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Subject: Joey's Take on 'Railroad Tycoon' rss

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If Actions Speak Louder Than Words, Then Actions x2 Speak Louder Than Actions
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It has been a long time since a game has got me to think about it the next day, crave it and eagerly look forward to its next playing. Railroad Tycoon is just such a game. My first playing of this game was crack.

Railroad Tycoon, from Eagle Games, is a retooling of the game Age of Steam. From the images that I've seen, the production of Railroad Tycoon is a vast improvement over Age of Steam. I have heard the rules are little more loose than that of Age of Steam. Players take on the role of rail barons vying for rail transportation and shipping supremacy.

Things that make this game stand out, in a good way, are as follows.
-It is long. I have been playing sugary little euro games for a while now and it was really nice to play a long, involved game. I had forgotten what it was like to play a game that would leave me with an "experience".
-The production was really nice. Railroad Tycoon has a nice big board. This game has the biggest board that I have ever played on, if you don't count floor mat games. The pieces are well sculpted and numerous. The style and design are true to the theme. There are several different empty city markers of varying styles. These empty city markers really give the game a rail feel, on top of everything else that gives this game rail feel.
-The depth of play is fantastic. While there are somewhat set strategies to keep in mind, there are enough secret goals and goals that are revealed throughout the game that keep each game feeling unique.
-There is degree of randomness to the game in the way that goods are drawn randomly from a bag. However, this randomness is completely acceptable, due to the fact that this randomness affects all of the players, most of the time.
-Simplicity of play. There are few different actions that you can take on your turn. However, depending on which action you choose to perform you are not limited to where you can play (initially) or what you can play. Few choices, endless possibilities in those choices; I really like that.
-The concept of managing your debt/shares is great. In one game I was the wealthiest player round after round. In another game, due to some really stupid choices, I was digging my debt-hole with a steam shovel at full steam. You've got to learn to manage your money in this game.

Things that make this game stand out, for the worse, are as follows:
-The scoring track is horrible. The pieces used for scoring are much larger than space allotted for them. A misplaced sneeze will completely undo the game.
-The board is big and that is great however, there are entire sections of the board that I've never seen come into play. Also, the board is so big that some players fall into the "My butt is glued to my chair so, I'll just play in the part of the board that is front of me"-syndrome. While that is good and well, if you're sitting by the Northeastern corner, but you will get hosed if you're lazy and sitting by the Southwestern corner of the board.
-There have been some reports of severe board warping. The set that we play with has yet to warp, so this is hearsay.
-Some of the empty city markers are smaller and less of an eye-catch compared to the much larger ones. This is getting to the nitpicky now, but it is easy to overlook some of the smaller empty city markers when counting up the empty cities.

Railroad Tycoon is such a cool game. It's simple enough to get non-gamers to give it a try and deep enough to keep hardcore gamers interested. The theme fits the game play and like most games that I favor, there is a tension in the game of not being able to do enough on your turn to secure your holdings. Brilliant! Railroad Tycoon is a must buy...but only if you have a really BIG table.



Edited due to a failure to include important words like "is".
 
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Rick Holzgrafe
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Happy Valley
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I couldn't agree more about this wonderful game. I have two tips for you, to help solve some of the physical annoyances.

First, get a bowl (we bought some cheap transparent plastic bowls from MallWart that are good for all kinds of games). Count out as many empty city markers as you need for the number of players you have; put them all in the bowl. Whenever a city empties, take a marker from the bowl and put it on the board. The game-end is triggered when the bowl is empty. This means you don't have to keep counting all the markers on the board.

To solve the scoring track problem, you can use hholzgrafe's build-it-yourself modular scoring track. It's a PDF file; you download it, print it, cut it out, and stick the pieces to cardboard backing. Each piece holds four slots of a large, readable version of the scoring track. Each slot will hold up to six markers without obscuring the points or income. Set them at the top of the board, away from people's elbows; and as the game progresses, use only the pieces that you currently need. (For example, after every player has at least five points, you don't need the 1-to-4 point piece any more.) Here's the link to the PDF here on the Geek:
http://www.boardgamegeek.com/fileinfo.php?fileid=16626

Disclaimer: I'm a shill. I'm married to hholzgrafe. But that scoring track is way cool anyway. cool
 
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If Actions Speak Louder Than Words, Then Actions x2 Speak Louder Than Actions
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That is really smart! Bowl of empty city markers! We've been using the most noticeable markers first and neglecting the smaller markers. Now we can use the full spread of the provided markers, thank you!

Thanks for directing me to that file also. Nicely done.
 
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Ronster Zero
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Fantastic review. Just about sums up my sentiments about the game.

As far as the empty city markers, well we just call that a game within a game. You'll find out who's really paying attention when someone calls out last turn and everybody else goes... what? how?

I got away with this once, but not anymore

Again, this is a great game and I love to play it.
 
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C Lloyd
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Both are good ideas about dealing with empty city markers. In a friendly game, with spouses, newbies, etc, I'd opt for the bowl (or a pile). For a more serious game, I think it might be best left up to people to pay attention. I'll keep both methods in mind when I play mine for the first time.
 
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Tom Fisher
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I believe you first words were "giddy". You need to pick it up before its gone. Great article!
 
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