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Subject: AoS: Our First 6-Player Game rss

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Rob Leveille
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Most of our games of Age Of Steam have been 3 or 4 player affairs. This was our first attempt at a 6 player game, after I successfully cajoled my daughter(Euro-Experienced) and her boyfriend (Utter Newbie) to join us. Because we had to teach two new players, we stuck with the core map (even though two of us really, really wanted to try out Pennsylvania.)

Cast Of Characters
* Rob (me - AoS experienced)
* Richard (AoS experienced)
* Derek (AoS experienced)
* Bill (AoS experienced)
* Jasmin (Eurogame-experienced)
* Sean (Utter Newbie)

Opening Turn

We rolled for starting order according to the rules (3 dice each - I never noticed this particularity until this playing) and commenced with issuing shares. We all issued a single share, except Derek who went all-out for 3 shares. Bidding went as expected with Mr. 3 Shares taking honours.

Taking First Build (an odd opener, IMHO), Derek took the obvious choice of Pittsburgh to Wheeling, where three easy-to-move goods were sitting waiting. Jasmin, with 2nd move and having selected Urbanization, was unsure what to do. Being my daughter, I showed her the predictable and safe opening move of dropping a new city two links away from an existing city. There was no awesome cities laden with goods looking for a destination, but Chicago's nice central location made it a good spot. She dropped the Purple New City two links away.

Richard made a surprising move as third player by not focusing on the east or middle of the map, but building in Minnesota and starting a line towards the Purple New City. The move was surprising in that not only did it leave him absolutely no goods to move in the first turn, but that corner is an infamously bad starting spot and Richard is usually one of the strongest players in our group, racking up the most wins of AoS in our logbook. Well, maybe he has a long-term strategy we're not aware of yet. He did chose Locomotion instead of the usually more powerful Engineer. Lets wait and see.

Bill, in 4th Turn Order, goes for the classic Toronto-Pittsburgh opener, having chosen Engineer and being the only one able to make the link.

My options in fifth place are actually pretty good. I've kept my debt-load low, am set up with the Turn Order Pass for next turn, and there is a huge open section in the lower-middle section of the map. While there isn't an awesome amount of moveable goods, a six-turn game shouldn't require a huge amount of movements to be succesfull. Plus, I figure, I can either move west towards Jasmin or eventually glom onto Derek.

Sean, with last turn, is left with only Kansas-Des Moines as a viable option. I guess I could have advised him better during the Issue Shares/Bid For Turn Order Phase, but the guy is sleeping with my daughter after all. The little offspring-molester is on his own.

End Of First Turn Everyone except Richard and Sean (who upgraded twice) have scored for 2. Derek moved two goods for 1 and did not upgrade. Richard has the only 3-link train.

2nd Turn

Most everyone issues 2 shares, except Derek and Richard who issue 3.


Jasmin selects Urbanization and connects Chicago to St. Louis with Black New City in between, effectively sewing up the middle of the map and maximizing her options.

Derek takes First Build again (I think he suffers from some deep-seated paranoia issues about us knowing exactly what he's planning to do) and links Wheeling to Cincinatti.

I use my Engineer to connect Indianapolis to Chicago.

Richard selected Turn Order Pass and finishes his connection to Purple New City.

Sean took Production (for lack of better choices) and links Des Moines to his sad little network.

Bill has selected Locomotion, and sneaks a connection through the mountains between Pittsburgh and Wheeling.

Bill moves for the most (2x3). Richard and Derek move for the least (single 2 move). Derek upgrades his train while Richard, with no goods to move and high expenses, passes his second option.

Income So Far:
* Rob - 5
* Richard - 2
* Derek - 4
* Bill - 8
* Jasmin - 6
* Sean - 3

The Next Three Turns

The only excitement on the Share/Bid front was when some jerk (Me) suddenly accelerated the bidding from 2 to 6 and started a pattern of high bidding that continued for the rest of the game. It hurt the low-income players the most, as they were forced to issue more and more shares in an attempt to grab the meatier options.

Derek and Bill continue to duke it out on the eastern edge of the map. Bill shoots out to Detroit from the north, Derek from the south. Derek tries to worm into the Rob- Jasmin hold on the center but is continually thwarted.

Jasmin, meanwhile, has built out to Minneapolis, further complicating Richard's efforts at connecting to Chicago. He manages to do so, but for great cost and at the expense of other potentially profitable connects.
Jasmin continues to move goods for 2/3 and gets her train up to a 4 link.

