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Subject: Train Game Anxiety rss

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John Perry
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I'm thinking about buying one of the train games and trying it out. The problem is which one to buy. I've been reading a bit, and what I gather is this:

Age of Steam, Railroad Tycoon, and Steam: Rails to Riches are by the same author, and are all fairly similar, with the tweaks being things like when you can sell stock and how you place resources and how turn order gets decided.

18XX are a different line by a different developer, but my first impression is that it's also very similar to the 3 Martin Wallace games in that it's focused on the economics of running a train company.

Much as I'd love to blow $500 to buy each of the games and several upgrades (Rails of Europe, AOS expansion maps, etc) and try them all out to compare them, that's not practical (even if I did have $500 to spend on them).

So if I'm an avid gamer who'd like to try one of the railroad economic games, but who hasn't played any of them yet, what would you recommend?

I should say that I'm leaning toward the Martin Wallace ones, but am stumped
as to whether I should plunk down $60 for AoS or RT or whether I should wait
another month or two and get a copy of Steam for a little bit less.

Any thoughts?
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B C Z
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My honest answer, if you don't care, is to ask your potential opponents.

None of these games work with only 1 or 2 people at the table. To truly blossum you're wanting five or more.

So ask the people you'll be playing with.
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Christopher M
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I don't feel the AoS system and 18xx are very similar. They are all great games, but as the previous poster commented, the ability to get them to the table is directly related to your opponent's taste.

I think it may be worth looking at the time requirements for each game. Age of Steam, Steam, and RRT all come in around 2 hours. 18xx can be considerably longer (depending on the game).

If cost is the primary constrant, you could always try 18AL or 18GA for the price of printing. They might not be the best in the series, but they will give you a feel for the system.
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Bill Eldard
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Deaddogdays wrote:
I don't feel the AoS system and 18xx are very similar. They are all great games, but as the previous poster commented, the ability to get them to the table is directly related to your opponent's taste.


Agreed. 18xx is more complex than AoS and takes twice as long (or longer) to play.

AoS is still my favorite RR game because fills a niche between 18xx and the Empire Builder-series of crayon rails.

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Mystery McMysteryface
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Here are some hotlinks which answer your questions that I posted recently on: Suggestion on a railroad game...

EgorjLileli wrote:
EgorjLileli wrote:
I answered a similar question on a 5/7/09 thread:

EgorjLileli wrote:
Check these out:

Heavier Train games that play well with 2 players

and also

train games - help me choose past ticket to ride (TTR)

And check out the video for Empire Builder on This Geeklist.



I have Mystery Bob convinced to buy India Rails!!!

Good luck. Let me know what you decide and if you like it!!

Mrs. Mystery Bob



I forgot to include where I posted this: A true train game? (esp. for 2er)modest
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Ian Kelly
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LibMats wrote:
18XX are a different line by a different developer, but my first impression is that it's also very similar to the 3 Martin Wallace games in that it's focused on the economics of running a train company.


With its rich stock market simulation and comparatively abstracted company operations, I would say that 18xx is more about the economics of investing in train companies. And 18xx isn't just from one designer. There are nearly as many different 18xx designers as there are 18xx games. I suppose the same could be said about AoS expansion maps.

Quote:
So if I'm an avid gamer who'd like to try one of the railroad economic games, but who hasn't played any of them yet, what would you recommend?


If you're more interested in operations than financials, I would recommend Age of Steam. If you prefer games with no or very little randomness, I would recommend 18xx.
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Daniel Corban
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Avoid Railroad Tycoon.

Get 1830 if you think you would like stock and player manipulation.

Get Steam if you think you would like the track and route building aspect.
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J H
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I've been debating on railroading games as well, so all of this information is excellent!

How would Silverton compare with the other titles mentioned in this thread? It's sort of a hybrid railroad/mining game, right? It can also be played solitaire, and I'm guessing that it would play better with two players than the other titles mentioned?
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Matthew Jones
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MIB 8686 wrote:
I've been debating on railroading games as well, so all of this information is excellent!

How would Silverton compare with the other titles mentioned in this thread? It's sort of a hybrid railroad/mining game, right? It can also be played solitaire, and I'm guessing that it would play better with two players than the other titles mentioned?


Gotta be honest, when I read the original post, Silverton is the game I thought of. I have RRT and I have not played AoS. I've considered getting Empire Builder as well, but honestly how many train games do you need?

Silverton is an economic simulator of the mining to railroad operations of the Southwest USA in the late 1800's. I would say that except for its lack of expandability, it is a great train game. I think it gives a real feel for trying to get your product to market and I'm sure that it's heavy enough for most train buffs out there. The cool part is that it scales on its heaviness factor, which is really nice. I've played the super heavy game with snowplows and engine types and all the bells and whistles by myself. But my wife doesn't want all that, she'd rather just play the basic game.

On caveat is that, depending on where you place you're starting positions, it can sometimes feel like multiplayer solitaire. I started up in Denver once and my wife started down in the South, and we never even touched rails. She took all the mines down south and I took all the ones up north and we could almost have split the map and played alone. Of course we never play cut-throat to begin with, so take my caveat with a grain of salt...

