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Subject: So has this game hit the "wall or the membrane" for you? rss

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trevor

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First off my apologies to Joel Eddy for stealing his analogy but I really love it and I apply it to many games I play

Basically if you don't know what I'm talking about the "wall" is when you play a game 5 (ish) times and it starts to get repetitive, whereas the "membrane" is when you play a game 5 times and it starts to feel repetitive but then you discover this deep inner layer of strategy and the game takes on a whole new scope.

I ask because my group has played this 4 times now and while it is going over well, many are starting to feel this game is hitting a wall. Now I think there is a lot more for me to discover but I was wondering what others who have played this game a few times have thought?
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Chef D
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Have you read the review and responses to Russian Railroads at Opinionated Gamers?

Here is the link:

http://opinionatedgamers.com/2014/07/14/russian-railroads/
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E Thomas
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After eight plays, I think its hitting a wall for me. I think its a combination of a somewhat limited number strategies and a feeling of repetitiveness among the strategies (in the end, the individual strategies don't feel that different from one another). I still think that its a well designed game, but some of the fun is wearing off and it isn't hitting the table as often.
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Matt G
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We played our fifth game this weekend, and what you described is exactly what happened. It membraned for me. We both had been playing each game in a similar way (wife concentrating on industry and raw points; myself trying to be clever in some way--and failing.) The fifth time, we both played differently from our habits, and the game really came alive. In the end, I won by two points thanks to some smart final moves to capitalize on end-game bonus cards (Being clever finally worked!)

After game four I was at the point of marking the game for trade, considering it a fun, but not essential game. But that fifth game really made me re-think it. (And not just because I finally won.)
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Joel Eddy
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You can steal all you want.

I'm at ~10 plays and firmly at "wall", but not yet at "trade".
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Shawn Fox
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Russian Railroads is all wall, there is no membrane.
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Eric Brosius
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sfox wrote:
Russian Railroads is all wall, there is no membrane.

I don't think it's possible to know that unless, as for Tic-Tac-Toe or even Connect Four, there is a proof that a particular strategy is optimal. All I feel I can know is that I haven't found any additional depth. But maybe someone else will find it.
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Seth Jaffee
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Eric Brosius wrote:
sfox wrote:
Russian Railroads is all wall, there is no membrane.

I don't think it's possible to know that unless, as for Tic-Tac-Toe or even Connect Four, there is a proof that a particular strategy is optimal. All I feel I can know is that I haven't found any additional depth. But maybe someone else will find it.

There doesn't need to be an optimal strategy in order for a game to feel samey from strat to strat.
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Eric Brosius
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sedjtroll wrote:
There doesn't need to be an optimal strategy in order for a game to feel samey from strat to strat.

Yes, but maybe it feels samey because you and your group haven't found other ways to play. With a game of sufficient complexity, I almost always feel there could be other approaches that would bring the interest back.

I take the statement "Russian Railroads is all wall, there is no membrane" as meaning there is no membrane for anyone, not just that the author hasn't found it.
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Carl Bussema
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If you play with the same group of players every time, I could see this getting old. Adapting to how different players play, adapting to different #s of players, adapting to different engineers... I'm still enjoying this well past 15 games.
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E Thomas
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InfoCynic wrote:
If you play with the same group of players every time, I could see this getting old. Adapting to how different players play, adapting to different #s of players, adapting to different engineers... I'm still enjoying this well past 15 games.


I've played this with a variety of groups so I don't believe that group think has set in in my playing environment. I've intentionally tried a variety of paths to victory across my plays so far; some successful, some not.

For some reason with this game, I never marvel and I'm never suprised at the engine I've built. I'm not exactly sure why, the engine always does what I expect it to (generate a bunch of points in the last couple of rounds). The engine always feels kind of the same. I'm thinking of games like Le Havre or Innovation here, where there always seem to be surprising combos to discover and strange engines that take you across the finish line; sometimes with one wheel falling off and a bent axle. Games like that always draw me back wondering what I might discover. For me, Russian Railroads doesn't have that (though it is a solid game).
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Scott Douglass
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I'm 10 plays in and I'm not tired of it yet.
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John Bradshaw
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I would say that this game has hit the wall for me, but then I don't find that unusual. Most games hit the wall after a certain length of time - this one POSSIBLY a little quicker than average but not by much. My preferred solution with most "walled" games is to set them aside for a year or more, then return to them with a refreshed perspective.

The main question I ask myself is how much have I enjoyed myself before reaching the wall, and in the case of RR I've had enough fun with it to justify ownership, and I suspect that I'll enjoy it again after it has been rested for a while.
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Jim Keenan
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After 8 plays I'm nose to brick with the wall. I still like the game and will play it if it's the consensus pick for the evening; however, I don't see myself calling for it anymore. I wonder if the wall would become a membrane were all the players equally skilled and experienced with the game.

I could also see an expansion opening this one up again, say if it offered another couple ways to victory. It's very strange because this game is neither too tight or too loose, and yet there seems to be no tension once you've taken a couple runs at it and know what to do.

And that all said, I still think it's a clever , solid design.
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Raj Giri
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I've played about 10 times and like it more each time. It's an excellent game. I feel like the complaint about "sameness" is the sort of thing you could make about Puerto Rico. Russian Railroads is even better when everyone knows the game well, as with the group I often play with, because then a lot of tactical decisions take over that get lost in long-term strategic planning by new players.

While there aren't more than maybe 3 workable strategies, executing them efficiently is difficult and highly player interaction-dependent. It's hard to blitz the top track if three other players take the efficient black rail spaces.
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Huzonfirst
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Have played it about a dozen times and still love it. No wall here and no need for a membrane (yet). My Game of the Year for 2013.
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Damon Asher
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Thanks for starting this thread, as this is the exact question I have in my mind. I've only played a couple times on Yucata so far, and am considering whether or not to buy the game. I have been really looking forward to my online moves, and picking up the orange ? bonuses is especially satisfying. However, I think I am mainly enjoying pushing the markers around to watch all those delicious points fall out. The whole time I am wondering where the longevity will come from. I think I'd love to see some kind of variable starting setup between players or an in-game dynamic element to force tactical reactions and adjustments of strategy.

I plan to run up to the wall using Yucata, and will be very happy to buy the game if I break through after 10 games or so. I think the key for me will be whether I feel like the player interaction is truly meaningful, or just opportunistic interference with each others plans.
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Henry Ho
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I've played this game like 50 times now, and I still haven't come closed to hitting the wall, and still coming up with strategies (or more like ways to accomplish my strategies more efficiently). I have a few friends who have played over 100 times each, and they still want to play more. I have another friend who have played like 20 times now, and she knows the "membrane" is around there somewhere. She wants to keep playing because she hasn't been able to figure out how to be good at it. I think once I score 600 points, I may start seeing the wall.
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