UA Darthmaul
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I just recently bought both AOS and Steam, and the one thing that I am not so crazy about in AOS(aside from production dice rolling) that I'm not crazy about is that you can only issuing shares at the beginning of the turn. I understand this will lead to people having their plans fail, etc.. but I imagine it also slowly the game down while everyone does calculations... has anyone tried just changing it so that shares can be taken out at any point? What were the results like?
 
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Sort of like Steam, I gather. If you prefer that method of shares, then you should just keep playing Steam.

I get that people won't like that part of the game, but that's really part of what makes the game so good for us fans of Age of Steam. We like it because it's tense, angst-ridden, and unforgiving, not despite it all.
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Malachi Brown
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Once or twice, with new players, I have played the variant where someone can take a $3 loan out at any time. This effectively means that you give people a chance to avoid bankruptcy due to a poor decision or two in the early game but they generally are stuck in the back of the pack for the rest of the game because it's hard to recover from the extra expense/lost opportunity.

In general, I would not be a fan because, for me, the combination of issuing shares (in turn order) and the dollar auction to follow requires players to commit to a course of action for the turn. If the last person to issue shares issues more than everyone else then they have the keys to the kingdom, but they will probably have to pay for it (both in early expenses and increased bidding).

If you let people issue shares as-needed then there is no real cost to planning to win the auction only to slink home in third place since you don't have the expense burden you would have had if you had to actually support your bid beforehand.

I think it would just alter the flavor of the game too much for my taste...
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UA Darthmaul
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Verkisto wrote:
Sort of like Steam, I gather. If you prefer that method of shares, then you should just keep playing Steam.

I get that people won't like that part of the game, but that's really part of what makes the game so good for us fans of Age of Steam. We like it because it's tense, angst-ridden, and unforgiving, not despite it all.


Fair enough. Perhaps I will try it with the rules in place then.
 
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For new players, we usually let them take shares whenever they want during the first 2-3 rounds. We've found that's about enough time for them to get a hang of managing their finances.
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What are your thoughts about using Steam's production action instead of doing dice? JC's solution seems decent enough, and I will play it that way if I come up with no other solution, but it seems like it would slow down the goods a bit.

Or maybe make it so that the 3 cubes lined up in the columns can be transferred to the city through the production action? How would that work out?
 
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Verkisto wrote:
Sort of like Steam, I gather. If you prefer that method of shares, then you should just keep playing Steam.


The Steam "Basic" game only - the "Standard" game has you issue shares in advance just like AoS.

And yeah, if players agree, I don't think it will break anything to allow people to issue more shares (in fact it could make the auctions a real bloodletting if you have players who get overly invested in winning it).
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Russell InNC
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Since I'm usually playing with newer players (we don't play AoS very much at all), my rule is that you can sell shares out of the stock market phase, but that you only get $4 instead of $5. (I call it a "private placement sale" versus an "open market sale".)
 
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shadow9d9 wrote:
What are your thoughts about using Steam's production action instead of doing dice?


I think it would completely screw up the game by removing any vestige of long-term planning.

B>
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J C Lawrence
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shadow9d9 wrote:
What are your thoughts about using Steam's production action instead of doing dice?


That it is a poor idea which makes the game too tactical to be interesting.

Quote:
JC's solution seems decent enough, and I will play it that way if I come up with no other solution, but it seems like it would slow down the goods a bit.


Please note that I do not have a problem with the default Age of Steam production rules. I think they work rather well in fact and are a workmanlike solution to a tricky game-design problem. Please see my Cube production probabilities article to see what the real numbers are. They are frequently not what people seem to think they are.

What my insta-production rules really do, other than making production predictable and thus rewarding certain forms of deep look-ahead that I find interesting, is to smooth the rate of new cube generation. The primary effect is that the insta-production rules reduce variance, especially early game variance (which is when it matters most). The rate of cube production is slowed for the very early game, which reduces the viability (and drama) of early high risk approaches which rely on specific cubes coming out sufficiently early, and the corresponding cube production rate is increased in the mid and late game. Over the entire course of the game, the game is slightly richer, usually by ~2 cubes IIRC, but most of that happens late when it is marginally relevant.

The general function of all of this is to produce a slightly less variable/dramatic game, while increasing the viability of long-range planning, and most specifically planning that covers the entire length of the game. As that latter is my normal approach to Age of Steam, to plan out my start location and early and mid-game and late-game track and deliveries, all my key actions and bid ranges etc before the start of the first auction of the game, this might not be surprising.

