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Subject: Can a "train strategy" work? rss

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Robert
Germany
Bocholt
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So far, I've only seen somebody's train move beyond the bend once, and it didn't work well for her. Has anybody seen a successful (as in "won the game") train strategy in a game? By train strategy I refer to a play style where a significant number of points come from the train moving far beyond San Francisco, potentially bouncing several times from the end of the track. This would likely require a) hiring plenty of engineers and b) constructing a building or two which support train movement.
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Roger Fawcett
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In the first game I played one player moved their train whenever they could and got it right to the end. In my opinion they then failed to capitalise by dropping counters at the stations that got lots of points. They didn't win. I think it would be difficult to achieve a win with just this strategy.
 
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Jonathan Er
Singapore
Singapore
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i did the train strategy in my first game and won
only claimed one station tile along the way (for the end game points), rushed through the others (the early stations with station tiles) and planted tokens on all train spots after the bend (including the last one)

Winning score was 98
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Sebastien Maire
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St Jean de Moirans
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Sure it works!
I did my best score this way: 137! Going to all train station after the bend + 1 station tile at the beginning.

This was not the only source of points for sure, but clearly the main one.

For the record, I did high scores with other strategies as well, so this is not OP over the other way of scoring.
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David Larkin
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I won with a train strategy last night, the other two went mainly for cattle buying so I didn't have any opposition. I managed to get all of the station tiles but didn't make it around the bend and had no employs at the end of the game as all of the ones I had bought had become station masters.
It was my third game and their first though
 
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Mathue Faulk
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Cedar Park
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Scored 110 with a train strategy last game, dropped five stations, made it all the way to the second to last station. The point ratios are better the farther you get so it probably doesn't work as well unless you get well beyond the corner. I prioritized certificates and draw/discard since I only purchased 4 cattle cards. Most notably, I got teepees, and by the end, I had the building that gave certificates for pairs...plus I had the corresponding station master token. All of that allowed me to still make good deliveries, so I got San Francisco twice.

My first game, I tried deck thinning, and that failed miserably.
 
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Aventura
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I won with a "pure" Engineer strategy, i.e. I didn't hire any workers other than Engineers. I got to five Engineers on my second go-around: hired one Engineer, then next time around hired two Engineers, covering the space that allowed me to immediately hire another Engineer at a discount.

I ignored early stations- first station I pulled into was the 8VP one; then I pulled into the 9VP and immediately backed up into the second-to-last station master space, which was about to be taken by someone else on their turn! haha. I also got the last station master, a two more stations, and picked up several bonus cards that require stations.

My final score was 114.

 
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David Larkin
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mfaulk80 wrote:
Most notably, I got teepees, and by the end, I had the building that gave certificates for pairs...plus I had the corresponding station master token.


In my game the start tiles were nearly all teepees which gave a good cash boost

mfaulk80 wrote:

My first game, I tried deck thinning, and that failed miserably.

I tried deck thinning as well but I don't think you go through your deck often enough for it to be really effective. When I tried it I kept having hands without cards I wanted to trash when I had the opportunity to trash!
 
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Robert
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Good stories - keep them coming! I'm reluctant to consider victories in 1st/2nd/3rd games as proof for the validity of a strategy, but it sounds as if -given the right circumstances- a train strategy might work out.

For the record, taking all/most stations before the bend but never making it beyond SF is not what I meant by "train strategy". It's nice though if your opponents allow it since the station markers are a great source of points, and the extra prestige can be really helpful.
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Gary Chumbley
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Indianapolis
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Played 3 players last night. Enjoyed the game but starting to wonder if the train strategy is too powerful when played correctly.

Winning player went the train route, got 4 station master tiles in hand by replacing it with a worker, bought 4-5 cows, and culled his decked to about 9-11 cards. Just did that over and over. He may have built 2 buildings total. He gathered a couple of hazards and tepee, by buying them up
With the large amount of money he was gathering in KC, to fill 3-4 objectives.
The other player and I concentrated on buildings, getting more
Workers, buying cows, and hazards -- only culling our deck once each

Final scores: 111, 64, 33

After discussion, Riding that train out to collect master tiles, collecting cows and culling the deck is very powerful. Will gather you a lot of money and end the game quicker than most games.

