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Subject: Base Game: Is the Locomotive Action too expensive? rss

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Todd
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I have only played the game twice and I am new to Wallace train games, but the Locomotive Action seems overly expensive.

I realize that by choosing this action it frees you up to deliver 2 cubes on the delivery phase. However, upgrading the locomotive during delivery is free. It seems that $4 plus the level of the locomotive (base game) is very pricey. This can cost a player between $6 and $10 to use.

In return you can deliver an extra cube which brings in 1 - 6 points or income depending on the total number of links,

Is this overpriced? I am new to these train games so I know that I am missing something.

 
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Jim Cote
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5 points of income is $5 for every turn remaining in the game.
 
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Mike Bazynski
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I would say it is rather too cheap. assuming you have enough cubes to send (a risky assumption in steam), it is much better to take loko for $10 (2 shares), and then send to cubes for 5 points, then take the loco for 'free'. the extra 5 long shipment devoted to the income track is worth 25$ at the very least, and in fact more as you earn some additional money each turn.
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Jack Neal
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Underpriced...

Case in point - we were playing the game (wrongly) where you could only upgrade the locomotive when you had the tile - no other times - and you still only got one cube delivery when doing so.

The games were a lot closer and at no point did anyone get above a '4' locomotive. Coupled with the rule where a town counts as a separator for links in your track, this made things even more tight.

Then, I learned that you could always at least do one loco whether you had it or not. Scores went all over the place and the game played a ton more loose.

I almost liked it better the old way. You earned that locomotive and you spent a whole turn agonizing over it. Since I found out you can always get it, loco is a lot less useful as you can pretty much get to a 6 train at will since there are fewer limits on the income required to get that train (at most losing only two spots on the income track). It encouraged even riskier play than before.

But I need to play it the right way before having too much of an opinion on it.
 
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Randall Bart
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On the first turn, if you manage to take the Loco action and deliver two cubes for two points each (which I have done) it is worth more than $10.
 
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Chris Rudram
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In a 5 player game, there's 7 turns, which is 14 deliveries. That's it. Sacrificing a delivery for a loco can be a pretty big price to pay.
 
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Snooze Fest
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Another vote for underpriced (if anything). But it seems to work as is, so maybe it's OK. In my games I've tended to skip deliveries to upgrade loco early in the game (there are better options for actions), then pay the loco premium later on. Even if you need a share or two to pay for loco, you'll more than make up for it with an extra delivery.
 
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jim b
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Odinsday wrote:
In a 5 player game, there's 7 turns, which is 14 deliveries. That's it. Sacrificing a delivery for a loco can be a pretty big price to pay.

Well, sacrificing a significant delivery is a big price to pay.

In the early game, you don't have significant deliveries available (eg 5-6 links) - the opportunity-cost of sacrificing a delivery to upgrade your loco is low.

In the later game, you do have significant deliveries available: you'll be loathe to sacrifice any high-scoring deliveries for a loco upgrade. So, Locomotive action(s) to avoid that eventuality are valuable.
 
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Daniel Corban
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Even when upgrading to the 6 level, it only costs $10. This is 2 points of income, which is worth 1 VP at the end of the game. All it takes is 3 deliveries of 6 (instead of 5) to make it worthwhile and this is not even factoring in the "extra" delivery you will make due to not wasting a delivery on upgrading!

Also, the added flexibility of partially shipping over other players tracks to steal their cubes or protect yours can be worth the purchase price alone.
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Chris Rudram
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jimb wrote:
Odinsday wrote:
In a 5 player game, there's 7 turns, which is 14 deliveries. That's it. Sacrificing a delivery for a loco can be a pretty big price to pay.

Well, sacrificing a significant delivery is a big price to pay.

In the early game, you don't have significant deliveries available (eg 5-6 links) - the opportunity-cost of sacrificing a delivery to upgrade your loco is low.

In the later game, you do have significant deliveries available: you'll be loathe to sacrifice any high-scoring deliveries for a loco upgrade. So, Locomotive action(s) to avoid that eventuality are valuable.


I'm probably thinking about the standard game more than the base game, but making 2x2 deliveries on turn 1 or 2 is much more valuable than 1x2, just purely on where you get to on the income track.

Even better, getting 2x4 deliveries on the right turn can set you up to make everything else deliver for scoring. And that can be a huge jump up on your opponents.
 
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jim b
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Odinsday wrote:
making 2x2 deliveries on turn 1 or 2 is much more valuable than 1x2, just purely on where you get to on the income track.

Right, but that's not at issue. You can use both loco and one delivery to upgrade twice in a single turn - so, in your turn 1 example, you might even be weighing 2x2 deliveries vs 1x3.

Simply, loco upgrades are critical - at the end of the day, 1-2 point deliveries aren't, really.

PS. I'm not natural at the close calls, but Karl Rainer's 'AoS strategy articles' reviews a lot of this in detail, here.

edit - add ps
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James Rousselle
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Another vote for underpriced.

If I can get loco on the 1st turn, I generally take it.
If I can get loco on the 2nd turn, I generally take it.

Somewhere around this time, my opponents don't let me choose loco!
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Richard Dewsbery
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After pretty extensive playtesting, the designer and publisher both think that it's priced correctly. And (FWIW) I agree with them. Many alternatives were tried, many times. What ended up as the final cost is (as far as can be achieved) the "right" cost. There will be games and situations where it is expensive; there will be games and situations where it is cheap. Because the game can change so much from one board to another, from one set of starting cubes to another, from one group of players to another, it is (IMO) impossible to achieve a "perfect" cost.

There is a second cost to the Loco action - its high number, leading to a poor position in the turn order next time around. This ought to prevent someone getting loco twice in a row (unless the other players have already upgraded, are genuinely happy with that situation, or are asleep at the wheel).

The same argument has been made that Upgrade is too cheap. And it has the same "hidden" cost - going last in the next turn. These are also points that militate against introducing some sort of auction for turn order in the base game.

But I always point out to new players that - in general terms - the power and desireablility of the actions is in proportion to the number on the tile, that the 5, 6 and 7 are more powerful than the lower numbers, and they really shouldn't let me take the 6 or 7 (especially at the start of the game) too often without a fight. IMO one or the other ought generally to be the first action picked, at least for the first half of the game, with the other being picked 2nd or at least 3rd.

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Anthony Simons
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jimb wrote:
Odinsday wrote:
making 2x2 deliveries on turn 1 or 2 is much more valuable than 1x2, just purely on where you get to on the income track.

Right, but that's not at issue. You can use both loco and one delivery to upgrade twice in a single turn - so, in your turn 1 example, you might even be weighing 2x2 deliveries vs 1x3.

Bear in mind, however, how difficult it can be to get that initial three-linker with just three tiles to build.

As for the pricing; it's value is situational. If you go into this game with the "must have locomotive" mindset, you could find yourself behind if, when it gets to your using it, somebody else has taken the vital two-linker you wanted to use it over. Then, of course, you've spent a couple of capitalisations on a single good over a single link.

In the particular instance I'm talking about, the mistaken player was three or four levels of income behind everybody else - everybody else having sacrificed a shipment to get to the same level his loco took him to. He did have the advantage of an extra loco level for his unused ship, however, and sat at level three.
 
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