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Subject: End game rule clarifications and overall play comments rss

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Dave Heberer
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Boy, that escalated quickly. I mean that really got out of hand fast.
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I played my 4th or 5th game of this last night and it the Wabash railroad came out so I have a question about it and how the game actually ends.

1) Is the Wabash Railroad considered when checking to see if the game ends when 3 railroads have sold out their stock? I assume that whatever the answer is for stock is the same for rail cubes as well.

2) When the ending condition is met (stock runs out, cubes run out, etc) does the game end immediately and then there is a final payout for stockholders? Or do you only check for the end of game at the end of a round (following a payout to stockholders)?

I've played with a few different people a few times now and I'm finding difficulty in getting people to play anymore. Most consider the game very fragile and also don't know what to do after the first round and they perceive themselves as behind. I find the game interesting, but I also think that there are few types of actions, and some of these few don't make sense to do which means you are really limited.

I am almost certain this last paragraph is JC bait, as most comments I've seen throughout the forums are from him. But I'm trying to find the appeal of this game. I liked 1830 when I played it, but found it very long and the downtime was lengthy as well. The first time I played, I got the sense that this game gave a similiar experience but broken down into a very reasonable playing time. After a few plays, I find this game to be very brittle in that a single player feeling that there is nothing useful to do to advance their position can hose the whole game. When all players are trying to maximize their score (everyone's played before at least once), then I hear cries of predetermined winner after the first round is finished.

Is there anyone else out there that's experienced the same kind of 'brittle' or 'easily unbalanced' comments or thoughts when playing this game?
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Dave Eisen
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1. The Wabash counts as a line for all purposes including being a factor in game ending conditions.

2. Game end is only checked at the end of a big dividend, that is the universal payout to all stockholders when two of the three action types are maxed out.

I will not address your concerns about fragility. Does not surprise me. JC does not seem to mind games that require proper groupthink to succeed so it is possible that this fragility is less a problem for him than for you. I haven't played enough to be certain I've noticed it.
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I don't think 4 or 5 times is enough to pass proper judgment. I've logged 14 games of Wabash but I think it's closer to 20. I will play this game any chance I get.

There can be so many different strategies and each game is different, especially with different numbers of players. I learn something new every time.

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Benjamin Keightley
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I'm not surprised you rate both Imperial and Indonesia 10s. They are the closest games we've found to 1830 in a couple of hours.

Wabash Cannonball is unbelievably brittle--as little as one botched auction in turn 1 can throw the game. I consider this a feature rather than a bug, but this comes down to personal taste. The first turn in particular has more pitfalls than meet the eye, especially when playing with four. Avoiding these pitfalls generally requires collusion.

Collusion in WC can take two basic forms: constructive and destructive. The former type is pretty easy to get a handle on. Two players can run a company to Chicago very quickly, so arranging for a share distribution where one of your opponents is equally invested in one of your companies should often be a high priority.

Destructive collusion is a little trickier and often reminiscent of a prisoner's dilemma. I talk about this a little bit in my poorly-named Gotham Gambit analysis, and again in J C's "Quick notes…" thread. In essence, when a player gets a leg up in Wabash Cannonball, it is entirely within the players' collective ability to take the advantaged player down. It's also their responsibility to do so; this isn't Power Grid!

If players are unable or unwilling to collude, the game can turn into Princes of the Renaissance Lite, and will be determined by who was able to buy the most stocks for cheap while everyone else was low on cash. Typically players are only low on cash for a couple of turns, so if that's the type of game you're playing, it's understandable why the second half often feels pointless and processional.

I think it's likely that the game just isn't a great fit for your group--your least-favorite feature of Container is also present here in slightly modified form. If you do give it another shot though, I recommend emphasizing the great power that a temporary alliance can have over the shape of the game.

I think we should have a thread to discuss specific, single-turn collusive maneuvers.
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J C Lawrence
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i7dealer wrote:
1) Is the Wabash Railroad considered when checking to see if the game ends when 3 railroads have sold out their stock? I assume that whatever the answer is for stock is the same for rail cubes as well.


Shares and cubes of all operating companies are considered. The Wabash will not start in every game.

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2) When the ending condition is met (stock runs out, cubes run out, etc) does the game end immediately and then there is a final payout for stockholders? Or do you only check for the end of game at the end of a round (following a payout to stockholders)?


