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Subject: Doh! Cut Off at the Pass rss

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Chuck Pierce
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Extra Extra! Read All About it!
NY Times: Maverick Railroad Moguls Lock Horns in a knock-down, drag-out railroad battle to become the most prestigious railroad tycoon of all time! Back-stabbing and throat-cutting, they’ve done it all!
Extra Extra! Read All About it!

Extra Extra! Read All About it!
Washington Post: Railroad Tycoons Locked in Mortal Struggle to Control the U.S. Railroading Empire.
Extra Extra! Read All About it!


James Fisk: Hello, my name is James, and I’m a railroad tycoon.

Megalomaniacs Anonymous (in unison): Hi, James.

James Fisk: This is my story. It’s a story of success and failure in my quest to become the greatest railroad tycoon of all time. It came to my attention that my bitter rivals Daniel Drew, Mark Hopkins, Theodore Judah, and Jay Gould also sought this same goal. I refused to allow them to beat me in my quest; so, I pored every ounce of my energy into crushing them. For, there can be only one!

The saga began with a grand strategy. My near-term strategy: to build a fast, long-range locomotive capability as quickly as possible. My long-range stratety: To expand Westward to Chicago and, possibly, a Western Link.

Initially, I could have made a power play to collect a service bounty by delivering the first good to either Jacksonville, Atlanta, or Releigh. But, I’ve made my fortune by staying out of the rebellious Southeast! So, I wasn’t inclined to issue stock shares for the chance to make a little quick money. Judah, who was sitting to my left, made a bid for the first move which was too rich for my blood, at least for the options available. So, I chose to give my competitors a leg-up by allowing them all to have first moves before me. This was troubling choice, because going last on the first turn is NOT an enviable position in which to find oneself! Theodore Judah struck first, laying track from NY to Philly, eventually delivering the first good. Mark Hopkins jumped into Raleigh, a service-bounty city. Daniel Drew started in Jacksonville, also a service bounty city. Jay Gould laid tracks out of Mobile. They each eventually received service bounties for these cities. But alas, I’m not here to extol the virtues and achievements of my adversaries, I’m here to tell you MY story, since we all know that the world revolves around me!

Being the last to enter this competition, I secured a link of track from NY to New Haven. Oh, how I do love railroading in the NE. God’s country, for sure! As I watched my competitors delivering onesy goods for a trifling income (though watching them capture service bounties was painful indeed), I decided to do what I do best: build big, fast, powerful, world-class locomtoives. So, I brought all of my assets and cunning to the task of capturing the Speed Record and putting my competitors to shame by being the first to build a Level 4 locomotive. “Think big, my man, thing big!” That is what I tell my subordinates and apprentices, and anyone else who’ll listen. At the end of the first turn, I had issued 2 shares, while having delivered no goods. Ouch! I knew the start would be rocky, but my sights were set on the final objective, not near-term income. On turn two, I finished my upgrade to a Level 4 train and made another connection from New Haven to Providence. There were some nice, fat RED goods up in Boston that I coveted, wishing to transport them to NY to capture the speed record. However, at the beginning of Turn 3, I noticed that that rogue Hopkins had upgraded to level-3 train and was posed to capture the speed record. This just would not do! I decided that I’d rather rot in hell allow him that honor, and money! So, I made a run from Providence to Philly to capture the speed record prize, though forced to use one segment of Judah’s network (NY to Philly). That was okay, though. It was a small price to pay, to crush the competition! After capturing this prize, I was vaulted into the lead, and my competitors were forced to acknowledge that James Fisk was, indeed, a force to be reckoned with! But, on the down side, I was pretty indebted, by having issued 8 shares of stock already. Generally, though, I don’t worry too much about issuing a few shares of stock at the beginning of the game. Maybe, the other tight-wadish railroad barons should take notice of this. But, mums the word, eh. Let’s keep this our little secret!

Rounding out the NE, I’d laid a rail network NY-NewHaven-Providence-Boston-Albany, and I was moving goods like crazy with my 4-level train. But alas, after starting to run the NE dry, it was time to breakout and head into the northern plains. It was at this point, however, that I made a grave tactical error. Both Mr. Judah and I had railed into Albany. I had the choice to transport a RED good back to NY, for points/money and to keep it from being stolen by Judah, or I could lay track from Albany to Buffalo. Unfortunately, I chose poorly, going for the money, allowing that dastardly Judah to start laying tracks from Albany toward to Buffalo. I was bottled up North of NY and West of Buffalo! Curse him!

I was in pickle! I could have made a connection, maybe two, southward out of NY, but I did not like that option. Instead, I chose war! War with Theodore Judah. And, what a grand war it turned out to be! My short-term goal: to deny Judah both the service bounty in Toronto the NY-Chicago major route. So, I struck! I laid tracks from Buffalo to Toronto, then on the next turn, from Buffalo to Cleveland. I had cut him off and, boy, were his ears steaming! Now, the only problem was that in order to transport goods back to NY, I had to pay for use of Judah’s Buffalo-Albany link. This was a burden that I was forced to bear for the remainder of the game. After laying tracks into Pittsburg, I was able to collect the Toronto service bounty.

At this stage of the game, I was approximate 8 VP in the lead, with the others pretty much clumped together. But, I was also packing 10 stock certificates of baggage, while the others had only issued 3-5 shares. My secret objective was to finish this endeavor with more money and any other rival; so, I had to start tightening up my purse strings. But, I was still confident. James Fisk was the greatest railroad baron of all! There can be only one!

