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Subject: Why all the fuss - this is just another variant of AoS, isn't it? rss

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Michael Longdin
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Whilst I fully understand the legal differentiation between Age of Steam and Steam, having read the rules I really cannot treat Steam as a separate game. If I ignore tile mix (which I don’t care about although I acknowledge that some people do), am I right in thinking that the only change in the rules is the VP/income allocation mechanic. To me this is just a variant on the main game – in the same way that the dozens of additional AoS maps usually provide a variant in some way.

So why the big hoo-ha about is Steam better than Age of Steam. Yes I get lots of nice new components but in the end Steam is just a couple of additional variant maps to me – and expensive ones at that.
 
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J C Lawrence
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100%Blade wrote:
Whilst I fully understand the legal differentiation between Age of Steam and Steam, having read the rules I really cannot treat Steam as a separate game. If I ignore tile mix (which I don’t care about although I acknowledge that some people do)...


The changed tile mix breaks certain maps (mostly mine). Specifically AoS:Sun simply does not work with the more constrained tile mix in Steam and AoS: London suffers but limps with the Steam tile mix.

Quote:
...am I right in thinking that the only change in the rules is the VP/income allocation mechanic.


Plus the more powerful Production and Urbanisation actions and richer initial cube selection. Those are not small changes.

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To me this is just a variant on the main game – in the same way that the dozens of additional AoS maps usually provide a variant in some way.


That's a fair call.

Quote:
So why the big hoo-ha about is Steam better than Age of Steam. Yes I get lots of nice new components but in the end Steam is just a couple of additional variant maps to me – and expensive ones at that.


I've been treating Steam as a distinct game as it is being presented as a distinct game which is yet a member of a larger family.
 
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Daniel Corban
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For me it is:
-VP/Income track fixing the gamey income reduction and giving slightly different incentives throughout the game
-fixed action selection
-fixed method of adding cubes to the board
-vastly superior components
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Daniel Corban
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clearclaw wrote:
I've been treating Steam as a distinct game as it is being presented as a distinct game which is yet a member of a larger family.

I agree. I can easily see playing both games in the same night. It's like saying 1856 is just a variant of 1830. A few rules changes and its a whole new game.
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Michael Longdin
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clearclaw wrote:


Quote:
...am I right in thinking that the only change in the rules is the VP/income allocation mechanic.


Plus the more powerful Production and Urbanisation actions and richer initial cube selection. Those are not small changes.

Good point. But I'm still struggling to see this as anything other than a variant.

I think my group will still ask to play Age of Steam and not Steam. And then when we deciide which mapt to play, it may well be on one of the Steam maps (or it may not)
 
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Until very recently Age of Steam was hard to get. This no doubt accounts for much of the excitement that built up over the last year.
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Jack Neal
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Politics.

Beyond the rules, I'm sure there's a political element in supporting a game designer as well. Honestly, I think that's the main drive for most people on the forum.
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Michael Longdin
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dcorban wrote:
clearclaw wrote:
I've been treating Steam as a distinct game as it is being presented as a distinct game which is yet a member of a larger family.

I agree. I can easily see playing both games in the same night. It's like saying 1856 is just a variant of 1830. A few rules changes and its a whole new game.

But I treat 1856 and 1830 both as 18xx games. A few rule changes may indeed make it a whole new game but it's still based around that core mechanism.

There are many Age of Steam maps out there that change the game far more significantly than Steam does.

edit: corrected emphasis
 
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Breno K.
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verandi wrote:
Until very recently Age of Steam was hard to get. This no doubt accounts for much of the excitement that built up over the last year.


He's right. A lot of the excitement is due to this, a top-tier game that was unavailable for a few years...
 
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Eric Flood
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dcorban wrote:
For me it is:
-VP/Income track fixing the gamey income reduction and giving slightly different incentives throughout the game


Wait...the VP/Income track split feels *less* gamey to you? I can understand liking the new mechanics better, but they are arguably *more* gamey than the income reduction (which I see as abstracted infrastructure costs).

