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Subject: What to do when someone doesn't get it? rss

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Steve
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My fiance and I have introduced Railroad Tycoon to a couple of people and planning to introduce it to more. Unfortunately one of the people just doesn't seem to "get" some of the key parts of the game that shoot your score up. He fully knows and is comfortable with the rules, really likes the game and he has played it 4 times, but he inevitably ends the game with a low level train (3 last game when both my fiance and I were on 6 and 7!) and few deliveries. My fiance and I are pretty good at the game and are starting to understand the ins and outs--blocking people, stealing cubes, etc--but this guy just isn't getting it. We like him and want him to play and we don't want him to be turned off... to the point where after the latest game my fiance and I looked at each other afterwards and said "We weren't playing as hard as we could have been."

What would you do about this? I've considered the next time taking him aside and talking to him about the importance of upgrading the train early and getting the starting cards and getting connections to cities with plenty of cubes, and specifically connecting longer links of cities. I don't feel like he's grasping the investment in the future vs. current payoff part of the game. But that would be very condescending and it's not like I'm a master of the game or anything. What would you do? Just let it be and wait for another game he'd be good at? I just bought a couple more games (Caylus, Carcassonne and Command and Colors) so maybe that's the answer... not everyone is good at everything. Maybe it'll just take more games of RRT as well.

(edit grammar)
 
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Galen
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You are upset because he doesnt get it? Have you tried telling him what he doesnt get? Thats usually the fastest way to communicate with someone.
 
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Matthew Jensen
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It sounds like you are playing patty-cake with the guy. If he doesn't get it because he thinks he has a special strategy then I would just play aggressive and toast him in a couple of games. Don't hold back (while not being flat out mean) and if he is mature enough he'll scratch his head and say, "Woah! I need to shift it in to gear!" Either that or he'll ask to play a different game and you will know.

Patty-cake for the first game or so is fine. But now let him know you and the misses are going all out. A fair warning and a sample game should show if he truly doesn't get it or if he's willing to get in to the game.
 
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Steve
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TrekkerMJ wrote:
It sounds like you are playing patty-cake with the guy. If he doesn't get it because he thinks he has a special strategy then I would just play aggressive and toast him in a couple of games. Don't hold back (while not being flat out mean) and if he is mature enough he'll scratch his head and say, "Woah! I need to shift it in to gear!" Either that or he'll ask to play a different game and you will know.

Patty-cake for the first game or so is fine. But now let him know you and the misses are going all out. A fair warning and a sample game should show if he truly doesn't get it or if he's willing to get in to the game.


To be fair, we only patty caked him one game after beating the living snot out of him and my fiance and I getting cut throat with each for the other 3 games over a couple of game nights.

I do think emphasizing his missed opportunities and screw ups (while we take advantage of them ourselves) during the game in a very analytical non-mean way might be a good idea. "You know, it might have been a good idea to upgrade your train and done these deliveries."

Oh well, he says he is addicted to the game so I guess it is irrelevant until he tells us he does not want to play it anymore because he is frustrated...
 
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Galen
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Why dont you tell him what he doesnt get. Probably take you less than 2 minutes.
 
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Jonathan Franklin
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Not everyone plays games to win. Perhaps he just enjoys the process of playing and your stellar company.

Is his play inhibiting your enjoyment of the game? If so, you might want to switch games before he is ready to or be clear with him that he needs to do X, Y & Z, or else the game is not fun for the other players.

If his play does not affect your enjoyment, don't worry about him.

Either way, play to win, as I assume playing pattycake does inhibit your enjoyment of the game.
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Martin Moyer
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I would agree that the best thing might be to do nothing but play normally. You could point out a missed opportunity here or there, or maybe at the end of a game just say something in passing like, "you've really got to upgrade your train earlier so you could've done this, this, or this," or something like that. One would hope that he would eventually realize that he is being constantly creamed and either look at the other strategies being used or ask what he is missing.

I don't know the guy in question but the idea of taking him aside seems a little drastic.
 
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Steve
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After some reflection I think a bunch of you might be right--just keep playing and compete with the other players who are playing a little savvier, maybe mention something at the end of the game or make some polite comments in the middle of the game about places he could pick up his game a little.

