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Subject: Oh, so worth it rss

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Andrew J.
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My father-in-law recommended RR to me and I bought it tentatively, because it's rather heavy compared to what I normally play. I am fine with heavy games, but my group is not. Still, I decided to give it a whirl. Last Saturday we had only two people show up for game group, so I decided to give 3p Russian Railroads a try.

Rules:
These are long but well-organized. I love how it starts with broad areas of the board and then drills down into every individual action. Even though we had a long time to explain, I think we all grasped it well. I'd watched rahdo and a few other playthroughs just to make sure I got it.

We realized partway through we'd forgotten the 3P rule of removing one train from each stack, so we removed one train from each of the remaining stacks (I think it was 5-9 left) to compensate.

Gameplay:
Ashley started off really strong with an industry focus. The extra actions she was unlocking and her extra points meant she pulled in two or three really valuable 30 point turns. She was well ahead of Nathan and I on the board to start with.

I focused entirely on the trans-Siberian track and doublers -- I didn't advance my industry at all the entire game. I started very slowly, but was getting a lot of doublers out and some valuable engineers, so I was hoping my strategy would pay off by the end of the game.

Nathan sort of dabbled -- a death blow in this game -- and didn't end up with many engineers or much progress on any track. He got about halfway on both industry and the trans-Siberian, but didn't make it much more than that. I think a lack of engineers really sunk him, to be honest. He also didn't bid on first player except at the very end, so that hurt him as well.

-

Midway through the game, I'm starting to pick up steam and decide to push for some bonus tokens. I got the revaluation token and also got the final bonus score card token. Ashley grabbed two or three bonus tokens and used them all to further her industry, though her second token only made it to the end by the last round (if she had gotten it there a few rounds earlier, the game might have gone differently).

In the last round, Ashley got her industry as far as it would go and starting working on some trains. I had a monster final round as I (mistakenly, it turns out) got my third bonus token on the trans-Siberian and unlocked the Kiev medal. I did power my grey train to the Kiev medal, but Nathan pointed out that I'd only powered the trans-Siberian to 12, not 13, meaning I didn't have enough to actually collect a bonus token. I just took it and crossed my fingers that I'd have enough points.

What made the difference in the game ended up being my engineer. I moved black two innocuous spaces and got out my white train -- that coupled with the revaluation and the doublers meant that I instantly shot up 60 points. This is huge and I think you cannot win on the trans-Siberian without getting that white train out.

Turns out, I didn't even need the Kiev medal as I cruised to a cushy win, 398 to 365 to 316. Ashley got the engineer bonus and I took second place.

Impressions
Loved the game. I'm not ready for the expansion yet (I'm not confident we'll get it played enough to merit that) but definitely am intrigued. I liked my Kiev/Trans-Siberian strategy but would like to try winning by unlocking my extra trains and then focusing entirely on the two shorter railroads. I also know industry is a really valuable track so might try another game where I focus entirely on that as Ashley did this time.

Overall, I loved it, I think Nathan and Ashley did as well, and we'll have to try to get it out again at some point. Very solid game, really enjoyed it.
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Ben Wickens
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3 is a great number to learn the game but the game shines brightest at 4. With 4 there is much more tension for all the squares on the board and several players will be going for the same scoring routes so there will be more competition.

The German Railroads expansion makes the game even better with more options, more variety and more competition. It greatly enhances the game at all counts but particularly 2-3. It is a great game without the expansion though.
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Andrew J.
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Dying to try the four player game. We just had a shortage of folks at game night. I'm also dying to try the expansions, but those will have to wait.
 
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