Understandably, board setup and randomness of your cow draw, right before KC, will change this strategy to some extent but overall, having trouble trying to figure out another strategy that's just as good or strong.

Kinda of takes away the theme a bit for me and turns it into a train game again and less a cattle driving theme.

I think it would be interesting to have the ability to collect master tiles not available til further down the train line, like Albuquerque or El Paso

Thoughts?



 
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Mathue Faulk
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GChums wrote:
Played 3 players last night. Enjoyed the game but starting to wonder if the train strategy is too powerful when played correctly.

Winning player went the train route, got 4 station master tiles in hand by replacing it with a worker, bought 4-5 cows, and culled his decked to about 9-11 cards. Just did that over and over. He may have built 2 buildings total. He gathered a couple of hazards and tepee, by buying them up
With the large amount of money he was gathering in KC, to fill 3-4 objectives.
The other player and I concentrated on buildings, getting more
Workers, buying cows, and hazards -- only culling our deck once each

Final scores: 111, 64, 33

After discussion, Riding that train out to collect master tiles, collecting cows and culling the deck is very powerful. Will gather you a lot of money and end the game quicker than most games.

Understandably, board setup and randomness of your cow draw, right before KC, will change this strategy to some extent but overall, having trouble trying to figure out another strategy that's just as good or strong.

Kinda of takes away the theme a bit for me and turns it into a train game again and less a cattle driving theme.

I think it would be interesting to have the ability to collect master tiles not available til further down the train line, like Albuquerque or El Paso

Thoughts?

Honestly, it sounds like you just got outplayed. To me, that isn't a train strategy. That's just a well rounded game. Most players should be competing for the Station Masters, and moving them further down the line would only give an actual train strategy a big advantage. As it is, you don't have to go heavy into Engineers to get Station Masters. My wife usually plays a Cowboy strategy, and she still ends up almost up to the bend every game. Moving the train is a large part of the game, and if you're completely ignoring that aspect then you better have a good reason. If you don't move up the track, then you don't end up getting as much money for deliveries, and it's much more of a struggle to get money for cattle, etc. With most strategies, I think you at least need to push partially up the track.

33 is a really low score. I'm curious what that player was doing...

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James Faulkner
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Banstead
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I scored nearly 100 in my last game and didn't get my engine to the first Red Cross until late in the game. I think it's a bit early to say the engineers/train strategy is dominant. Even if it is then it will just increase the competition for engineers which will bring other approaches into play.
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Darrell Goodridge
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Windsor Locks
Connecticut
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If the "train strategy" is pushing the train hard, with no regard to buying cows, then how do you avoid taking huge negative points for delivery? One would think you'd have to deliver to Kansas City repeatedly since your herd value is static. I would assume one trick would be to finish the cycle less often, but that can't be the only thing...
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David Larkin
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I think placing station masters is really powerful as it not only gets you the bonus tile but you also get to place an additional disk. Letting one player dominate them is a bad idea
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David Larkin
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Cardboardjunkie wrote:
If the "train strategy" is pushing the train hard, with no regard to buying cows, then how do you avoid taking huge negative points for delivery? One would think you'd have to deliver to Kansas City repeatedly since your herd value is static. I would assume one trick would be to finish the cycle less often, but that can't be the only thing...


Well getting the right station tiles can give you three permanent certificates, and if you unlock the double action to increase your certification you should be able to add 7 to every delivery, 9 if you fully unlock the certification track
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Robert
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Bold statement: if (in a 4p game) one player gets 4+ station tiles, that player will win. Station tiles are just great and almost always worth the worker and the money.

But let me repeat that's not what I call a "train strategy", since some train progress is usually a) almost unavoidable and b) desirable. A train strategy would in a major way depend on the points from stations behind the bend.
 