Having collected the Toronto service bounty and transporting goods back to the NE (I’d also built a lovely hotel in Bean Town, which minimized the pain of having to transport goods over a segment of Judah’s network), I set my sights on the windy city, Chicago and, maybe even, a Western link. Dream big, boy, dream big! Once in Detroit, it was time to head westward. Due to rail restrictions, I was only able to lay 4 of the 5 need tracks to complete the link to Chicago. It was here that I made my gravest tactical error the entire railroading war. After committing to laying this segment (an $8K investment in track), that pompous Judah had the audacity to, out of the blue, lay a segment from Toledo into the northernmost connection of Chicago. I immediately telegraphed a nasty message to Judah’s headquarters (actually, it was many messages, as I was sore angry at his audaciously underhanded trickery), proclaiming that I would still get into Chicago and that I’d bury him and his feeble little company! But, little did I know Jay Gould had also been scheming and had set his sights on Chicago as well, as he was headed up to Minneapolis, via Chicago, to make a NewOrleans-to-Minneapolis connection. Drats! And double drats! That scoundrel! It would take now cost me 5 more segments (and two more turns) to get into Chicago. My tactical error was that I should have started tracks from Chicago toward Detroit; then, I could have completed this link.

Curse them! Curse them both! How dare they do this to me, when I’d only sought to engage in a friendly, kind-hearted little competition. Cutting Judah off at Buffalo… that was done in jest. No hard feelings, right? Having a noticeable lead in victory points… that’s just some accounting. Who pays attention to those trifling details anyway?? I’m trying to sound really, really innocent and pitiful here. Is it working?

Anyway, Gould was now turning into a railroading powerhouse, a nightmare even, as he steamed toward Minneapolis. At the same time, Hopkins was completing a Baltimore-Toledo major route and was also nicking at my heals in points accumulation. Dan Drew was all over the Southeast, and his wad of cash had me running scared. For the first time in life, I was feeling that all was lost, all was for naught. I was fraught with despair. My world had turned black. It had collapsed. Daresay, even, I was suicidal. Then, snapping out of my melancholy, proclaimed I to myself and to the world (or at least to those within earshot), “Curse Chicago! Curse Judah! Curse Gould! I’ll not be beat this easily! Not today!” So, I abandoned my Detroit-Chicago link (and the corresponding $8 Grand investment), and put Plan B (maybe it was actually Pan G by now, but who’s counting) into action. And, what exactly was Plan B, you might be asking? To win, of course! And, by any devious means possible. I’d nickel and dime my way to victory, if I had to.

My end-game strategy was now focused on pumping goods back into the NE and my other Northern Plains cities, often stealing goods from under the noses of my rivals. As I was also trying to build up my cash reserves, seeking to garner the most cash by game end, I reluctantly bought a level-5 train and made another small connection or two. I made a few more 4 and 5 segment transports and sought to force the end of the game by emptying cities of their last goods, in hopes of doing so before Gould made Minneapolis (though there was only a minimal chance of success). Hopkins forced the end of the game by emptying the 16th city of its goods. But, alas, Gould connected to Minneapolis, then also scored an additional service bounty to Duluth. Drats! On my final turn, after delivering another good, I sold two more stock shares to grab another $10 Grand, to help bolster my purse. I really needed to fulfill my final objective (most cash) to claim the win. It was going to be close. My fingernails had been chewed to the quick.

Secret Objectives and Awards
- Theodore Judah failed to construct the longest run of tracks, thus failing to achieve his secret objective. Jay Gould had completed the most serial links.
- Mark Hopkins had the most cash ($53 Grand), but he and Dan Drew each had issued 4 stock shares, thus failing to achieve his secret objective of least number of stocks.
- Jay Gould had 6 stocks, but since Hopkins and Drew each had issued only 4 shares, Gould failed to achieve his least shares secret objective.
- Dan Drew was vying for the most cash. He had $47 Grand. Thus, he failed to achieve his secret objective, thanks to the tight-wadishness of the good Mr. Hopkins.
- I, James Fisk, had $48 Grand, barely beating Drew, but since that contemptible, horrid Hopkins had $53 Grand, I also failed to achieve my secret objective of having the most cash.
- We had all successfully denied each other our secret objectives!

Final standings, after having subtracted outstanding stock shares
Fisk (This is I): 59 VP
Gould: 58 VP
Hopkins: 57 VP
Drew: 54 VP
Judah (my arch nemesis): 48VP

As much as I hate to proclaim accolades for my rivals, I am obliged to proffer praise where praise is due. My rivals were immensely worthy opponents. Had one little event happened differently, the final standings undoubted would have changed, possibly changing significantly. It was truly an amazing and marvelous battle to control the rails within the great U.S. of A. Kudos to my worthy opponents!

And just for the record, the tycoons' secret Geek identies are as follow:
James Fisk (Chuck, Geek 'Oxotnik')
Jay Gould (Troy, Geek 'Zigg')
Mark Hopkins (Tracy, Geek 'bobcatscry')
Daniel Drew (Knepper, Geek 'Aging One')
Theodore Judah (Pat, non-Geek)
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David Hawkins
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Oh how I love a close and competitive game. Well done Mr Fisk!
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Chuck Pierce
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Thanks. And, here's a little tip for taking the time to actually read the novella! cool

There was definitely a lot of throat-cutting in the North, which made for a very fun game. Nail-biting, but fun.
 
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