Matthew Chua
Singapore
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I have read extensively about the 4 games above and understand they are rather similar games in that the result of the game depend greatly on the 'metagame' between the players. Please correct me if that is inaccurate. I am looking to acquire 1 or at most 2 (provided there is sufficient distinction between the games to do so), would appreciate your comments. Here are some of my preliminary thoughts about them and my current ranking:

1. Railways of England & Wales
I own Railroad Tycoon and while it is slightly light for my tastes, I do appreciate its lack of Powergrid 'math' compared to Age of Steam/Steam and its appeal to the casual crowd. Thus this seems to be a good purchase since it provides an additional map which hopefully plays better with 3-4 than the original map as well as a new rules described as 18xx ultralight which will up the ante to my preferable weight of games.

2. Chicago Express
If I do acquire the expansion above, I wonder if Chicago Express is sufficiently different to warrant a purchase. Firstly, it is a railroad game and while different to RR Tycoon, it does involve track laying. Secondly, the advanced rules of the expansion seems to offer a similar share mechanics. I have read comments that they still do play somewhat differently but I wonder if the feel between the games would be really that different. Nonetheless, the greatest appeal of Chicago Express is its short play time. Of all the options, it seems to offer the greatest depth/min and that alone puts it high up my list.

3. Container
I have heard good things about the game and was attracted to it for the same reasons as Chicago Express. Simple rules to explain to new players yet deep gameplay to sustain my interest. In addition, it does not have a railroad theme which may be a better option if I'm acquiring Railways of England & Wales. However, it does play longer than CE and has a sweet spot of 5.

4. Imperial
Same kind of game as the above games but a non-railroad theme. Pros and cons somewhat similar to Container. Only reason why it ranks below Container is that I believe it would be slightly more difficult to explain to new gamers.

Would appreciate your comments on my thoughts and to aid in my purchasing decision.
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Michael Schwerdtfeger
United States
Redondo Beach
California
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I haven't yet seen Railways of England, but I own and have played the other three. If I were to rank the games, I would put Imperial slightly ahead of Container, with Chicago Express being a bit below.

Imperial is unique. Container is unique. Chicago express feels a bit similar to other stock games (for example, Steel Driver, Shark).

I think that Container is the riskiest pick. I think people will either love it or hate it. The main mechanic is the game is trying to figure out the value of the containers. Some people simply don't get (or like) this mechanic and therefore hate the game.

But, I like them all and will own them all for a long time. You can't go wrong with any of them.
 
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Jason Miller
Canada
Medicine Hat
Alberta
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Matthew,

Mark Johnson, creator of the podcast "Boardgames to go" just did a podcast comparing Container and Chicago Express. Follow the link below to listen to it:

http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/420553
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Don Barree
United States
New Jersey
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I own Imperial and Chicago Express. I do not own Container but there are a few copies in my boardgame group. Unfortunately I haven't played it but I can tell you that it's very rare to see it hit the table. I wasn't aware that Railroads of England & Wales was available yet but I plan on buying it when I can find it. I have the Rails of Europe expansion for RRT and it is very good with 3-4 players. It also gets played a lot.

The two games on your list that I own, I like very much. Chicago Express is relatively short and very easy to explain and most people I've played it with really like it. Imperial is a much longer game and it's definitely harder to teach. Because of the complexity and length, Imperial doesn't get played as much as CE but I personally prefer it to CE. I don't know if it matters to you or not but CE also plays quite well as a 2 player game.

Good luck choosing!
 
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Breno K.
Brazil
Brasília
Distrito Federal
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Imperial is a big hit around here. It has nice strategies and people really dig the theme (war for money, players being war capitalists instead of countries, etc). It is a bit long (usually 2-3 hours), but I really dig it.

Chicago Express is really nothing like Railroad Tycoon. You can barely call the company expansions "track laying", since you do not "create lines" on the board, but rather you fill up hexes (you can build to all adjacent hexes of a hex that has been expanded to, as if all railroad track consisted of 6-split tracks). It's mostly an auction game. It's very good, but it's definitely the one with the fewest "likers" in my group.

