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Subject: Air Baron - Battle for your Business rss

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Sean Conroy
United States
Winchester
Virginia
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Air Baron
© 1996 The Avalon Hill Game Company
2-6 Players
45min-4 Hours

Review-

Air Baron is an excellent fast paced game simulating the operation and expansion of a major North American Airline vying for a dominant share of the market. Up to six players take turns waging fare wars, buying up local flights that spoke off of large/international airports or hubs. Each hub a player controls (either by total dominance or majority of spokes held) earns him/her “market share.” When a player reaches a level of market share and cash on hand, set in the rules by the number of players, they win. A hub can have anywhere from 3-8 spokes coming from it and maybe an international flight to France or Tokyo depending on the airport. Spokes and international routes are the main source of income for players. Every player must draw two purchased spoke counters from an opaque container. If a person owns either of them they collect the income amount printed on it with big payoffs for owning all spokes of a hub if the hub counter is drawn. This is where the game can become like “Monopoly,” more often than not a players counters keep coming up while others do not. Thus making the rich richer and the poor poorer. There is some balancing to be had though; there is an optional rule to throw random event counters into the profit draw mix. These can range from a recession making all profits only $1 for everyone for the entire turn, to a labor strike or plane crash, and even an oil embargo causing each player to pay 10% of their market share for fuel costs. All can be deadly if sufficient cash is unavailable, and no government bailouts either. In the end though there comes a time to reach out and take over other players spokes to gain a winning market share total. This is where fare wars comes into play and the game gets “Risk” like. If a player wishes to take over an opponent’s spoke they must pay twice it’s value to the bank and then a competitive die roll is made after die roll modifiers are applied. The player with the highest roll wins with ties going to the defender. If a player is in fare wars he/she may attack multiple times as well as have a +2 modifier for their roll, a defending player in fare wars gets a +1 modifier. Other modifiers include a +2 for deploying a jumbo jet, and 1+ for every hub connecting to the target. Despite its tendency to get off balance at times I have enjoyed playing this game tremendously and recommend it to anyone interested in a non-war game of strategy.
 
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Max Jamelli
United States
Chambersburg
Pennsylvania
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I'm glad you enjoy this game. You list the rules here very succinctly, and very understandable for someone reading who may not have played before.

There is one point I disagree with though, and maybe it's because I'm reading it wrong:

TracerBullet wrote:
Every player must draw two purchased spoke counters from an opaque container. If a person owns either of them they collect the income amount printed on it with big payoffs for owning all spokes of a hub if the hub counter is drawn. This is where the game can become like “Monopoly,” more often than not a players counters keep coming up while others do not. Thus making the rich richer and the poor poorer.



In it's randomness, Air Baron really does give each player's chits the same chance of being picked. Where the rich players get richer, is where they have more chits in the cup to be drawn. If a player goes into fare wars early and is successful in winning several chits, they do have a higher percentage chance of getting paid. That's a part of the strategy of fare wars early, and sometimes I'll go after a whole bunch of $1 spokes to try to get paid the $3 if the Hub is pulled. You're not going to run your market share up, but you can definately increase your odds of getting paid that way.
 
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