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Or maybe make it so that the 3 cubes lined up in the columns can be transferred to the city through the production action? How would that work out?


Unpleasantly richly.

I played in a different manner with the Production rules for AoS:Wales. There some cells of the production chart are empty and other cells have two cubes. This increases the lumpiness of the production, especially the early productions, while keeping many of the other properties I find interesting. While it is damn near pure chrome, the effect was to increase the fragility of early cube and route planning, which was the goal.
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I appreciate all the responses.

I am curious though, Clearclaw, if you could elaborate on what you mean by my suggestion being too rich. In Steam, which I know you aren't too fond of, you bring out a batch of 3 cubes of your choice from the side bar into a town. You could only do this once a game. If you stock the columns in Age of Steam, you will know what is going to come out for each city if you simply bring out all 3 when you use a production action... like steam, it would only be allowed one time a game. Do you consider it too rich specifically because all 3 are coming out at the same time?

 
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The French map expansion has the rule that you can issue shares for $4 at any time. That makes it slightly friendlier for beginners. It's available in Age of Steam Expansion #4: France and Italy or Age of Steam Expansion: Germany & France.
 
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Also, keep in mind.. regarding the cube probabilities.. I plan to play mostly with 2-3 players, with an occasional 4th. The numbers are definitely lower for 3 players.

Also, it is more than just the percent that they will come out. I would imagine the timing is also important. Having control over it is nice, as it is with the instant production rules.
 
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shadow9d9 wrote:
I am curious though, Clearclaw, if you could elaborate on what you mean by my suggestion being too rich.


Too many cubes too predictably too quickly in the same place. Much of the auction in Age of Steam works because some of the actions are simply much better than others, and the cube supply always borders on starvation.

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In Steam, which I know you aren't too fond of...


I find it a fairly dreadful game. More directly, I find it a bad game -- however this has been covered at length elsewhere.

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...you bring out a batch of 3 cubes of your choice from the side bar into a town.


Yes, a design decision which destroys one of the interesting aspects of the original game.

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Do you consider it too rich specifically because all 3 are coming out at the same time?


All three at the same time and all three in the same place. That's too much of a windfall.

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Also, it is more than just the percent that they will come out.


The article I cited covers that in depth.

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I would imagine the timing is also important.


The article I cited also covers that in depth.

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Having control over it is nice, as it is with the instant production rules.


My insta-production rules are but one attempt on increasing control without sacrificing other core elements of the game. Others are possible. You might like to do the backing numerical analysis on route building and auction control and manipulation. The numbers are fairly well exposed by the game system, and are quite tractable. Karl's spreadsheet and the small python script in the cited article are good starting points.
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shadow9d9 wrote:
I just recently bought both AOS and Steam, and the one thing that I am not so crazy about in AOS(aside from production dice rolling) that I'm not crazy about is that you can only issuing shares at the beginning of the turn. I understand this will lead to people having their plans fail, etc.. but I imagine it also slowly the game down while everyone does calculations... has anyone tried just changing it so that shares can be taken out at any point? What were the results like?


this would severely screw with turn order auction. currently there's a lot of value in passing early one round to be last to take loans next one, and know exactly how much money you need to be sure you win the auction (and get the locomotive when you NEED it). you also remove the element of 'I'll make a sacrifice of taking too many loans to scare others from trying to outbid me'.

(and as to aos production dice rolling - if you change that make sure to use the aos tables and announce the dice results before game (first round 1-2-3-4, then 2-3-4-5, then 3-4-5-6, etc) but DO NOT go the Steam way. as others said Steam way strips 90% of strategy out of the game, leaving you with 1-turn-ahead-tactical-decisions only).
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cferejohn wrote:
Verkisto wrote:
Sort of like Steam, I gather. If you prefer that method of shares, then you should just keep playing Steam.

The Steam "Basic" game only - the "Standard" game has you issue shares in advance just like AoS.

Noted. I haven't played much of Steam, so I forget what the full differences between its two modes and Age of Steam are.

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And yeah, if players agree, I don't think it will break anything to allow people to issue more shares (in fact it could make the auctions a real bloodletting if you have players who get overly invested in winning it).

Yeah, but those bloodletting auctions are awesome. I played Age of Steam in a particular way for a long time, and then I started playing with someone who was absolutely tenacious when it came to winning a bid. It forced me to rethink the way I played the game, and it was pretty dang fun to work through it all over again.
 
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