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20th Century Limited uses two types of connection cards. The first, Regional Rail Cards was covered in a previous post. Today I will discuss the second category of connections that can be made in the game, Rail Companies. These cards are based on some of the most important historical rail lines in American history including the New York Central, Southern Pacific, Seaboard Atlantic and 57 other lines. My favorite rail game after this one is Rail Baron, the old Avalon Hill classic. Carla & I really enjoy playing it and for me it is the flavor of those historical lines that put it over the top. I wanted something in 20th Century Limited that would specifically allow us to put these lines into our game and I believe that we have made a really nice integration.
These rail companies fit nicely into the game and to a degree we have managed to fit a pseudo-stock system into the game with them. Where you placed track down to create regional rails, you have to remove track from the board to found the rail companies. Your reward for founding these companies? Victory points that are added to your regional rail score at the end of the game. Thematically you have now sold the track rights, the engines, etc... to the new company and in return you have been awarded valuable stock in that company. Starting companies gives you more capital, in the form of more track pieces to play, so that you may return to building regional rails or go on to found more companies.
The points on the cards, as of today, offer a common score of 2 points per segment of track REQUIRED to make the connection via the shortest route (your mileage may vary) plus bonus points for going into cities that require more connections. Chicago/Kansas City/New York = big bonus, Dallas/Minneapolis/Boston/Cincinnati are smaller etc...
So in the end, not only do you get the historic look to the expansion of the American railway through the Regional Rail Cards, but when you add in the Rail Company Cards it feels more realistic than I thought we could pull off.
I have developed a Facebook page for this game. It is pretty sparse right now, but I expect it to be expanding soon.