Game end is checked for after every General Dividend.

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I've played with a few different people a few times now and I'm finding difficulty in getting people to play anymore. Most consider the game very fragile and also don't know what to do after the first round and they perceive themselves as behind. I find the game interesting, but I also think that there are few types of actions, and some of these few don't make sense to do which means you are really limited.


I understand very well where you are coming from. It is an attractive and easy illusion, and it is almost entirely false.

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I am almost certain this last paragraph is JC bait, as most comments I've seen throughout the forums are from him. But I'm trying to find the appeal of this game. I liked 1830 when I played it, but found it very long and the downtime was lengthy as well. The first time I played, I got the sense that this game gave a similiar experience but broken down into a very reasonable playing time. After a few plays, I find this game to be very brittle in that a single player feeling that there is nothing useful to do to advance their position can hose the whole game. When all players are trying to maximize their score (everyone's played before at least once), then I hear cries of predetermined winner after the first round is finished.


I could trot out example games by the yard, with different long term strategies and potentials played out in starkly different ways simply because of the collusions of self-interest. I've played about 50 times now. Each game continues to be new, challenging, different and frequently even surprising. I had a game a while back in which 3 shares sold in the first round to other players for an average price of $6 each -- with me having paid an average of almost $20 for my two shares. I lost that game by a mere $2 having driven the incentives and game pace directly against the other players so that my final score of 47 was but $2 behind the winner's $49. But for one seemingly minor but really not-so-minor slip I would have won that game.

There is very little that is decided by the end of the first turn. What has been set by the end of the first turn is the initial stage that the player's will build their games on. That's just the beginning, a critically important beginning mind you, but still just a beginning. The game is still wide open.

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Is there anyone else out there that's experienced the same kind of 'brittle' or 'easily unbalanced' comments or thoughts when playing this game?


Absolutely. I have. If players make stupid decisions the game is entirely brittle and unbalanced. The challenge is to not be stupid and not being stupid can be extraordinarily HARD and extremely subtle in Wabash Cannonball. It has taken scores of games for some stupidities to sink though my thick skull.

However such comments are usually made by players who overlook the potentials of the shared incentive structures and game length controls in the game. They assume that because Bubba has two cheap red shares that Bubba is just going to win, not realising that a wee bit to token cooperation by say the B&O or NYC can shut down the Pennsylvania before it even gets out of the gate. All the rope and all the knives are in the player's hands in Wabash Cannonball. No winner should ever emerge from the game unbloodied and uncrucified.

And by abstraction that's the key point. In Wabash the primary value of a share is NOT its revenue but is its effect on the incentive structures of the players. Until the players at the table understand that thoroughly they will continue to make silly statements about the game being pre-determined, etc. That said, the game is exquisitely fragile. In every turn every player has the easy option to throw the game to one of the other players and it isn't often clear which choices do that and which don't. Each player gets to decide the fate of the entire game on every turn. That's among the things that make the game so delightful for me.
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Dave Heberer
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Boy, that escalated quickly. I mean that really got out of hand fast.
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Thanks very much for the detailed replies concerning the perceived brittle nature of the game. I think Coca Lite is correct in that observing that some groups will play this game in ways that show off it's poor side. I think it might have something to do with what goals the players have. It is always assumed that players would like to win, but if how to differentiate yourself from another player is elusive this can be problematic.

This probably won't get that much more play in my group, which is too bad because I see an game theory kind of neatness about the game. However, many people aren't interested in playing a game to make the best descisions available to them. This game seems to have a singular focus on that kind of experience.

I should write a program to play this game. It might be an interesting excercise for me to understand the game better.
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J C Lawrence
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i7dealer wrote:
It is always assumed that players would like to win, but if how to differentiate yourself from another player is elusive this can be problematic.


Which is one of the very cute ways in which wabash cannonball is different from other games. In Wabash Cannoball players don't *need* to differentiate if they are still on the track to victory. You have two shares of B&O, I have two shares of B&O and an NYC. We work together and happily drive the B&O straight to Chicago together. That's fine by me -- I retain my incremental advantage of the NYC income over you and we both profit massively over the other players from the B&O dividends. I don't have to actually do anything further as my position is already profitably differentiated and all I really need to do is to ensure that the focus of the other players does not distract from my advantage.

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This probably won't get that much more play in my group, which is too bad because I see an game theory kind of neatness about the game.


