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Subject: A good, but accessible train game rss

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Todd
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I found Ticket to Ride to be OK....my wife hated it.

I own Chicago Express, but it feels less like a train game and more like a business building game. I love it, but it doesn't give a train feel.

I also own Thurn & Taxis which is a fun route building game...but it is not a true train game.

Here are three games that I am considering:

Empire Builder - the new edition looks nice

Steam - I like that it has a basic game, does it make the game shorter to play?

Railroad Tycoon - hard to find these days.

Which is the most accessible to new players? Easiest to teach? Shortest to play? Do any of these play in 90 minutes or less with 3 players?

Let me know your thoughts.

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Hank Panethiere
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Steve Duff
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Railroad Tycoon is generally the most accessible of the big train games. A little lighter, a bit more random, less brutal in the "oh my god I screwed up my first turn, now the next hour I'm just playing out the string".

Looks gorgeous on the table too, with all the station markers.

Can't comment about time to play, that really seems to vary so much amongst gamers.
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Brandon Pennington
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If you had to choose between the three you mentioned, Steam is by far the best choice IMO. The basic game is very easy to understand and quite fun too. Then if it is popular you can try out the advanced game.

I am not a fan of Empire Builder as I think it is too repetitive and random for my taste. It is also VERY long for what it is. Steam may sometimes take 2 hours, but the 2 hours are very involved and every move makes a difference. I always feel with Empire Builder I am at the mercy of the cards and I spend countless turns just trying to move my train across the country.

I would also recommend Silverton as it has simple and advanced rules along with the ability to play solo.
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Justin Moore
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I also recommend Steam. I played it at Origins this year, having never played RR Tycoon or Age of Steam and I found the basic game very easy to play and understand. We played 5-player in under 2 hours, so I would think 3 would be well under 90 minutes.
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Ed Holzman
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Sounds like you are looking for a pick-up-and-deliver game with a railroad theme. If that is the case, then Empire Builder, Steam, and Railroad Tycoon would all fill the bill. Of those three, Empire Builder is probably a bit more new-user friendly but none of them are terribly difficult and Steam is enjoying a "Cult of the New" wave of popularity.

Empire Builder is also the game that is most likely to be delayed by dithering and AP since players tend to want to study their contracts before drawing new tracks. Depending upon the number of players and amount of experience, all of these games may or may not clock in at or under 90 minutes. Likely "not" for at least the first few plays.

I will second the recommendation for Silverton as a pick-up-and-deliver game that is relatively easy to learn and has a solitaire game. However, it does regularly exceed your 90 minute time frame.

EDIT: Oh, if you want to get a feel for how Empire Builder plays, then I recommend that you download "Rails" and play against the bots. You can configure the game to follow the rules of Empire Builder pretty closely (limited commodities, grouped contracts). And it is pretty fun, too. You can find it HERE.
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whistler
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While I had fun with Silverton, I think that Steam and Railways of the World are better games. Of these two, I'd go with Steam.

One of the things that bothered me about Railways of the World (compared with, say Age of Steam) is that there are lots of cards with special bonuses. Other players would form strategies around getting these bonuses (on top of normal successful play) but as a newbie I couldn't keep them all straight in my head. Also, I found it difficult to keep track of others' money and engines, especially because they were sitting miles away across the board. When you combine the cards with the HUGE board, it can be a little overwhelming trying to keep track of everything.

I do think that the recently released Steam is pretty easy to learn. The basic game removes the turn order auction (which is difficult for inexperienced players), but is still a solid game. The board is reasonably sized and has two sides with a different map on each. Also, the board is designed so that you can lay additional maps on top, if you desire that sort of thing, but the game can be enjoyed just fine for a long time with the board provided. On the board you can clearly see points, income track, and (most importantly, IMHO) the engine sizes of all players. Finally, I think it is quite easy to switch to the advanced game (closer to Age of Steam) when you feel that your group is ready.

So, unless you are already very experienced AND attached to another train game, I think that Steam is the way to go. It is readily available, affordable, approachable, accessible, enjoyable, and expandable.
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Frank Eisenhauer
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How about Railway Rivals?
I find it to be a pleasant Railroad Building / Racing game. It is easy and cheap to get (used). If you find the graphics of the GW Edition to be to bland, try and find the "Dampfross" Laurin Edition. I do recommend getting average dice (2-3-3-4-4-5), as it speeds up play.
 
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Todd Redden
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Railways of the World is a slightly simplified version of Age of Steam (the game Steam is related to in a sideways legal sort of way.) They are both as accessible to new players (not very.) Though, STEAM has a simplified rules set for new players, so I guess I take that back. I never considered playing with the simplified rules, but it might be what you're looking for. Chicago Express / Chicago Express feel more like way-simplified 18XX games (the 18XX series, such as 1830: Railways & Robber Barons are to be avoided by anyone who is not a gamer officianado. They are very authentic and perhaps a little more than intimidating to new players.) Another similar, meaty railroad game with track laying and stock purchase would be Winsome Games' Pampas Railroads. Humbly, my suggestion to you would be to track down a copy of Union Pacific (hard to find) or try the new edition STEAM with the simplified rules, hopefully with someone who has played Age of Steam before. Another suggestion, if you haven't tried either yet, would be two games which play kind of like train games but have different themes: Power Grid (connecting cities with power lines trying to power up the most cities) and Hacienda (bringing animals back to the farm to market.)
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Michael J
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I vote for Railroad Tycoon. While some people hate the cards, I think they add excitement, and force different kinds of strategies and auctions. If you want a game where almost everything has to be calculated out in advance, go with Steam. If you want a "fun" game that won't hurt your head, go with Railroad Tycoon. It's a great game!
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Todd Redden
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UnknownParkerBrother wrote:
Railroad Tycoon is generally the most accessible of the big train games. A little lighter, a bit more random, less brutal in the "oh my god I screwed up my first turn, now the next hour I'm just playing out the string".

