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Subject: Age of Steam: 40th Anniversary of the Moon Landing rss

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Bradley Keen
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To celebrate the 40th Anniversary of the moon landing, I decided that it would be the perfect time to play this expansion for Age of Steam by Alban Viard. And, let me tell you, I now understand why it took so long to get to the moon and why we have not gone back: this is one tough locale!

To simulate building railroads on the moon, Alban incorporated the following rules changes:

1. You can only build 2 track per turn (engineer allows you to build 3)
2. Players can only build track out of the center "landing" hex, or connect to cities that are linked to that hex
3. Each turn, half of the map is "dark". The "dark" half switches every turn. The cities on that side of the board lose their original color and are considered black. They only accept black goods and black goods cannot be shipped through them.
4. During the goods growth phase, only cities on the "light" side of the board can grow goods. Also, only cities that have track built to them can grow goods.
5. There is a new role (low gravity) that allows players to use 1 link belonging to another player as if it were their own. This can be done for both shipments and the utilized link can change for the second shipment.
6. Because the moon is round, players can build track out of one edge of the map and back around to the other edge via a numbering system to mark the exits and entrances.

So, how did the game go? This was all of our first go at this map (as will almost always be the case), and Mike and Dan seemed to have a really rough start. I played a standard low share game and only issued one share to start things off. Mike and Dan both issued 2. I was lucky though, and ended up with Urbanization. There is only one location on the map that allows a first turn 2 link shipment, and I picked it up cheap on the first turn. Mike took locomotive and also bumped during his first shipment opportunity (which I believe was not necessary). I forget what Dan took, but I do know that he bumped his loko and then missed a shipment. This sequence of events placed me in good standing for the rest of the game.

About halfway through the game, we started to take advantage of the curved nature of the map, but this map is tough. I have never had this difficult of a time figuring out how to ship the goods and how to create the longer shipments. It really hurt my head to think through the different routes. Add to that the light side/dark side of the moon issue and it is alot to calculate every turn. I think that by the end of the game I had it figured out, and I was building routes and calculating 6 link shipments.

One key strategy point (in my opinion) is controlling two exits from the central hex. This allows for the easiest movement of goods from the light side to the dark side (or vice versa) and would have been very handy had I been able to accomplish it.

Another interesting point is the power (?) of the "low gravity" role. I never used this role, but Dan did on a number of occasions. I actually wish I had used it more, since one of my favorite things to do with expansion maps is to try out their unique features. Still, I had such a difficult time figuring out my own mess of track that I simply did not have the mindset to add in someone else's track. Further, we all built initial links out of the central hex, without really adding to other player's links. I suspect that, had we done this, we would have found the low grav role more enticing.

At the end of the game, largely because of my low number of shares issued (8) to Mike and Dan's 12-14, I was able to win the game with a score of 111. Mike and Dan both had 84 points.

For pictures of the game, check out my blog.

Final Thoughts:

I really wanted to like this map. It has a bunch of really neat thematic elements such as the cental landing hex, the spherical nature of the map, and the light side/dark side of the moon. But when you added this all together, I felt that it was too much to take into account. I simply had too much difficulty figuring out the routes. Because of this, I did not have as much fun as I normally do. I would not say that I don't like it, I just don't like it as much as I do other maps. And that means that it gets shoved pretty far down the queue of AoS expansions to play.
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Mike Troxell
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I like this map a lot more than the previous maps I've played with you. Far more forgiving than Unpublished Mystery Map, and more interesting than plain-jane maps.

Happy 40th birthday, Moon. Hope you like your present (moon-sized "Over The Hill" novelty hat).
 
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