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Subject: Edging towards Base Steam rss

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Anthony Simons
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I am finding myself increasingly drawn towards the variant systems used in Basic Steam. It will probably never be as cutthroat as Standard, but I'm starting to feel the action selection decision is considerably more interesting than the auction.
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James Hamilton
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Re: Edging towards Basic Steam
So far I have only played the basic game and to be honest I see little need to play with the auction. I have plenty of other auction games and find the role selection far more relaxed than in AoS.

OK it takes a skill away from the game but it is still fun.
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Larry Levy
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Re: Edging towards Basic Steam
Tony and Hammy: Do you both play with the straight Basic rules or do you add in rules from the Advanced game (other than the auction, of course). The only things I can see that might be added in is to take out loans at the start of the turn and to pay for the maintenance on your locomotives.

I'm hoping I can talk some folks in my group to play the Basic game (there's that stigma, you know), since I've never been overly fond of the auction system in AoS.
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Richard Dewsbery
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Re: Edging towards Basic Steam
I've long-preferred the Basic game. The Standard game's great, but Basic is quicker with plenty of important decisions remaining. I've not tried adding back in loco maintenance and raising funds at the start of the turn - the latter seems to me to be adding in some extra downtime while moves are calculated that I wouldn't want in the Basic game, and the former was designed out for a reason (and the cost of taking the loco action would be too high if you have to pay maintenance on top).
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Peter Mumford
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Re: Edging towards Basic Steam
Very interesting points. I played the standard game last night, and was disappointed. It was not that it was too cut-throat - it was just way too complex, with so many factors to constantly balance out. Annoyingly complex. And it has a silly economic model, IMO, that doesn't correspond to reality. I think I might like the basic game a lot more.
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Larry Levy
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Re: Edging towards Basic Steam
Thanks, Richard. Sounds like I don't need to be tweaking the Basic game.
 
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Juho Snellman
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Re: Edging towards Basic Steam
The basic game was better than I thought in advance, and unlike standard Steam it's not competing for the same niche as AoS (can't imagine playing any standard if AoS is available). I didn't find the basic game all that fast though, around 2h with 5 players despite trying to play quickly.

The main surprise was that the whole income system was a lot less annoying than in standard. Money was a lot tighter despite the removal of the auction and train maintenance money sinks. I think the reason is that in the basic game it's a lot harder to convert higher spending to a positional advantage: money is pretty much just needed to build track. In standard Steam cash can be used to win the auction, which can be used to improve your board position, which will translate to more income and more cash, in a positive feedback cycle. This forces the players to spend a lot of money to be competitive. And when the overall spending is higher, small inefficiencies in e.g. track building don't matter nearly as much.

It almost feels like the basic game is the one that was properly developed, and the standard game was then bolted on that framework almost as an afterthought.
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Jack Neal
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Re: Edging towards Basic Steam
Quote:

It almost feels like the basic game is the one that was properly developed, and the standard game was then bolted on that framework almost as an afterthought.


This was my thought tonight after going through some plays on Scotland even though I know full well that the game was designed differently.
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Albatros
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Re: Edging towards Basic Steam
RDewsbery wrote:
I've long-preferred the Basic game. The Standard game's great, but Basic is quicker with plenty of important decisions remaining. I've not tried adding back in loco maintenance and raising funds at the start of the turn - the latter seems to me to be adding in some extra downtime while moves are calculated that I wouldn't want in the Basic game, and the former was designed out for a reason (and the cost of taking the loco action would be too high if you have to pay maintenance on top).


Richard, you have a good point about the high cost of the locomotive action if you also have to pay for maintenance. (Perhaps the answer is that the action should just cost $4 - no additional cost for the locomotive level.) With or without maintenance, I would like to try playing the Basic game with the restriction of issuing shares only at the beginning of the turn. It might add more downtime at the start of the turn but I think it would encourage more forward thinking. Having only played the Basic game, I can only speculate on this one.

(Someday, I'll actually have a group of gamers together that know the Basic game well enough to try the Standard game.)
 
