Gary Cooper
United States
North Carolina
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Union Pacific (rules V 1.0, no variants)

Will, Darren, Fred and I played my new choo-choo game tonight. As usual, we did not get through the rules quickly but it had been awhile since we got to see Fred so there was much catching up and swapping of summer travel stories. Finally we got started off with Will, the youngest, leading out. This was a nail biter and scoring was rather close (sorry we didn't have a score sheet so this is from memory).

Will's early strategy seemed to be centered on not being part of the UP 'hive mind' and did not pick up any UP stock throughout the game. He focused on the EP&RG ( Big Green greentrain ) early in the game and worked hard to secure his lead in the 17 strong track, as luck would have it although he constantly had enough cards in hand to maintain primary, the last 3 times the dividend card showed up one turn before he could lay down enough to keep from having to share primary and secondary on the boards largest line. Several secret draws early in the game also gave Will a strong hold on DM, but the line got quickly blocked in and could not grow more than 7ish. He dabbled as primary throughout in minuscule buildups of SFRB and MRR and shared a 3 way primary and secondary shareholder of ESL.

Fred started out with a strong buildup of MS ( Mellow Yellow yellowtrain ) and spent a good part of the latter game making sure that Gary could not catch him as the primary shareholder. He also built up a 6 strong KCC line (Kansas Brown) on which he was primary. Early in the game he made sure to grab several shares of UP and shared first and second shareholder during the 2nd dividend round with Gary, but by the 3rd and 4th rounds, Gary had pulled into a decisive lead in UP. Fred also dipped his toe in DM, UMR, and ESL. None of which were as successful for him as his strong MS/KCC Southeast monopoly.

Darren owned stock in every line except MRR. Diversity was the name of his game. A fluid approach of transparently drawing for 2 rounds and investing 1 round. Almost like clockwork. Every dividend he was slurping in a few million on just about each payout as secondary, shared primary, or unionized labor (I knew we shouldn't let him be banker). By mid game he had stolen primary of BNL from Gary almost immediately after Gary stole secondary of Freds MS line from Darren. BNL grew to be a massive 18 strong powerhouse with track all over the NW and heading towards the east coast and all the way down to Mexico. His diversity paid off, maintaining a narrow margin over Fred's rambling southeast and midwest lines.

Gary charged after UP stock, sneakily he discarded several UP stocks and picked up UP stocks to starve his only challenger Fred out of the market. By the first dividend he was primary shareholder of a nicely sized and growing BNL ( Rambling Red redtrain ) but by the second dividend that had been taken over by Darren while he took Darren's secondary in MS. Fred and Gary shared 1st and 2nd shareholder in UP on the second dividend (first UP payout). The next 2 dividend rounds saw Gary's UP lead make great strides in reducing his deficit, but he could not regain the early losses to Fred and Darren even with some lucky draws that gave him a dual share of stakeholder in the sprawling EPRG line.

Final Scores:
d10-1 Darren 125
d10-2 Fred 123
d10-3 Gary 121
zombie Will 116

Everyone thought this was quite fun and interesting with challenging decisions to be made each turn. The game box says 90 minutes, but since this was our first game it took us 2 1/2 hours (also we table talk quite a bit).
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