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Subject: Thoughts on a five-player "basic" game of Steam from a relative rails N00b rss

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Mark Crane
United States
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I thought I'd add the perspective of someone not thoroughly entrenched in Age of Steam.

So I finally played Steam last night with my group. We had five players. One of us had played Railroad Tycoon four years ago (my first eurogame experience), one had played Steam twice, another was new to the game,I had only played Age of Steam twice in addition to a single game of RT, and our final player had two games of Age of Steam behind him.

We played with the "basic" or streamlined rules and finished in 2.5 hours. I thought that was pretty good for a five-person game of anything of this weight. I had forgotten much of Age of Steam, but it came back fairly quickly. The new guy won by about four points, and the spread was something like 41-36-35-32-29, so no crushing runaway victories, and no bankruptcies.

I really enjoyed the game, and I thought it was "fun" but fun in a sort of thinky, Martin-Wallace-ish way, not so much in a trash talking, blowing things up and rolling dice way. In terms of weight, the basic game felt sufficiently tense, heavy and thinky that, unlike many Age of Steam afficionados, I wasn't dying to play the standard game just yet. I can also see why the basic game might feel like you have the training wheels on to hardened Age of Steam fans, given that you're not in danger of bankruptcy at any given moment.

One thing I really enjoyed was the endgame tension as players started accruing VPs instead of the money track, and long deliveries and last-minute track wrangling took place. There's a nice blend of strategy and tactics, and the game leaves you replaying your long-term plans in your head, asking questions like "What if I had just upgraded my engine to six before the final round..."

edit: clarification

I just heard back from a group member, and we were more inexperienced than I realized.

Me: played AoS twice, RRT once
player one: played RRT 2-3 times
player two: AoS twice
player three: RRT at least once, a long time ago.
player four: no rails experience

I guess my point is that a five player game played pretty quickly
given our relative inexperience

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