I wholeheartedly recommend Silverton as a way out of the current AoS/Steam/RRT train game kerfaffle.

I haven't play any 18xx games, I wouldn't mind trying one once, but from the reviews, 18xx has too much simulation and not enough game for me. my $.02
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Daniel Corban
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Sigrdrifa wrote:

On caveat is that, depending on where you place you're starting positions, it can sometimes feel like multiplayer solitaire. I started up in Denver once and my wife started down in the South, and we never even touched rails. She took all the mines down south and I took all the ones up north and we could almost have split the map and played alone. Of course we never play cut-throat to begin with, so take my caveat with a grain of salt...

Empire Builder is the exact same way.
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J S
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dcorban wrote:
Avoid Railroad Tycoon.

Get 1830 if you think you would like stock and player manipulation.

Get Steam if you think you would like the track and route building aspect.

Care to elaborat eon why one should avoid RRT? I personally like all the options the OP is considering. As everyone has mentioned, there are several differences between the games listed above -

I like all the games mentioned and have tried them all except for Steam (not released yet)

18xx: Rather long game (in general), but also the most complex and interesting. Able to manipulate individual stocks and takeover companies.

Railroad Tycoon: I like this one because players get to actually operate their railroad and "build up." It is the lightest of all the options and it depends on your comfort level on which one to start with. Although I would suggest you try with something lighter than 18xx.

Age of Steam: I like it, as it is in my top 10, but a rather brutal game on newbies. By the time you get your head above water, the game is over.

Steam: From what I have read, the game is AoS with a few rules changes by Wallace.
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Daniel Corban
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To clarify, with the advent of a more balanced "Age of Steam" in the form of "Steam", Railroad Tycoon will truly be obsolete. The luck of the card draw and time-consuming auction mechanism really ruin Railroad Tycoon. The original game's map is borderline broken and the new "Rails of Europe" map is overly balanced.
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J H
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Sigrdrifa wrote:
I've played the super heavy game with snowplows and engine types and all the bells and whistles by myself.

It comes with real train bells and whistles? surprise

Thanks so much for your summary of Silverton! My gamer friends tend to like lighter games, so I don't think they'd want to play any railroading games. Silverton might be my best choice, due to the solitaire playability.

To make two-player more interactive, it might be fun to make up some "sabotage" rules or cards that you could play on your opponent in order to have more interaction.
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John Perry
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Thanks for all the responses.

Based on what I've heard, any of the Martin Wallace ones would suit my taste well, and I'd be more likely to get a broader range of friends to play if I chose RRT over AoS, as it's less cutthroat. (though some of my gaming friends definitely PREFER more cutthroat devil )

I think I may start with RRT and if that flys well, maybe I'll get the newer Steam when it comes out to suit the hardcore people.
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Rick Holzgrafe
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dcorban wrote:
To clarify, with the advent of a more balanced "Age of Steam" in the form of "Steam", Railroad Tycoon will truly be obsolete.


Nonsense. Some people prefer the AoS system, some (like me) prefer RRT.

My two cents on the OP's issue: AoS and Steam are highly competitive games featuring extremely tight money management and a high degree of player interaction. RRT is similar but more relaxed. It is still a competitive game with good levels of player interaction, just not as intense as AoS and Steam.

The crayon rail games (Empire Builder and its family) have very low player interaction, but can be fun for a lazy afternoon or evening. They can suffer from long downtimes, especially with many players; but they play well with as few as two players.

Silverton is also a long game. With two players it can have low interaction, but that depends on the players: if you choose to build toward the same goals, the interaction can be very high. (A previous poster commented about two players starting from different cities; technically you shouldn't do this, as the starting conditions are specified by the scenario and the number of players, and with two players both always start from the same city. But you can still get "solitaire" if the two players build in opposite directions.)

All of these are excellent games. Depending on your gaming group, you may find it easier to get RRT to the table than some of the others, because it's less intense than AoS/Steam and shorter than the others. If your group likes heavy games with intense competition, AoS/Steam is a good choice. If your group likes heavy games and has time for long ones, 18xx is good. If you will often be playing with just two or three players, Silverton is good (it can even be played solitaire). Finally, for long but lighter games that can accomodate 2 to 6 players, the crayon rails are good.

Hope this helps.
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J C Lawrence
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rholzgrafe wrote:
Finally, for long but lighter games that can accomodate 2 to 6 players, the crayon rails are good.


In practice here in playing with my sons, confirmed by my discussions with Richard Irving and few other crayon Rails fans, the Crayon Rails games seen to run a fairly linear 40 minutes per player.
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Teacher Fletcher
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The 18xx pretty much require a group dedicated to playing 18xx to play well.

They are not games to dive casually into, and you are likely to have a bad time trying to teach it to new people without *at least* one veteran steering the game.