And now that AoS *is* available, there are many people who are avoiding it due to controversy. ninja
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100%Blade wrote:
So why the big hoo-ha about is Steam better than Age of Steam. Yes I get lots of nice new components but in the end Steam is just a couple of additional variant maps to me – and expensive ones at that.

That's the way I see it - Steam is a glorified AoS expansion. There's nothing wrong with that; I happily spend ridiculous amounts of money on AoS expansions (many of which I never play soblue ). And an expansion by Martin Wallace no less; auto-buy for me.

But I think what bothered a lot of old AoS fans originally was this new "expansion" being called Age of Steam (3rd edition) and touted as "fixing" Age of Steam. That sure bothered me.

Now that the name has changed, great! But it still feels like an AoS expansion to me. Perhaps my feelings will change when I actually play it.

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Bruce Murphy
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I think more irritating than the claims of 'fixing' AoS was the presentation of the new game (and its rules) as being perfectly compatible with all existing AoS maps. This is simply deluded.

B>
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Roland Wood
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thepackrat wrote:
I think more irritating than the claims of 'fixing' AoS was the presentation of the new game (and its rules) as being perfectly compatible with all existing AoS maps. This is simply deluded.

B>


Originally it was conceived to be so and for quite awhile in the development cycle it was a primary goal to be able to play Steam with any of the past maps. It was also an original goal to be able to play Age of Steam with the Steam components. These were not false or deluded claims. But they were goals that were exuberently touted by the designer, himself!

As often happens during development these things fell by the wayside and there really was no equal level of announcement from official sources that these goals had changed. So for a long time people (myself included) were hopeful but not really sure whether it was true or not.

Obviously, now, in its final form we can see that it is still possible to play Steam on many old maps and some of these map designers have made changes to make it even easier to enjoy Steam with them. You can even play Age of Steam using Steam components but not without some labor on the enduser's part and some forgiveness over tile mix (although for some this is unforgivable).
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J C Lawrence
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Roliander wrote:
You can even play Age of Steam using Steam components but not without some labor on the enduser's part and some forgiveness over tile mix (although for some this is unforgivable).


Given that Steam's cities are unnumbered, this is difficult even with the addition of a production chart. More accurately, Steam's cubes and track (ignoring the tile mix) may be used to play Age of Steam on Age of Steam maps, along with the addition of the standard production, share etc charts. Really, all that gets used in this case is the track, track markers and cubes.
 
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Teacher Fletcher
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thepackrat wrote:
I think more irritating than the claims of 'fixing' AoS was the presentation of the new game (and its rules) as being perfectly compatible with all existing AoS maps. This is simply deluded.

B>


I too bristled at this.

I was planning to purchase Steam to use to play AoS, but the double-sided tiles pushed me away from that, and I purchased a secondhand 1st edition AoS instead. (I would not purchase FRED's bootlegged edition).

For now I am focusing on playing Age of Steam. Eventually I will get around to Steam and evaluate that game on its own merits.
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Roland Wood
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clearclaw wrote:
Roliander wrote:
You can even play Age of Steam using Steam components but not without some labor on the enduser's part and some forgiveness over tile mix (although for some this is unforgivable).


Given that Steam's cities are unnumbered, this is difficult even with the addition of a production chart. More accurately, Steam's cubes and track (ignoring the tile mix) may be used to play Age of Steam on Age of Steam maps, along with the addition of the standard production, share etc charts. Really, all that gets used in this case is the track, track markers and cubes.


Couldn't I labor to create tokens with numbers and letters on them to match the production chart and place those tokens on the cities of the map? As I said, "with some labor"
 
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Bruce Murphy
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Sure, and you could make up your own complete AoS kit except for the dice and play Age of Steam with the perfectly compatible game Monopoly, neh?

B>
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Roland Wood
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thepackrat wrote:
Sure, and you could make up your own complete AoS kit except for the dice and play Age of Steam with the perfectly compatible game Monopoly, neh?

B>


Eh. However that would take significantly more effort and labor. As I stated at the beginning. Steam was originally conceived as being completely backward compatible with what came in the box and lots of fanfare accompanied this idea. You are correct that this is not the reality of the final produced game. You are also correct that annoyingly little was done to make sure consumers who were following the development understood that this was no longer the case.

