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Subject: Thoughts from a Martin Wallace noob after one 2-player game rss

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Michael Haydel
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I realize that there are already several other threads from folks who've shared their thoughts of the game after a few plays, but, I thought I'd toss my hat into the ring while it's still fresh in my mind and maybe get a little bit of feedback on some things I noticed during my first play of the game yesterday with my girlfriend Wendy.

As stated in the post title, this was my first Martin Wallace game to either play or own (not counting Runebound), so I had no expectations or notions about how it should play as compared to any of his other games (most notably Brass of course, a game I've never played, but still would like to), or any game, for that matter.

And, just to set the scene here, I'd read other people's suggestions on how to deal with the size of the deck in a 2-player game, and wound up going with the "remove 1 of each type of card from the deck" method.

We were playing on the Germany side of the map.

So, without further ado and in no particular order:

1. The game took us between 4 and 5 hours to play.

Now, before you're all like "OMFG WTF", keep in mind that aside from something like Goa or Arkham Horror, I simply don't own too many heavy-ish (economic) games, so this was kind of new territory for both of us. Both of us, more so Wendy, can be prone to a bit of AP, and when you couple that with the arguably somewhat-difficult-to-grasp-at-first industry building rules, we just kind of moseyed along.

2. It still seemed like there were a lot of cards.

While in the first few rounds, we had a few hiccups rules-wise, I'm sure that we were indeed using/playing our cards right and at the appropriate times, but it still became pretty apparent to us early on that the game would take a while, since neither of us were drawing very many cards.

And, we did eventually reach a point of where both of us had used all of our railroads, had nowhere else to build that made sense, and simply had to spend the last 5 or 6 rounds drawing to get rid of the deck, and then discarding to end the game.

Does that sound weird/not normal/crazy? It's entirely possible that we just aren't experts at games like this, and should've been spending more actions to be drawing cards throughout the game, but, again, it struck me as a tad odd that we had to end in that manner.

So, to sum it up: 52 cards still seemed like a lot.

3. Coal and iron became quite expensive, making railways and industries more expensive too.

Both of us certainly built our fair share of coal mines and ironworks when/where we could, but it was often the case that we had to buy our coal and iron from the demand supply/chart, and it wasn't uncommon for one railroad link to cost anywhere from $4 to $8 dollars based on the price of coal or iron.

No level 3 ironworks or coal mines were ever built (very few level 3 of anything were built actually), a point which I'll come back to.

We did make sure too that when building said railways, the coal and iron could come from a connected distant port (assuming there wasn't any out on the map), so while I feel like we were playing that part right, it was surprising to me how expensive it got to build railways and certain industries.

4. Both of us took on a fair share of debt, but were indeed able to pay it off at the end of the game.

At most, I think I had maybe $30 or $40 of loans at any one point, and I believe I ended the game with $30 of loans, but was able to pay it off and still have a decent amount of money leftover.

Wendy ended the game with $60 of loans, some of that from her last few build actions, but also from having to take on a loan just to pay interest in our last few rounds of nothing but drawing/discarding cards. She was able to pay it all off at the end, but had considerably less money than I did.

5. I never overbuilt anything. Wendy overbuilt once.

So, I wonder if this was a possible crux to our coal and iron woes. As I stated, neither of us ever built a level 3 coal mine or ironworks, and coal and iron became both expensive and scarce.

Should we have been overbuilding our own coal/iron counters? Is this kind of situation the exact reason for overbuilding?

I guess it just never hit me during the game to do this, and, it wasn't until pretty late game that I even thought to say to Wendy "Hey, you know you could just overbuild your level 1 coal mine with a level 2 of yours" when she was thinking of how to get what she wanted.

And, extending this thought even more, I suppose me feeling like "there was nothing else I could do towards the end of the game" was somewhat in error, since I could have possibly overbuilt one of my own industries to potentially score more points. I'm not sure it would have made sense monetarily, but it does make me wonder now how that could have changed things.

6. She won. By two points.

It almost never fails that Wendy wins the first play of games, no matter how it otherwise looks during the game. That's just how it works: I read the rules and teach the games, she learns them and proceeds to kick my ass.

