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Subject: first play rss

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Eric Flood
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Today, I convinced my game group to try out RRT - they are normally never interested in things other than TTR (never noticed the inverse nature of their acronym relationship before...), Carc, Settlers, and Puerto Rico. Anyway, they were less than thrilled at the prospect of playing a game that came in such a huge box (big box = complicated and long, right?).

So we followed the rules for new players, and took out the roles, the cards, and the western links.

It started out a bit chaotically, I explained the rules but many were missed. One player in particular was having a difficult time with a few rules/concepts, and another who was getting things more quickly was having no patience for it, making things a bit stressed. After the second turn we decided to stop bidding for first place, as it was taking too long for us to figure out if it was worth it to bid, and the benefits were much less than a normal game. We just handed the first-player marker to the next player each new turn.

They laughed about the overproduction of the empty city markers, but I noticed that by the end of the game that the board had become rather aesthetically pleasing. The board (notably the middle board) had a little bit of warp issue, but nothing horrible (half a centimeter raised up at max) that some earnest flattening wouldn't take care of.

The game took about 2 1/2 hours after rules explanation. Some of them really disliked it in the beginning, but once they grasped the mechanics, they were excited about playing it again, while others had the opposite reaction. The general consensus was that we were taking too long to do our turns, which delayed the game and made some people more irritable.

If you are playing this where everyone (or the majority of players) are new to this type of game, I would definitely suggest playing without the extra features, as well as removing the first turn auctioning.

All in all, I definitely had a good time playing the game, and have no real complaints aside from the unrealistic nature of the shares. We discussed a variant where you could sell back your shares while taking a 3 VP hit, but it would probably be used to push yourself back into the 25K zone after peaking the money cap, and make buying tons of shares at the beginning a more winning maneuver in the end.

The biggest question we had, particularly early game, was this: how many shares should you have by the end of the game (ballpark figure)?

We wound up with 4, 8, 9, and 11. Does it ever logically reach some insane number like 36? I think the maximum everyone could have at one time in a six player game is 24, but I'd have to actually count it to check that figure.
 
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Matthew Jensen
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Glad your group enjoyed the game!

blueatheart wrote:
All in all, I definitely had a good time playing the game, and have no real complaints aside from the unrealistic nature of the shares. We discussed a variant where you could sell back your shares while taking a 3 VP hit, but it would probably be used to push yourself back into the 25K zone after peaking the money cap, and make buying tons of shares at the beginning a more winning maneuver in the end.


I think your assumptions are correct on why you can't get rid of Shares. Being able to buy back shares would make the game a blitzkrieg action where everyone takes a bunch of shares and blasts through the most advantageous areas with plans to try to pay it all off later. Strategy would be lost and that 25K zone for income would be too much.

Tying it to reality, I like to explain it as that shares are investment money from parties who are interested in making money. If your business is doing well then they are doing well. They have no incentive to pull out of their side of your business. There weren't many day traders back in those days. They are along for the ride and you just have to be thankful that they gave you the money to get started.

However, if you did want to put a realistic share buy back option, I would suggest a more stringent penalty. Share holders only sell back shares if they are making a profit. A 2-to-1 ot 3-to-1 ratio would give such an incentive. So instead of taking a VP penalty you are paying $10,000-$15,000 to get out of those $5,000 shares you purchased.

blueatheart wrote:
The biggest question we had, particularly early game, was this: how many shares should you have by the end of the game (ballpark figure)?


This is a tricky question. It depends on your style of play. I've got conservative players who regularly only go between 4 and 8 shares for the entire game. I usually go between 8 and 12 unless I have a huge move that needs to be made to insure victory. However, there is a school of thought that you build big and build fast. They usually end up in the high teens to low twenties before the end of the game. So all in all, there isn't a definitive answer for how many shares you should have. The game has too many strategies and too many options to determine a perfect blend.

Hope my limited insight helps you enjoy the game a bit more. I know I sure like it!

Keep on gaming!
 
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Rick Holzgrafe
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You really should give it a try with the full rules. I think RRT without cards, auctions, and Western Links is a much-diminished game. However it is a game that takes at least one playing to get a feel for what the cards and opportunities are worth, so some patience is required while everyone gets up to speed.

The auctions will be slow in turns where it matters: that's typically the first few turns, when there are significant scoring opportunities available; middle turns when a particularly juicy card appears; and occasional later turns when a couple of players are concerned about priority in some private competition of their own. The rest of the time, the auctions are brief because nobody needs to care much about the turn order.

Shares, IMHO, are a matter of spending them when you need them. You can win with two shares (or less!) and you can win with a dozen and a half, if you take them at the right times. The right time is any time you need to spend in order to keep your development from lagging. Time is of the essence and you must not fall behind the other players.

A gratuitous example: This weekend I won a game with a bit over a dozen shares outstanding. I didn't want to take out that many, but under pressure from other players I had to take a sub-optimal route. I had to build some long links now and upgrade my engine now and, in the last turn, pay for a Western Link. This got me 25 extra points in assorted bonuses. The extra shares cut into my winnings, of course, but this strategy shot me up from third place or so to a comfortable win.

Railroad Tycoon isn't to everyone's taste, but if you haven't played with the full rules, then you really can't evaluate the game. Give it a try!
 
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