Age of Steam is a fantastic game, one I've been playing a lot lately and regretting not getting into five years earlier. If you go this route, you my want to consider purchasing a first or second edition version of the game from eBay or the BGG marketplace, since the currently-available "third edition" of AoS a bootlegged version that's not approved by Martin Wallace, and no royalties from its sales are going to him.

Plus, the AoS bootleg has ridiculous plastic trains instead of wood tokens that end up making the board look like a game of Ticket to Ride played by schizophrenics.
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Breno K.
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18xx is fantastic, but you really need a solid group of dedicated gamers for the game to really bloom. Even the shorter versions take a long time, if you're playing with beginners. Still, I'd recommend you get 1856 (with a set of poker chips) if you think your friends (and you) would be able to stomach 6 hour games (we've managed to whittle 1856 down to 4 hours, after about half a dozen plays...). But you should get poker chips, paper money is a pain and easily adds (unfun and annoying)) hours to gametime.
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Eric Flood
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While I could recommend some really great train games, the first one(s) are always difficult to choose. I repeat some of the above posters with my thoughts here, but I'm trying to be as unbiased as possible, for your benefit (some of the games I recommend here I don't even like):


I will always recommend RRT/RotW to new train gamers. It may not be the "best" train game, but it is immensely accessible, and enjoyable for many players, particularly when learning an entirely new system. It will be enjoyable for your group for at least 10 plays, depending upon their desire for a better system or for lighter/more casual gameplay. It's unfortunately difficult to find right now - RRT, you'll wind up with a mixed-language edition; RotW won't be out for a few months yet. It *is* economy-focused, but all real train games are (TTR being an exception, although many will tell you it's not a train game - I think it is, though! Route-building indeed).

Another game that's much "better" is Chicago Express. It's easy to learn, but playing the game well is much more difficult (like playing "Settlers of Catan" well is much more difficult than playing "Life" well). If all the players have no idea what to do, the game could be very boring for them (and you).

TransAmerica/Europa are also rather light games, but get a good idea of route-laying and are enjoyable for the time commitment. Made-to-order for new players!

If your group is particularly looking for a challenge, then go for the 18XX. But make sure you go through a practice game yourself, or have all the players read through the rules themselves, prior to the game itself. And start with 18AL/GA, as they are the most accessible/shortest time commitment. You do have to print/cut everything yourself, however.

Lastly, crayon rail/Empire Builder games are good places to start, not terribly difficult. Just don't play with more than 3 players the first time, or else it will drag and no one will enjoy it.
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Kevin Everingham
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Lawnjob wrote:
The 18xx pretty much require a group dedicated to playing 18xx to play well.

Age of Steam is a fantastic game, one I've been playing a lot lately and regretting not getting into five years earlier. If you go this route, you my want to consider purchasing a first or second edition version of the game from eBay or the BGG marketplace, since the currently-available "third edition" of AoS a bootlegged version that's not approved by Martin Wallace, and no royalties from its sales are going to him...

I know you don't need any more, but here is my 2 cents... I really have to agree with this above... For the best "tooth & nail" gamer's battle in a train game I would highly recommend finding the 2nd Edition of AOS. (obviously only my opinion, but...) It packs the maximum man-to-man economic & stragetic battle in the shortest timeframe.

one more note: It can be fairly expensive and I would almost never recommend paying the price for expensive games when so many games can be played for less money but AOS 2nd ed is one game that is worth the extra money!
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Matthew Jones
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dcorban wrote:
Sigrdrifa wrote:

On caveat is that, depending on where you place you're starting positions, it can sometimes feel like multiplayer solitaire. I started up in Denver once and my wife started down in the South, and we never even touched rails. She took all the mines down south and I took all the ones up north and we could almost have split the map and played alone. Of course we never play cut-throat to begin with, so take my caveat with a grain of salt...

Empire Builder is the exact same way.


Hmmm, are the smaller maps (ie NipponRails) a good solution for this?
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Steve Duff
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I'll recommend Railways of the World and/or Railways of Europe. Looks gorgeous, and more importantly, just plain fun.

Reading the Age of Steam topics here is like reading college dissertations, playing the game sounds more like work than enjoyment.
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Michael Barlow
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Quote:
Much as I'd love to blow $500 to buy each of the games and several upgrades (Rails of Europe, AOS expansion maps, etc) and try them all out to compare them, that's not practical (even if I did have $500 to spend on them).

So if I'm an avid gamer who'd like to try one of the railroad economic games, but who hasn't played any of them yet, what would you recommend?


Bindle Rails is economic and free.
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J C Lawrence
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Lawnjob wrote:
...since the currently-available "third edition" of AoS a bootlegged version that's not approved by Martin Wallace, and no royalties from its sales are going to him.


In minor correction: Martin Wallace did not control the license to Age of Steam when it was printed by FRED, ergo his permission was unnecessary, and royalties were offered by FRED to Martin Wallace and refused.
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J C Lawrence
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Sigrdrifa wrote:
Hmmm, are the smaller maps (ie NipponRails) a good solution for this?


None of the crayon rails game are high on interaction. All feature some. The smaller the map they more they'll feature, but that's still not likely to be much.
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