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Russian Railroads» Forums » Variants

Subject: Discarding-excess-components variant with fewer players rss

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Jorge
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Ahoy there,

Russian Railroads is a game I really enjoy with any player count, from 4 players down to solo gaming, using the Russian Railroads: German Railroads expansion. Nevertheless, I have been always finding irritative that with fewer player counts there is just "too much of everything" and the racing element is lost; yeah, it doesn't really matter if Alice gets the black worker, I can take the #1 engineer or the #9 locomotive instead, so no need to rush.

I have been lately experimenting with a "Discarding-excess-components" variant when playing with 1/2/3 players to simulate the presence of other players. Basically, I am removing extra tiles/tokens/cards, just as if they had been taken by other players. It's been going quite well, as it makes solo and 2-player games much tougher and tighter, with fewer options being available. It does make it a nuisance when your favorite bonuses are not in the game, but then again, you have to adapt.

I'll be listing every modification that I've been playing with and some other ideas that I am going to try. Some points will apply for the expansion or solo play. Any feedback will be appreciated.

"x2" tokens
Official rules: use all 20 tokens on any player count
Variant: use 5 tokens per player, i.e., 10/15/20 tokens with 2/3/4 players.
Solo game: use only 8 tokens. When Emil takes the "x2" token spot or an Engineer awarding a "x2" token, remove one token from the game.

Note: I am proposing the use of at least 8 tokens in a solo game, as one has to be able to theoretically max-out his "x2" tokens. Nevertheless, I am not proposing 10 tokens, as Emil cannot take extra tokens from the #4 factory or from a mb bonus token.

mb bonus cards
Official rules: use all cards on any player count
Variant: randomly discard 3/2/1 cards when playing with 1/2/3 players.

Note that you might want to adjust this variant if not using all 7 mb bonus cards, including the 2 from the expansion, as it will lead to very tight games. This basically means that if using only the 5 mb cards from the base game, you are going to use only 3 in a 2-player game.

End-game scoring cards
Official rules: randomly discard 2 cards on any player count during setup.
Variant: randomly discard 5/4/3/2 cards when playing with 1/2/3/4 players.

Track extensions (expansion)
Official rules: use all 18 pieces on any player count.
Variant: discard 3/2/1 extensions per size during setup when playing with 1/2/3 players.

Foundries (expansion)
Official rules: use all 12 foundries on any player count.
Variant: use 3/6/9/12 foundries with 1/2/3/4 players. Leave the rest in the box.

Note: I have not yet experimented with discarding foundries. The foundry stack is moving quite slow, so I never had any real reason to discard foundries. Furthermore, 3 foundries for a solo game seem quite few, but I have to try it out first and see how it goes. I am also considering using 4 or 6 foundries in solo games.

Solo game variant: Emil takes foundries too
If playing with this variant, use 6 foundries in solo games, instead.

If Emil takes the coal/foundry action as his first or second action in a round, Emil spends a coin instead of a worker. Discard a foundry*. If that foundry was awarding a "x2" token and/or a locomotive/factory, remove the corresponding tokens from the game, as if Emil had acquired them by blocking the corresponding action on the game board.

*discarded foundry: you may decide to either:
i) Randomly discard a foundry; or
ii) Always discard the newest-drawn foundry. To keep track of it, when taking/discarding a foundry, draw a new one and place it to the left of the remaining foundry in the "foundry offer" (slide a bit if necessary).

Note: I have not tested this variant yet. The concept behind "Emil takes a foundry during his 2 first actions" is that I value good foundries as much as engineers. A human player would probably jump the gun early if a good foundry is up, but go for the coal token later in the round, instead. The "during the first 2 actions" is an arbitrary number; it could be "first action" or "first three actions" or based on how many workers are left. I would appreciate very much any feedback on this.

mb bonus tokens from Russian Railroads: Mini-Expansion
This is already covered by the official rules, I am expanding them to cover solo games. Use 2/3/4/5 tokens when playing with 1/2/3/4 players.

