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Subject: EB Fans - our first 3 plays in India rss

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Mozzee (Michael) Murphy
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Redding
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India Rails - our first 3 plays

This weekend we broke out my new India Rails game I got from my Secret Santa. My wife and I are big fans of Empire Builder; we've played at least 15 times together. So there was no real learning curve to the game, beyond locating difficult to pronounce cities in unfamiliar geography. I don't think we've ever played two games of Empire Builder back-to-back, but we played three games of India Rails in the last 24 hours.

The first game we both started in north-south corridor from Sri Lanka to Pakistan. I deliberately made several small runs, ignoring anything over 18M for at least 4 deliveries. I was the first to build to the Ferry, and then I made several good long runs with the unique goods from Sri Lanka, and I was on my way. I was soon moving east, and made it as far as Dakha by mid-game. I eventually pushed through the web of rivers all the way to Bangladesh to pick up Jute. By the time I delivered it to Madras I was up to 280M, and the game was over. Carrie had only about 170M.

The next morning we played again, and I got eager for the big payoffs, and got myself in a little cashflow problem, but quickly recovered. A bit later I thought I had made an error confusing Ahmadabad for Allahabad, but it was a momentary glitch—my plan had been sound, I just looked at the wrong name when I was double-checking the chart. Carrie and I kept a pretty even pace at our upgrade milestones, but she usually got there about a turn or two ahead of me. I got into Sri Lanka first, but she got there right after me, and used it better. She won 260M to 210M.

That evening we played again. This one was painful. I actually DID confuse those two A-cities. When I arrived Allahabad, for my 2nd delivery, I realized the demand card was for Ahmadabad. I had been counting on that payoff to extend my rails north, to finish a 32M payoff, but without it I had no cash left, and no other loads I could complete instead. It took 4 Pilgrim loads and an 6M dollar loan before I could complete that load. And then I decided to trade in all my cards. When I did, I received one card that entirely involved the eastern cities, I was nowhere near. I as soon as I possibly could I bought another train (well ahead of Carrie) mostly to get the 4th demand card. It was a valiant struggle, and I played pretty well from then on, but I knew the 10 turns I floundered at the beginning of the game had sunk me. Nearing the end of the game I pulled the Tax card. I counted up my money: 176M – so I owed 20M. Carrie counted up hers: 189 – also 20M. She says, "You were all doom and gloom at the beginning of the game, but I didn't think you had anything to worry about." I shook my head in disbelief. Then the next turn she delivers a load for 50M and another for 31M and ends the game: 250M to 156M.

We normally play EB with the option of buying a second train and 4th card for 20M, so we chose to keep that the same. We had only just recently started limiting entrance into small cities to one player in the 2-P game, but we forgot to apply that one here.

The biggest difference seems to be that there are more big payoffs in India Rails, so the end-game doesn't last as long. But a shorter game is just right for us. And my favorite thing about the game is getting to say Tiruchchirapalli {TEE-roo CHEE-ruh Pa(d)lee}
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John Earles
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Nice report. India Rails is probably my favorite of the Empire Builder Rail Games games for 2 players. As you mention, things really do pick up once you have your network in place with many loads bringing high payoffs.
 
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Stephen Smith
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After the original EB, my wife and I have probably played more games of India Rails than any of the others in the series, though Australian is a close third (now).
 
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Eric Brosius
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My favorite 18xx game for six players is two games of 1846 with three players each.
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I enjoy India Rails too. Sometimes Ceylon is a key part of my strategy, but other times I never go past Madras (and often that's only to connect my last city.)
 
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Pete Storz
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We got IR for Christmas last year, and have played it quite a bit the past year. Things can happen REALLY fast (as crayon rails games go) - our last game I lost, fully upgraded, having all major cities and only $55M. My daughter was constantly carrying 2 or 3 high-paying loads in well-coordinated itineraries. My cards weren't bad, except for some slowness in upgrading, but hers were almost amazingly good. If you have a slow start or are not able to upgrade pretty quickly, catching up can be difficult in IR.

The high-paying commodities are jute, rubber, indigo, oil, gypsum, dates, rugs and possibly salt. Those are pretty well distributed in the north, south and east. Tea, goats and linseed oil are almost as good, and similarly distributed, except for the linseed oil, which is located centrally. The Demand cards mix the high paying commodities pretty well, so that being drawn into rubber or jute or gypsum is no guarantee you'll get a lot of usable Demands for those commodities. But every 4 or 5 or 6 games some one catches lightning in a bottle, so to speak.

It is easy to confuse Ahmadabad and Allahabad, the two Hyderabads, and Bellary and Bareilly. For the terminally curious, another common name for Varanasi is Benares. A very typical network routing for both of us is a north-south trunk from Sri Lanka to Delhi, closer to the west coast than the east coast, with major branches east and northwest from the area between Bombay and Delhi, to get to Calcutta and Karachi. We try to make getting the major cities part of the natural growth of our networks, but sometimes getting to Karachi takes a little extra effort.
 
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