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Great Western Trail: Rails to the North» Forums » Reviews

Subject: Rails to the North takes GWT from "good" to "great" rss

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Chad Weaver
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I have about 25 plays of GWT. I have enjoyed it every time, but recently I've begun to think that the game is a bit scripted. What I mean is there are some things you just have to do or must not do. For instance, in my experience, you can't win trying to do a bit of everything. And you also can't win if you try deck-thinning. Additionally, if you get off on the wrong track, there is little chance to rectify things.

This expansion feels like a bit of a sandbox. There are multiple ways to get what you need when you need it. And I think that opens up options and possibilities.

The two biggest differences, in my opinion, are the medium towns and the Denver/8 delivery spot with a black border. The medium towns open up ways to get a cow or some money, some trashing at the right time, a discount hire, a free build, or a train boost. Not all those things are accessible all the time, but being able to have alternate access, or additional access to them can be critical. Denver, with its herd value 8, has relieved the do-or-die nature of hitting 10 early. I often found myself crawling along the board on my 2nd or 3rd pass, picking up the extra certificates or cycling my deck to squeeze out 10. Now instead of KC/KC/Albuquerque, I can go Chicago/Denver, and maybe add in a KC for money or St. Louis for access to a small town if I have a dud hand.

The Place a Branchlet action has a quite interesting effect I did not expect: deck-cycling happens many more times per game. As a Dominion fan, I love this. I'm getting to my new purchases sooner and I'm getting the benefit of trashing more effectively. I've only played with the expansion three times, but I have to believe trashing is viable--a deck with one of everything except 1s would be strong and attainable in time to matter.

The exchange tokens support the cycling as well, but also help you get the card you need when you need it. So far this has meant a bit more cash in the game (having the $2 discard when you need it), and slightly improved herd values later in the game.

The one thing I don't love so far is that the five original auxiliary actions now seem to be largely ignored. Perhaps that is just our initial groupthink and everyone anxious to try out the new stuff.

Overall, I'm very pleased with this expansion and would prefer to never play without it.
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Alexander Pfister
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Thanks for your review! By the way: The starting point of this expansion was, that cattles had to be delivered to the east, to New York.
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Chad Weaver
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AlexP wrote:
Thanks for your review! By the way: The starting point of this expansion was, that cattles had to be delivered to the east, to New York.


That reminds me of one more thing I really liked--the new station master tiles and the fact that all 11 are in every game. Game-end points from the variety of ways these provide them further support varying strategies.

Really great job!
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Tahsin Shamma
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AlexP wrote:
Thanks for your review! By the way: The starting point of this expansion was, that cattles had to be delivered to the east, to New York.


Finally! Steak in New York!
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Jack Francisco
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I wish I could get a copy. soblue
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Tahsin Shamma
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senorcoo wrote:
I wish I could get a copy. soblue


If we agree on a Tuesday to meet, I MIGHT let you play my copy Jack!
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Jack Francisco
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I think you're just trying to taunt me with it, Tahs!
 
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Joe Rakstad
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I always had suspected it would. Now, if I could just get my hands on a copy!!!
 
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Tahsin Shamma
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Is now the right time to start a huge complaint that Boston is not on the map?!?!
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Per Olander
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AlexP wrote:
Thanks for your review! By the way: The starting point of this expansion was, that cattles had to be delivered to the east, to New York.


I really love the expansion as well! My groups only concern is the 5vp contracts for delivering to San Fran... in our 10 plays with RttN, we havent delivered nearly as much to SF as we did before, so a lot of the time, 2-3 SF contracts end up on the table face up, so whenever we get to pick one, we often take a random face down instead...

did you see SF being used more or less during playtesting?
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Ossian Grr aka "Josh"
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veector wrote:
Is now the right time to start a huge complaint that Boston is not on the map?!?!


That's the next expansion, where you let the cows run free and create the roads.
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Alexander Pfister
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Per Olander wrote:
AlexP wrote:
Thanks for your review! By the way: The starting point of this expansion was, that cattles had to be delivered to the east, to New York.


I really love the expansion as well! My groups only concern is the 5vp contracts for delivering to San Fran... in our 10 plays with RttN, we havent delivered nearly as much to SF as we did before, so a lot of the time, 2-3 SF contracts end up on the table face up, so whenever we get to pick one, we often take a random face down instead...

did you see SF being used more or less during playtesting?

It is a little less I would say. SF gives you 10 VPs if you placed all branchlets - which is 1 VP more. But building to SF also costs you some actions.
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Dave Summers
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I haven’t seen much discussion about Memphis; for me, it’s the new Kansas City. If you’re first to get a branchlet down there, and then you deliver there (which unless you get a hand of 4 jerseys is assured) then you’ve got 4 dollars and an objective, compared to KC’s 6 dollars and -8VP. I pretty much always aim to deliver here first now. The -5VP gaps are quite interesting to, it’s surprisingly tricky to avoid hitting at least one of those, especially as the question of where to deliver to is now more complicated: where to deliver and which paths do I want to open up?
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/|\ Roland /|\
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Ok now it's killing me U.S. pre orders are not shipping.
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Randall Peek
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veector wrote:
Is now the right time to start a huge complaint that Boston is not on the map?!?!


And Paris! And Hong Kong! And Cape Town! What were they thinking?
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Evan Scussel
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Thanks for this review. I can't wait to try it out when my preorder gets delivered.

I've played GWT 14x. On my last play, I specifically tried a deck thinning strategy making my first disc removal the one that allows you to cull your deck and while I added some 3's, 4's and 5's to my deck, I never added cows the way I typically do. I think I only added like 18 points in cows.

