Ramping up my reviewing.
Happily playing games for many, many years.
The year 9s I've been taking for boardgames this year have enjoyed most of the games I've shown them: Stone Age, Agricola, and Ticket to Ride being three of the several I've introduced them to. However, the game that captured their imagination most of all was Railroad Tycoon. We only got to play it once, as it required a special lunchtime session for the 2 hours the game needs to play, but they really, really enjoyed it.
I was extremely surprised this week to be informed that my copy of Rails of Europe was shipping. This is an expansion that I wanted, but I thought I'd missed the initial batch and there wouldn't be another. Seems I was wrong, and so I was delighted to see it arrive at my house yesterday.
So, when my three year 9 boys trooped along to our classroom today, they were surprised and equally delighted to see Rails of Europe sitting there waiting for them to start. I explained the various rule changes, and we were away.
I enjoy Railroad Tycoon, but the game has its flaws, the biggest of which is the diffuse nature of the map. Rails of Europe concentrates the experience, and the change to the game to make the Major Lines non-random and always visible is an excellent one. With three players, it is also playable in about an hour - I daresay I will use it again next year.
The actual course of the game saw S1 building down in Italy initially, and getting a Service Bounty and Start of the Railroad Era with his first delivery, thus gaining a lot of points (and income) for the first turn. S2 took the Capital Charter into Paris, and began to concentrate his track around there, whilst B took the Amsterdam Hotel and built track around there - which was a fantastic move, since there were a lot of cubes that could be built into Amsterdam.
As the game moved along, S1 joined the others in the centre of the board, and S2 found himself really struggling for money and needed to give out extra shares. B and S1 were mostly fighting for the lead, but S2 was certainly in the hunt. Each had presence in the centre, whilst branching out to complete major lines and enter other countries: S1 in Italy, S2 in Spain and Portugal, whilst B decided he wanted the Paris-Constantinople Major Line and went down in that direction, completing it just before the last turn started.
S1 completed the Rome-Berlin major line, S2 completed Madrid-Milan and Marseilles-Amsterdan, whilst B completed Paris-Constantinople. There was fighting over the final cubes in the middle, with a Service Bounty for Constantinople appearing... while there were few black cubes available! S1 stole the cube for his own purposes, but B was able to link to another cube and complete the route.
By the end of the game, the three were very close together on points, but Railroad Baron cards then came into it. B was unable to complete his goal (least shares) as he was tied on 2 shares with S1. S2 had completed his, which was a bonus for the highest engine, but S1 had also completed his: the most money, which he ran away with over $50,000.
S2s 6 shares dropped him down to last place, one point behind B's score, but S1 was the winner by about 5 further points, with a score of 46.
Rails of Europe proved to be an excellent game, and I can't wait for my own first game of it; which will probably occur this weekend.
Nice session report.
I tend to agree with what you seemed to pick up on your first play: Railroad Tycoon is a really good game, but the Europe expansion makes it almost perfect.