Yep, in many ways Wabash Cannonball is a sort of distilled class in some of the interesting corners of game theory meets economic theory.

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However, many people aren't interested in playing a game to make the best descisions available to them. This game seems to have a singular focus on that kind of experience.


The game has an exquisite focus on attempting victory, yes. if your players are not ceaselessly pounding the game and each other to win then Wabash Cannonball won't do very well with your group. The game requires that ceaseless drive-to-survive by the players to work. It is a game for immoral mercilessly exploitative reprobates who would happily advertise their grandmother and your grandmother as a job lot for sale to the cotton gins for the price of a coffee.
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Dave Heberer
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Boy, that escalated quickly. I mean that really got out of hand fast.
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Herein might lie the problem. In your example, you state:

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You have two shares of B&O, I have two shares of B&O and an NYC. We work together and happily drive the B&O straight to Chicago together. That's fine by me -- I retain my incremental advantage of the NYC income over you and we both profit massively over the other players from the B&O dividends.


I would never agree to the deal that we work 50-50 to make B&O do anything. Evidently I've only owned blue shares the whole game, which means I've probably been advancing that railroad's cause. You are a johnnie-come-lately, who's probably been advancing his green share a little bit and decided to partner up with me since there might be money to be made. I will use my turn to acquire another share so I can reach parity with you. Seeing me not advance our shared railroad, perhaps you advance NYC (depending on who owns what) figuring you are going to recover what you paid regardless.

Collusion seems very difficult to reach. I normally really like games where I form partnerships with different people in different areas to try to win. Perhaps it's the mindset of the players. I can say my feeling is when you have a share in the same color as me, you've taken half my income. I built the railroad up a little, and you capitalized and bid for half of my income. I don't see how I am incented to continue to work the same amount I was before you came along. Like I said, I should write software to simulate it, I sometimes don't see logical conclusions until I run the simulation 1000 times.
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clearclaw wrote:
It is a game for immoral mercilessly exploitative reprobates who would happily advertise their grandmother and your grandmother as a job lot for sale to the cotton gins for the price of a coffee.


Gee, thanks, JC! Well, at least we are trying to keep it out of the hands of the kids, Philosophy professors excepted.
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i7dealer wrote:
Herein might lie the problem. In your example, you state:

Quote:
You have two shares of B&O, I have two shares of B&O and an NYC. We work together and happily drive the B&O straight to Chicago together. That's fine by me -- I retain my incremental advantage of the NYC income over you and we both profit massively over the other players from the B&O dividends.


I would never agree to the deal that we work 50-50 to make B&O do anything.


You don't have to agree; this is not a negotiation game.

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Evidently I've only owned blue shares the whole game, which means I've probably been advancing that railroad's cause. You are a johnnie-come-lately, who's probably been advancing his green share a little bit and decided to partner up with me since there might be money to be made.


You are mixing emotions and ego-ownership where they are unnecessary and distracting. Who cares who did what action or prior investment? The only important thing in the game is money when the game ends -- keep your focus there. The logic is simple: By colluding you can get the B&O to Chicago before the next General Dividend. If you don't collude you won't. Quite probably you deliberately diluted your own shares in order to get my partnership. Yes, you'll have to figure a way to make my third share income back on your side. For instance, perhaps you've timed it so that you're to my immediate left and I'm the one who reaches Chicago. There are many many possible routes.

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I will use my turn to acquire another share so I can reach parity with you.


And let the third player get ahead instead. This makes sense why? Let the third player try and recruit his own partners on his turn.

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Collusion seems very difficult to reach.


It isn't, not really.

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I normally really like games where I form partnerships with different people in different areas to try to win.


Which is all Wabash cannonball is: a series of temporary emergent partnerships. This is why so many games end with only two shares of the Pennsylvania having ever sold.

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I can say my feeling is when you have a share in the same color as me, you've taken half my income.


Why is this relevant? The game isn't about feelings, it is about money.

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I don't see how I am incented to continue to work the same amount I was before you came along.


Because you make even more money than you were going to before the partnership formed.
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Dave Heberer
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Boy, that escalated quickly. I mean that really got out of hand fast.
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clearclaw wrote:

You don't have to agree; this is not a negotiation game.


