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Subject: 3 Player Northern England tryout rss

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Lee Hancox
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With 3 of us at the table we decided to try something different to the standard map. I downloaded and printed out the Northern England map from fellonmyhead. http://www.boardgamegeek.com/fileinfo.php?fileid=13128
Very few rule changes to this map so was simple to implement, in fact no real rule changes except remove black urbanization tiles. The changes are really on specific rules to a couple of the towns.

The map represents the North of England (as you'd expect) is 6 pages, but over laps, so really its just about 2.5 pages wide by 2 pages deep. Square frame with water on the east & west coast. The major points are as follows:
large mountain range runs through the middle of the board separating by cost two side, most places its 3 tiles across to get over, at usual mountain costs. Also a mountains down the bottom half of the west coast and a small one up north near Kendall, which makes nice mint cakes, but I digress. Two ports on the east and west coasts, more on those later and two southern cities at the bottom of the map which have special production rules.

The two cities in the south are main feeders of goods, they have 2 numbers so have twice the opportunity to produce, having access to these is good, in fact early access to this is the reason our winner won. More on that later. There is also the 2 ports, which are purple, they start of with 2 goods, but do not have normal production rules. If when you roll the dice you throw a number that has no goods left, the port gets one instead, so in the case of our game, number 3 was empty, we threw two 3's, so the port got 2 cubes. This makes the ports very good to be in towards the end of the game, their position on the coast (where else would they be?) makes them hard to have multiple players in and out though.

Every thing else is played the same. We put out the goods and spent 10 minutes trying to work out what we would do, there seemed to be lots of opportunities early, but all seemed short term, there is large tracts of land between cities, we knew that urbanisation and engineer was to play a bigger part in this game of 3.
We took shares, Terry took 2 and Dave and I took 1. Terry won the bid and urbanized in the north east. i had first build and built in the north west, there was 2 blacks and 2 yellows that could give me a early two city delivery, although i took first build it meant i had to burn a delivery to get to loco 2. Dave took engineer and built towards the major southern city in the southeast side, a move that turned out to be a winning move. Don't get me wrong, the game is not all over based on opening moves, but not recognising how the goods would play out cost the two of us dearly.
I then systematically moved south on 'my' half of the board whilst the other two moved south and north and competed on their side of the range.
I found it hard to not have to take shares each turn, i was very quick in breaking even but the expense of expanding south was constantly making me poor, I had income and could always pay my expenses, but never enough to not expand. There are a couple of turns where you need 4 or 5 links and have to invest in that.
Terry, sick of the conflict in the west tried to run the mountain range and come down to see all the goods building up in the southern city, this was scoring every time a 1 or 2 was thrown, by now had 6 cubes in it. Unfortunately for him, once over the mountain he found me already in the port town and there was not much he could shift due to the 'has to stop at the goods color' rule.
By about 2/3rds through he game we were all making profit, shipping 5 or 6 (in my case), but Dave had 3 shares less then us, due to his early use of the southern city giving him plenty to ship. The ports began to play a role as the goods track starting to be reduced, but not as strategic as I thought, again it was the whim of luck that determines how good they will be.
By the end we felt that we should have played to the 4 player track, not the 3 player, it seemed 2 or 3 turns too many. So one piece of advice is to play to 4 player with 3.
Final scoring:

Lee Dave Terry
Points: 40 40 39
Track: 26 21 24
Shares 8 5 8

Score 122 126 117

So as you can see a very close game. We enjoyed it very much, i think that it would a great game with 4, and hope to do that soon. There was much thinking and strategizing, and for the first time in my AoS playing I suffered from AP, not for long, just I couldn't work out which was the best options, that is more about playing on a big map with 3 than anything else. I would fully recommend this map to any AoS fan. Enjoyable and fun, with lots of decisions, buildings and opportunities. It seems very balanced, the southern towns are very nice, but its going to cost you to have the opportunity and it costs you building up and out of there. In a 4 player game I would imagine though that it could turn out to be a game of two halfs with 2 players fighting it out on either side, the cost of crossing the mountains and getting to anything profitable is expensive, so we will see how that plays out.

Give it a go, well worth the cost of printing.


 
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J C Lawrence
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Age of Steam: North of England is perhaps at its best with 5 players.
 
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Lee Hancox
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Ok. I am certainly interested in seeing it scale out. Will try for 5 this week.
 
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John Paul Sodusta
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Yeah, I have great success with this map with 5 players. I even used it to teach AoS to 2 new players in a 5 player game.
 
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J C Lawrence
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Barkam wrote:
Yeah, I have great success with this map with 5 players. I even used it to teach AoS to 2 new players in a 5 player game.


A good resource for advised player counts in Age of Steam maps is the geeklist on the subject:

http://boardgamegeek.com/geeklist/15206
 
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