Looks gorgeous on the table too, with all the station markers.

Can't comment about time to play, that really seems to vary so much amongst gamers.

Reminds me of the time I played Age of Steam at Unity Games XII and lost on my first turn when I didn't take out enough shares. No other game has more severe death spiral, nor tighter finances. It really requires great knowledge of the game and future planning to be successful, especially when playing against real fans of the game.
 
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Joe Geerkin
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I think you could finish Steam in 90 minutes with three. I could see the base version being really short once you were familiar with the game.

My one game of Empire Builder took a good 4 hours.

RRT is a longer game than Age of Steam.I think every game I've played has been close to 4 hours as well.

I like Steam the best; it's Age of Steam for wimps. Empire Builder (I played Eurorails) was OK, I wouldn't seek out another game but I'd play it again. I thought RRT was the boring version of Age of Steam. I want to try the Europe map, however, I've been told it changes the game.
 
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Scott Nelson
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Hellrail 3
or frachtexpress if you can find it.
 
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Steve Duff
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josgeerkin wrote:
RRT is a longer game than Age of Steam.I think every game I've played has been close to 4 hours as well.


4 hours? Our 4 player games have been 90 mins to 2 hours tops. That seems way out of whack from what I've seen, and read here on BGG.
 
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Steve Duff
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For those recommending Steam: Does this really look like a train game? "Now leaving Syracuse, the Orange Disc 4-4-2"



Remember, the poster already rejected Chicago Express because it didn't give off a train feel. Contrast with:

 
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Josh P.
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Based on title alone, I am looking forward to Cleopatra's Caboose (if it ever managed to get released).
 
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Nick Bah Doo
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Railways of the World
Railways of Europe (expansion)

Teachable in 10 minuten playable with 3 under 90 minutes (maybe not the first game though). I recommend getting Rails of Europe when playing with less than 4 players. The US map has some issues.
 
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whistler
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tmredden wrote:
Reminds me of the time I played Age of Steam at Unity Games XII and lost on my first turn when I didn't take out enough shares. No other game has more severe death spiral, nor tighter finances. It really requires great knowledge of the game and future planning to be successful, especially when playing against real fans of the game.


It is worth pointing out that the base game of Steam allows you to take out shares anytime during your turn, so this won't happen. You can also take out more shares by decreasing your points, if necessary. So the base game of Steam is not as brutal of an experience.
 
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whistler
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UnknownParkerBrother wrote:
For those recommending Steam: Does this really look like a train game? "Now leaving Syracuse, the Orange Disc 4-4-2"


I would like to have had trains instead of discs in Steam, but it's not a deal breaker. (And I would prefer wooden trains over RRT's plastic trains.) Otherwise, you still have a terrain map, track tiles, and wooden cubes. Not a whole lot of visual difference between the two. Some people swoon at the big brown plastic pieces, but it should be pointed out that they merely represent empty cities. The different shapes don't mean anything, and so they don't contribute much to the game play experience on your turn.

UnknownParkerBrother wrote:
Remember, the poster already rejected Chicago Express because it didn't give off a train feel.


And remember that, ultimately, the poster won't be playing a static photograph, but a dynamic game of decision making. IMO, the "train experience" is found in laying track, upgrading the engine, and delivering goods. The rejection of Chicago Express might have more to do with the sentiment expressed above by tmredden:

tmredden wrote:
Chicago Express / Chicago Express feel more like way-simplified 18XX games


If Chicago Express, like 18xx, is more about managing a market, then the poster should be encouraged to try Steam because it is actually about laying track, upgrading the engine, and delivering goods. Steam is a good choice.
 
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Todd
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Thank you all for your posts. I decided on STEAM. I read the rules for the base game and I think I could get my family to play that version.

I do really enjoy playing CE, but I find that the game is hard to introduce and can be brutal to new players (especially if they overbid).

The final determining factor for Steam was money. CCGArmory has it for $36 with free shipping.

Thanks again!
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whistler
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Falcons wrote:
Thank you all for your posts. I decided on STEAM. I read the rules for the base game and I think I could get my family to play that version.

I do really enjoy playing CE, but I find that the game is hard to introduce and can be brutal to new players (especially if they overbid).

The final determining factor for Steam was money. CCGArmory has it for $36 with free shipping.

Thanks again!


Good luck. One recommendation that I have for teaching the game (which is different than the rule booklet's presentation) is to describe and demonstrate the phases BEFORE discussing the action tiles and turn order. Let the players know what they'll be DOING before you describe the perks and consequences of these special choices.
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