I do have to agree in order for both of us to work together to make something happen, you certainly need my implicit agreement.

clearclaw wrote:

You are mixing emotions and ego-ownership where they are unnecessary and distracting. Who cares who did what action or prior investment? The only important thing in the game is money when the game ends -- keep your focus there. The logic is simple: By colluding you can get the B&O to Chicago before the next General Dividend. If you don't collude you won't. Quite probably you deliberately diluted your own shares in order to get my partnership. Yes, you'll have to figure a way to make my third share income back on your side. For instance, perhaps you've timed it so that you're to my immediate left and I'm the one who reaches Chicago. There are many many possible routes.


I have never seen another player put up a share of the railroad they alone own to form a partnership. I've never seen the red railroad not sell it's third share usually before anyone else sells anything else. I have only seen other players put up shares of other people's railroads to dillute their position. I have seen in another thread that you consider the income generation that a share is worth to be third in how you perceive it's value, but I don't agree with your assessment. And I saw no proof of your stated value ranking.

While the language I use seems emotional, it is backed by logic. Our 'partnership' is tenuous at best, non-existant at worst depending on how we share ownership in a company. I've spent my time (assumedly) building the railroad I have shares in. You've done the same for yours. When you acquire a portion of profits I've worked toward, why do I continue to work on the railroad with the same effort? The reward is greatly diminished (never as much as that second share, it's true, but still). Why wouldn't I assume that you are on the hook to drive the company now and I should go off and better myself? you've got three total shares, I've got two? Sounds like I should be capitalizing something that I don't own. It sucks for someone not me always, and if I can acquire the share cheap enough, it might be good for me.

clearclaw wrote:

And let the third player get ahead instead. This makes sense why? Let the third player try and recruit his own partners on his turn.


I would assume that the third and fourth player have their own problems similar to ours. And even if they don't, why should I care if you win over the third player? Both of these situations seem equally bad to me.

clearclaw wrote:

Because you make even more money than you were going to before the partnership formed.


That's an interesting statement. Could you please back it up with some math? I don't agree with it in any way. The first step is a doozy. Losing 50% of your immediate income is a bad, bad thing. When I play this game, I pray that I have the undilluted share(s) after the first round is done. You seem to want to spend your precious action doing what I pray doesn't happen to me. I really must see a detailed explanation of why this is a good thing. I want to like the kool-aid, please give me a taste!
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i7dealer wrote:
That's an interesting statement. Could you please back it up with some math? I don't agree with it in any way. The first step is a doozy. Losing 50% of your immediate income is a bad, bad thing. When I play this game, I pray that I have the undilluted share(s) after the first round is done. You seem to want to spend your precious action doing what I pray doesn't happen to me. I really must see a detailed explanation of why this is a good thing. I want to like the kool-aid, please give me a taste!


You have the only share of B&O and you've managed to drive it within 6 hexes of Chicago. God only knows how this happened, but you're talking about losing 50% on one sale, so that would be the assumption. Without any developments this is going to give B&O an income of roughly 15. Assume that it's late in the round, and you're likely to see only one more chance to expand.

JC is sitting to your right, and a third-party puts up B&O for auction. JC wins it. On his turn he builds just shy of South Bend. On your turn, you expand through South Bend to Chicago. Income is now 23. You each get 12. Then dividends roll around and you get 12 more.

24 > 15

Now that's just the worst-case where you lose 50% (actually 47% loss for a single share at 15). If you already had 2 shares and JC had 1, which is a much more likely scenario for a railroad with clear sailing to Chicago you'd be looking at this.

Without collusion to get to Chicago: 15 income / 3 = 10 income for you, 5 for JC.
With collusion and another share sold: 23 income / 4 = 12 for each of you.



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i7dealer wrote:

clearclaw wrote:

And let the third player get ahead instead. This makes sense why? Let the third player try and recruit his own partners on his turn.


I would assume that the third and fourth player have their own problems similar to ours. And even if they don't, why should I care if you win over the third player? Both of these situations seem equally bad to me.





Looks like he's got the drop on ya Tex.....





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jdludlow wrote:

Without collusion to get to Chicago: 15 income / 3 = 10 income for you, 5 for JC.
With collusion and another share sold: 23 income / 4 = 12 for each of you.


So your position increases by 20% and JC's increases by 140%? Why would you do that?
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i7dealer wrote:
I have never seen another player put up a share of the railroad they alone own to form a partnership.