The fact remains that with some labor one could play Age of Steam (Age of Steamish for those concerned by tiles) using what came in the Steam box. Here is the length and breadth of that labor (assuming you already know the rules):

Find some dice
Print out the Age of Steam charts
Make tokens to number and letter your cities
Assign one of the unused player disks to be city tokens
Remove the preprinted town tiles that differ from Age of Steam's

And now Monopoly:

Find some extra dice
Print out the Age of Steam charts
Print out or make a map
Print and cut out hexagonal track tiles
Find a dowel and cut it into a multitude of wooden disks
Paint the disks into 6 player colors plus town markers
Find or make a multitude of cubes

I think most would agree that compared to turning some games into a playable version of Age of Steam, Steam is not that tough of an endeavor...
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Steve Cox
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As one or two posters have already mentioned, basic Steam plays quicker than AoS, mainly because the time consuming phases of issuing shares, bidding for turn order, and rolling for production growth have gone. Whilst that means that some of the difficult decisions and opportunities for derailing your opponents' plans have also gone, the new decisions and opportunities that replace them easily make up for that, in my view (and experience - I have now played on both maps, twice with 4 players and once with 5).
For example, you have both more and less control over your choice of job - more, because you can pretty much guarantee to get the job you want next round, by taking the start player job this round (useful if you are building last in this round, because you can then afford to temporarily abandon incomplete links), but less, because you can't use financial muscle to get, say, the locomotive upgrade twice in a row. And should you choose a strategy based on the low numbered jobs, that are free but less powerful, or one based on the high numbered jobs, that are costly and harder to get?
Similarly, production growth is both more and less predictable - more because you can choose which blocks appear and where they go, and when, but less because other players might upset your plans, either deliberately or inadvertently.
Even the apparent dumbing down represented by the freedom to take a loan at any time does not completely spare your brain cells, since you effectively lose half a VP for each one, not to mention the loss of income, and you can't pay them off without falling behind on the VP track (and that's another thing - when should you switch from taking income to VPs; perhaps there's a viable strategy that involves making the switch two or three rounds before everyone else?).
So it is by no means clear to me who would win in a fight between a veteran AoS player and a fresh faced Steam newbie to decide who was the real man.
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Anthony Simons
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blueatheart wrote:
dcorban wrote:
For me it is:
-VP/Income track fixing the gamey income reduction and giving slightly different incentives throughout the game


Wait...the VP/Income track split feels *less* gamey to you? I can understand liking the new mechanics better, but they are arguably *more* gamey than the income reduction (which I see as abstracted infrastructure costs).

The gamey element with the original income reduction was more of an issue becuase it allowed the gamey tactic of pushing somebody else's income into the higher reduction zone. That's the point.

The fact that players are making choices in Steam to allocate their shipping to points or income removes any opportunity for a player to be screwed by somebody shipping over their link to penalise them. However artificial you think the separate points and income tracks are, their use is far from gamey.

Of course I respect the fact that many prefer income reduction; I cannot personally say I dislike it, but it is still conducive to gamey tactics whereas the split tracks prevent gamey tactics.
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Richard Dewsbery
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Steve Cox wrote:
So it is by no means clear to me who would win in a fight between a veteran AoS player and a fresh faced Steam newbie to decide who was the real man.


The veteran AoS player ought to slaughter the Steam newbie. In fact, every time I've seen the scenario played out, he *has* slaughtered the newbie - the AoS skills are far more than simply deciding what shares to issue and how much to bid. Long- and short-term building strategy, action selection and cube movements are so similar between the two games that the AoS veteran has a significant advantage over anyne new to the game. I'd say that the advantage is worth around 12 VPs in a 4-player game, if anyone was looking to make it a handicap match.

A different question would be who would win at Steam, a Steam vet or an Age of Steam vet. I'd say that whether you were playing basic or standard steam, the advantage would go to the stronger player regardless of which game they have the greater experience with, though I might give a slight edge to the Steam player (especially in basic) because the decision as to when to take VPs and when to take income isn't always as obvious as it first appears.
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