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Subject: Some moments from a game with 3 new players rss

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Bruce Murphy
Australia
Pyrmont
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Rather than reviewing all the details of the game I'll try to capture several of the interesting moments as they happened.

After a quick re-read of the rules and explanation of the share auctions, the trigger for the end of the share dealing round (fiendish!), how links are chosen and paid for (we certainly didn't spot what this would do) the dividend rounds (mostly understood), and the mechanism for paying out at the end of the game (a source of a great deal of head-scratching and attempts at calculating later in the game)

We ended up with a 2-2-1 split of the companies. Everyone wanted to get a couple of shares with the munificent $20 starting money and ended up with a couple of companies. B was dealt 2 to start with and ended up spending all of it and triggering the first end of share dealing round with his third share.

On the very first round, all the railways were operating and all managed to buy exactly one line except green and yellow who both decided to try to build link 17 between them. Both had exactly 7 available in the treasury, bid it all, drew and ended up paying only 1 in dividend to the 2 of black, red, and blue.

The next round saw a only three shares offered. B in 3rd place took the opportunity to spend his entire 5 month on a single additional black share, the other players bought up a blue and red between them, then the share round ended immediately.

The third share round also ended early, but the dividends were starting to creep up. B wasted his share dealing round on a non-green share leaving green only 1 money, not enough to build the 10 link and leaving it stranded for a turn. This waste was actually used to give a yellow share to D giving him the yellow directorship in the hope that yellow and red under different player control would battle over the 27-link leaving green unobstructed.

In the third track build, blue also went head to head with red to build the 18 link. This was mostly due to a misunderstanding by the red director who didn't realise this wouldn't add a link to red's run length (being a branch from the initial line). Unfortunately, this triggered blue squandering 18 out of its treasury to win the auction leaving it destitute for the rest of the game with 2 shares + director with D and B with another now useless 2. At least they were worth 8 a turn for the rest of the game.

The rest of the game was pretty straightforward. A few more shares got sold and dividends start to creep into the 40s making it sheer madness to drop all one's money on a single share. This meant more than the minimum shares got bought every round.

At the end of the game outstanding shares per company ranged from 4 to 7, mostly due to agressive shutting down of the share rounds early on. Noone had sole control of a company, but B managed sole control of black and green until very nearly the last round where it became much more obvious what the real value of a share would be. The other players letting this happen was probably critical.

In the last share dealing round there was much counting of track value and treasuries and outstanding shares as everyone tried to calculate par prices. Despite this, the effect of the money influx, the second order effect of dilution and its possible effect on the players meant none of the calculations were trivial, particularly given the skews in motivation for players with share majorities and the opportunity to close the stock round.

It's pretty clear that picking up lots of shares is the key to doing well in this game. Unlike so many other games though, the how to do this is delightfully opaque. The final track layouts are as follows. None of the companies managed to build 6 links by the end of the game, the map gets surprisingly crowded quite quickly.



Final scores. T:132, D:166 B:187

Conclusion

This is an amazingly tight game. There's nothing to it apart from simple stock dealing and a series of infuriatingly important auctions. There's a little track building, but I'd be surprised if anyone saw more than 6 or 7, so this provides a helpful timer on the game as well. WIth a little more familiarity with the values of shares and how money is distributed I think it would play much faster.

I'm eager to play it again as soon as I can get some players together, the other players expressed various levels of enthusiasm to play it again. It will be really interesting to see how it plays with other numbers of players.
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Scott Petersen
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St. Louis Park
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I had a similar experience with other players having varying amounts of enthusiasm after playing it. I found it to be fun and quick, but the blind auction added some unwanted chaos.
 
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Bruce Murphy
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Noone was unenthusiastic, but noone wanted to play it again right away because it was getting late. I don't forsee much trouble getting this to the table again soon.

The blind auction is interesting but didn't come up that many times in out games. Not after two players neatly hurt each other on the very first turn, anyway.

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J C Lawrence
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Campbell
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Yes, this is a delightful little whirring watch of a game. There is no flab. Heck there's no flesh, just skeleton. It is about as minimalist as you can get.

I though the game worked with 3 players but was clearly more interesting with more players. I'm not sure which I preferred of 4 or 5 players.
 
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Bruce Murphy
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Certainly this would guarantee more shares coming out, more contention for directships and so forth. I'll be curious to see how it plays with more folks as well.

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