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Subject: Session Report rss

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Randy Cox
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Our friend, Bruce, was in town on his Oregon-to-New-York-via-South-Carolina road trip and he's a fan of deduction games. One he'd never played was this great game from the once-(still?)-editor of Games Magazine. It's really just an extended logic puzzle, but it's fun to race against time and other detectives to see who figures out the solution (murder(s) and motive) first.

In this game for up to 6, each person takes on the role of a detective on the famous train The Orient Express. The game starts in Paris (there's a track listing cities and countries around the edge of the board--maybe about 30 cities in all) and each turn, a player rolls the die, moves about the train based on that movement roll, and searches for clues. The game board includes only two rail cars, but that includes plenty of material for conducting an investigation.

Clues can be found in one of four ways:

- by talking to crew members (there are 7 of those)
- talking to suspects/passengers (8 of those)
- searching an area of the train (6 of those)
- (when the train is in a city with a telegraph station) by sending a telegram (9 of those).

So, ideally, a player would like to get information from all 30 potential sources. But that's not quite practical, because the train moves along to the next city each time a certain number is rolled, based on the number of detectives playing the game (in a 4-6 player game, it happens each time a 6 is rolled on the movement die--roughly once each trip or two around the table). If the train reaches Varna, the game ends and if no one has calculated the solution at that point, one final turn ensues and then everyone gets one final guess.

The clues are usualy of the ilk

- "if the Heiress is guilty, then the motive was not money or revenge,"
- "the scene of the crime showed that burglary (quest for cash) was on the guilty player's mind,
- "the victim was killed by a lethal blow of a blunt object from what was certainly a left-handed person"

So you can build up enough information to finally pinpoint both the murderer(s) and motive. But there just isn't really time to investigate all potential sites, particularly the elusive telegrams, as you must coordinate your movement to be at a platform just as the train is in the right city--often the train moves away from that station before your turn comes around (and only about a third of all cities are telegram-capable).

To compound matters, detectives have three "lock down" tokens which they can use to frighten a person into sealing their lips (or they can use them to hide found evidence in a train car compartment). In other words, after finding out a particularly juicy clue from the Porter, say, the detective can place his "6" token (each player starts with a 4, 5, & 6) on that Porter. Then, anyone wishing to obtain the "Porter Clue" must first roll a 6 to make him open up and speak. If he fails, the effort is not for naught, as the lock down token reduces by one (to a 5, so that the next detective to speak to the Porter will need either a 5 or 6 to make him squeal).

So information is scarce. Fortunately, hard-boiled detectives have other means of gathering information. Whenever a person ends their move in the same room with other detectives, that player must roll on the "detective confrontation chart" for each other detective in the room. We call this "roughing up" other players. Usually, the result is to gain some information that detective has already gathered. So a lucky detective could "rough up" 5 opponents and gain 5 bits of info. And that all happens before they carry out their own investigation in the room in question. Of course, there is a risk involved. Some results on the "rough up" chart send the detective(s) to the nether regions of the train, prolonging their quest for knowledge.

So, over the course of the game, everyone is trying to complete their task of deducing the killer and their motive. Eventually, someone breaks down and makes a leap of logic. In our game, that someone was Ronnie. He made the prediction (he was certain of motive but was making a little of a stretch for the murderer). His miss meant the game continued. Next up was Roger. He made a similar (maybe the same) guess to Ronnie's, again thinking that a clue like "the crime could not have happened prior to 6" would eliminate the 6-7 hour (this is not the exact example, as that was much more convoluted and a little misleading). Thus, Randy, Rachel, and Bruce were still in it. I (Randy) was going to make my prediction right after Bruce's turn, but he rolled a '6', bring the train into the Varna station. Thus, I was not permitted, by rule, to make a prediction yet. A full round had to ensue (the end of Bruce's turn, my turn, then Rachel's) and then we all made our written guesses. Turned out, we were all three correct. A tie.

The entire process went fairly quickly. Clocked in at about an hour and a forty minutes. That's a little quicker than we usually play, and we've never seen the train get even close to the end, so this was an exceptionally unusual game. I'm pretty sure Bruce will be playing again.
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Randy Cox
United States
Clemson
South Carolina
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Re:Session Report
Sorry about the formatting. I included HTML formatting to make the 3rd and 4th paragraphs appear as bulletted lists (much easier to read). Using the "Preview" button, they looked very good. Don't know why all the formatting was lost upon submission.
 
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E Sokol
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Houston
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Re:Session Report
Randy Cox (#6153),
I have the Orient Express game from Just Games. We have supplements 1, 2, and 3. We are trying to find out if any other supplements were created and if they are still available.

I'd appreciate it if you'd let me know anything about this...

Thanks
E Sokol
esokol@jetbiz.com
 
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