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2038: Tycoons of the Asteroid Belt» Forums » General

Subject: Phase IV broken Bank *AGAIN* rss

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Ethan Strauss
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Hi,
We played a 4 player game while back (same general group, mostly different people from the last people to post on this topic) and the bank broke in phase IV. I was running 3 companies (the TSI, a growth corp, and a standard corp) and I really wanted to push the haulers, but all 3 of my corps were clogged up with phase II haulers. a few operating rounds before the end, I had the cash to buy a phase V and kill off the phase II haulers, but since the phase II's were there I didn't have the space. I couldn't legally do it. All Corporations were in play, but many of the others were doing just fine with their phase II trains and didn't see any reason to withhold to buy a phase V. That would have killed off their reasonably profitable early trains.
Maybe the game should allow the purchase of a big train when you don't have room, but will get it as soon the train is bought? I don't know.

Ethan

 
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Joshua Gottesman
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You couldn't have sold it between your corps? Being "train tight" ("spaceship tight"?) is always tricky in 18xx, because then you have to wait for someone else to make the first move. One of the things I love about these games is that to be successful, there has to be a lot of planning ahead, knowing that someone might not start the next phase, you have to know what you need to do to start it yourself.
 
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My notes on the same session, taken from my logged plays.

Quote:
Phase 4 ending with a spread of 4450-4950 - wow! In the opening auction, I was aiming for Ice Finder and Lucky but got Fast Buck as well. Surprisingly, it was Ice Finder that flubbed the tile draws and never hit its expected potential. Abram took Ore Crusher, the Asteroid Export Co., and the cheapest TSI component company. Ethan took Drill Hound and the TSI starter. Seth took the two remaining TSI components and Torch. I had the blocker.

Pretty interesting break. Seth and Ethan each took 40% in TSI with Abram taking 20 and me concentrating on building good runs with all three independents. I only succeeded with two out of three. During the third Stock round, all four of us had the capability to start companies but decided against it (in my case, I could only afford a 67 public, and RU looked weak as a growth corp. It was also being completely stranded on the map). This meant that we built our positions and then started every other company in the game on Stock round 4, which began with me turning Fast Buck into RU. Admittedly I could have done this more effectively, as I instead had shuffled some trains around to try and boost Ice Finder. Abram bought stock and Ethan launched Mars Mining. Both LE and VPN were looking pretty cornered by TSI, but Ethan used Drill Hound to start LE with a base up by RCC and Seth used Torch to the same end with VPN, leaving me free to par RCC at 100. I promptly turned it into a 540 run company with a 4/3 and 5/4 train, never once withholding. That part of the game I played beautifully. I let Abram take over RU from me. Meanwhile, Seth parred OPC at 100, though it's starting position was substantially less impressive than RCC's.

The AL formed at the start of phase three during TSI's acquisitions in the next OR, and I folded lucky and Ice finder for almost 300 in cash and two shares. I took fourth place, but it was close enough that I felt like better draws with Ice Finder (or a slightly higher bid for it) early on or better positioning for RU could have made a difference - a good feeling. Throughout the game, I felt like Seth and Ethan were destroying me, which surprised me as a I thought 3 Independents was a strong opening. I was glad to see that it was, in fact, quite competitive.


I think stock round 3, when everyone decided to maintain the status quo, was a byproduct of the peculiar opening break. The positions were asymmetric but all plausibly viable, which I think was borne out by the final spread. Even more so because Abram and I both missed small opportunities to get out from under VPN and improve our portfolios.

I've seen the game got to phase VI, but having played 5 times (and between three player counts, no less), I'm still looking for the indicators and patterns that point toward an early/late ending.
 
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Ethan Strauss
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Joshuaaaaaa wrote:
You couldn't have sold it between your corps?

That's right, each of my three corps had three trains and could not buy another from any source...
Ethan
 
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Tom Lehmann
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What were the final scores, exactly? From the above post, there appears to be a 10% spread ($500 of 5,000) from top to bottom. That's enough that the bottom player should have realized that he or she was losing.

You were spaceship tight; of the other 3 players, were they all the winner or within, say, $10 of the winner (too close to calculate or willing to risk changing things by buying a spaceship)?

In particular, who held the Asteroid League (which has a higher spaceship limit)? Did that player lose?

This can occur among inexperienced players in many 18xx games -- players who are going to lose aren't willing to "shake the box" by buying Spaceships (or trains) to try to win. The players who were "doing just fine with their phase II trains and didn't see any reason to withhold to buy a phase V" and *who then lost* are just giving the game to the player who won. It sounds like you may have two players in your group who were doing so. Shrug.

If it bothers you, remove 2 Phase IV spaceships from the game until players become more experienced. Don't change any other rules. Eventually, the lightbulbs will go off and players will start to aggressively push the spaceship purchases. Then, put the Phase IV spaceships back.
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Jerry Hagen
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One thing I realized after the last game I played (fourth play overall) was that the players have the ability to control the total amount of ship capacity in play at one time, through keeping the independents open until the start of Phase V or folding them into growth corps or the Asteroid League. Each independent that remains open can hold two more ships.

The group Ethan, Jack, and I are part of tends to cash in our independents aggressively when we perceive we can gain more financially from the stock or growth corp, and it's possible we're undervaluing the additional ship capacity. Or to be more precise, the players with interest in pushing the game phases may be undervaluing the additional ship capacity.

I have a vague sense that there are rules unique to 2038 regarding the transfer of ships between Independents and Corporations that make things a little more complex than I've intimated at here, but I don't have access to the rules at the moment.

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Tom, the one new player at the table controlled the AL, and came in third. I came in fourth (down 10% from the leader), but interestingly I don't think my mistake was in failing to pushing ship capacity, I just think I mishandled setting up RU as a Growth Corp, as I held the first-player marker going into Stock Round 4. I also missed a minor opportunity to sell my one certificate in VPN (the most underperforming corp) before the president dumped his 50% into the bank, and that probably undercut my score by 60-100.

If it was in anyone's interest to keep the game going, it as definitely in Abram's as the AL ran for 770 on the final AR, by far the highest run we saw in the game. The other high performers were in the 500-600 range.
 
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Tom Lehmann
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The AL usually has both the capital and the capacity to push the spaceships along, possibly with some withholding along the way...
 
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Joshua Gottesman
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Reading this I want to get this on the table soon. I've just played it once, and liked it, and getting people to commit to a 6+ hour game is tough!
 
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I've played five times in the last 10 months or so, and I've lined up another session two weeks from now. I've been appreciating it more. Glad I can get people together for it.

I think I prefer it with five but only slightly over with four, which is also quite good. I'd be willing to play once with six but that might be a little ridiculous.
 
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We played another game with 5 today. Phase VI ending, with no less than 3 $950 ships in play. Two of them were planned for pretty carefully and one of them cost the owner about $350 in personal cash (also forcing him to sell a single stock).
 
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