Last night me (Chris), Patrick, David, and Colin got together to play Automobile. Having just finished a brain-busting game of Age of Steam Expansion: 1830's Pennsylvania / Northern California on the Northern California side where first and last place were separated by 2 points (track points!) we were ready for a "relaxing" game. So we pulled out Wallace's latest masterpiece.
I will try to present this report in "point form" with comments at the end. I hope it will be easier to read that way.
I am doing the entire report by memory, so there will be some errors. However, I was strongly engaged by the game and remember a good deal of it.
This was Patrick's fourth or fifth game, my fifth, David's second, and Colin's second or third. The others had been playing some rules wrong in their previous games which came out as we played this one. So this was their first "pure" game
Without further ado:
I believe I drew a 4 demand. Fairly innocuous.
Chris: Durant (1 cube, $200 for Duryea)
Action Round One
David: Build 2 factories on Oldsmobile for 1 cube, $500
Patrick: Place 2 distributors
Chris: Place 3 distributors
Colin: Build 1 factory on Sears Autobuggy for 6 cubes, $300
Action Round Two
David: Place 2 distributors
Patrick: Build 2 factories on Thomas Flyer for 1 cube, $800
Chris: Build 2 factories on National 40 for 3 cubes, $800
Colin: Place 3 distributors
Action Round Three
David: Produce 5 Oldsmobiles for $350
Patrick: Produce 7 Thomas Flyers for $490
Chris: Produce 3 Duryeas and 3 Nationals for $510
Colin: Produce 3 Autobuggies for $150
Howard sells 2 Thomas Flyers for $300.
Distributors go uncontested with the exception of one of Patrick's; he has nowhere to go and saddles him with a loss cube.
All players pass on Executive Decisions except Chris; he closes the Duryea factory, taking $100 for it.
The demand revealed was more than enough to sell the 10 mid-range cars left. David took a loss point for his Oldsmobile factories.
I drew aces (5,5) in the demand tiles. So my plan was to get into the Budget market fast and furious. Unfortunately, I had passed last in the Executive Decisions, so my chances of getting Ford were slim.
Patrick: Durant (build EMF for 1 cube, $450)
Colin: Ford (crap!)
Action Round One
Colin: Use Ford to build 1 Autobuggy factory and 2 Maxwell factories for $1000
David: Build 2 Crane-Simplex factories for 1 cube, $900
Patrick: 3 distributors
Chris: Build Dodge Four factory for 1 cube, $400
Action Round Two
Colin: Distributors (2 or 3)
David: Distributors (2)
Patrick: Build 2 Overland factories for 3 cubes, $900
Chris: Build Buick H factory for 1 cube, $500
Action Round Three
Colin: Produce (can't remember quantities but it was less than max.)
David: Produce 3 Crane-Simplexes, several Oldsmobiles (less than max.)
Patrick: Produce 3 EMFs, 4 Thomas Flyers, several Overlands
Chris: Produce 3 Buicks, 3 Nationals, 4 Dodge Fours
In Executive Decisions, Colin closed his Maxwell factories. This left David in a bad position with his antiquated Oldsmobiles.
Demand was fairly regular and I believe everything sold without bonus sales/discount markers.
Here things started getting ugly, and my memory is also not so good. It's easy to remember when only a few different things are going on, but in turns 3 and 4 things got crazy. The rest of the report is more of a summary.
David took Durant to grab the Hupmobile space--probably the best spot on the board. Colin re-started his mid-range racket with Chryslers. Hupmobile got an extra factory+parts factory, totaling 2/1, as did Dodge Four and Overland! There was going to be a knife-fight for the budget market and it was clear.
In the end, I decided to produce only 7 Dodge Fours but made a crucial mistake--after selling 2 via distributors I had 5 left. I spent 2 R&D to get some snazzy headlights on my Dodge's to help outsell the more modern competition. Unfortunately, my competitors were spying on my research and did the same thing right afterwards. Copycats. So I had to drop my prices as well (after a competitor did--so it didn't seem like such a bargain to the public after all and I only got one disc). This left me selling 3 per pass-through instead of 4 had I done it in the reverse order (drop prices first). As a result, I was left with 2 unsold Dodge Fours instead of 1 and took 2 loss cubes. Demand was unusually low (4,4,4,3) and Colin was left with 2 unsold autobuggies as well. Mid-range all sold, and there was very little competition for luxury so they sold as well.
My demand tiles were 5,2. I took Sloan as I had accumulated 6 loss cubes from a bad third turn, and my oldest factory was National 40 with 2 factories on it. With only one Luxury built ahead of it, I had no reason to close it, so I knew Sloan would be necessary. Howard went unselected, as did Kettering. Durant (Colin) built the Lincoln.
