Salt Lake City
My first game by Alan Moon was, like many others, Ticket to Ride. It was a great game, and we still get it out from time to time to teach to new gamers. A little over a year ago I got the opportunity to play Union Pacific. I have always liked stock games, and this worked very well. I of course went to get a copy of it and quickly found out it was out of print. Sure, you could pay well over $100 for a copy, but I didn't think that was worth it. When I first heard that a new version of the game was coming out I knew I had to get it. I placed my order with the first store that had it in stock, and it came in the mail earlier this week.
For those that haven't figured it out yet, the game I'm talking about is Airlines Europe. Of course, since it's a newer iteration of Union Pacific it is very similar. I like that the time has been cut down, which means we should be able to get in a full game at work. I didn't like that it only supports up to 5. In both of these games, I like that you have to help grow different companies in order to get stock in the company. The interplay between opponents where you're helping each other, but at the same time you're trying to get more stock on the table is a lot of fun.
I need to get in a few more plays of this before making any real judgments, but the first game that I think really handle stocks and growing companies well was Chicago Express. These two games definitely have some similarities. The biggest one being the involvement among players to work together in progressing the companies in which they have stock. However, the top scores are usually going to come from players who can get others to do most of the work for them, while they reap the rewards. With a lot more companies in Airlines Europe this works even better. Also, I think Chicago express works best with 3 or 4 players. Airlines Europe played great with 5.
Of course my first introduction to a good stock game was Acquire. I still really enjoy the game, but there is just too much luck involved with getting involved in a merger. The best most competitive games of Acquire I've been involved in didn't have anybody see a turn without money. I think once you see a few turns without buying stock, you have a really hard time getting back in the game. Due to the random nature of needing to draw the appropriate tiles, this can really hurt the game if you experience this too many times. Airlines Europe leaves you with your choice of which companies to grow, and usually a pretty decent choice of stock to pick up. There is still luck involved in that, but at least you have options.
Does this work for lunch?
The jury is still out on that question. I think for our group this will be great (assuming we don't have 6 people showing up). We tend to play games faster than the marked play time on the box. This one calls for 75 minutes. Our first of course had explanation time, and nobody knew how to set up the board without direction yet. So, we lost out on some time due to that. Which meant we couldn't finish the whole game. I think that future plays will see us wrapping up around the 60 minute time frame. For groups who don't typically get play times under what is suggested, this probably won't work out for you. There are enough decisions to make that new players, or people who have a lot of AP are definitely going to push the play time to 75 minutes. Aside from the time constraints, this is a great stock game. I think with some more plays this game will make it into my top 10. I'm not sure if it will surpass Chicago Express, but it will be right up there.