United States
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Here are the house rules that we play with. My girlfriend prefers to play the game as multi-player solitaire so we play with the traditional Empire Builder rules where you’re dealt three cards at the start of the game and just have to deal with it. Futhermore, we decreased the movement cost of ferries to 5 points (flat rate) and eliminated the having to wait at the water’s edge if you have enough movement points (we were never using the ferries in our initial plays of the games so we made them cheaper to use) Also we don’t play with event cards.

Generally we aim to get the fast train as soon as possible and we rarely do the Super Freight, though we both upgraded to Super Freight in this game. I don’t think it was a wise move on my part, between extending the route to San Remo to get Flowers to Foggia and the cost of upgrade, I basically broke even moneywise and I don’t think I ever had three cargos at the same time after that. So the superfreight cost me a couple turns for the San Remo detour with nothing to show for it. My girlfriend upgraded late and I don’t think it was the best for her either. But what do I know? I generally lose at this game, this time being a notable exception. Though tonight we both came away feeling that I had a vastly superior card draw this game (I’ve tried convincing her to play with the shared cards, but she doesn’t like even that small amount of conflict).

Here is a list of the deliveries:

1-Paper to Padua €19
2-Tobacco to Brescia €39
3a-Wood to Crotone €62
3b-Ham to Crotone €48
4-Furniture to Pescara €19
5-Flowers to Foggia €48
6a-Wood to Messina €52
6b-Chocolate to Messina €45
7-Fruit to Verona €38
8-Chemicals to Milano €53
9-Furniture to Carrara €44

Total Take = €467
Total Take + initial €60 = €527
Expenditures = €265
Final Score = €262

1-Oil to Siena €30
2-Wheat to Genova €44
3-Wine to Rome €11
4-Chemicals to Parma €45
5-Furniture to Genova €49
6-Chocolate to Catania €46
7-Cars to Otranto €65
8-Furniture to Roma €27
9-Furniture to Messina €27
10-Cork to Reggio €27
11-Cork to Catania €11

Total Take = €382
Total Take + initial €60 = €442
Expenditures = €235
Final Score = €207

As you can see I was burned by ferries in my first couple plays of this game so I now generally avoid them, preferring to run a long N-S train line along the eastern coast. Its fairly common (as I did here) that I build a ferry and a line to Roma just at the end of the game. I normally avoid extending into Reggio and Messina, but getting two goods to deliver into Messina made it irresistible and it worked out nicely even though I never got a Labor pickup card. As you can see from my accounting, when the cards fall your way, you can rake in some cash with this spine doing N-S deliveries. Unfortunately you can also burn up a lot of cash building tracks you only use once or twice. The rivers in the north of Italy can make life really, really expensive.

My girlfriend, who just won the previous game with the ferry strategy, tried to do it again tonight. However she never had a good combo of cards and everything seemed to feel pretty disjointed. I don’t think she every got into a good rhythm this game, it always seemed that she was picking up one good here, dropping it off, going a couple cities over, picking up another good…..or at least she sure made it sound like that was the case! Even so the end game did get a bit tense when I realized that even though she was not making big sales, she had been burning much less cash than I was, happily sitting on a pile of cash. However, after her final delivery she did not have any good medium range cards that could get her the necessary €43 before I got my goods from the south up to the north. Like most of the game, she just couldn’t pull the right orders at the right time.
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Great presentation, Justus, and very interesting information. I tend to like the east coast too, when I can get it, but can be challenging to start there because it's not very close to any major city so that tends to balance out, at least a bit, whatever advantage it may offer.

Maybe if you guys experience a few more playings not having satisfying cards you'll be more tempted to go with the public cards. In this one at least you didn't have to toss in cards at any point.
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