I took R&D cubes as my first action. I had 4, but I really wanted to get to Ford Model A to punish my overproducing competition. If enough players built ahead I would be able to reach it. With a 5,2 I thought demand would be higher this turn.
Patrick (Chrysler) double built Stutz AA. This was bad news for me. I already had unwanted Luxury competition from Lincoln. Now at least 3 Stutz's were entering the market. I wondered how he planned to sell them without Howard.
What the Stutz did provide me with was a way to get to Ford Model A. I dumped all my R&D cubes and built my last factory there, hoping for the best.
A third Hupmobile factory was built. Colin built a factory+parts on the Chrysler space. I believe someone built on Pontiac (probably David) as well.
I sold two of my 3 Nationals via distributors (a benefit of being early in turn order). In all, we had produced 30 budget models. 9 sold via distributors, leaving us with 21. On average, I figured I would end up with one unsold car at most, easily negated with Sloan (and only costing me $30 in lost production costs since I had a parts factory).
Demand tiles were revealed. 5, 4, 4, and...3? Crap. Bonus tile? 2! I knew something was up when David only produced 11 Hupmobiles. He seemed very cautious, and indeed he was the player with 3,3. Colin had 4,4, which caused him to confidently build extra Chryslers. What's more, Patrick had used a bonus sales marker on the Stutz space, allowing him to sell 2 before any others were sold. With a Luxury demand of 3, both my remaining National and David's Crane-Simplex were left out in the yard.
With a demand of only 18 and 21 Budget cars to be sold, I was left with a Dodge Four--the one I waffled over producing. Poor David had 2 unsold Hups.
Sloan turned out to be a good choice--he allowed me to discard 8 loss cubes. But the remaining 8 inflicted a harsh punishment of $320. I had a bad third turn, but the fourth turn was even worse.
Well, the demand tiles really screwed me this game. I over-produced and got punished for it. Mind you, a good player over-produces and then uses Executive Decisions to punish his opponents. I did the former effectively but not the latter.
I got off to a great start. 3 Duryeas and 3 Nationals on the first turn is about as good as it gets. The other players were inexperienced and I owe a lot to Colin's 3-model jump to the Autobuggy.
The second turn was also good for me. I had the most advanced mid-range, and the second most advanced budget and luxury. I was in all three markets. That is a goal I am very happy to achieve by turn two.
The third turn things turned sour. I had my parts factory out finally, and on a double budget space, but it was third in line behind two other double/parts combos. In retrospect it might have been better to delay my Dodge Four build (since I had Chrysler) to my second action, so I could see the other players do it first and then either use Executive decisions to sell the cars and do it anyway, or take some other action (R&D cubes or distributors or maybe just parts factory).
The fourth turn things got really ugly. Patrick's building the Stutz, while predictable, really hurt me. I think I might have been better off closing the National factories and using the capital to double build Cadillacs--heading him off at the pass as it were--instead of competing with my own Dodge Fours by building the Ford Model A. The side benefit would have been having R&D cubes for Executive Decisions (I had none). It was really Sloan who discouraged me from closing the Nationals. It was not cost-effective to do so given his ability. But what I did not take into account was the increased cash flow and getting back my factories to place elsewhere that closing the Nationals would get me.
All in all this was an enjoyable game--probably the best of the 5 I have played--and I think it will only improve as players get more experienced in its subtleties. For Automobile is indeed a deep and subtle game, even if it is not apparent at the outset.
This is all from memory? Pretty detailed info. I would have no chance in your group. Have a couple beers next time, and you'll just remember the final scores.
Strangely, the bit I don't remember precisely is the final scores, especially the two trailing players. I know they had 3500-4000 and I'm pretty sure David had more than Colin but I can't be exact. Hell, I don't even remember my own score to the dollar.
Stop poking me! Ow! I mean it! That hurts!
Good summary, Chris. Your memory is clearly much better than mine - will have to remember that the next time we play!
I was worried that you'd leapfrog my Stutzes, in which case I'd have had some serious issues. 3 production minimum, and only 2 that I could confidently sell - one via distributors, one via demand. I had Chrysler last turn so there was no chance of my getting a second crack at a distribution space for luxury cars. That would have been a Bad Thing (tm).
It was a great game, though - Automobile is rapidly climbing up my personal faves ladder.
Ya in hindsight I definitely think closing the National factories and re-opening them as Cadillacs would have been the better play (and potentially won me the game). Unfortunately I had no way of knowing how well you were doing so although I knew this would hurt you I didn't know if you were my main competitor. Sloan was kind of my undoing because he convinced me not to close the Nationals (whispering something about discarding loss cubes in my ear).