Coin and Coal tokens
Unlimited, as stated by the official F.A.Q.
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Jorge
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First feedback: I tried yesterday for the first time a solo game with the foundries variant: I was using only 6 foundries (rest in the box) and when Emil reveals the foundries during his first two actions he places a coin instead and takes the leftmost foundry including any rewards (locomotive, "x2" token). I found this variant to actually make the game better; not only does Emil block you a bit more, as he's using a coin there, but he also drives the locomotives faster, as well. This had always been an issue that would irritate me in solo play: I find Emil not to drive the locomotives as fast as a human player. Nevertheless, by having Emil also take foundries, he also takes a loco when his foundry gives one.

Furthermore, I tried using limited "x2" tokens: only 8 of them and Emil would discard one when taking an appropriate action or foundry. In my game all tokens were eventually depleted. Emil took 4 times the "x2" action and he also took one from a foundry, while I took the last 3 ones from a "?" bonus.
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Dave
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I have had the same thoughts. Below is what we landed on, and so far they have worked nicely for us.

We agree with what you propose for end-game bonuses and track extensions. But our reductions in doublers and foundries with decreased player counts are slightly less. The thought is this: When you have fewer players, the likelihood of ALL of your opponents going after the same pieces is increased. (Our number of foundries for one-player games is still being evaluated.)

We also reduce the income tokens with fewer players. It helps keep choices with income a little more strategic.

We haven't reduced the "?" bonus cards, but that's an interesting idea. And I like your solo variant with foundries. I've toyed with that idea, but we haven't tried it yet.

Here are what we use:

Doublers:
* 4 players: all 20 (official rule; 5 per player equivalent)
* 3 players: 16 (remove 4; 5 per player, plus one)
* 2 players: 12 (remove 8; 6 per player)
* 1 player: 10 (remove 10; Emil can take doublers, but with less opportunity)

End-game bonuses:
* 4 players: 8 (official rule – randomly remove 2; 2 per player equivalent)
* 3 players: 7 (randomly remove 3; 2 per player, plus one)
* 2 players: 6 (randomly remove 4; 3 per player)
* 1 player: 5 (randomly remove 5; 5 per player)

Railway etensions:
* 4 players: all 6 of each size (official rule)
* 3 players: 5 of each size (randomly remove 1 of each size)
* 2 players: 4 of each size (randomly remove 2 of each size)
* 1 player: 3 of each size (randomly remove 3 of each size)

Income tokens:
* 4 players: all 8 (official rule)
* 3 players: 7 (randomly remove one)
* 2 players: 6 (remove 1 each of 2 randomly chosen types)
* 1 player: 5 (remove 1 each of 3 randomly chosen types)

Foundries:
* 4 players: all 12 (official rule; 3 per player equivalent)
* 3 players: 10 (randomly remove 2; 3 per player, plus one)
* 2 players: 8 (randomly remove 4; 4 per player)
* 1 player: 5 (randomly remove 7; 5 per player)
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Jorge
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dlewis2 wrote:
We also reduce the income tokens with fewer players. It helps keep choices with income a little more strategic.
[...]
Income tokens:
* 4 players: all 8 (official rule)
* 3 players: 7 (randomly remove one)
* 2 players: 6 (remove 1 each of 2 randomly chosen types)
* 1 player: 5 (remove 1 each of 3 randomly chosen types)

I keep all income tokens as they are not usually heavily contested. When playing solo, e.g., I seldom take more than 1 and usually I pass up on extensions with income tokens. I like your idea of determining how many should be removed.

Furthermore, I found out that it's not really necessary to limit the number of foundries. Regardless the player count, foundries and boilermen may only be taken from the same two spaces. While the ways to take income tokens, "x2" tokens, etc, scale with the number of players, these don't. So, it's unnecessary to limit the foundries as there is no way to deplete more than 10 (12 in 4-player games), assuming that a foundry and a boilerman are taken every round.
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