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Steel Driver» Forums » Variants

Subject: an endgame variant rss

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Bob Shurig
United States
Illinois
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My son, grandson, and I played Steel Driver, and liked the game. Then we played it a second and a third time. We kept the scores and in all three games the endgame outscored the initial five rounds 65% to 35%. This was somewhat bothersome in that we spent virtually the entire game in assessing approximately only 1/3 of the final score. Whereas Steel Driver is a good, solid, and fun game to play; a number of people have expressed displeasure over the endgame. I realize that a three-player game adds somewhat to a higher end game percentage and that most games are probably four player games. With this in mind, and retaining the same basic structure, I attempted to adjust this structure in order to arrive at a more reasonable endgame total – one that closely resembled a fifty-fifty split. In this way one could validate the first five rounds as being significant in the total scoring, and one that would somewhat diminish the seemingly randomness of the endgame while still retaining the overall endgame mechanics.

Instead of the controlling player selecting cubes from the board during the endgame, one would use a railroad company checklist in determining how many of the different colored cities to count. This checklist could be for a single company and passed to that turn’s controlling player, or this checklist could contain all six companies which each player would receive. There are thirty-eight cities in Steel Driver – 3 red, 5 gold, 6 silver, 12 black, and 12 white cities. With this in mind I designed the checklist for each company consisting of 1 red, 2 gold, 2 silver, 3 black, and 3 white cities.

My goal was to reduce the overpowering numerical advantage of the endgame, while at the same time retaining its basic mechanics and strategic capacity. I playtested three four-player games and acquired average five round scores of 500, 500, and 493; and endgame averages of 550, 500, and 530. This gave me an overall five round figure of 49% of the total score, and an endgame figure resulting in 51% of the total score; and that is the game balance I was looking for.

Keep in mind that each railroad company should strive to attain 1 red, 2 gold, 2 silver, 3 black, and 3 white cities; and instead of the controlling player selecting cities during the endgame, simply follow the lines of each specific railroad to see how many of each colored cities they arrived at. I then subtracted $40 for each goal they did not meet (failure), and subtracted that amount from $440 ($40 x 11 objective cities), thereby attaining an endgame value for each specific railroad. Then I divided this value (amount) by 5 (number of shares for each rail company) and applied it to the shareholders. I should also mention that you should use a $30 amount as opposed to $40 in a 3-player game in order to balance out the scoring.

The endgame scoring chart is as follows. Just cross out the specified color when that city is reached.

Company Red Yellow Green Blue Purple Black

Red R R R R R R
Gold G G G G G G G G G G G G
Silver S S S S S S S S S S S S
Black B B B B B B B B B B B B B B B B B B
White W W W W W W W W W W W W W W W W W W

Editor's Note: This chart should be spaced out evenly, as it is in my Excel spreadsheet. Just visually space it out to the right, and this endgame chart will be good to use.

As mentioned, then I simply applied the Value dollar amounts for each company to the individual players holding shares in that company. For example, the Blue company shares totaled $360 ($440 minus $80 for the 2 failures). $360/5 shares = $72 per share and Player B received $144 for 2 shares, Player C $72 for 1 share, and Player D $144 for 2 shares. After applying the amounts for each railroad company to the players owning shares, simply add these amounts to the player dollar amounts accrued through the first five rounds.

I hope this helps. Go through it once and you’ll find it to be easier, faster, and more balanced than the original.

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Jacob Lee
Canada
Victoria
British Columbia
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Nice. I love reading people's variants and I'm going to try yours out tonight.

I will say, however, that I noticed the end game scoring being big, but didn't realize it was THAT big. If your calculation is generally true (65-35) then I would have a problem with that as well.
 
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Bob Shurig
United States
Illinois
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Jacob - I hope you find this variant worthwhile. Please let me know your thoughts on it - Bob
 
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Tony Hamen
United States
Austin
Texas
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I don't understand why so many people have problems with the endgame. This is a stock speculation game. I don't understand the whole, "Why play for 1 hour when all of the points come at the end that matter?" The game is about making the best networks for the train(s) you own stock in giving yourself that cash flow at the end. If you decide to trash your train stocks and just go for high numbers, then you deserve to lose the game. With a few small exceptions, the games I have played we were pretty positive how the end game would play out 2/3 through the game, so it typically becomes a very tense blocking/outmaneuvering type game, with extremely tense auctions because you know about what stock will be worth at the end of the game. With experienced players, the cash flow you earn during the game is merely the tiebreaker between the players who own stock in the best networks. I've seen some really clever plays, especially regarding the transcontinental railroad, that has put a player over the top at the end due to similar networks and/or stock ownerships being created during the game.

You may know all of this and still feel meh about the end game scoring. If this is the case I feel that you just don't like the game the way it was meant to be played, and want it to feel more "individualist" due to the income gained while you are laying track being more important. There is no problem with this, is just changes the game's feel. Personally I like the focus to be on the endgame score, because I feel it makes it unique. Just my two cents. If you are having fun then any variant is worthwhile!

(That said I give you props for submitting a well thought out variant that tries to preserve the strategy of making well designed routes.)

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Bob Shurig
United States
Illinois
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Thank you Tony, and thank you for your thoughtful comments as well.
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Jacob Lee
Canada
Victoria
British Columbia
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The test will have to wait. Steel Driver was supposed to be our second game of the night after Black Friday . . . Black Friday didn't go so well. We all liked it, but the game was taking too long. We found out afterwards it was due to several rules errors (all my fault). That is not an easy game to learn.

I may tweak your Steel Driver variant before testing it, but I'll let you know how it goes.
 
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