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Jack Neal
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Re: Edging towards Basic Steam
Quote:
I would like to try playing the Basic game with the restriction of issuing shares only at the beginning of the turn.


You'll have to report back on that one. I don't plan on putting that one on the kids (maybe for me against them) because it seems to be relatively punitive. I can see the argument in favor of it for AoS simply because the auction and money and victory conditions are tied more to money and outstanding shares.

Interested though, that's for sure.
 
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Anthony Simons
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Re: Edging towards Basic Steam
Larry Levy wrote:
Tony and Hammy: Do you both play with the straight Basic rules or do you add in rules from the Advanced game (other than the auction, of course). The only things I can see that might be added in is to take out loans at the start of the turn and to pay for the maintenance on your locomotives.

Funnily enough, in last night's game I completely forgot that locos are not paid for, so that's the way we played. It doesn't make a great difference, to be fair; the main in-game friction with locos using the Basic action selection is the initial cost versus the loss of a shipment. Being forced to capitalise at the start of your turn (and taking overspend off VP first) might form an interesting choke point in Basic but I doubt it will change things much for veterans.
 
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jim b
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Re: Edging towards Basic Steam
If we don't play with auctions, are there merits to an income-phase on top of Base?

It forces you to plan well, and in-advance. (Making Steam more unforgiving, and so more competitive - at the expense of more time and brain cells.)

But if everyone could plan perfectly (both their own actions and everyone else's), are there any other differences in the result?

[jsnell observes above that income-rules complement the auction-rules, but I'm asking about the case without auctions.]
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Anthony Simons
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Re: Edging towards Basic Steam
jimb wrote:
If we don't play with auctions, are there merits to an income-phase on top of Base?

As long as the associated penalties are included I think there are. If poor planning penalises VP before income (as it does in Standard) then it's worth including. But then, I suppose that would be implicit in using that element of the Standard game anyway.
 
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jim b
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Re: Edging towards Basic Steam
Right.

Another significant issue is, since funds are open, it might affect your play: 'if I just do this, he won't be able to do that'. (eg, if you can force his intended build to become unaffordable.)

We know fully well what Standard brings to that, but that's less clear for Standard/Income by itself (to me). For example, when I started playing AoS - the difficulty of the initial income planning, its effect on the ultimate auction, the pained cries during build of 'I just need $1 more, ok??', elimination paranoia - except for the planning part, what's not to like? devil But, it's good to step back and think about which of this was which mechanic.

I agree with you all: Standard doesn't seem worth the price in gameplay. Base is way faster, the action-tiles are fun and interesting (in expense and turn-order effects), it's more relaxed to play this way, and the rigid separation of planning and execution is ultimately a real chore.

ps. another time - I have related questions about the auction vs action-costs - loosely, whether good/poor auction/$$ play ultimately simply moves pain into your pocket that we'd eventually see on the VP track anyway.

edit - wording
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Simon
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Re: Edging towards Basic Steam
Larry Levy wrote:
I'm hoping I can talk some folks in my group to play the Basic game (there's that stigma, you know), since I've never been overly fond of the auction system in AoS.


Larry, I have only played the basic version so far, and I quite liked it! I'll be happy to help you "encourage" the others to give it a try.
 
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Larry Levy
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Re: Edging towards Basic Steam
Simon, as always, you're my hero. We'll definitely have to make this a priority. Have you actually ordered the game? It'll be hard to get this played if no one in the group has a copy! wow
 
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Simon
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Re: Edging towards Basic Steam
It's on order with Game Surplus, just waiting for a few preorders (Pandemic expansion and Tales of Arabian Nights) to come in. I'll be sure to let you know when it gets here.

I'm surprised that no one else has picked up a copy!
 
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Daniel Corban
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Re: Edging towards Basic Steam
I am reposting this from another forum I frequent after playing the "basic" Steam tonight for the first time:

I have played standard Steam 3 times. Tonight I played the basic Steam.