It takes a while before players figure out the value of diluting their own companies. It isn't the most common use of Capitalisation but with the companies which divide evenly by the player count it isn't rare with good players. This is also the primary reason that the Pennsylvania sometimes runs for a long time with only two shares sold.

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I've never seen the red railroad not sell it's third share usually before anyone else sells anything else.


Yep, that's common for green players. Green players also rarely take actions without actually doing anything. Experienced players fairly regularly take actions without doing them, especially Capitalisation.

Quote:
I have only seen other players put up shares of other people's railroads to dillute their position. I have seen in another thread that you consider the income generation that a share is worth to be third in how you perceive it's value, but I don't agree with your assessment. And I saw no proof of your stated value ranking.


Two players working together can make more money for each of them individually faster than any one player can working for himself. It takes 6 Expand actions for any company to reach Chicago. If two players work together that can be accomplished for any company in as little as 2 General Dividends. Both those players then make the higher Chicago income for the rest of the game, far sooner and faster than the non-participating players. They'll also likely pick up the income boost from Detroit. That extra income puts those two players ahead of the rest of the pack almost instantly and this is, very basically, the heart of the game: players working together can help each other far more and far faster than either of them could do helping themselves alone.

The same thing works in reverse. The other classic story is the player who manages to buy all three shares off the Pennsylvania in the first round and thereby thinks he's auto-won the game. The other two players, each with a share of the B&O or NYC simply quickly build a loop of track around the Pennsylvania cutting it off from the profitable mines and any chance of reaching Chicago. BOOM! The Pennsylvania income is instantly kneecapped and the Pennsylvania player is almost certainly out of contention.

Quote:
Our 'partnership' is tenuous at best, non-existant at worst depending on how we share ownership in a company.


Exactly.

Quote:
I've spent my time (assumedly) building the railroad I have shares in. You've done the same for yours. When you acquire a portion of profits I've worked toward, why do I continue to work on the railroad with the same effort?


I'm not clear on why you mention your prior actions and their implied investment on your part. The past is irrelevant. Big whoop. The only significance is in what you can do to move towards victory. So you did a lot of actions before. That's in the past. What can you do now to move ahead?

Quote:
The reward is greatly diminished (never as much as that second share, it's true, but still). Why wouldn't I assume that you are on the hook to drive the company now and I should go off and better myself?


Because it is to my largest profit. Yes, it is tenuous, horribly faintly tenuous, but it is present it is viable, and when it works it is hugely profitable. That's why the primary value of shares is in the incentive structures rather than direct income -- because when the collusion does work, and it often will for a while, you can make out like bandits.

Quote:
...you've got three total shares, I've got two? Sounds like I should be capitalizing something that I don't own. It sucks for someone not me always, and if I can acquire the share cheap enough, it might be good for me.


That's only if you solely look at the zero-sum aspects of share ownership. There's also a positive-sum aspect. One of more amusing Wabash Cannonball games ever had me iteratively partner to run the NYC to Chicago, then the Pennsylvania to Chicago, and then finally the B&O to Chicago, each time owning either 50% of the shares or just under (eg 2:2 for the B&O, 1:2 for Pennsylvania and 2:2:1 for the NYC). I not only got the Wabashm but I made out hugely and won by a shockingly large percentage -- all those extra dividends!

Quote:
clearclaw wrote:
And let the third player get ahead instead. This makes sense why? Let the third player try and recruit his own partners on his turn.


I would assume that the third and fourth player have their own problems similar to ours.


The third and fourth players are trying to build their owner partnerships and trying to break the partnerships that others have built against them, as above.

Quote:
And even if they don't, why should I care if you win over the third player? Both of these situations seem equally bad to me.


Because you are winning too.

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clearclaw wrote:
Because you make even more money than you were going to before the partnership formed.


That's an interesting statement. Could you please back it up with some math?


Sure, see above.

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I don't agree with it in any way. The first step is a doozy. Losing 50% of your immediate income is a bad, bad thing. When I play this game, I pray that I have the undilluted share(s) after the first round is done. You seem to want to spend your precious action doing what I pray doesn't happen to me. I really must see a detailed explanation of why this is a good thing. I want to like the kool-aid, please give me a taste!


Does the above address?
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J C Lawrence
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Jester wrote:
So your position increases by 20% and JC's increases by 140%? Why would you do that?


