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Subject: Indonesia vs. Age of Steam rss

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Cornelius Rosenkrantz
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I've been thinking about adding a heavy economic game to my small collection so I've done a bit of research on this subject.
After some days browsing BGG I've read a ton of rules and reviews and have decided two things: 1) The 18xx games may be too heavy for a start (specially for my game partners), 2) Age of Steam and Indonesia are both suitable for my pourposes.

From the rules I deduce that both games Age of Steam and Indonesia are very simmilar:
- Both have turn order bidding.
- Both share the route building parts. The rails from AoS seem like more tactical issue, but in Indonesia you can merge routes.
- The players may research technical improvements for their actions (Expansion, Engineer...)
- You have to deliver goods to cities demanding that goods. The proprietary of the routes earns money.
- Game length and victory conditions look simmilar.

So I conclude that the mechanics that make de game different are the company merging step from Indonesia and the riches route building of AoS. But in fact I've never played none of this games, so I don't really know!

What do you think about this two games? Are they very simmilar? Or the game-play experience is very different? If you ought to buy just one of this games (read Steam instead of AoF) what would it be? Would you buy both?

Thank you, geeks meeple
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Dave Kudzma
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Just one? Age of Steam.

Shorter, plays more players, has more expansion maps than the law should allow, and cheaper.

It's also quite an amazing game.

Edit: I also love Indonesia, but if I could only pick one...
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Pedro
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Both are excellent games. Also, both are very different games, even if they seem similar on paper.

Indonesia is one of the best "true" economic games (on par with Container, maybe) and its mechanics somehow replicate some real economic issues. When you play Indonesia, you have to deal with supply and demand, geographical constraints, regional development, etc. It's a very interesting and challenging game, but very, very tough to master (even though the rules aren't that complicated).

AoS is more of a "euro" economic game and its mechanics are, in my view, a little less connected with reality. However, it's a much more tense and brutal game than Indonesia. When you play AoS, you feel the pressure from the beginning and it's actually possible (but not likely, in my limited experience) to be eliminated from the game. AoS also has a ton of expansions which change the rules a little, so replayability is infinite and it's possible to find the "perfect" version to your tastes. It's also a very deep and challenging game with no so difficult rules.

Get them both!
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Anthony Simons
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I would choose Age of Steam of the two, but I wouldn't describe it as a "heavy economic game"; AoS is more of a rail game than an economic game (and just to be clear I am not talking about theme here either - the economic elements of Age of Steam are about managing income over expenses and are only a small part of the whole experience).
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A couple points to help you decide...

Age of Steam is primarily a route building and delivery game. The central focus is how to make the best deliveries possible throughout the game. Everything else (the auction, the economic system) directly or indirectly revolves around this goal.

Indonesia is primarily an economic game. The route building and delivery aspect is but the canvas on which the battle to make the most money takes place. Companies merge and switch hands constantly, with the important part being how much money (present and future) will be made (unlike Age of Steam where you are just expanding your own network throughout the game).

So you could say that Indonesia is a game of "larger scope", with more different things going on, while Age of Steam is a more in depth exploration of one of the many facets that appear in Indonesia. That being said, Indonesia is actually easier to learn, with less rules that make more sense and an excellent player aid. Age of Steam has somewhat byzantine rules with more details to remember.

Both are excellent games, but in the end they are quite different. If you are looking for a less complex and time consuming alternative to 18XX, then Indonesia is your best bet- Age of Steam has almost nothing in common with 18XX. Age of Steam has the advantage of a million expansion maps out there for you to explore, but of course you actually have to buy them or print them out.

I prefer Indonesia personally- I think it's deeper and more elegant, with an epic narrative arc. But Age of Steam is obviously a classic too.



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Dave Kudzma
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verandi wrote:
A couple points to help you decide...

Age of Steam is primarily a route building and delivery game. The central focus is how to make the best deliveries possible throughout the game. Everything else (the auction, the economic system) directly or indirectly revolves around this goal.

Indonesia is primarily an economic game. The route building and delivery aspect is but the canvas on which the battle to make the most money takes place. Companies merge and switch hands constantly, with the important part being how much money (present and future) will be made (unlike Age of Steam where you are just expanding your own network throughout the game).

So you could say that Indonesia is a game of "larger scope", with more different things going on, while Age of Steam is a more in depth exploration of one of the many facets that appear in Indonesia. That being said, Indonesia is actually easier to learn, with less rules that make more sense and an excellent player aid. Age of Steam has somewhat byzantine rules with more details to remember.

Both are excellent games, but in the end they are quite different. If you are looking for a less complex and time consuming alternative to 18XX, then Indonesia is your best bet- Age of Steam has almost nothing in common with 18XX. Age of Steam has the advantage of a million expansion maps out there for you to explore, but of course you actually have to buy them or print them out.

I prefer Indonesia personally- I think it's deeper and more elegant, with an epic narrative arc. But Age of Steam is obviously a classic too.


