Ramping up my reviewing.
Happily playing games for many, many years.
Mark had left, but Russell was still with us... and with Russell, his games. And, of most interest to Randy and me was a little hard-to-find game called Age of Steam...
There are times when it's really, really nice to know people who own lots of games. This was one of those times, and when the person in question is as nice as Russell; well, we really wish he lived a little closer to us!
Age of Steam has been a particular sticking point for both Randy and me for some time. Basically, we started collecting good games just that little bit too late, after it was no longer widely available. So, seeing it float around the Top 10 on BGG and knowing we hadn't played it was... irritating. We wanted to play this game!
Sure, we had Railways of the World, but it wasn't AoS. And, indeed, after playing both RRT and AoS I can say that they're very different games, despite the similarity in theme and certain mechanics.
RRT is a kinder game, certainly, but it also feels a lot more open in its mechanics. AoS is stricter, with more defined phases and roles, and an elimination clause for the unwary railroad executive. I'm very happy (if not a little astonished) to say that none of us actually experienced that dire fate. We all were there at the end, if not exactly all prosperous.
I played a fairly conservative game, which, by its end, had been revealed as being utterly too conservative. Randy and Russell, on the other hand, issued shares quicker, and built more extensive tracks and thus accrued a greater income. The biggest problem I had was that I wasn't upgrading my engines quickly enough; the mechanic for that was quite different than RRT: It looked easier, but actually taking the actions (or winning the bid) to do so? Hmm... maybe I should be shipping goods instead?
Josh didn't have a particularly good game, but, as a newer gamer, there was a lot for him to take in. He was quite tentative about issuing shares, and for a lot of the game only had two links and a level 1 engine! Not the way to a great income, I feel.
Randy was running away as the leader. I blame Russell for not stopping him in his pursuit of victory. Look - it was the first game for Randy, Josh and me, and Josh hadn't even played RRT! So, obviously it was Russell who had to stop Randy from winning every game we played! And he didn't. Instead, Randy gained links between every city on the right-hand side of the board and happily delivered 5 or 6 link deliveries for several turns in a row.
Allowing this to occur is not the way you win Age of Steam.
Josh finally splashed out more in the final stages of the game (as did I) and we frantically built some more links and upgraded our engines, but it wasn't enough to win.
Randy: 35 income, 7 shares, 10 links... total 104 points
Russell: 27 income, 9 shares, 10 links... total 74 points
Merric: 16 income, 6 shares, 8 links... total 46 points
Josh: 11 income, 9 shares, 7 links... total 20 points
I really enjoyed my first game of Age of Steam, and I really hope I can get my own copy at some point (and that Russell brings it again in the near future). Do I find it a better game than RRT? Well, sort of. It's definitely different. I found AoS to be more abstract, partly due to the inferior board art compared to RRT. RRT feels more sprawling and epic - it also takes longer. AoS played extremely quickly, even with Josh gripped by Analysis Paralysis. The lesser board footprint of AoS also added greatly to its attraction.
So, that was my first game of AoS. Unfortunately, it came a couple of months too late - it's no longer in the Top 10! It has now been replaced by another game I haven't played, don't own and really want to: Through the Ages: A Story of Civilization
Don't really know if you've seen the light ... or just step into the Dark Side I'm just glad you did!
AoS is the GAME.
Wouldn't mind playing this one soon...I've read through some details on AoS but hoping one day to play it as you guys did. *scratches his stubble thoughtfully* I'll bid 50 shares to upgrade my engine, and lose the game!