitive and bury cities on the corners and prevent loops, then the game devolves after a few rounds of track building. This means the map is short, but I still find it weak and not worth pulling out.
 
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