Richard, meanwhile, is forced to go south into Rock Island (Black New City), completely screwing Sean out of expanding that way. Of course, had he not done so, Sean would have blocked his own expansion.

I manage to link up a couple more cities and get the first 4 and then the first 5 move on the board. My network crosses the bottom of the map and shoots up the middle to Chicago. It is an enviable position made even better by lucky Goods Production. I personally feel that Derek splitting his attention between myself and Bill has allowed me to corner more than my fair share of goods. Jasmin has also done me the favour of blocking the other two players on my west side.

Income After Turn 5:

* Rob - 25
* Richard - 15
* Derek - 15
* Bill - 20
* Jasmin - 20
* Sean - 15


The Last Turn

There are few goods left on the board. This 6-player game has moved a lot of product. Sean and Richard are left with minimal moves on their small networks. They pick up some incidental points as the leaders feel comfortable with the charity. Their games were decided when Jasmin effectively cut off their side of the board, and then moved the goods out.


Bill has constructed an effective network, but the production capabilities of his cities petered out. He moves for 3 and 2 on his last go.

Derek moves one for a solid 4, but has his last good stolen away. He must settle for a single point on his last move.

Jasmin's solid network gives her some goods to move, but she has lagged behind in upgrading her train. She finishes with a double 3 move.

I manage to have a good selection of goods to choose from (my network emphasized quantity over quality) and even though some other players tried to steal them, I still had enough to gather 5 and 4 points to close the game.

In the build phase, Richard had urbanized a town that I was heavily built up in, hoping to claw me back some. We anxiously counted up the scores.

Final ((Income-Shares)*3 + track = total):

* Rob - (26-11)*3+16 = 61
* Jasmin - (22-13)*3 +20 = 47
* Bill - (19-9)*3 +15 = 45
* Derek - (17-13)*3 +18 = 30
* Sean - (14-11)*3 +16 = 22
* Richard - (16-15)*3+12 = 15

What We (well, at least I) Learned:

1. Jasmin had built up the most track but had let her train level fall behind. She lost out on big goods moves. Still, a great showing for a first game.

2. Jasmin's choice of building the New City (Purple) on the far shores of Lake Michigan left
Derek and Bill with a pile of goods that they could not effectively move.

3. The Northwest blows chunks. Big smelly, steaming chunks.

4. The Southwest blows just slightly smaller, less smelly chunks.

5. It is probably better to have a back-up plan than to waste a Turn Order bid choosing First Build over a power choice like Urbanize or Engineer. Jasmin had Urbanized two turns in a row at the start and came out shooting.

6. A spidery network is more effective in a 6-player game than a concentrated network. The two players who spread out controlled the game.

7. Greatly detailed session reports are difficult to craft. If you want to log specifics of a game, drink less beer. I also should have logged turning points and spectacularly pricky moves a little better (there were a few that I did not detail that I wish I had).



All in all, a splendid game. A 6 player game definitely means some people are going to be fighting to stay alive the entire time. There seems to be only 4 hotspots on the board that work well (in most conditions) and the goods dissappear so bloody fast.

Next time out, both Jasmin and Sean will have some experience to bring to the table. They did well for newbies (even Sean, who demonstrated a strong grasp of why he was so utterly f*$#ed - and keep your hands off of my daughter).

Thanks again, Martin Wallace, for a beautifully designed game. And yes, we forgive you for Tempus.




















 
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Mike K
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I think nearly every newbie learns this the hard way on their first AoS game: Don't forget about your loco!
 
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J C Lawrence
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Phelonius wrote:
Taking First Build (an odd opener...


Ouch! This is a sign of inexperience. First build is very rarely ever worth taking, and then only in the mid to late game when specific city connections are being contested.

Quote:
Richard made a surprising move as third player by not focusing on the east or middle of the map, but building in Minnesota and starting a line towards the Purple New City.


There is no Minnesota on the Great Lakes map.

Quote:
He did chose Locomotion instead of the usually more powerful Engineer. Lets wait and see.


Locomotive is clearly and without exception the most valuable action in the game. Do the spreadsheet and look at what an early locomotive can mean for your end-game income as versus a player without Locomotive actions. See?

Quote:
Bill, in 4th Turn Order, goes for the classic Toronto-Pittsburgh opener, having chosen Engineer and being the only one able to make the link.


This is often a risky opening on the Great Lakes map, especially with a 6 player game (I generally advise against 6 player AoS games FWLIW). It is too easy to get blocked out out of the western cities due to seemingly random clusters of track builds.

