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Chicago Express» Forums » Rules

Subject: New to the game, clarifications rss

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aij il
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To fans of the game,

I just got chicago express after a passionate review on reddit. I played a 2 player game to 'see what it was about' and get a better handle on the rules before introducing it to my board game group.
After playing, having an awful time, and then spending a lot of time on the BGG forums, I think I've identified my mistakes but would like some clarifications as well as tips/strategies.

1. Every 'turn' for a player means selecting 1 'action' (auction, expand, develop).
- We definitely messed this up, we just did as many actions as we wanted in our turn until the dial hit red for that action. After the iniial auction, the round should go. P1=Action, P2=Auction, P1=Expand etc. etc. until 2 dials are red?

2. We completely glossed over the null-capitalization action. I still struggle to understand the specifics. Basically, I can declare an auction action, then do not put up a share? Thereby moving the dial 1, but not doing anything? This seems weird to me, I get that it's a strong move in the game, but the fact that we can just say 'i declare nothing' seems odd.

3. Calling an expansion action, this means I move the expansion dial 1, and can buy up to 3 tracks/trains right? (Each train does not mean move the dial). Is there any reason not to buy 3 tracks (ignoring not enough money)?

4. Develop seems super weak in this new context of 1 action per player, at best you get 1/2 income for the railway, but wouldn't you always rather move forward to chicago?

5. Embarassingly we missed the end condition 'once 3 companies run out of shares'. And kept playing after that. It seems like this is the most common game ender. I understand that players with more money should want to end the game quickly, and those with more shares want to extend the game. However, I am having trouble identifying the balance, it seems like getting others to overvalue the shares they bought, then buying up cheap shares is an easy way to both threaten end game and have more shares in case the other players want to extend the game.

Would love people's thoughts. Browsing through, even the 'tips for beginners' threads all assume from a complete novice standpoint, a lot of knowledge on the strategy of the game which really turned me off.

small rant: I'm not sure if it was because my edition (got it on amazon). But the rules were littered with typos, grammatical issues, and general non-specificness. Not to pass the blame, but we had a lot of issue parsing the rule book and really missing 'why' for a lot of it.

PS: hypothetically, since knowledge is open and clear and there is no luck involved, wouldn't it be possible to think 15 moves ahead and win? therefore really biasing towards those types of people (think chess) and not really giving a chance to people that don't want to think that way? or is this game really geared to those type of people?
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Billy McBoatface
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1. Yup. One action. Next player.

2. Yup. You say "I'm going to move dial x", move it, that's your turn.

3. I'm not sure I've ever seen anybody buy fewer trains than they can afford. It's allowed, but as you point out, if you're going to expand, you'll usually expand all you can.

4. Towards the end of the game, money (personal cash, not cash held by the companies) is all that matters. There are times when development gives you more cash than anything else.

5. I don't see a question here...yes, it is a tricky balance, play and see what happens.

PS: Yes, you could brute force the whole game tree. But it's hard. Really hard. Not sure that a chess background would help you out here.
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Chris Smith
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ilaij wrote:
2. We completely glossed over the null-capitalization action. I still struggle to understand the specifics. Basically, I can declare an auction action, then do not put up a share? Thereby moving the dial 1, but not doing anything? This seems weird to me, I get that it's a strong move in the game, but the fact that we can just say 'i declare nothing' seems odd.

This controls the pace of the game. Let's say you want to be first after a dividend round, you can control the pace by doing the null action.

Or let's say you're short on cash and would get crippled by an auction round with someone else getting a share. Move the dial and limit others actions.

I don't see why it seems odd. Imagine a company gets ready to develop or build track only to cancel at the last minute. Same with offering shares, they renege.

[EDIT] This is my favourite game; I couldn't imagine playing it with only two players.
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David Timmerman
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1. Every 'turn' for a player means selecting 1 'action' (auction, expand, develop).

If you played this wrong, I'm not sure you really got a "Chicago Express" experience. That would be a completely different game if you were taking many actions each turn.

2. We completely glossed over the null-capitalization action. I still struggle to understand the specifics.
I'm pretty sure you can take a null action on any dial. Just advance the dial and do nothing. It is safe to ignore this for the first couple of games until everyone really understands the strategies.


3. Calling an expansion action, this means I move the expansion dial 1, and can buy up to 3 tracks/trains right? (Each train does not mean move the dial). Is there any reason not to buy 3 tracks (ignoring not enough money)?
Correct, moving the dial 1 space allows for building 3 tracks. Typically you will build 3 tracks if possible but there are exceptions to every rule.

4. Develop seems super weak in this new context of 1 action per player, at best you get 1/2 income for the railway, but wouldn't you always rather move forward to chicago?
Building track requires the railroad to have money that the players had to give the railroad during auctions. The money is your victory points.
My experience:
If the railroad I want to improve has lots of money, I'm probably better off adding tracks. If the railroad that I want to improve is short on cash, developing can be a better choice than auctioning another share since that costs me a turn and I have no guarantee that I'll win the auction for the price I want.
Choosing where to spend your limited actions is critical to success.

5. Embarassingly we missed the end condition 'once 3 companies run out of shares'. And kept playing after that. It seems like this is the most common game ender. I understand that players with more money should want to end the game quickly, and those with more shares want to extend the game. However, I am having trouble identifying the balance, it seems like getting others to overvalue the shares they bought, then buying up cheap shares is an easy way to both threaten end game and have more shares in case the other players want to extend the game.
Key Point: When you bid for shares you are basically stating how long you think the game will last because the longer the game lasts from that point, the more money you will make from that share so the higher you are willing to bid.

If one or more players are over-bidding for shares (very common with new players because they want to be involved), it is in the other players best interest to end the game as quickly as possible so that the player that over-bid gets less money back from the share he bought. You normally end the game quickly by taking lots of auction actions.
If the other players are not over-bidding or under-bidding, and I keep taking auction actions to end the game early, I will probably lose because the railroads I end up owning shares in are less likely to be valuable since I'm not taking actions to improve their value and I'm not making up those point via bidding mistakes by other players.

Note: Ending games via shares is the very common in my experience.

I hope this is helpful.





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Paul Schorfheide
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ilaij wrote:

4. Develop seems super weak in this new context of 1 action per player, at best you get 1/2 income for the railway, but wouldn't you always rather move forward to chicago?


Another point is that if develop never happens, there will always be 8 actions per round which determines who the first player in the next round (who can make the first auction.) Develop can be useful to change the number of actions and thus the starting player position.
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I feel like the best thing you can do is play the game with three players using the correct rules. Try to put your initial frustration behind you because I know how much that can taint a first impression, but the game is really something worth playing.
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ilaij wrote:

small rant: I'm not sure if it was because my edition (got it on amazon). But the rules were littered with typos, grammatical issues, and general non-specificness. Not to pass the blame, but we had a lot of issue parsing the rule book and really missing 'why' for a lot of it.


Rules are usually written very functionally - smallest word count possible (to keep it short) and to have the most precise wording. The end result is therefor not a very pleasant read. Once you have more experiences with different boardgame rules, it gets easier.

This particular game is with very simple rules complexity and the rulebook is good enough.
 
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