Because the game scores absolute values, not percentages.
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Jester wrote:
jdludlow wrote:

Without collusion to get to Chicago: 15 income / 3 = 10 income for you, 5 for JC.
With collusion and another share sold: 23 income / 4 = 12 for each of you.


So your position increases by 20% and JC's increases by 140%? Why would you do that?


Because of option III.

Without collusion, but with the 4th share sold: 15 income / 4 = 8 for each of you.


It isn't 20% versus 140%, because simply buying the 4th share gave him more of a boost than you already. It doesn't mean that it's always right to collude here, but you're both jumping from 8 to 12 if you do. Barring some other really good reason, not participating in the collusion is essentially just pouting.
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Jester wrote:
So your position increases by 20% and JC's increases by 140%? Why would you do that?

Off the top of my head:

(a) Because there are more than two players in the game. I'm happy to accept other players' help in strengthening my own position, even if that means strengthening theirs as well.

(b) Because I am ahead of J C. If he was already in the lead prior to his attempted partnership, I would be less fond of the arrangement and might consider running the company into the mountains.

(c) Because I am in a good position to get my hands on the Wabash at an excellent price.

(d) Because I have two other opponents who are boosting their incomes by working together, and I want to remain competitive.

(e) Because if I win my third share, J C is going to run the company into the mountains.

(f) Because if one of my other two opponents wins the share, he will collude with J C to use the company to block another rail I'm invested in.

Working together with another player can yield significantly higher returns than working alone. It can also backfire on you if you end up with the wrong co-investor(s). This is a risky game, but players who do not assume the risk of collusion tend to place third.
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Dave Heberer
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Boy, that escalated quickly. I mean that really got out of hand fast.
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jdludlow wrote:
Without collusion to get to Chicago: 15 income / 3 = 10 income for you, 5 for JC.
With collusion and another share sold: 23 income / 4 = 12 for each of you.


It actually works out to 12 and then 13 (round up for one payment, round down for the other).


Thank you for trying to put numbers to it. The first example seems highly, highly unlikely. Your second example does seem more likely (I have 2 shares, he has 1) and seems a practical example of why I don't think like others evidently do.

Your example shows the value as being either 10 or 12 for me, with the second value taking into account an action of mine. Rather than gain 2 dollars on the other players and let JC have an enormous benefit, why wouldn't I offer up a share of the other players to screw over their holdings (probably takes 2 dollars at least from some player's income, and removes cash from the game)? Is this action that isn't accounted for in the first calculation not worth two dollars to me somewhere? New guy is the one who's ponied up a lot of cash for shares in a company I was operating, shouldn't he have the most interest in turning that into profit?

clearclaw wrote:

I'm not clear on why you mention your prior actions and their implied investment on your part. The past is irrelevant. Big whoop. The only significance is in what you can do to move towards victory. So you did a lot of actions before. That's in the past. What can you do now to move ahead?

What we've done in the past tells me who's ahead. If I've sunk all my money and time into a railroad and you've done the same thing except, that the last thing you did was pick up a share in a company I solely owned, you are ahead. The past allows me to judge whether I should collude with you or not. If you are ahead of me in money and income, I should probably do something about that shouldn't I? The past does matter.

You also stated that I should do something with you "because you are also winning". I don't know who explained the concept of winning to you, but it involves one person in this particular game. We cannot be both winning, unless you mean in the 'net slang sense of "this move is full of win."

In short, the examples given do satisfy the requirements I asked for, in that they show a situation in which some players can see a profit for the both of them. But all the examples I've seen are fairly fanciful, save the second example proposed by jdludlow.

And to be honest, in a cut throat game, I tend to think "All else being equal, screw the guy that wants a piece of my action." Clearclaw if you own 50% of the shares of 3 of the 4 companies, I don't know what the other players were doing. Perhaps you already have created the simluation that I spoke of previously but it doesn't work well. And how green and blue can "strangle" out the PA railroad is also a bit of fancy to me. The PA player goes first. How can they be strangled? The games I've seen, Red either lets Blue live or screws them at their lesiure. Probably another rookie mistake that will clear up in 10 more plays?
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Benjamin Keightley
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i7dealer wrote:
Thank you for trying to put numbers to it. The first example seems highly, highly unlikely. Your second example does seem more likely (I have 2 shares, he has 1) and seems a practical example of why I don't think like others evidently do.