I think these posts are making me come out like more of an arrogant ass than I really am... shake
 
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Galen
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Am I the only one who enjoys a post-game strategy wrap up of strategy and where everyone went wrong/rights?
 
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Phillip Heaton
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One of my favorite games is "Tales of the Arabian Nights" And my wife trounces me regularly. Still love playing the game though.

If it ain't broke, don't fix it.
 
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Ray
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Before playing your next game have a conversation about table talk. Do players like to 1) take their own turn with little kibitzing from everyone else or 2) is everyone actions fair game with all player trying to sway their decision and offer advice to achieve their goals. If the later, then you and your wife use him like a ping pong ball explaining why he should do actions the actions that you are suggesting. If the former, than play your best game and don't say anything more unless asked outside the context of the game. Best thing to do when it comes to table talk is to try both -- but agree to it ahead of time.
 
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J C Lawrence
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When teaching Age of Steam to new players I tell them, "If you are not delivering 5 and 6 trains with regularity by the end of the game you will lose. It is that simple: You will lose. There are very few cases where growing your Links is the wrong choice." Now Age of Steam is not RRT, but there remain similarities.
 
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Walt
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You tell them how to get it. I'm surprised no one has mentioned the basic pattern of play in RRT. If anyone hadn't realized this, and it works for you, you owe me a GG, at least.

Turn 1: if you're first, build track, deliver (getting start of RR era), get a card or deliver again. If you're not first, do something (usually take a good card, like perfect engineering), build track, deliver.

Turns 2 to 6-8: build track, upgrade your train, deliver. This is the key.

Remember each cube has the potential to be an 8 cube. RR objectives are usually not significant enough to be worth upsetting the basic strategy above. If you take three turns to earn 20 points for a connection, you've lost ground, since even three 7 deliveries is 21 points.

Turns 6-8 to end: deliver, deliver, deliver. Except:

When you hit peak earnings, use the money to build for a while or do final upgrades, so you'll be doing 8 deliveries, or close. Consider build, build, build rounds, especially if you can detour to make, say, 6 deliveries into 8 deliveries. A Western link may pay off if there's enough time in the game. Remember, you'll be earning huge amounts of money, so even the Western Link will be petty cash.

Naturally, opponents may interfere in this and cube arrangement is critical, but the objective it to raise the profit of cube delivery to 8 as fast as possible without going insanely into debt. (Which is why I don't suggest 8 builds, then 7 upgrades, then deliver, deliver, deliver.) This may not be an absolutely optimum strategy for all games and all players, but it works very well.

How to get your clueless friend clued in? Say, "I saw this article on BGG that said the secret to RRT is to build, upgrade, deliver, so your delivery values go up as fast as possible." Or print out this, except this last paragraph, and pore over it next game, then show it to your friend. (Warning: The problem with sharing strategy tips like this is you can end up getting whacked yourself--I'd prefer to lose a tight game than win an unchallenging game, but others feel differently.)
 
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J C Lawrence
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Tall_Walt wrote:
Naturally, opponents may interfere in this and cube arrangement is critical, but the objective it to raise the profit of cube delivery to 8 as fast as possible without going insanely into debt. (Which is why I don't suggest 8 builds, then 7 upgrades, then deliver, deliver, deliver.) This may not be an absolutely optimum strategy for all games and all players, but it works very well.


I suggest you spend some time doing the arithmetic on what the optimal mix of builds, upgrades and deliveries is far generating victory points. The results are not necessarily obvious. One of the local players, Clark Millikan has posted the results of his such analysis for Age of Steam. You may be surprised by his answers.
 
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Walt
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clearclaw wrote:
I suggest you spend some time doing the arithmetic on what the optimal mix of builds, upgrades and deliveries is far generating victory points. The results are not necessarily obvious. One of the local players, Clark Millikan has posted the results of his such analysis for Age of Steam. You may be surprised by his answers.


I find his articles on AoS, but not RRT. They do have significant differences. I have done the math, but it's not just arithmetic. However, I was not intending to present a complete strategy, but an abededarian strategy suitable for someone who doesn't get the basics. And there are always exceptions: if the cubes are set up for 6 link runs at most and you can't put in detours, there's little point in upgrading further. OTOH, it would be incorrect to say that since an upgrade to 8 costs $20,000, the value of 4 stock certificates, you would need to make four deliveries to pay for it: you might have the cash lying around, it might steal cubes from your leading opponent, etc. The rules I gave are general guidelines, and must be modified by the specific game. Still friends have won or placed in local tournaments using these guidelines.
 