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David Larkin
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DocCool wrote:
Bold statement: if (in a 4p game) one player gets 4+ station tiles, that player will win. Station tiles are just great and almost always worth the worker and the money.

But let me repeat that's not what I call a "train strategy", since some train progress is usually a) almost unavoidable and b) desirable. A train strategy would in a major way depend on the points from stations behind the bend.

So a train strategy involves getting the stations past the bend but not the ones before the bend?
 
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James Faulkner
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DocCool wrote:
Bold statement: if (in a 4p game) one player gets 4+ station tiles, that player will win. Station tiles are just great and almost always worth the worker and the money.

I've had a game where one player got all 5 station tiles - they came 2nd!
Admittedly this was a 3 player game so maybe your bold statement still holds
 
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Robert
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Zark wrote:
So a train strategy involves getting the stations past the bend but not the ones before the bend?
The decisive criteria is "make it past the bend and collect some points there". It seems obvious that you want to pick up some station tiles on the way, but I guess it would also include skipping a few if taking them would slow you down too much.

goldencamelyellowtrainyellowtrainyellowtrain
 
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Mathue Faulk
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I'll also note that when I did my successful train strategy, I didn't move up that much faster than other players in the early game. I didn't really start to move up until I had like two Engineers. I had just rounded the bend (past the first station) before starting my last trek across the board, and then I moved 15 spaces on that trek and placed 3 stations.

I hope to try a Cowboy strategy next, but I'll come back to a train/Engineer strategy in the future.
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Galgor I.
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I won with a train strategy yesterday, my third game. I was just wondering - are you allowed to score the the last station multiple times (I didn't).
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Mathue Faulk
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Galgor wrote:
I won with a train strategy yesterday, my third game. I was just wondering - are you allowed to score the the last station multiple times (I didn't).

No, I don't think so. That's really the main reason they have the rule where you can go back to anywhere you want. If you could just sit there and score, then there wouldn't be any reason to travel back (depending on the Station Masters, I guess).
 
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Robert
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Galgor wrote:
I was just wondering - are you allowed to score the the last station multiple times (I didn't).
I'm pretty sure you can not. The rules say this:
Rules, page 12 wrote:
Attention: You can only upgrade a train station if you have not
upgraded that train station before (which you'll recognize because
you'll already have one of your discs on it).
and the special section about space 39 on the track does not overrule this part.

Between the last three stations of the track, you can gain 24 points for 14 dollars (and you get 3 dollars back). If you fill all five stations behind the bend, it'll earn you 35 points for 27 dollars. And of course you get rid of all your black discs easily. Even with a lot of Engineers, you'll probably need eight visits to a building which allows track movement to make it all the way to the end of the track, as you have to end your movement in the stations.

35 points is about the same what a cowboy strategy will give you from cattle, e.g. 12 points from two 5-cattle, 14 points from three 4-cattle and 9 points from five 3-cattle. The example set of cows will take at least seven purchases and cost you 12+14+13 = 39 dollars (assuming all are bought at the cheapest rate). This price however cannot really be compared to the train strategy, since such a great herd also means that you'll make a bunch of high-value sales in KC, allowing deliveries all the way to San Francisco, earning more points (and dollars for the next cattle).
 
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Asger Kreiner-Møller
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København Ø
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The last time I played the game I went for the train strategy and won with 142 points and a massive lead over second place. During the game I only bought two cows and did not cull my deck. I got some permanent certificates so I scored quite well on deliveries as well (one of the neutral building also lets you move the train and get a certificate, used that on every pass through). I got all the way to end went back a bit and then forward for another station that I passed at first. Towards the end of the game I placed a disk in San Fransisco by using the building that lats you move back for a delivery. I had all of my disks on the board before doing the last delivery and ending the game.

In short it worked very well for me.
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David Larkin
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Nanokae wrote:
One of the neutral building also lets you move the train and get a certificate, used that on every pass through


If I remember correctly the neutral building gives you the choice of moving your train OR advancing your certification
 
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