I can't speak for James, but from here it seems pretty clear that he drew up the first example to indulge your fixation on the second share. His point, which he supported very nicely with examples both fanciful and common, is that having a partner is a great way to make a lot more money than you would without one.

Quote:
Your example shows the value as being either 10 or 12 for me, with the second value taking into account an action of mine. Rather than gain 2 dollars on the other players and let JC have an enormous benefit, why wouldn't I offer up a share of the other players to screw over their holdings (probably takes 2 dollars at least from some player's income, and removes cash from the game)?

Well, it's possible that that is your best move. James's second example is a marginal one. Many of the tricky decisions in this game involve marginal situations. Some factors that should be evaluated before you capitalize an opponent's stock:

- If, by putting up a share of a 'competing' company, would you possibly give birth to an alliance of which you are not a part? In James's example, 'your' stock is capitalized by an opponent who is not J C. That opponent sure feels like a schmuck as he watches the two of you run your 'diluted' company to Chicago, making it more valuable than it was before he spent the action to ostensibly devalue the rail. You'd want to make sure you're not creating that situation across the table.

- Can the stock be bought at a good price? If the stock is going to be a bargain for whoever buys it (almost always the case in the first two rounds of the game), I hope you plan on winning the share. Is it a company in which you'd like to be invested?

- Are the competing companies broke and looking for a capitalization anyway? You could be putting money directly into your competition's pockets.

Any of these can apply, or not. If none of them do, you're probably best off diluting that competing stock. Otherwise, you're probably only hurting yourself and wasting time.

Quote:
New guy is the one who's ponied up a lot of cash for shares in a company I was operating, shouldn't he have the most interest in turning that into profit?

I'm at a little bit of a loss here. Regardless of how much money I spent on any share, I 'should' have maximum interest at all times of making the move that will make me the richest player at the end of the game. There are plenty of reasons to want a share of a company, and only one of them is "because it will pay big dividends."

More importantly, the benefits of teamwork are real and solid, and have been fairly well-documented here and elsewhere. Refusing to take advantage of these benefits on the grounds that another player 'should' be doing more of the work is cutting off your nose to spite your face.

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What we've done in the past tells me who's ahead.

I suppose this is true in the sense that by counting how many pages I've read in a novel I can determine which page I'm currently on. Of course I can just look at the number in the corner of the page and save myself the trouble. This is a game with constantly shifting relationships among players and assets. Your enemy in one matter will be your best friend in another. When your turn comes around you need to evaluate the current situation with an eye toward the future. Looking backwards is a waste of time.
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J C Lawrence
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i7dealer wrote:
What we've done in the past tells me who's ahead.


Not so much. Each player's current cash holdings, income rate, and the expected length of the game in General Dividends tells you who is ahead. Of course those numbers are a product of past behaviour but any knowledge of the past is not required by the question.

Quote:
If I've sunk all my money and time into a railroad and you've done the same thing except, that the last thing you did was pick up a share in a company I solely owned, you are ahead.


Maybe I'm ahead, maybe I'm not. It depends on my cash, predicted income curve, game length etc. I may have just put myself way behind -- it happens. More likely I've sunk relatively little time into my railroad (and it isn't _my_ railroad, I have no ownership or claim, I merely have an income vehicle with no claim to it: it merely produces cash at a semi-predictable and variable rate).

With your avoidance of Capitalisation I'd guess that in general your group uses the 5 Expand actions first and only late in the round sucks up the Capitalisations. That's backwards, especially in the early game. With modestly rare exception (more often the later in the game it is) the first three actions in each round should be Capitalisation as that sets the incentive mesh for the rest of the round. Capitalisation is the most valuable action in the game: for dilution, dilution protection, and game length control.

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The past allows me to judge whether I should collude with you or not. If you are ahead of me in money and income, I should probably do something about that shouldn't I?


Certainly, however there's also a multiplicative factor in question. My income may be higher now, but will it remain higher? Which player will sum with the highest cash in the end-game is a very different question that simply who has a largest cash+income right now. Bu if you want to do something, control the game length to cut against my advantage, run whatever I'm heavily invested in off into the woods, collude with another player to out-perform me, ensure that my heavy investments are under-capitalised for their needs, etc etc etc. There are many possible things to do.

Quote:
You also stated that I should do something with you "because you are also winning". I don't know who explained the concept of winning to you, but it involves one person in this particular game. We cannot be both winning, unless you mean in the 'net slang sense of "this move is full of win."


