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Subject: A proposed RRT passenger variant rss

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John L
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I wrote up this (untested) variant for Railroad Tycoon, and am interested in comments, particularly if this creates any loopholes. There are some obvious places where numbers can change if the proposed figures upset play balance.

Purpose: To simulate the movement of passengers and immigrants on the U.S. rail system, and to mix up strategies used in the game.

Setup change:
As you place cubes on each city on the board, roll a six-sided die. If the roll is less than or equal to the number marked on the city, place ONE randomly selected meeple on the city along with the goods cubes. The meeple should be either red, blue, purple, black, or yellow, corresponding with the city colors on the map. (Green meeples can be used in place of purple).

For business and pleasure, these meeples want to go to a city bearing their color (and green ones want to go to purple cities).

Play change:
Each TURN, after a card is drawn but before the auction, roll a six-sided die. On a one or a two, a new immigrant will become available for movement. These represent people who wish to move out of their port of entry elsewhere into the United States. If an immigrant becomes available, roll the die again to determine where the immigrant will be placed:

1-2 New York
3-4 New Orleans
5 Charleston
6 Boston

Choose a random meeple and place them in this city.

As his/her action during a round, a player may move a meeple along the rail network, following the same rules as moving a goods cube. When the meeple reaches a destination, the player receives victory points equal to TWICE the number of links traveled (6 links = 12 victory points). Moving these meeples does not, however, satisfy the requirements for any operations cards, particularly service bounties for goods cube deliveries.

Game Effects:
-Setup takes a lot longer.
-A meeple is more or less a super-goods cube.
-Can make typically unused cities more worthwhile; can alter strategies based on initial placement of meeples.

Add-on 1:
Major change: Adds city-building gray immigrant meeples.

Play change:
When an immigrant becomes available, instead of a randomly colored meeple, place a GRAY meeple in the city you rolled. The gray meeple functions differently than the colored meeples. (Alternative: throw the grays in with the rest and draw them randomly; the following rules will apply only to grays; the above rules apply to the other colors.)

Gray meeples are worth NO victory points when moved, with one exception, noted below. They can go to any GRAY city within range of your rail network. When they arrive, they function just like a free "URBANIZE" action ... the player chooses a color for the city and adds two goods cubes, ending his round.

HOWEVER, Any gray meeple who is moved to the western link, which counts as one additional link beyond KC or Des Moines, is taken off the board and is worth 2 victory points per link to the owner of each link. The western link counts as a standard link for this purpose.

Effects:
-Simulates growth of United States; makes it easier for new cities to appear.
-Makes western link more valuable.
-May extend the game.
-May also bring the southwestern cities more into play due to proximity to New Orleans.

Add-on 2:
Major change: Now links have to be upgraded in order to carry passengers. ANY player can build a passenger link on ANY player's existing link that is not already a passenger route. Ownership of a passenger route is marked by using a colored train car, or marker, or something that matches the player's engine color. Ticket to Ride cars may work for this purpose.

Play change:
Passenger routes can be built in two situations.

1) When a player COMPLETES a link between two cities during his/her action, he/she has the option of immediately upgrading the route to a passenger link, so it can carry both cargo and people. This costs $3,000 and does not count as an additional action. This gives the player completing a link dibs on the upgrade to a passenger link, and it represents the cost of building train stations for passengers and buying and operating passenger cars.

2) For his/her action during a round, a player may upgrade ANY existing route on the link to a passenger link. This costs $5,000. Of this, $3,000 goes to the bank (to pay for infrastructure) and $2,000 is paid to the player who first built the link (for permission to operate on his line).

If one player built a link and another player performed the upgrade for passengers, they can only move items appropriate to their operations. A player who owns a passenger link can move passengers along that route, but not goods cubes. The player who owns the original (cargo) link can move goods cubes but not passengers.

Passenger links do NOT count toward satisfying "major line" card requirements.

Example: BLACK builds a two-hex link in open terrain from Milwaukee to Chicago for $4,000, and places a black locomative on the route. BLACK decides not to pay additional $3,000 to create a passenger link. Then, on RED's turn, RED spends $5,000 to create the passenger link between Milwaukee and Chicago, placing a red passenger car on the existing link behind the black engine.

RED pays $3,000 to the bank and $2,000 to BLACK. Now, BLACK receives victory points for goods cubes moved between Milwaukee and Chicago, and RED receives victory points for moving passengers.

2nd Example: BLACK builds the link from Milwaukee to Chicago, and elects to immediately upgrade it to a passenger route. BLACK places both a black locomative and black passenger car on the link. The total cost to BLACK is $7,000. Now, only BLACK can receive victory points for cargo and passengers moving on the link.