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J C Lawrence
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Tall_Walt wrote:
clearclaw wrote:
I suggest you spend some time doing the arithmetic on what the optimal mix of builds, upgrades and deliveries is far generating victory points. The results are not necessarily obvious. One of the local players, Clark Millikan has posted the results of his such analysis for Age of Steam. You may be surprised by his answers.


I find his articles on AoS, but not RRT.


I don't believe he has written on RRT, perhaps in part because RRT almost never sees table time around here. Age of Steam however hits the table almost every week at several groups I play with, so there's interest in analysis of play patterns for that game.

Quote:
They do have significant differences.


True, and in fact the analysis is more complex for RRT than it is for AoS due to the greater flexibility in action selections each turn.

Quote:
I was not intending to present a complete strategy, but an abededarian strategy suitable for someone who doesn't get the basics.


Quite. My intent was to firstly indicate Clark's article (which is well done) and secondly to indicate the methods of analysis and thought, and even some of the partial conclusions which could be translated to RRT. For instance with Age of Steam many do not intuitively understand why AoS:Ireland's pass-on-both-deliveries-to-bump-Links-twice Locomotive action is a sucker's bet. Clark's article does a lot to fix that and I'd suspect it could similarly improve RRT player's understanding of their game.

Quote:
And there are always exceptions: if the cubes are set up for 6 link runs at most and you can't put in detours, there's little point in upgrading further. OTOH, it would be incorrect to say that since an upgrade to 8 costs $20,000, the value of 4 stock certificates, you would need to make four deliveries to pay for it: you might have the cash lying around, it might steal cubes from your leading opponent, etc.


Of course. RRT remains a zero sum game.

Quote:
The rules I gave are general guidelines, and must be modified by the specific game. Still friends have won or placed in local tournaments using these guidelines.


Gotcha. That's good to read. Some may like to understand what the optimal victory point earning path is so that they can properly judge the benefits and costs of deviating from that route in their specific games.
 
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Rick Holzgrafe
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I've posted a "Railroad Tycoon Strategy for Beginners" document here on the Geek:

http://www.boardgamegeek.com/fileinfo.php?fileid=17654

At 11 pages, it's actually a bit more in-depth than the "for Beginners" title might suggest. If your friend is genuinely interested in improving his game, I'd suggest printing out copies and handing them around generally at or before your next session -- your lag-behind buddy will benefit more from reading it than his more advanced opponents, and won't have to feel that he was singled out for remedial reading, so to speak.
 
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Matthew Jensen
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grandslam wrote:
Not everyone plays games to win. Perhaps he just enjoys the process of playing and your stellar company.

***snipped***

If his play does not affect your enjoyment, don't worry about him.

Either way, play to win, as I assume playing pattycake does inhibit your enjoyment of the game.


I can back up this statement one-hundred percent. I love to play competitively. I want to win and analyze a game when I don't. That doesn't mean I can't handle losing... I just want to play my best.

On the other hand, I've got a friend who would play Star Wars: CCG with me. He didn't want to win using Darth Vader and all the biggies. He wanted to figure out a Sandpeople deck that would be a blast and throw a wrench in the works when it did happen to work. Invariably he would lose quite a bit. But he enjoyed your game and I enjoyed playing with him even if I was competitive.

So bringing it back to your friend and RRT. Play to have fun. That might be maximizing the limits of strategy for you while he's there to enjoy the game and see a figure eight track be built. As long as you both are enjoying the game and the company I don't think that is so bad.
 
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Rhonda
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Hey! Guess what? The game plays well with TWO! Though Jimmy and I like to fill the cities to full capacity (instead of 1 less for 2-3 players) to make it a more involved game. I came back from 15 down, 5 shares to 1, both getting our Tycoon points to beat him 91-90! The key was utilizing my Chicago Hotel to the max.
 
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Heckle Jekyll
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Ok, so I'm responding well over a year since this original post. But here is how what I would tell your freind ...

If he has a penny and adds another penny every day for 30 days he will have 31 cents ... but if he started with that same penny and doubled his money every day for 30 days he will end up with over $10 million.

 
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