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Subject: Steamy rss

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Jesse Dean
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Yesterday, five of us sat down to play our first 18XX game: Steam Over Holland. I had read the rules beforehand (though that did not stop me from making some key rules errors), and while we waited for everyone to show up David and Will read the rules as well.

It ended up being David, Mike R, Mike D, Will and me. We randomly distributed the privates, as suggested in the rulebook and David ended up with the KO (#7), Mike R with the RW (#5), Mike D with the W (#6), Will with the VES (#3), and I had the KKI (#2). The privates did not have a huge impact on the game, as most of us were more focused on how to utilize our companies, than figuring out what to do with the privates. I ended up selling mine to my first company, but never used its special ability. Mike R was able to sell it and use its ability, so in that respect he made out pretty well. Mike D also sold his to his company, but was only able to use the train discount once. After that all of the private companies went away.

David had the priority and started the NRS (since he already had a share in the NRS thanks to his private). I followed with the AR. Will chose to be an investor and jumped into the NRS as well. Mike R started the NCS, and Mike started the OSM. Will bought his second share from the AR, and we started off.

Our early track placements were not particularly inspiring, probably because we weren’t really sure what we were supposed to be doing. On top of that we made what would end up being one of two major rules errors in the game. We could not find any reference to the order of the different subphases of the Operation phase, so I went ahead and built track from the AR’s base to its nearest foreign terminal and then went ahead and operated the company for the first round. None of the players were able to do this due to the position of their companies, which gave Will and me a small cash advantage.

So our companies continued to develop with track being placed in suboptimal manners, and some small share purchases occurring. Many people decided early on that Mike D’s OSM would be a good buy, so some money started to flow into his company. Mike R started to partner into the NRS, but no one was really interested in the NCS, so it lagged behind for awhile. Will jumped out of the NRS after he got annoyed when David did not pay out a dividend.

Dividends were the second area that we (aka I) made a mistake. I assumed based on the chart for giving out money that you could choose how much of a dividend you could pay out (i.e. if you made $100, you could choose to put $50 of that in the company’s treasury and pay a dividend on the remaining $50.) This led to some interesting decisions, and dividends, in the game, even if they ended up being made for the wrong reasons.

The game ended was not particularly crazy in the first half or so, because of our lack of funds and also due to our lack of familiarity with how to really game the system. Our companies bought through a successive set of trains, and the train rush only forced an individual to spend their money to buy a train only once, David had to spend a small amount of money from his own treasury in order to finance a 5 train.

At about the time the five trains hit, I was able to scrape together enough money for the AR to purchase one, but the situation did not look very promising for getting a 6 train, and I began to think about ways to gain an advantage on Mike D, whose company looked the strongest (this ended up being correct, as his OSM ended up with two permanent trains and a high level of income.) I quickly realized that with the share price that the AR was at, I could probably sell all my shares and use that income to start a new company at par 100, with which I could then get a 3E train and run it for the last two operating rounds of the game. So that is what I did.

Will, my long time fellow stock-holder in the AR probably took the biggest hit from the drop, but David, who also owned a share, also took a little bit of a hit from the stock price dropping five brackets. I then proceeded to start the NBD and use the network of track built by the AR and NCS to run very profitably (with double share price jumps) for the rest of the game. With my remaining money I bought another OSM share and a pair of NRS shares which Mike R had abandoned in order to buy into my newly started NCS. In fact, three shares of the NCS were bought which was entertaining but was not enough to do the train any good.

The last two operating rounds went about as predicted, and while my shenanigans were enough to let me catch up with Mike D it was not enough to win. The final scores were:
Mike D: 2061
Jesse: 2026
Mike R: 1980
Will: 1288
Ryan: 1183

In the end all of us loved the game. Mike R went so far as to name it his second favorite game (after one game) and we are all looking forward to play both it and other 18XXs again. Right now I am trying to set up an 1856 game this weekend. If that doesn’t end up working out, we can always just play this one again.
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Bill Gallagher
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After the private companies are distributed (whether randomly, as you did it, or via auction), the Priority Deal goes to the player with the most cash left. Thus you (and not David) should have had the first choice of companies.
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Jesse Dean
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Ooooh. Yeah, looks like there was another rule I got wrong. Thanks Bill! modest
 
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Michael Reneer
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I had a lot of fun playing this game. It might be the "intro to 18xx" games (as jesse described it) and maybe it will be replaced as I play some of the more complex 18xx, but I really thought it was a cleaver game. One aspect that I really liked was the fact that there were more companies then players. I feel like this could yield some good re-playability. Even though there is only one map, I feel like there is enough variability (lots of companies, privates, etc...) that it would be quite re-playable.
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Not really Ryan Leaf
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I really enjoyed the game too. And I know that we played the dividends incorrectly, but the more I think about it, the more I think it is probably a better way to play: it gives you more control over your company and leads to some interesting decisions.

Here are some things I really liked about the game:
- the player interaction (cooperation, backstabbing, negotiation)
- running a business and trying to attract investors
- the huge fallout from presidential divesting. you should've heard the moans and cheers when Jesse sold his red stock, plummeting the price and effectively destroying Will's position (who, up until that point, was doing really well).

Some things I'd like to change:
- a better developed stock market. Jesse showed me the 1856 stock market, and while a bit overwhelming, I think it will make the market much more representative of the company value and less volatile
- questionable route replayability. Will people "solve" the routes to optimize deliveries over time? I hope not... and even if so, that'd probably take several plays to do this. But, for me, it seems like the route building for some companies is really obvious in the beginning. but, i'm nitpicking because it's hard to find things i don't like about this game.


I think that strategies will become more apparent next time we play it instead of everyone guessing what constitutes a good move. so, i'm excited to play it again now that i have a deeper understanding of it.


all in all, i had a great time, and met 4 great new guys. i had fun gaming with jesse, will, mike D, and yes... even the traitorous mike R! haha, it was a really good time.


a quick question to those who may know: Mike D was going to sell a 3E train to my company on the last turn for $1, but we forgot about the deal and I spent the remaining funds in my company elsewhere. Is there a rule about donating a train to someone? I could see how it would piss people off, but is it legal?
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Jesse Dean
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Pound for pound, the amoeba is the most vicious predator on Earth!
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Ryan, it requires a minimum of $1. Also, becuase we got the turn order wrong it wouldn't help. The trains are bought/sold after the operating rounds in order to prevent just such a circumstance (also to prevent a player from buying a train with one company and just passing it back and forth between his companies, letting them both use it.)

Btw, I heard from Mike R and he said he is in for Sunday, so we should be trying 1856.

I have to admit, I have been a little obsessed with the 18XX games since we played Wednesday. I even found an old DOS 1830 game and have been playing it regularly (even though I have trouble seeing parts of the board.) Its a blast and the computer has been teaching me all sorts of mean moves.
 
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