Not the point. If you can remove one player in a three player game from contention then you only have to defeat the one remaining player. This is generally a far easier task, most especially if you already have a shared investment portfolio with the player you just kneecapped. (This is also where much of the delicacy of the Wabash comes in) Meanwhile the player you just shared a lot of cash with is going to have a portfolio aimed at a specific game duration, much as you also do. The immediately following investments on both your parts are going to increase your commitment to a specific game-length. Whatever they pick, you (typically) have a significant opportunity to set the game against them.

Quote:
And to be honest, in a cut throat game, I tend to think "All else being equal, screw the guy that wants a piece of my action."


Why? It isn't your "action". Why is it personal?

Quote:
Clearclaw if you own 50% of the shares of 3 of the 4 companies, I don't know what the other players were doing.


It was a long, slow tortuous process with many of the shares being acquired late. I had to laboriously force a game which was headed for a fairly standard 4 General Dividend length into a 7 General Dividend game just in order to get all my shares to pay off enough to recoup their sunk costs. In the real analysis the only reason I won is that I controlled game length better than the other players. My cash was low for most of the game, but I had much higher income than every other player.

Quote:
And how green and blue can "strangle" out the PA railroad is also a bit of fancy to me.


The PA has 2 more cubes than the shortest path to Chicago. Any three cubes built off from that minimum shortest path, which isn't difficult to force, and the PA can't get to Chicago at all. Soak up the line of mines just south of Pittsburgh (usually done by the B&O sacrificing its own Chicago potential) and the PA also has little future income potential.

Quote:
The PA player goes first. How can they be strangled?


The PA player could get two Expand actions. The other players will get one or two each depending on player count and rotational position. Assuming one of the other players takes an early Capitalise, the other two players have a total of three expand actions. That's enough to outrun the PA to the west and cut off its track toward Chicago, if not this turn, then in the next. It is very easy to do.

Quote:
The games I've seen, Red either lets Blue live or screws them at their lesiure.


The B&O (blue) has more spare cubes to play with then the PA. It is much tougher to hurt. The NYC & C&O even more so.
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James Ludlow
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i7dealer wrote:
jdludlow wrote:
Without collusion to get to Chicago: 15 income / 3 = 10 income for you, 5 for JC.
With collusion and another share sold: 23 income / 4 = 12 for each of you.


It actually works out to 12 and then 13 (round up for one payment, round down for the other).


Thank you for trying to put numbers to it. The first example seems highly, highly unlikely. Your second example does seem more likely (I have 2 shares, he has 1) and seems a practical example of why I don't think like others evidently do.


Ah, damn. I completely forgot about the different rounding for Chicago. It's 10 + 12 then (5/share and 6/share depending on the rounding). For those not following the quotes here, this example had two players with a 2:2 split of B&O.

The first example is very unlikely for several reasons. Not the least of which is that it would cost ~32 to drive a single B&O share to Chicago via that route.

The only reason I worded it like that was because JC was talking about colluding to Chicago, and you were concerned about a share dillution of 50%. I was just building on that, and then used a hopefully more realistic scenario. My main point was that even with a 50% cut you still end up making more money earlier in the game, because of Chicago.

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Dave Heberer
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Boy, that escalated quickly. I mean that really got out of hand fast.
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I was being sincere in my thanks for providing examples. And I admit, the large payoff you showed is possible, though highly improbable. It seemed like others people were saying like I was being sarcastic, but I wanted to make sure that you understood I appreciated concrete examples. I thought that the realistic share purchase (2/1 split goes to 2/2) leads to a marginal gain for me but a great one for the person gaining the second share.

I think I'm just going to have to play this one at cons alone or something. It always invokes a lot of disucssion about who made the error to throw the game this way or that, which is interesting, but doesn't make the game well-received.

Thanks all for the comments.
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Benjamin Keightley
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For anyone following this discussion, I've written an article in the Strategy forum that I hope helps shed some light on the value of collusion in this game.
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J C Lawrence
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i7dealer wrote:
I think I'm just going to have to play this one at cons alone or something. It always invokes a lot of disucssion about who made the error to throw the game this way or that, which is interesting, but doesn't make the game well-received.


Ahh, it was that fact and more particularly the resulting discussions and dawning understanding that most attracted me to the game in the early days and then kept my interest across the learning hump.
 
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