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Subject: How much debt rss

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Jack Schneider
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Any experienced players care to comment to a new purchaser of the base game (Eastern US) as to how much bond debt by game end is generally too much to win?
 
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Luis Olcese
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I will say 10 is too much, but depends on each case.
 
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William Simonitis
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It's all relative.

Basically, you should not exceed about 6 bonds more than the number of bonds held by the player with the fewest bonds. i.e., if the player with the fewest bonds has 4, then you probably want no more than 10 or so, but if the player with the fewest bonds has none, going to 10 bonds is a bit riskier.

Also complicating this is the fact that longer games tend to punish players who have taken out more bonds. Taking out 15 bonds in a short game is more acceptable than taking out 15 bonds in a long game where you're hemorrhaging money at every end of turn.

Personally, I try to keep my bonds between 6 and 10, oftentimes taking them out very early to generate an early income so I will rarely have to take out more bonds in the midgame/endgame. Other players in our group hate taking more than 3 bonds, and others regularly go into the 12-15 range. Sometimes they win, usually they don't.

So, it's all relative.
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Chris Hillery
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Yeah, there's certainly no hard-and-fast number here. There's not even really a fuzzy number. But on the Eastern US map, a reasonable guideline for new players is anywhere from 4 to 12, with 6 to 10 probably being the sweet spot. And plan to take out at least half of them during the first 3 turns or so. After turn 4, taking out a bond should be much less common, although it will definitely still happen.
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Jack Schneider
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Okay some decent replies to the debt question. Let's try this question to be applied to the Eastern US map. On the first turn is there any one track build that tends to occur a lot? I realize goods setup at start can make all the difference here but is there say an early rush to link the NE cities through the Appalachions into the Midwest in the hope of getting the quickest route to some of the bonus major lines?
 
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Chris Hillery
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Rarely is there a rush to the Appalachians; those builds are too expensive for the first few turns. The first-turn rush is for any one- or two-hex links (often in the Northeast) that allow a delivery, like say if there's a red cube in New Haven that can be delivered to New York. It's especially good if there's a link that allows two deliveries - two red in Philadelphia, or a red in Philly and a blue in New York. Link those on round one, deliver on two and three, get the Railroad Era Begins bonus and you're looking at 3 points and a net 5 income, minus whatever you needed to bid for first action; not a bad start.

The only major line that some people will make a priority on turn one is the Atlanta-Richmond line, because 8 points for only three links is awfully juicy early in the game, even with the 5 shares you'll need to build it. In fact many people house-rule that Major Line down to 6 points because they find it unbalancing.
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William Simonitis
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Barring a highly-unhelpful cube distribution, the Northeast is always a starting location for at least one player. With a desirable cube distribution, the Northeast will usually attract two players minimum. If this happens, one player usually heads for the Boston-Washington line and the other considers going for the Baltimore-Toledo line (usually across the Appalachians, but sometimes via Detroit).

New York-Philadelphia is common, as is Philadelphia-Baltimore, but we also see New York-Baltimore (skipping Philadelphia) if the cubes are right, and building in such a way as to make the Philadelphia builds cost more than expected. New York-New Haven is less common as a start, as is any link into Boston; these are commonly done on a player's fourth, fifth, or sixth actions, especially if looking to complete the Boston-Washington major line.

The areas around Lexington, Charleston, and Pittsburgh are slightly less desirable, but, again, with decent cubes, they usually have one player each. Chicago is hit or miss (usually, the Lexington player heads in that direction). If someone has done the early Atlanta-Richmond line, then the Charleston player is going to be hemmed in somewhat and might head down towards New Orleans (often via Atlanta, rarely through Jacksonville, but if the service bounty exists there, this becomes more common).

Active service bounties always encourage play in those areas, even those areas that are normally not strong starting points, since the player can build one link and then abandon the area for another part of the board.

(Edited for spelling)
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Jack Schneider
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Quote:
If this happens, one player usually heads for the Boston-Washington line and the other considers going for the Baltimore-Toledo line (usually across the Appalachians, but sometimes via Detroit).
Not sure if you mean here that a NE player on his first round of Turn one builds westward from Baltimore or perhaps later in turn 1 or maybe somewhere in Turn 2. And if someone does go west early I imagine they might even start from either Wheeling or Pittsburgh eastward mindful of possible blocking moves near Baltimore, Washington, or even Philadelphia.

I can't help but wonder if this route isn't the most critical one in the game since fully three of the best major lines move in this direction for a whopping 36 points and whether it is indeed worth running yourself into big debt with a strategy of no deliveries in order to concentrate on track building west from NY and Baltimore. Naturally card help should be taken if possible.

Anyone try anything like this and assume in answering that only three players are in the game. I will value your experienced replies here.
 