So, at game end, I made about $70 from my rail links, and after paying off my loans, I was able to convert my leftover money into 6 VPs. Wendy made $66 from her rails, but had $60 in debt, so she was only able to get 1 VP for her money.

When it came to industry counters, she had 34 VPs from them, I only had 27.

Final score: 35 to 33. A much closer game than I would have guessed it was going to be. I (mistakenly) assumed that since she had such a brain-burning/oft-frustrating time during the game, that I'd win, but that wasn't the case.

Conclusion

So, in summary, I really enjoyed the game, and am anxious to not only play again, but play with more people. I suspect the playing time will certainly go down vastly once I get a few more plays under my belt.

Wendy was lukewarm on it. She felt like it was maybe more complex in some places than it needed to be or than to her liking, but then again, I told her too that this was going to be complex. She sometimes has a hard time simultaneously thinking about planning several moves ahead, grokking the rules themselves, and being mindful of what she can do so that helps her and hurts/doesn't help me, all at once, which can lead to frustration at times for her.

I imagine I could get her to play it again, just not immediately. We'll probably need a few palette-cleansers like Notre Dame or something in between. :-)

For anyone that's made it this far, thanks for reading my musings, and I'd certainly welcome any comments, questions, or feedback on anything I've written above!
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Darrell Hanning
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I never overbuilt anything. Wendy overbuilt once.


This, in conjunction with your lack of level 3 building, is not only the cause of your exorbitant prices for iron and coal, but also why you ended up with so many turns at the end, simply drawing cards.

Inadequate development means fewer cards played, which means fewer cards drawn. Lack of placing the higher-level industries, mines, etc. also reduces the number of cards needed to finish the game.


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Michael Haydel
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DarrellKH wrote:
Quote:
I never overbuilt anything. Wendy overbuilt once.


This, in conjunction with your lack of level 3 building, is not only the cause of your exorbitant prices for iron and coal, but also why you ended up with so many turns at the end, simply drawing cards.

Inadequate development means fewer cards played, which means fewer cards drawn. Lack of placing the higher-level industries, mines, etc. also reduces the number of cards needed to finish the game.


Yeah, kind of what I suspected.

I think some of it was really the fear of debt. After all, neither of us had ever really played a game where debt was even something you had to think about or could even go into, so to all of a sudden switch gears into trying not to worry about debt too much proved to be a definite factor in us not building any level 3 buildings.

In the end, I think I/we just need to loosen up on my approach to the game, and simply embrace the fact that to get anywhere, it may mean I've gotta take on $20 or $30 of debt at once to build that level 3 building, but, it'd hopefully pay off in the end.
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William Springer
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Also, keep in mind that debt can usually be paid off fairly quickly. I've played twice so far (a 5-player game and a 3-player game, both of which took about 2 hours including rules) and I don't think anybody ever had more than 3 loans (and more than 2 was rare).

More often it was like "I'll take a loan to build this, flip it immediately, and pay it back without paying interest".

Of course, once the demand track starts emptying, that's generally your cue to overbuild the appropriate industry and fill it up again for lots of cash.
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George Shafer
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Of course, once the demand track starts emptying, that's generally your cue to overbuild the appropriate industry and fill it up again for lots of cash.


What William said.

I think you overlooked one of the main reasons that mines and ironworks get built during the game. If your mine or ironworks is connected to a port or distant market when you build it, it refills the demand track as far as it can, and it pays you for the resources your replenish.

If the demand track is low, you often end up in a situation where you build the industry, refill the demand track, and flip your industry all in one action.
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Michael Haydel
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George Shafer wrote:
Quote:
Of course, once the demand track starts emptying, that's generally your cue to overbuild the appropriate industry and fill it up again for lots of cash.


What William said.

I think you overlooked one of the main reasons that mines and ironworks get built during the game. If your mine or ironworks is connected to a port or distant market when you build it, it refills the demand track as far as it can, and it pays you for the resources your replenish.

If the demand track is low, you often end up in a situation where you build the industry, refill the demand track, and flip your industry all in one action.


Sure, and that actually did happen for at least a few of the mines/ironworks we built - if it didn't flip, it at least refilled a few spots on the demand track, bringing it closer to flipping than it would have been otherwise.