Container is a tricky one, another game which some people dislike because they didn't understand what it's really all about. Some people find it too obscure or too repetitive. I really like it.

Dunno about Railways of England, haven't played it yet.
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Darren Dew
United States
Hinesville
Georgia
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Mmm, juicy Chicago Express with a side order of CONTAINER! AWESOMENESS!
 
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Tim Schwarz
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Tucker
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I love Container, Age of Steam, and Imperial.

Imperial is the lightest, followed by Container, followed by AoS.

For reference, Steam is lighter than all three, in my opinion.

Also, despite the theme, Imperial is a stock game in the vein of 18XX. You operate the country, then try to get dividends out when favorable to you. The wargaming part is very, very light (maybe lighter than Risk).
 
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Josh P.
United States
Tucson
Arizona
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Chicago Express and Imperial are similar in concept: you are not just one country or company; you are an investor. It is a tricky philosophy for new players to grasp, but after a game or two they will get it. Chicago Express is easier to teach, but Imperial is not as hard as the rule manual seems to imply. After two games, I found it quite easy to teach to new players. So, go with what kind of game length you are shooting for. You should get Chicago Express if you like shorter games, Imperial if you like longer games.
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Matthew Chua
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Looks like I can rule out Container for now.

It seems Imperial is quite a favourite amongst you guys. I'm tempted but the playtime worries me. 2-3 hours isn't a problem for my group though I thought having a deep game that plays within an hour like CE would be a unique addition to my collection since most heavier Euros tend to longer and closer to Imperial's playtime.

However, thematically speaking while I agree wholeheartedly that CE plays different to RRT, casual players like my wife will still perceive them to be games of the same vein since they often focus more on theme than mechancis. And that's my worry regarding CE. Furthermore, the new rules that comes with the England & Wales expansion of RRT seems to offer the investor concept similar to Imperial and CE. I'm quite certain to acquire this expansion, barring any horrendous reviews so perhaps I should put CE and Imperial on hold. I have a friend with a copy of Imperial so hopefully I will get an opportunity to give it a go on my own to help my decision-making.
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John Rogers
United States
Yakima
WA
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Okay I'm going to echo most of what's been said but then give you an alternative view concerning Container.

I haven't played Railways of England & Wales or Chicago Express (although CE is my next purchase) and I just acquired Imperial in a trade. CE is supposed to be a short nasty little stock game which I like. Imperial is supposed to scratch and similar itch to 18xx and Indonesia but do so in 2hrs, sweet.

Really it doesn't look like there is a bad choice among this group and I'm sure you'll be happy with any of these games.

Now on to Container.

The above posts are right in saying that Container is a risky pick. It is easily the most unique of the games you are considering both in theme and mechanics. Contianer will not play like anything you own and it is for the that reason that some people have a hard time understanding it. It is insanely easy to teach and learn but due to its interactive nature you can't have a pat strategy.

Players create and sustain the game's economy. All decisions, both good and bad, will result in the success or failure of the economy. The game contains NO safeguards for poor play and can be VERY unforgivng. If a player takes out loans and fails to repay them then the bank will seize their assests. No joke. Container doesn't have a mercy button, I've seen more than one person loose everything because of poor decisions/understanding.

The biggest mistake that people typically make when playing Container is in thinking they are isolated from others. That they can make their own little corporate empire and hide away from others while racing toward the euro VPs at game's end. Nothing could be further from the truth. Container is anti-solitaire. Every decision that is made will effect everyone. My group loves full contact so games like Container and the Traders of Genoa get much love.

Why do I love Container? It's unique, it's mechanically simple, it's very thematic, and it simulates an emerging economy better than any other game I've played. It is ALL player interaction and therefore each game forms differently creating a very dynamic game system. There are REALLY multiple/different paths to victory each game and that is quite simply because each game forms differently based on the players involved.

Becuase of it's unique and dynamic system, Container does require a little more effort and focus than other games. The game won't simply play itself. So if you're looking for a game where you can check out for a few turns look elsewhere. But if you want a unique gaming experience each time out and don't mind being responsible for that experience, then Container is the game for you.

Happy Hunting .







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