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Subject: Best 2-Player Map? rss

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T. Rosen
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I've been wanting to play more Age of Steam lately, and in an effort to get it to the table more, I've decided that I'd like to try printing out a good 2-player map. After searching around BGG for a while, I've discovered the following seven 2-player maps. My first question is which of these is the best? Which sould I start with? Which have you enjoyed the most? The seven maps are:

Alpha Centauri
Austria
Corsica
Mongolia
Reunion Island
Scotland
Umbria

It's also obviously possible that I missed some two-player maps, so let me know which I've missed and whether they're even better than these. Also let me know if some of these aren't print-and-play (Reunion Island?) because I doubt I could get my hands on one if it weren't available to print. Scotland looks especially good, but just curious what people who have played some or all of these think.

My second question is for tips on how to go about printing these out. Should I bring the map file to Kinko's? Should I bring it on CD or USB jump-drive? Should I ask for a particular size or type of paper? What about color vs. black/white, is the former affordable? I've never really dealt with Kinko's, so any tips on this would be much appreciated.

Thanks in advance for your help
 
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Michael Webb
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I can help you out a bit.

The only officially released 2 player maps to date are Reunion Island and Austria. I have only played RU, and I do not think it is worth the 75-100$ price tag. Austria looks like it will be good, but I haven't had a chance to play it yet.

I have played none of the print and plays yet, though Bohrer has endorsed Scotland.

As far as actually getting them printed out, it will vary with the map. If you're taking it to Kinkos the #1 thing you need to do is be sure that the file is a PDF, because if it isn't they add a surcharge for each file printed out. Most of the 2 player maps are actually formatted for standard 8.5x11" paper though, so you can print them out at home. IMO it's not worth professionally printing them out, but YMMV.

11x17 sheets of light cardboard (actually cover stock in printing industry lingo, but they seem to call it cardboard around here...) are 2.50 per sheet...and I think some of the expansions come in that format. I'm not sure how much the standard size sheets would be if you wanted them in heavier format.

I would definitely opt for colour printing in any case...otherwise it would be difficult to differentiate the terrain in some cases.
 
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Pierre Paquet
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We played the Austria and Reunion Island 2 players expansion maps but they are not available on a large scale. So I would recommend strongly Umbria, Scotland and Alpha Centauri as they are available through BGG. These maps are well balanced and we had a good time for 2 players game. We played these maps with the excellent turn order rule from the Austria map from John Bohrer.

Here is links to some of our session reports on these maps:

Umbria:
http://www.boardgamegeek.com/article/1122286#1122286

Scotland:
http://www.boardgamegeek.com/article/1185202#1185202

Alpha Centauri
http://www.boardgamegeek.com/article/1257855#1257855

 
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Mikko Saari
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I've got Scotland, haven't tried it yet. Getting it printed was a breeze: I emailed the PDF to a local copy shop and picked up the complete product the next day. I had it printed in colour on cardboard (I asked for cardboard as thick as post cards), laminated and there's a nice fold in the middle too (I don't know the technical term in English). That cost me four euros. The result is a neat, tidy map that'll stay in great shape and fits in the AoS box, too.
 
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Panagiotis Zinoviadis
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How did the people at the copy shop managed the fold in the middle?
 
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Mikko Saari
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ZiNOS wrote:
How did the people at the copy shop managed the fold in the middle?


It's a standard procedure, they probably have a machine for it. They could do it even though the map was laminated. Apparently it's called "creasing" in English.
 
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Panagiotis Zinoviadis
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thnx. I have to check with my photocopy center.

Cheers.
 
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Marc P
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I enjoyed the Scotland Map, and AC should have the same tightness, as it's based on Scotland.

One word of warning regarding Scotland...one 2p variant with the Rust Belt map (using 1/2 the board) is to mark actions as you take them, so the same actions aren't available in consecutive rounds. This means, for example, that two towns won't get Urbanized in consecutive rounds. This rule variant doesn't work with Scotland, as it's designed (I think) to have more than the 4-5 Urbanizations you get using this rule in order to exploit the features of the map. And maybe I'm the only person who did this, but just in case...
 
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T. Rosen
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Thanks everyone for your feedback! I just got back from picking up my nice new copy of Age of Steam: Scotland from the copy shop. I had it printed in color, on 11x17 cardstock, and laminated, for only $6 and it looks great! I'm really looking forward to trying it out soon. While I was at it, I also had printed the Age of Steam Cards uploaded by Sterling Babcock (sbabcock), available at http://www.boardgamegeek.com/fileinfo.php?fileid=14631. I had those printed in color, on 8.5x11 cardstock, and laminated too.