John taught me Indonesia, so heed his words
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Blake Lipman
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My vote is for Indonesia as well. It is a fantastic game. Just the right amount of depth. Both games are very good. I believe that Indonesia is a more interesting game. I also think that the strategy in Indonesia is much subtler.
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Brian Bankler
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I slightly prefer Indonesia (I rate both a 9, and have played each game at least a dozen times. In fact, I just wrote about that), but Age of Steam is:

1) Easier to teach
2) Has less math during play
3) Cheaper
4) Expandable

Given what you said, I think its a better starting point, even though I personally prefer Indonesia. (Many in my group prefer AoS, though)
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Bankler wrote:
Age of Steam is:

1) Easier to teach


I vehemently disagree on this point (agree with your other points though). I can convey the essence of Indonesia and explain all the rules in 10 minutes tops. Age of Steam is more difficult to explain and has more rules to cover. All the phases in Indonesia are in and of themselves simple and with the player aid in front of you that enumerates them it is easy to start playing. Age of Steam has a complex economic system with many details to absorb and doesn't make thematic sense like Indonesia. In Age of Steam (like in Princes of Florence) you are confronted immediately with an auction where the value of the different items varies wildly, and where those values aren't obvious or easy to grasp without having played much. While Indonesia has the bid for turn order, it isn't as immediately demanding as the auction in AoS, and with simply giving the advice "when in doubt, increase slots" players can get by while they become familiar with the R&D track. In other words, these decisions don't become difficult until later in the game, while your first auction and track build in AoS can be game breaking.
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Tyler McLaughlin
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Indonesia. No Contest.
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Devon Harmon
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Put me in the Indonesia camp.
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Железный комиссар
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I also prefer Indonesia. I first played about six weeks ago and have been playing at every available opportunity.

One thing I'm surprised nobody has mentioned: Indonesia is a significantly longer game that Age of Steam. Four-player AoS can be done in two hours. 4-player Indonesia will often take four (perhaps three among experienced players).

EDIT: Also, I think four is the optimal player count in Indonesia. My feeling is that AoS is more versatile in this respect.
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Jean-Michel Petit
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JohnRayJr wrote:
I also prefer Indonesia. I first played about six weeks ago and have been playing at every available opportunity.

One thing I'm surprised nobody has mentioned: Indonesia is a significantly longer game that Age of Steam. Four-player AoS can be done in two hours. 4-player Indonesia will often take four (perhaps three among experienced players).

EDIT: Also, I think four is the optimal player count in Indonesia. My feeling is that AoS is more versatile in this respect.


Very valid point.

Asking the question in the Indonesia forum is sure to get more Indonesia lovers. I am one for sure. But I love BOTH games. Indonesia is a TERRIFIC pure economic game. The number of players required to play is sadly less versatile than Age of Steam.

Now for AoS, I LOVE this game too. I love that I can play it with two and have a terrific time and play it with 6 and have an equally terrific time. The play time is quicker too. The game is really engaging, as is Indonesia, but AoS is a bit less fulfilling at the end of the day in my opinion.

But asking which one of the two to take is a tough one. I would take both in a flinch. But if you can just afford one, take AoS. And it's coming from someone who loves Indonesia more than AoS.

One other thing to note. If you like economic games, I would strongly suggest you get equip with a set of poker chips, this will reduce your play time by about 20% in some case.

Cheers and have fun, in either case, you can't go wrong.

Micquebec

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Richard Young
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They are both very good games. Primarily economic contests with high replayability and relatively low dependence on chance elements, the specifics of the economic engines differ but essentially both deal with commodity deliveries to generate income.

I'm happy to play either one and give them similar ratings. It may come down to which theme attracts you. Some people really like train-themed games for example. Route building plays a part in Indonesia but is nothing like the system of track laying in AoS. On the other hand, the system of company mergers in Indonesia is quite unique and is the key mechanic in the game.

Having both games and enjoying them as we do, I'm just glad I don't have to choose which one to hold on to. Get them both if you can. Indonesia will be the harder one to track down...
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Ask your game group what they are willing to play. At the game store I used to game at, everyone was willing to try and play AoS but very few were willing to give Indonesia a go with me, despite my constant efforts to get it on the table.
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Michael Webb
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Indonesia is a very good game that a lot of people like locally.

AoS is played 10X more than Indonesia locally though, and has been consistently. This is largely because AoS is not just a stand-alone game, it has a plethora of expansions available to keep it fresh, and because of this, it is still receiving consistent play in my groups even though we've been playing it for over 5 years now. I think on average we play it at least once or twice a month. Indonesia, as good as it is, is played a few times a year now.

If I was only going to buy one of them, and I say this independently of the fact that AoS is my absolute favourite game of all time, then I think AoS is a much better purchase. It is easily our most heavily played 2 hour game in Grand Rapids, and it is definitely the better investment if you are only going to buy one of the two.
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Cornelius Rosenkrantz
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Thank you all for your replies. Now I realize that both games have to be quite different!
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jason besly
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Indonesia by a mile, it is worth the 70US$. I have played both of these games once and Indonesia was much more dynamic and gracious in allowing me to build up companies and merge them off if I wanted to change strategies. Age of Steam was brutal and sunk multiple players due to poor starts, Play length was about 5 hours on both for all newbies.
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J C Lawrence
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jabesly73 wrote:
Play length was about 5 hours on both for all newbies.


Age of Steam is a comfortable 120-150 minutes with moderately experienced players. Additional player experience will trim that time a little, but not much. Indonesia conversely lengthens as the players gain experience. In particular the end-game takes longer and longer as the players learn how clearly calculable it is. 4+ hour Indonesia games with experienced players aren't unusual here.
 
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Michael Webb
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clearclaw wrote:
jabesly73 wrote:
Play length was about 5 hours on both for all newbies.


Age of Steam is a comfortable 120-150 minutes with moderately experienced players. Additional player experience will trim that time a little, but not much. Indonesia conversely lengthens as the players gain experience. In particular the end-game takes longer and longer as the players learn how clearly calculable it is. 4+ hour Indonesia games with experienced players aren't unusual here.


JC's experience with AoS meshes with our groups here in MI. His experience with Indonesia most definitely does not, we have consistently been playing it in 3 hours from the opening bell, and sometimes games go shorter than that, usually depending on shipping (i.e.: if a shipping company or two is never founded the game can be shorter by a significant margin). We played it regularly for a month or so, and the game never got significantly longer or shorter.
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You'll be able to play AoS a lot more often than Indonesia. They're both excelent games. If you can only have one, I'ld pick AoS
 
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