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Subject: PREVIEW: Kansas Pacific rss

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Kansas Pacific is the latest in the Historic Railroads series designed by David V.H. Peters and published by Winsome Games. Like Chicago Express before it, Kansas Pacific features six historic railroads vying for control in the 1800s USA as they go west!

At its heart, Kansas Pacific bears some similarities to its predecessor Chicago Express, but also features some different characteristics and interesting twists. The focus is now on the president (the majority shareholder) of the individual railroads. Each ‘round’ includes a series of actions that the president of a railroad takes, including:
• auctioning off a company share should s/he choose to do so
• purchasing additional expansion cubes represented by a Land Grant (only if passed a certain line on the map)
• expanding the railroad
• choosing to 'Go West' (a $20 increase in income and on subsequent turns, any remaining shares in that railroad cannot be sold, and the railroad will simply pay dividends for its turn) if the railroad has reached the west end of the map
• paying out dividends to all shareholders

The game is an exercise in tactics and strategy as the railroads race westward. Each railroad has 24 track cubes it can lay from its own starting city. If a railroad expands to the west end of the board, it ‘goes west’ (see above), but only the black company can make it all the way there from its starting city. However, after crossing the ‘land grant’ line on the map, a company will have the option of spending $30 to acquire an additional 10 cubes that can be used to lay track.

There are some interesting tactical decisions that need to be made and this is through the railroads’ expansion. Only 2 railroads are permitted to coexist in any hex so there are opportunities to block or at least hinder other companies’ expansions. Railroad companies are limited to placing up to eight (8!) cubes per turn, but this comes at a great cost and is a novel mechanism. The more cubes you place, the cost of expansion skyrockets.

This plays out in different ways – in one game, I drove the black company straight west but slowly, only 2 or 3 hexes per turn. This was very cost-effective as it traveled quite far with only its starting capital, but its income/turn was relatively low. By contrast, an opponent pushed the heavily capitalized brown company quickly and it made it to the western end of the board and then "Gone West".

There are also five different urban centers that offer different income increases to the railroads that build into them. This presents different challenges as well – do I build through the lucrative metropolitan areas and the surrounding cities, or do I drive my railroad straight west? Related to this, do I forgo going west and move to block other railroads in the process?

Another interesting feature is called "Wall Street". At the end of each 'round' (after each railroad has operated in order) the railroad with the highest paid dividend that round will have a share auctioned off. This has played out in interesting ways as well - in some cases, expansion was subdued so as to not be the highest dividend paying company, thus avoiding "Wall Street".

In contrast to Chicago Express, there is no emphasis on alliances as only the majority shareholder makes decisions. However, the emphasis on controlling endgame timing shows Kansas Pacific to be a descendant of Chicago Express.

The game will immediately end following any railroad company’s turn, if:
• Five (5) railroads have no more track cubes OR
• Four (4) railroads have passed the Land Grant line OR
• Three (3) railroads have Gone West

It seems that Kansas Pacific is all about timing. Can you plan your expansions accordingly and in response other players actions? Can you tell when the game will end? Can you influence the game end at a point when it is most lucrative for you? Players formulate their strategies around these questions.

If you like Chicago Express, then Kansas Pacific will make a great addition to your collection.

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Eric Flood
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rockusultimus wrote:
In contrast to Chicago Express, there is no emphasis on alliances as only the majority shareholder makes decisions. However, the emphasis on controlling endgame timing shows Kansas Pacific to be a descendant of Chicago Express.


Based on solely reading the rules, it seems that there will be a great deal of more subtle alliances, more akin to 18xx. Although I may not be the president of Green, I do not wish to hinder them, as I have 2 shares (and the president has 3); instead, I will do something that extends my route, but slightly hinders Brown.

Quote:
It seems that Kansas Pacific is all about timing.


I'm interested in seeing the auction timing, as well; I am having difficulty telling whether a player wants to keep themselves as President whenever possible, or whether they might want to throw it to another player for reasons other than simple Capital. The Wall Street in particular sounds interesting to work around with this in mind.


Based on a quick cost/tile analysis, it seems 6 is the magic number when possible. Prior to 6, the costs gently rise; after, they explode. Of course, I do not yet have a sense for how well the companies will become capitalized; perhaps 8 will occur frequently in the late game.
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blueatheart wrote:
Based on solely reading the rules, it seems that there will be a great deal of more subtle alliances, more akin to 18xx.

Agreed.

Quote:
Based on a quick cost/tile analysis, it seems 6 is the magic number when possible. Prior to 6, the costs gently rise; after, they explode. Of course, I do not yet have a sense for how well the companies will become capitalized; perhaps 8 will occur frequently in the late game.

Two games in so far, I'm still a n00b but the numbers were all over the map (as it were), but we did see one 8-hex build as a final push to go west in today's game (the game ended on the following RR's turn).

1x 6-hex build costs as much as 2x 4-hex and 3x 3-hex builds. Lots of things to take into consideration though, like available capital vs. sold shares, also timing and the looming Wall Street.

 
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Eric Flood
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rockusultimus wrote:
blueatheart wrote:
Based on solely reading the rules, it seems that there will be a great deal of more subtle alliances, more akin to 18xx.

Agreed.

Quote:
Based on a quick cost/tile analysis, it seems 6 is the magic number when possible. Prior to 6, the costs gently rise; after, they explode. Of course, I do not yet have a sense for how well the companies will become capitalized; perhaps 8 will occur frequently in the late game.

Two games in so far, I'm still a n00b but the numbers were all over the map (as it were), but we did see one 8-hex build as a final push to go west in today's game (the game ended on the following RR's turn).

1x 6-hex build costs as much as 2x 4-hex and 3x 3-hex builds. Lots of things to take into consideration though, like available capital vs. sold shares, also timing and the looming Wall Street.



I won't get to play until Thursday, myself.

ratios:

1: 1
2: 1.5
3: 2
4: 2.25
5: 2.6
6: 3
7: 3.71
8: 4.875
 
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