Effects:
-Allows players to make money and maybe build cities off other people's links, leading to a much more interlinked board.
-Makes moving passenger meeples more expensive. Perhaps the reward for moving them should therefore increase to 3x links traveled. (Or perhaps it is too high without this variant).
-One-hex links can now have two cars (an engine and a passenger car) on them, so they'll get crowded.

Easy edits:
The costs for upgrading tracks I picked somewhat arbitrarily; I'm not sure if they are too high or low. The die rolls for the appearance and location of immigrants are also open to modification, as is the value of moving a gray meeple on the Western link.

Thanks for any thoughts folks can provide.

Cheers
JL
 
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Jon G
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A few quick thoughts...

Historical/Theme:
I may be wrong on this, but I believe most of the early RR profit came from freight, not passengers. So giving more points for passengers seems a bit off. Also, freight stations require more infrastructure than passenger stations, so charging extra for the latter is a bit odd. The grey immigrant meeples are great, though. I could see them being used without the others.

Game Balance:
If you're going to give twice as many points for meeples as goods, you must do something to make them cost more to "deliver". Otherwise the financial system gets very out of whack early. The passenger track variant makes them pay, but seems rather complicated in play.
I'm not sure I like the passenger distribution system, though... it puts more meeples in large cities, which while realistic, helps the big cities too much. A clever trick would be to roll a d2, d3, or d4 instead make rural passengers more likely.
Both the passenger distribution and the immigration cities you've chosen will (except for NO) strengthen the northeast and southeast, which (I feel) are the two strongest home bases. Maybe this convinces everyone to start on the east coast, which is historical but makes for a crowded start.
On the other hand, grey meeples can make a nice balance, since urbanizing cities is more useful west of the Appalachians. Then again, they make it easier to screw other players by urbanizing cities they wanted to stay grey (if I were the NE player, that's how I'd use my immigrants)

Suggestions:
How about making the passengers good for something besides points. Say you get N thousand in cash for taking a passenger N links (plus maybe half points?). Since they're worth no (or fewer) points, you don't need to charge extra for the privilege of carrying people.
Make the grey immigrant urbanizers more valuable by taking out the Urbanize cards. I'd also let grey cities start out with grey meeples to help urbanize the west.
 
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John L
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Thanks for looking these over. Good points all. I suppose I was thinking over the initial (non-gray) meeples as basically an uber-goods cube; i.e. there's fewer of them so they are worth more. They are also somewhat randomly distributed, with a concentration in the big cities. But without an additional cost to move them, they probably upset the balance of the early game being worth 2x victory points. Cash rather than income is not a bad idea ... they force the player to choose between short-term and long-term gain.
I reckon the 2x victory points model would still apply in the admittedly more complex build-passenger-routes-over-freight-routes option, given its added cost.
Also occured to me that moving meeples to hotel towns should probably be worth some additional bonus.

Cheers,
jl
 
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John L
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Tried a version of this in a 2P game, using initial colored meeples and gray immigrant meeples. The colored meeples were worth $1 cash per link plus one new cube at the destination. The grays were essentially a "new industry" card.

Can't say it added much to the game. The colored meeples were almost never used, but they kept some otherwise empty cities from going fully unoccupied, thus extending the game. I used the grays twice. I'd say I'd lower their frequency to 1 in 6 per turn, and add Chicago as a city where they might show up.

I think the only way to make the colored meeples useful is to make them worth 1 income per link, plus a new cube at destination as the bonus. For any city that rolls up a colored meeple at the game's start, the meeple should replace one existing cube.
 
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Glenn Drover
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The cubes in RRT actually represent marketshare more than "goods" or "freight". Once a railroad delivers a cube, it is really acquiring that share of the market coming out of the city of origination.

The fact that the Eastern Seaboard has more cities with more cubes represents large population centers full of passengers, immigration, imports, and industry. The red cites represent exports (or in the case of Chicago, a hub for eventual exports). I wanted to make New Orleans red, but it disrupted the balance of the game.

 
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Glenn Drover
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dr.mrow wrote:

Historical/Theme:
I may be wrong on this, but I believe most of the early RR profit came from freight, not passengers. So giving more points for passengers seems a bit off. Also, freight stations require more infrastructure than passenger stations, so charging extra for the latter is a bit odd. The grey immigrant meeples are great, though. I could see them being used without the others.



Actually most early railroad profit came from passengers. Mail was then added and eventually freight lines.

 
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Glenn Drover
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I like the idea of adding immigrants, but a better implementation might be to just add a card that acts like a hotel in reverse: Payment for each cube taken FROM a city.

OR

A card that Adds a random cube to X city at the end of every turn.

The cities could be: New York, Boston, New Orleans, and perhaps Savannah or Charleston.

Adding these cards would SURELY increase the level of competition for those already valuable Eastern seaboard cities. No longer could a player afford to start in the midwest (which is a-historical anyway).



 
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