Michael: Thanks so much for your detailed explanation. I guess I'll pass on Reunion Island and Austria, even though until now I've stuck with the "officially released" maps, because I just can't justify those kinds of prices. Thanks for letting me know that the Scotland map was endorsed by Bohrer, that may have pushed me over the edge into getting it professionally printed. Thanks also for the advice about converting the files to PDF, I did that using Adobe's site, which worked great, although now it looks like I'm out of free conversions, anywhere else you can convert things to PDF for free by any chance? I actually brought the files to the nearest FedEx Kinko's, but the guy there told me that they're not actually a Kinko's, fancy that, just a FedEx, but they all say both now for some reason, ah well. So I brought the files to the University's copy shop, and they did a great job. I guess Scotland is formatted for 11x17 because when I tried printing it out on my printer, the hexes were too small for the tiles. Which maps are formatted for just 8.5x11, I guess I can do those right here? Anyway, thanks for all your advice and info, I really appreciate it.

Pierre: Thanks for posting the links to your session reports for the 2-player maps, that was really helpful! I'll start with Scotland, and then if that goes well, probably try to get Umbria and Alpha Centauri printed too. I'm not sure what you mean about the "excellent turn order rule from the Austria map from John Bohrer"? Is that just where you alternate who goes first instead of bidding for turn order? Are the normal Scotland rules just to bid on turn order? Everything seems clear to me about the Scotland map except turn order (and the exact rules for the Glasgow-Ayr connection), so whether both players pay the full amount if you do an auction or just one, or if its better just to alternate? And what would happen to the alternating if someone took the "Turn Order" action to get to go first automatically the next turn...

Mikko: Thanks! I think your summary of how easy it was to get a nice copy of the Scotland map printed definitely helped convince me to go ahead and get the map prnted professionally for myself too. I also brought a PDF to a local copy shop, and they printed it in color on cardstock and laminated it, and it looks fantastic, thanks again!

Marc: Thanks for the word of warning about Scotland. I haven't tried that 2-player variant for the Rust Belt map (although now I want to, link to the rules?), so I doubt I'll get it mixed up with Scotland, but I'll be sure to make sure all the actions are available every turn for Scotland, which will be even easier now thanks to my handy new role cards courtesy of Sterling Babcock.

Thanks again everyone
 
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Michael Webb
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Of the 2 player maps that I have printed out, which is only Scotland and Alpha Centauri, the AC is the one that is on 8.5x11 stock.

As for PDF files, no idea beyond finding someone who has Photoshop or Illustrator on their computer. I suppose if there was a need I or someone else could probably convert the files that are up on the Geek into that format and re-upload them. As I said, Kinko's has a nasty surcharge policy for non-PDF file printing at this point, so I would definitely be sure to only take files of that type to their locations.
 
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Chris White
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Another two-player Age of Steam idea that I've found to be surprisingly effective is to just give each player two separate railroads to run, and have the final score be the sum of your two roads' scores. Obviously, this opens up the board a little bit (since each railroad is only really competing with two of the other colors), so it'll make for a somewhat loose game on the Rust Belt map. Also, since you're summing the two roads, there can obviously be a lot of cooperation between the two, giving income links to each other where it's most helpful, working in tandem to try and dominate cites, etc. But each road still has to balance its own books. It's different, to be sure. But it really does work.
 
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Pierce Ostrander
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Link to the 2 player rules using the standard map
Link to the 2 player rules using the standard map:

http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/81202
 
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Pierce Ostrander
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Link to the AOS Scotland Geek Page
Link to the AOS Scotland Geek Page:

http://www.boardgamegeek.com/game/36377
 
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Michael Webb
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Well over a year later I can chime in with a bit of additional information:

I still haven't played the print and plays (too many real releases for me to deal with, in addition to my own prototypes) but I have played Ted's new 2 player releases and while I don't like Jamaica, I think St. Lucia is easily the most interesting 2 player map. It contains novel rules that are not used elsewhere, and mechanics that I think could be potentially chaotic if it were ever reused in a larger player count game.

The auction is still always going to be a mess for 2 player AoS...eliminating it takes away one of my favourite things from the game, leaving it in as is doesn't work that well either.

I'm overall very apathetic about 2 player AoS in general, but if you really want to play it with that many people, then I think St. Lucia is definitely your best bet right now with Austria being a fairly distant second.
 
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