This session report comes from a single playing of the game Union Pacific on 2/21/09 with the Carrolton Texas Board Gaming Group.
You can see the full night's report here:http://www.boardgamegeek.com/guild/9
As the night came to a close and only the diehards remained, we opted to play Eddie’s dearly acquired Union Pacific which is becoming a favorite of the core group. At nine o’clock after a full day of gaming only five players possessed the stamina for one more adventure: Eddie, Eric, Rita, the fresh legged Bryan, and our host Quinn.
Eddie gave quick review of the rules for Eric who was a Union Pacific virgin. Once the rules were explained and initial hand’s dealt everyone selected their beginning stratagems and everyone revealed their initial investments. Only Rita and Bryan were competing as they both revealed Union Pacific (UP); Eric opted to open large with an investment in potentially the largest railway: the green El Paso & Rio Grande (EP&RG); Quinn chose a middle investment approach with the red Billings Northern Light (BNL); Eddie started small with the golden Empire State Lines (ESL).
A tale of four strategies and one financial collapse:
Strategy #1 – The Vanderbilt
The first round kicked off with Eddie clearly establishing himself as the game’s Vanderbilt by focusing all of his energies on building EP&RG and drawing every share of EP&RG he could grab. So singular was his focus that when the first dividend card revealed itself, he had invested in nothing during the round. With the second round and forward, Eddie established an unassailable leadership in both UP stocks and EP&RG which he spent the whole game expanding.
Strategy #2 – The sole proprietorship
Quinn had also split his first investment across two stocks that ended the first dividend payout with him as the sole owner. Despite building all of his tracks for BNL and then being shut out, he reaped the full payouts on both the purple Sioux Falls Royal Blue (SFRB), and white United Mexican Railways (UMR). He continued this strategy of collecting both primary and secondary on several railways hopping from line to line until the 3rd round where he settled down to focus on SFRB and remained the primary shareholder. While this strategy kept him in second place for much of the game it was never enough to catch Eddie.
Strategy #3 – The coattails
Eric was shadowing Eddie’s strategy by occasionally building EP&RG track and drawing any shares still available to augment his initial investment in EP&RG. Since Eddie had never invested in any shares (despite drawing the bulk of the EP&RG shares), Eric was the sole owner of EP&RG for the first dividend payout which already contained nine connections. But, by the second round, Eddie had shown all of his shares taking and holding the primary position on the largest railway on the board. Luckily, Eric diversified into BNL which he expanded to rival EP&RG by the end of the game, as well as the moderate DM. Like Quinn, however, this was never enough to catch Eddie.
Strategy #4 – The mutual fund
Rita had been the first player to tip her hand by investing in both the brown Kansas City Central (KCC) and ESL. So during the first dividend payout, she was the sole owner of KCC. Her strategy circled around keeping her hand in several mid-sized rails, even being the sole owner of shares of KCC, then MRR for several payouts. This strategy did not pan out in the long run, as Quinn overtook her favorite stock, KCC, by the end of the game a railway that she had invested considerable effort in expanding. Despite her diversified portfolio of small capital stocks, she couldn’t compete with the juggernaut that EP&RG had become, and her UP portfolio only paid her the 4th place shareholder’s bonus. She finished fourth, ahead of Bryan, but well back from the rest of the pack.
Financial Flop – or Railways run by AIG
Bryan’s business plan initially involved BNL but that stock became a four horse race of which Bryan was eventually shut out. He had been the primary shareholder on BNL for the first payout; unfortunately for Bryan, that was the last serious challenge he made, as he could never quite establish any real position on rails that were in play. In the end, he tried a desperate gambit to focus solely on building up the MS lines and holding primary control but it was too little too late as it only really paid off a large dividend in the final round when the line had climbed to 15 connections. In the end, Bryan could never climb out of the deep dark hole that the first two rounds had left him in and he finished dead last despite being the primary holder on a large rail line that he had built himself.
Eddie -- $134M
Quinn -- $104M
Eric -- $101M
Rita -- $83M
Bryan -- $78M