It is my feeling that if you are going to play standard Steam, you should just play Age of Steam instead. They take the Age of Steam rules, which strongly encourage a long planning arc over the entire game and monetary planning down to the single dollar... then throw a wrench in the whole thing by introducing the uber-tactical revision of urbanization and production. As someone who has played Age of Steam many times and won all times but one (I believe), standard Steam has been a big let-down so far. It keeps the frustrating parts of Age of Steam, but eliminates the skill-based rewards for those parts.

The basic Steam, which is in reality just as tight and nerve wracking as standard Steam, flows much more smoothly. In particular the tension between picking the action you want and being earlier in the turn order (the action you select determines your turn order for the following turn) is great. It is also much more newbie friendly without dumbing it down for experts.

I will play standard Steam if I am outvoted, but I believe the people I played the basic Steam with tonight agree with my overall feeling and will stick to basic. I honestly think the term "basic" is doing the ruleset an injustice.
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Pasta Batman
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Re: Edging towards Basic Steam
dcorban wrote:
I honestly think the term "basic" is doing the ruleset an injustice.

Note that 'basic game' isn't mentioned in the Steam materials - 'base game' is the official term'. Perhaps 'base' isn't quite as demeaning as 'basic', but I do agree that the terminology was poorly chosen, and leads unnecessarily to prejudice and neglect of what seems to be the main show. Calling the base game 'standard' and the standard game 'advanced variant' would have made a lot more sense.
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Re: Edging towards Basic Steam
My group loves Age of Steam - except for one guy, who doesn't enjoy the calculations of how many shares issue and how much to bid for the turn order.

So basic Steam is perfect. We have even removed the last remaining auction in the game (bidding for right to go first) and simply use the variant suggest for your first game in all our games (players start with money equal to their seatnumber - 1).

There are far more points to be earned in the game, as most players will end up with large locomotives very quickly. And having players actually selecting "Production" is a nice change

I am looking forward to playing my first game on one of the old expansion maps, to see how it works!
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Ben Gander
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Re: Edging towards Basic Steam
I'm up to 3 plays of Base Steam with none of Standard or AOS. Think I'm going to struggle to ever get a go at either - the group I play with includes many (reasonably hardcore gamers) who strongly dislike the fiddliness of arranging loans / shares at the start of turns.

I'm hoping that expansions come out for Base Steam as well as the auction variant, it will be a shame if it gets overlooked.
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Anthony Simons
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Re: Edging towards Basic Steam
pastabatman wrote:
dcorban wrote:
I honestly think the term "basic" is doing the ruleset an injustice.

Note that 'basic game' isn't mentioned in the Steam materials - 'base game' is the official term'.

I'm not really happy with either term, to be honest; not in the light of the word "standard" being used for the other variant. Alright, I'll try to use the word "base" instead of "basic".
 
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Larry Levy
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Re: Edging towards Basic Steam
Benny Gee wrote:
I'm hoping that expansions come out for Base Steam as well as the auction variant, it will be a shame if it gets overlooked.

Very good point, Ben. I hope that the people who will be creating those expansions are reading this thread. Their clientele will want there to be options to play the Base version of the game, as well as the Standard version. In fact, if the postings here are any indication, there will be more of a demand for Base game variants.
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Richard Dewsbery
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Re: Edging towards Basic Steam
Base, basic, standard, advanced, expert - they were all considered and fought over. Each term had something going for it, and some drawbacks. And different terms were used at different stages, which is why I *still* get confused over what word to use for each version.

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Bill J
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Re: Edging towards Basic Steam
I played a couple of solitaire games using JimB's suggestions on the SW corner of the New England Steam map. Just for fun, I thought I'd add the money phase at the beginning of the turn and the train maintenance costs from the standard game.

It does a couple of things.
1. It increases the possibility of serious debt problems
2. As a result, it increases the amount of analysis time necessary at the beginning of each turn. The main cognitive skill is doing the counting and math to plan out your turn.

I think that these changes alter the nature of the game. In the base, you are selecting roles to build a successful rail network. In the standard game, you are an accountant, trying to select roles to build a rail network. Personally, I like the base better - save the accounting for the checkbook and the workplace.
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