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Subject: The fight for the midwest rss

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David Grabiner
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Five players, one of them new. I don't remember the names, so I'll call them Green (me), Red, Black, Yellow, Purple.

The initial cards included a Railroad Executive, four hotels (Atlanta, Baltimore, Chicago, New York), a Government Land Grant, City Growth, New Industry, and service bounties for Louisville and Jacksonville. There was a cube in Cincinnati for the Louisville bounty, but no yellow cube anywhere near Jacksonville for its bounty.

I won the initial auction for $17,000, which I believe was too low a price given the Railroad Executive and collectible bounty. With several red cubes near New York, I chose the New York hotel and built the Cincinnati-Louisville track. Red started in New York, Black took the Chicago hotel, Yellow also started in the Northeast, and Purple took the Atlanta hotel. On the second turn, I made my delivery, collecting the Louisville bounty and the bonus for being the first to make a delivery. Red made a delivery, so Black got a second hotel. Purple's first build was Savannah to Atlanta. Black took the Government Land Grant, so he started the first turn with no money spent and no shares issued, but also with no track.

The second-round card was a hotel in Charleston. Purple and I were in the auction, and Purple won it for $6000 to get the Charleston hotel; I industrialized Indianapolis. I was threatening to run away with the game, so Black chose to challenge me on the second round, using his Government Land Grant to build Chicago-Indianapolis, and take one of my Indianapolis cubes for 1. He then challenged me more directly, building Louisville-Lexington as I built Cincinnati-Indianapolis. Meanwhile, the other players took the natural actions; Red built to Boston, Yellow to New York, and Purple to Charleston.

By the third round, I had a big lead even though I had issued six shares. I collected the speed-record bonus for delivering a cube from Chicago to Louisville, and was due to collect the 4-train bonus on the fourth turn. Black took several of my cubes, and as a result, he still had no shares issued but had only a 1-train.

In the mid-game, my lead wasn't as clear, as the competition with Black was interesting. I had the 4-train but had to industrialize cities to get a supply of cubes, and Black, building in the same area, got half of them for 1-train and 2-train runs without wasting turns preparing them. Meanwhile, a New Orleans service bounty came up, and Red built from Mobile (no Perfect Engineering, so it took him two turns) to collect the bounty, then continued in that area. Purple made a 3-train delivery from Chattanooga to collect the Jacksonville bounty, then started building north even though the Atlanta-Richmond bonus hadn't come up. Yellow took most of the East Coast cubes.

When we reached the earnings peak, everyone was close. My eight shares were the most; Black had two and the other players had four or five. I had lost my big lead because I had to build track and industrialize cities. I was actually considering building a Western Link to get more cubes, but they would have been only 3-link deliveries, and Black would get the the Chicago hotel bonus. Instead, I built along the Mississippi, while Black built to Pittsburgh and Buffalo. There was a Baltimore-Toledo bonus, but Yellow wasn't interested in going any further than Wheeling.

I had built a lot of deliveries and regained my lead, building Detroit-Toledo-Indianapolis to set up more. Black had previously built the short Detroit-Toledo, and used my track to take one of the Detroit cubes, then built to Toronto. We were expecting the game to end quickly, but too many cities were clogged with a cube that wasn't worth delivering for 1 or 2; for example, I left a red in Milwaukee and a blue in Memphis,

As the game approached the end, Yellow was running low on cubes, Red's split track meant that he had no long delivery, and Purple was limited by having only a 4-train. I was in the lead, but Black caught up when he played New Industry on Buffalo and picked up two red cubes; his 7-train and Chicago hotel made them both 8-point deliveries. And he continued to use my track, delivering two cubes to Detroit and giving me 1 for the Indianapolis-Toledo link. I did almost as well with the cube draws; I industrialized Jackson, but I had to upgrade to a 7-train on the last round to deliver one cube each way between Jackson and Detroit. We ran out of new cities, although I don't think anyone wanted to use another.

I finished with 94, Black with 92, and then Yellow, on his last move, could find nothing better than a 5-delivery using Black for the last two links, pushing Black up to tie with me at 94.

And then for the tycoons. I was ready to concede, expecting that Black's tycoon was fewest shares, since he had started with zero shares and finished with two. But Black and Red both had most money, and Red won the most money, with over $100,000. I don't remember Yellow's, but he didn't make it. Purple had most total links, which she had with 13 to my 12. I had +2 for each link to Chicago, and I had built three in the natural course of events, so the +6 gave me 100.

Share reduction left me tied with Black at 92, and money is the tie-breaker. That was no contest; I had been burning through my cash to build track and urbanize, ending with $7000 to his $97,000. Yellow was third at about 85, Purple fourth about 80, and Red fifth about 65.

This was long for a 5-player game, but we still played it in 2 hours and 15 minutes.

Final occupied areas:

Green (me): Louisville to Chicago to Jackson, spurs to Milwaukee and Detroit.
Red: Boston to New York, and New Orleans to Nashville.
Black: Chicago to Pittsburgh to Toronto, spur to Louisville, isolated Detroit-Toledo.
Yellow: Richmond to New York, and across the Appalachians to Pittsburgh.
Purple: entire Southeast.

Two interesting lessons learned:

Take the hotel that you will use. I took the New York hotel because there were red cubes in Boston and Providence, but some of them sat undelivered because Red had better things to do and I couldn't force the delivery. Purple had the Charleston hotel, and Black the Chicago hotel, and both made their own red-cube deliveries to the hotel area. If I had the Chicago hotel, I could have taken a Western Link and delivered five red cubes to Chicago (Kansas City started with one); as it was, I had fewer good deliveries because a red cube would have given one point to my chief rival.

You can scavenge off the leader and save money by using a small train to deliver some of his cubes. Two 2-train deliveries score you just as much as one 4-train delivery, and if the leader has to urbanize, you can deliver cubes out as he delivers them in. (Two could have played at this game, but it would have hurt both of us.)

 
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