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William Simonitis
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Almost never build Baltimore-Toledo in turn 1. I would say never, but never say never, eh? After the first few cubes are delivered, that is when two NE players tend to "go their own way" (unless they are determined to destroy each other, which has happened in a few of our games). One player tends to move south and the other moves west; which is more desirable often depends on where the other players have existing networks.

Depending on whether you're playing with all the major lines available from the outset or whether you're letting them come up through the deck will also help determine how viable the NYC-Baltimore-Toledo-Chicago-Western Link strategy is.

Finally, all of the above goes out the window in a three player game. Are you modifying the map (see http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/87504/3-player-reduced-n...).
 
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Jack Schneider
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Yeah guess I should have said we were using all major lines at start and no we weren't modding the map. So is a westward build start even if from Pittsburgh or Wheeling plausible now?
 
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Joe Mucchiello
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If you are starting with all Major Lines active and no other house rules. Build Atlanta to Richmond on the first turn regardless of the cube distribution. 5 bonds for 8 points yield $5 on turn two. If two of the 9(?) cubes in your network can be 2-link deliveries, the next turn plays itself: Engine, delivery, deliver, and you have 5 bonds, 12 points and $9 on turn three. No other layout aside from amazing service bounties are going to be better. (This is why the Atl-Rch ML should be reduced to 6 points.)

I'll go one further than Bill. Never build across Appalachia on turn 1. Nothing in that area can be worth 4 bonds on turn 1. It is cheaper to Urbanize someplace like Dover purple if there are a lot of purple cubes in the NE.
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Jack Schneider
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Your logic seems sound here Joe but I'm not sure you can count on completing that Richmond to Atlanta link in one turn if someone elects to run interference. I'm going to assume not.

Nevertheless I think you guys are right in saying that if you have the first round of turn 1 there are better economic builds than into Appalachia.

I guess since I have not yet really completed a game (having only recently bought it at Origins) I somehow keep looking at the map and the bounties and think that it may be a good long term strategic idea to be the first and early to seize the shortest and presumably least expensive route into the Midwest which looks like Washington to Wheeling. Clearly I would be disregarding early income in order to get infrastructure down in the hope of ultimately getting all the long Midwest to NE bounties. How typically soon does a player do this in your experience. In answering assume all bounties available right away and only 3 players. You said never on the first turn. You believe this even if you are last?
 
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Chris Hillery
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It's probably a good idea to be planning for some of those Major Lines, but you'll find that money is tight especially the first couple of turns. If you just charge into the distance, you'll end up with a lot of bonds, and probably have to issue a few more bonds just to cover your debts. If you complete a 12-point major line at some point but end up with 12 bonds to accomplish it (quite possible), you've effectively made no points at all, and you're probably behind all the other players in things like deliveries and engine levels.

I'm not saying it can't work, but it'd be tough to do it well without drowning in debt.
 
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Jack Schneider
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Yeah 12 bonds and two turns to complete NY-CHI seems about right. That doesn't seem insurmountable but I was hoping in this hypothetical idea to pick up Baltimore to Toledo as well and of course ultimately NY-KC. Yet it seems to easy to interfere with blocks the BAL-TOL part given the fact that there is no branching in this game. IDK-maybe there's some sort of later game giant loop possible. And I'm not even figuring the cost of train upgrades to take full advantage.

Perhaps if I establish the NY- Pitt part of the planned route quickly and then slow things down a bit with a few possible deliveries between NY and Pitt and maybe Wheeling I could finish the rest when the opportunity arises. The initial cube situation could be decisive here.
 
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Jon M
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I suggest playing the game a few times first. Also you don't really want to gem up on all the strategy and trounce your opponents as it won't be much fun for them.

I would say the NY-Chicago and Toledo Baltimore major lines can work as a strategy but you need to grab the NY link first. If someone starts blocking you instead of taking their turn on the rest of it then they are seriously hurting themselves usually. You can get 17 points and 10 shares by end of turn 2. If you upgrade, deliver, deliver from that point on you are good to go.
 
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BB Tillman
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You can build NY-CH for 9-10 bonds depending on the cards.
Rnd 1 NY-Balt 2 bonds, 2k cash
Rnd 2 CHic - Toledo, 2 bonds, 2k cash
Rnd 3, if land grant, take it, alternatively if Perfect engineering, take it. Use your 4k in cash to service the debt on 4 bonds
Turn 2
Rnd 1/2 depending on you cards, build Toledo - Pittsburgh 1 or 2 bonds
Rnd 3 build Balt - Pitt, 4 bonds, 20k for 16 points and 9 or 10 bonds.

This is a better strategy in a 6 player game than 4 player because there are fewer cubes for everyone and the major lines are worth relatively more.
 
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