I finished 3 points behind the winner, close enough for me to think that deck thinning is a viable strategy. So I wouldn't say you cannot win this game by deck thinning.
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Per Olander
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GoingTopShelf wrote:
Thanks for this review. I can't wait to try it out when my preorder gets delivered.

I've played GWT 14x. On my last play, I specifically tried a deck thinning strategy making my first disc removal the one that allows you to cull your deck and while I added some 3's, 4's and 5's to my deck, I never added cows the way I typically do. I think I only added like 18 points in cows.

I finished 3 points behind the winner, close enough for me to think that deck thinning is a viable strategy. So I wouldn't say you cannot win this game by deck thinning.


I believe you can in regular GWT (never managed myself though), but some factors in RttN seems to weaken that strategy:
- you want to unlock the new aux action, likely as the first one, this delays when you will unlock deck thinning.
- you need 2's to use the new aux ability, likely 2x 2's at a time, so you will cycle through your deck more easily, utlizing those extra of each 2's
- using the aux action: you likely want to add houses early in the game, delaying when you actually use the aux actions to deck thin even more.
- the new tokens to instantly cycle 2 cards: you will likely get 3-5 of these in a game, and they are worthless to hoarde, for everyone except the player that might get the station master tile that will turn them into vp.

you can of course ignore the new aux action completely, until you have thinned the deck to your desires, but in order to do high cattle/vp deliveries, you will eventually need to place some houses to unlock the more desireable destinations.
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Nathaniel Dyck
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Rails to the North does not disappoint! I've played GWT 50+ times and basically consider it my favourite game tied with 2 or 3 others. Rails to the North breaks the tie for me and I now consider it my all-time favourite game at the moment.

The added possibilities create truly interesting decisions that, like the base game, still reward long-term strategic planning. First time playing I scored 38 points on deliveries alone which is higher than I've ever achieved. My one critique of the base game was that it was usually a no-brainer to go to Kansas City your first 1-2 deliveries. Now the choice of where to deliver is more interesting. And the ability to cycle through your deck faster is also an improvement in my opinion.

In summary I have to say well done Mr. Pfister--thanks for making a great game even greater.
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Matt Strickler
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Managed to eek out a win once (out of four or five "deck thinning" tries) with that strategy. What I do like about the game is that I've seen every strategy win at one time or another.
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GGK
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Nathanield wrote:
My one critique of the base game was that it was usually a no-brainer to go to Kansas City your first 1-2 deliveries.

Very well said, sir, very well said. If the expansion fixes this, that's already amazing.
 
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Dave Summers
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Not to derail the thread too much ... but I’m still unconvinced that it’s such a no-brainer to go to KC, especially twice. I imagine that most of those that are so convinced are convinced because all their group do it, and therefore it becomes a level playing field - everyone’s strategy gets a financial boost for the same net loss of VP. I don’t understand why you never see anyone say ‘you’ve GOT to make sure your first hand is a perfect 7, it’s a no-brainer’ when you’re talking about the same amount of cash (perfect 7 vs 4 Jerseys).

I guess you could argue the other way, maybe I’m not convinced because my group don’t really do it so it’s the same level playing field.

Anyhoo, I guess this is moot now that Memphis has come along. Potential 4 dollars for 0VP against KC’s 6 dollars for -8VP.
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Jack Francisco
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DaveSumm wrote:
Not to derail the thread too much


I see what you did there...ninja
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DaveSumm wrote:
Not to derail the thread too much ... but I’m still unconvinced that it’s such a no-brainer to go to KC, especially twice. I imagine that most of those that are so convinced are convinced because all their group do it, and therefore it becomes a level playing field - everyone’s strategy gets a financial boost for the same net loss of VP. I don’t understand why you never see anyone say ‘you’ve GOT to make sure your first hand is a perfect 7, it’s a no-brainer’ when you’re talking about the same amount of cash (perfect 7 vs 4 Jerseys).

I guess you could argue the other way, maybe I’m not convinced because my group don’t really do it so it’s the same level playing field.

Anyhoo, I guess this is moot now that Memphis has come along. Potential 4 dollars for 0VP against KC’s 6 dollars for -8VP.

Dave, it is pointless to debate it here. Go and watch a tournament video footage if your are in doubt about it. I can recommend you a good (but long) one. The new KC ($6/-8VP) is absolutely essential to change this "meta", and I can only hope that -8VP is not too lenient still. Will see.
 
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Dave Summers
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kissgg wrote:

Dave, it is pointless to debate it here. Go and watch a tournament video footage if your are in doubt about it. I can recommend you a good (but long) one. The new KC ($6/-8VP) is absolutely essential to change this "meta", and I can only hope that -8VP is not too lenient still. Will see.


This debate only just happened in the 'Building 2A' thread, so I won't repeat it. But I agree with the poster there, I see no way a true 'pro-community' can exist. If you're talking about the 'world championship' one in ... Pennsylvania I wanna say? I've seen it.

I'm certainly not saying there isn't a strong argument in favour of it, just that I don't think it's quite the gospel it's made out to be. Some strategies rely less on finance, and as I said, I don't understand why the perfect 7 hand isn't just as relevant.
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Yes, it was that tournament. That footage has become a big hit with my gaming group

Quote:
why the perfect 7 hand isn't just as relevant


Maybe I misunderstand the question but if not: because of certificates? And because if your aim is to deliver to KC first and fast, then your hand is almost irrelevant as long as it is at least 5?
 
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