Quote:
Derek moved two goods for 1 and did not upgrade. Richard has the only 3-link train.


Bad choice. It is almost never the wrong choice to grow your Links, even if you have to lose income in the process. Again, do the spreadhseet.

Quote:
4. The Southwest blows just slightly smaller, less smelly chunks.


Nope.

Quote:
5. It is probably better to have a back-up plan than to waste a Turn Order bid choosing First Build over a power choice like Urbanize or Engineer. Jasmin had Urbanized two turns in a row at the start and came out shooting.


Urbanise is the second most valuable action in the game as it equates to an extra build -- but is better than Engineer as you don't have to pay for it -- and has the bonus of setting up delivery routes for you while (potentially) killing routes for others.

Quote:
6. A spidery network is more effective in a 6-player game than a concentrated network. The two players who spread out controlled the game.


Learn the value of loops and circles.
 
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Rob Leveille
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Thanks for the tips and comments. Age Of Steam is still fairly new for us, and we've had little exposure to other play styles.

And I believe I meant Minneapolis, not Minnesota. My session notes were abbreviated.
 
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Ray
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clearclaw wrote:
Phelonius wrote:
Taking First Build (an odd opener...

Ouch! This is a sign of inexperience. First build is very rarely ever worth taking, and then only in the mid to late game when specific city connections are being contested.

How about to take first build on the first turn if their is a single spot with 2 2-link shipments as a means of denying it (and the 4 income) to a locomotive selecting player?
 
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Richard Irving
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wtrollkin2000 wrote:
clearclaw wrote:
Phelonius wrote:
Taking First Build (an odd opener...

Ouch! This is a sign of inexperience. First build is very rarely ever worth taking, and then only in the mid to late game when specific city connections are being contested.

How about to take first build on the first turn if their is a single spot with 2 2-link shipments as a means of denying it (and the 4 income) to a locomotive selecting player?


In a six player game, yes, because someone HAS to take First Build in the first turn. (Production is completely useless on the first turn as there are no empty spaces on the Goods Display to place cubes.)

On the first turn, I would take Loco, Urbanization as the clear top two.. Engineer is next--if you have enough cash after the bidding to afford the builds and expenses. If you are fourth or fifth, First Build and Turn Order or next. First Shipment is usually noy useful this early in the game.

Delivering 2 cubes for 4 is not necessarily a game winner--it is a nice start (mainly because he got Loco), but there's many ways to hamper him he just put a huge target on his forehead: stealing cubes, blocking access to the yellow & purple cities on the edges, etc.
 
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J C Lawrence
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wtrollkin2000 wrote:
clearclaw wrote:
Phelonius wrote:
Taking First Build (an odd opener...

Ouch! This is a sign of inexperience. First build is very rarely ever worth taking, and then only in the mid to late game when specific city connections are being contested.

How about to take first build on the first turn if their is a single spot with 2 2-link shipments as a means of denying it (and the 4 income) to a locomotive selecting player?


Sure, a reasonable choice and not a terrible choice, but certainly not an obvious choice. Its usually better to exit the first turn with a 3 train with 2 income than a 2 train and 4 income ((4+3)<(2+3+3) -- both ending you at the same place: 3 Links in turn three). Even better of course is to enter turn three with 4 Links.
 
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Derek Gallacher
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Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know - first build was bad and it bit me. It was worth the attempt IF it had worked, which I realize was unlikely; not impossible, just unlikely.

Still fun duking it out with Bill the entire game - Rat Bastard stole my 4 And 5 routes TWICE! Not just a four once. So yuk
 
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Rob Leveille
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And I really hope 'spreadsheeting' isn't the way we're supposed to be figuring this stuff out. I think I'd rather it 'play it out' and learn the hard way. if it starts to feel like work, then i think I'll need a new hobby.
 
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J C Lawrence
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Phelonius wrote:
And I really hope 'spreadsheeting' isn't the way we're supposed to be figuring this stuff out. I think I'd rather it 'play it out' and learn the hard way. if it starts to feel like work, then i think I'll need a new hobby.


A spreadsheet isn't required. It is merely a simple way of demonstrating the arithmetic sequences involved in a way that people can play with and "prove" to themselves. Just why is Locomotive so clearly the most valuable action? How much better than the others is it really? You could as easily demonstrate the same sequences with a pencil and paper in a few minutes or just do it in your head before nodding off to sleep. There's no rocket science here, just simple addition.
 
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