So even in a case of where coal or iron are $3 (possibly $4), I suppose it still makes sense to overbuild, even though your profit margin shrinks huh?
 
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John Squires
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I haven't played 2-player but my hunch is once you play multi-player you should see some of the turns go faster since I believe you'll see more tactical opportunities available to you. I think you'll also find a more interesting game on many levels: turn-order decisions for example.

I could see the development action coming into play more often in the 2-player game (which burns through cards). Did you two explore this?
 
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Michael Haydel
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modboy wrote:
I haven't played 2-player but my hunch is once you play multi-player you should see some of the turns go faster since I believe you'll see more tactical opportunities available to you. I think you'll also find a more interesting game on many levels: turn-order decisions for example.

I could see the development action coming into play more often in the 2-player game (which burns through cards). Did you two explore this?


You know, neither of us really did this too much. Obviously we each developed twice to get to the level 3 factories, but other than that, I actually don't believe that either of used the development action at all.
 
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George Heintzelman
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I've only had one play of AoI as well (mine with 4), but yeah, I think that along with the double-move, the self-overbuild is a tactic that will get a lot more play in AoI than it did in Brass.

Building a rail link just to get to use a one-tile city costs $1 plus coal/iron costs plus an action, and nets you 1 VP (more or less) at EOG. In addition, your overbuild cost you one more VP at EOG (assuming you have a level 1 industry available to overbuild, which you generally would I should think).

Thus: 1 action, $1 plus coal/iron costs for $10 equivalent at EOG. A favorable tradeoff, but not by much -- if coal/iron are expensive, and/or you'll have to pay interest a turn longer because of the delay in getting your industry played and flipped, or there's a chance you miss out on income from selling to the demand track, the opportunity cost of the action is going to outweigh the small impact at EOG.
 
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George Shafer
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mrhaydel wrote:
George Shafer wrote:
Quote:
Of course, once the demand track starts emptying, that's generally your cue to overbuild the appropriate industry and fill it up again for lots of cash.


What William said.

I think you overlooked one of the main reasons that mines and ironworks get built during the game. If your mine or ironworks is connected to a port or distant market when you build it, it refills the demand track as far as it can, and it pays you for the resources your replenish.

If the demand track is low, you often end up in a situation where you build the industry, refill the demand track, and flip your industry all in one action.


Sure, and that actually did happen for at least a few of the mines/ironworks we built - if it didn't flip, it at least refilled a few spots on the demand track, bringing it closer to flipping than it would have been otherwise.

So even in a case of where coal or iron are $3 (possibly $4), I suppose it still makes sense to overbuild, even though your profit margin shrinks huh?


I think it does. Coal mines and ironworks are cheap, so if you're refilling the demand track you should get back most or all of your investment.

In the games I've played, the demand track rarely gets down to the $3 area because most of us don't want to leave huge tactical plays for anyone else.
 
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Michael Haydel
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George Shafer wrote:
mrhaydel wrote:
George Shafer wrote:
Quote:
Of course, once the demand track starts emptying, that's generally your cue to overbuild the appropriate industry and fill it up again for lots of cash.


What William said.

I think you overlooked one of the main reasons that mines and ironworks get built during the game. If your mine or ironworks is connected to a port or distant market when you build it, it refills the demand track as far as it can, and it pays you for the resources your replenish.

If the demand track is low, you often end up in a situation where you build the industry, refill the demand track, and flip your industry all in one action.


Sure, and that actually did happen for at least a few of the mines/ironworks we built - if it didn't flip, it at least refilled a few spots on the demand track, bringing it closer to flipping than it would have been otherwise.

So even in a case of where coal or iron are $3 (possibly $4), I suppose it still makes sense to overbuild, even though your profit margin shrinks huh?


I think it does. Coal mines and ironworks are cheap, so if you're refilling the demand track you should get back most or all of your investment.

In the games I've played, the demand track rarely gets down to the $3 area because most of us don't want to leave huge tactical plays for anyone else.


Wait wait wait, I clearly misunderstood the rules there. Anytime you build a mine or ironworks that puts cubes back into the demand chart, that player is supposed to get paid for those cubes?

Man, we totally blew that then. Face palm.
 
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