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The auction for starting player is a fascinating part of Railroad Tycoon, because it allows players to decide how much certain key cards or opportunities are worth to them. But how much is too much? What is the most you've bid to become the starting player - was it worth it, and why?

In a recent game with the Rails of Europe expansion board, I bid $10,000 to be the starting player at the beginning of the game. One of the Railroad Operation cards available at the time gave a 3 point bonus to the first player to transport a good to Moscow. That, along with the bonus of being the first player to transport a good, had me on 5 points after two actions. The result was this:



Was it worth $10,000 to get the quick 5 points? I'm not sure, in hindsight it certainly was not a bargain no-brainer. I had to take out two share certificates to do it, and by the income phase I wasn't really earning anything more than than my opponent, since after building the track in my first action I already had four share certificates!

What is a reasonable amount to bid at the start of a regular game, assuming that there's a 4 or 5 point bonus available for being the first player to transport a good to a particular city?

How about in the middle of a game, how high have you seen bidding go, and was it worthwhile?
 
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Chuck Parrott
United States
Wilmington
North Carolina
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I've seen bids go into the 20's even 30's on the US map but that was when a really valuable card was up such as the free urbanization card or the railroad executive, even a lucrative route bonus where 2 or more players were eligible to complete it. But in those games players had readily available cash as it was mid/late game.

I would say your play to get the first 5 points was worth it, I would probably have bid that much for the chance. Getting an early income stream going as well as quickly upgrading your engine is key in RRT/RoE. A lot of new players make the mistake of not taking enough loans and shipping too many 1 and 2 link deliveries.
 
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Brendan Shaw
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Clarence
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I saw an opening bid go for $17 for the first round. There were 2 railroad executives, the player had the chicago baron, and the chicago hotel was in play. If I remember correctly, his score ended up in the high eighties and he walked away with it (built the western link, 4 links out of chicago...it was ugly). We definitely should have bid him up more.
 
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Joseph Betz
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Hamburg
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I think the highest I saw for the starting player was a 6 player game where both of the railroad executive cards came out at the beginning.The bid was 27 to get them both and in the end the guy ended up finishing 2nd.I now use the house rule of only allowing 1 railroad executive out at the start and shuffling the 2nd one back in if it comes out as having both out at the start makes it a little tough.I have seen some high bis late in the game as well as a 4 player game on the europe map had the card come out that would allow goods to be placed in a city and two players who cities to put them in where no one could steal them bid it up quite a bit as your money does not mean much unless you are going for the most money.But even that card is a crap shoot cause you needed the right colors to be drawn out the bag for it to pay off.
 
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Christopher Seguin
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I once saw a first-turn bid get to $22,000. Yep, it was a lot, but if you can believe it, two players were both vying to be the first person to finish the link from New York to Kansas and place the "Western Link". 20 points for that sucker! The other two players (me and another) had been watching the competition for most of the game, and we were both tempted to collectively take up the spots out of Kansas City just to spite the others for all of the hard work they had done.

We let it go, and giggled with glee as the "first turn winner" spent $22,000 on the first turn, then another $25,000 for the Western Link - a lot of cash and stock certificates indeed.

As it turned out, he was able to deliver all 4 red cubes to Chicago though a convoluted 6-link delivery system, and as such, the extra 28 points (with the Chicago Hotel bonus) made up for the huge number of shares he had outstanding. He also took a chance by drawing the "City Growth" card, and his random draw of two cubes in Kansas City netted him two more red cubes - puredeadbrilliant luck, and 14 more points! I think in total he subtracted 30 from his final score from his shares - by comparison, my score was reduced by 6 in that game. The dividend rounds were killing him, as he was taking out shares to pay dividends, which turns into a vicious negative cycle as your score gets closer to one hundred due to the diminishing returns.

It turned out to work in his favor, though, as he ended up winning the game by four points. It certainly wasn't a strategy that I would recomend very often, as the winning margin was less than the lucky "City Growth" of 2 red cubes in Kansas City that he promptly delivered to Chicago. Any other color cubes would have been his downfall.

Wow...nice session report...I may just have to beef this up a little bit and submit it for some GG. Unless someone wants to tip me 3GG right now?
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Leonardo Martino
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I think 34 $ in the last round.
 
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Kevin Brown
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Macon
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We had a bid of 32 in the last turn of our last game. The winner's object was to keep me from getting the Raleigh Service Bounty. He did, and it was the difference in the game.
 
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Martin Stever
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Bainbridge Island
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cparrott wrote:
I've seen bids go into the 20's even 30's on the US map but that was when a really valuable card was up such as the free urbanization card or the railroad executive,


Our house rule is that Railroad Executive will not be one of the inital cards.
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M@tthijs
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MartinStever wrote:
cparrott wrote:
I've seen bids go into the 20's even 30's on the US map but that was when a really valuable card was up such as the free urbanization card or the railroad executive,

Our house rule is that Railroad Executive will not be one of the inital cards.
Ditto. If that card comes up in the first set, we reshuffle it in the deck and pick another.
 
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What is a reasonable amount to bid at the start of a regular game, assuming that there's a Service Bounty bonus available for being the first player to transport a good to a particular city? Often this will mean getting 1 point for transporting the good, 1 bonus point for being the first to transport a good, and 3 bonus points for being the first to transport a good to a particular location. Net result: a 5 point head-start on the income track. If that was the game situation at the start of play, how much would you bid to be starting player?

 
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Chuck Parrott
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Wilmington
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If I felt it would become a part of my strategy and not just an opportunity strike, I'd bid enough to win it. Off setting 2 or 3 shares with 5 points on the track is not that big a deal. So I would say 6-10k is reasonable. Beyond that? I might see it as a chance to hobble an opponent and let them have it and then build in a way to damage their early bonus. Or find other early bonuses to do myself and keep pace with them.

Just be sure to have a plan to make your initial investment pay off in your overall strategy.
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Majik Mouse
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Tuscaloosa
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_Kael_ wrote:
MartinStever wrote:
cparrott wrote:
I've seen bids go into the 20's even 30's on the US map but that was when a really valuable card was up such as the free urbanization card or the railroad executive,

Our house rule is that Railroad Executive will not be one of the inital cards.
Ditto. If that card comes up in the first set, we reshuffle it in the deck and pick another.


Hmm.... We thought about that, but we decided to allow it as long as both were not up there. It actually can make for a very interesting game because one individual is running with very high shares from the very start and it adds an interesting extra element to the first bid. Usually, when it is up, the bids get up to the high teens or the low twenties. I think the highest ever for us was 25.
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