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Subject: Getting started rss

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Deb Wentworth
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Ok, Eurorails is my first crayon game, and I just had my first two plays. In both cases, I ran out of money before delivering my second load. So did my two gaming partners, one of whom was another novice. We took forgivable loans of 20k from the bank and continued playing.

Starting up your rail network seems so difficult - do others really start with only 50k and 3 random cards?! It seems like, at a minimum, you should be able to choose 3 cards from 5 or 6 dealt just to get started.

Maybe there is a subtle start-up rule that I missed. Do experienced players take time to think through the cost of building rail for 2 loads before they lay their first track?
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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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Yes, this is how it is typically played (sometimes we play "draw 4 and discard one before you make your first build" to get a quicker start.)

Sometimes your starting cards are so bad that you discard all three and draw new ones before doing anything else (this sets you back a turn, but perhaps that is better than having a terrible set.) But this is fairly rare.

If you would like, you may post a set of 3 cards that you drew and I will tell you what I would do if I started the game with those 3 cards. This may give you an idea of how experienced players play.
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Tim Benjamin
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Crayon rail games are oddities in that the first turn is the hardest. Most other games start simple and build up. However, you can almost always set up a useful run from the 1st cards that then lead to a 2nd run; and then off you go. Just don't be too ambitious with your 1st builds.
 
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Deb Wentworth
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What a great offer! Thanks, I just drew 3 at random. They are:

Ruhr wood 27; Barcelona, wine 11; Sarajevo beer 18
Berlin, cars 10; Beograd, imports 31; Sevilla, machinery 21
Holland, bauxite 22; Napoli, machinery 32; Toulouse, cattle 11

My inclination would be to look for the lowest number and connect them. In my random draw I'm lucky that the lowest number is to a major city.

What would you do?

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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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With this set, I'd be aiming to start in Nantes, pick up up Cattle, pick up Wine in Bordeaux, deliver the Cattle to Toulouse, deliver the Wine to Barcelona, and then take Machinery to Seville.

Of course, you need to start your building out of a major city, so I'd build Madrid - Barcelona - Toulouse - Nantes. This can cost as little as 42. In order to get the Wine, I build from Toulouse to Nantes staying as close to the Garonne River as I can. I build a spur across the river to Bordeaux, ideally for 3, leaving me with 5 to spare.

Now I go Nantes - Toulouse - Bordeaux - Barcelona, collecting 22 for delivering Cattle and Wine, giving me about 27. I can build to Sevilla for as little as 16, leaving me 11, and after the Machinery delivery I have 21 + 11 = 32. I need to save 3 in case the Ebro bridge floods, but I have that easily.

I love the fact that, after my first three deliveries, I'm sitting in Sevilla where I can get Oranges and Cork, two great loads to have access to. I have track all the way back to the middle of France. I also have 3 new cards. If any of them has a Cork or Oranges contract that I can deliver with the 30+ in cash, I'm good. Or maybe I can find a helper contract on the way back. If my cards are a total bust when I get to Sevilla, I dump until I get a decent set to work with.
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Deb Wentworth
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Oh my goodness! I don't know how you can think this all through in a short period of time. I can tell you would slaughter me in the game.
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Joe J. Rushanan
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debwentworth wrote:
Oh my goodness! I don't know how you can think this all through in a short period of time. I can tell you would slaughter me in the game.


It's just experience from a lot of games, and Eric has played a lot of games (even winning some of them ).

I would also strongly concur with the deal-four-keep-three cards for the start of the game. It is the predominant way we play, even in tournaments.

Oh, and I may try to do wine from Frankfurt and cattle from Bern instead of Bordeaux and Nantes. I think I would more likely use the track in the former case more often. But I haven't cost it out, and it definitely is a little longer. It is that kind of tradeoff that makes the game so appealing to me.
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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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debwentworth wrote:
Oh my goodness! I don't know how you can think this all through in a short period of time. I can tell you would slaughter me in the game.


It's a game in which experience matters. It might seem that it's just a matter of calculation, and anyone could do it easily from their first game, but it takes practice. I know that I wasn't very good at it when I started, but I've played this game more than 40 times, and I've played games in the "crayon rails" series more than 100 times.

Joe Rushanan, who posted just above, is one of the people I often play with.
 
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Deb Wentworth
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Eric Brosius wrote:

Joe Rushanan, who posted just above, is one of the people I often play with.


I guessed as much!

Thanks, guys. I also just discovered a couple of aids under the files that might help a newbie flounder around Europe. Looking forward to trying this again, now with new crayons.
 
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Deb Wentworth
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RaffertyA wrote:
Crayon rail games are oddities in that the first turn is the hardest.


Interesting point, Tim. I hadn't thought about it that way. Perhaps analogous to Settlers in a way - a game where you should put a lot of thought into that initial road/track building, and the rest unfolds more naturally.
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Kevin Cachia
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debwentworth wrote:
Oh my goodness! I don't know how you can think this all through in a short period of time. I can tell you would slaughter me in the game.


Sheesh, I was just reading your post with the demand cards, and thinking, hmm..,can't wait to go home and look over the board to see what I would come up with, but Eric was too quick by far. I'm an experienced crayon-railer, but I'm starting to think Eric must carry the board with him at all times!

When I play, it's always with the standard 3 cards. It takes us enough time to decide on our initial setup plan with the possibilities available on just 3 cards. Having more would only add to the initial analysis paralysis.

I have, I suppose, some general guidelines I try to follow when deciding where my initial build will take place. I look for two loads going in the same direction, ideally starting from or even finishing at the same city. If not that, then at least a return load that can come back on track I build for the first delivery, so the return trip is mostly profit.

If I can't get any of that rolling, and it's just "what can I deliver?", I consider location. I look for a route that will pass by or through multiple cities, and/or will put me in reach of a variety of goods. What I really want at the start of the game is to build track that I will reuse a lot, because the faster you start reusing already-built track, the faster you build up enough profit to upgrade your train. Therefore, if I don't see a nice profitable start, I try to go in the direction with the greatest likelihood of proving profitable over time.

One additional consideration is your initial build will allow you to hold some of your starting funds in reserve. It can be very frustrating if you spent all your money getting to your first destination and the payoff is just not quite enough to build for the great delivery you just drew. Sometimes it's better to not reach quite as far and save some cash for when you have cards that really do go together.

A little practice, and I bet you'll be laughing about the days when you used to need to take out loans.

Kevin
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Eric Brosius
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kevinwho wrote:
I'm starting to think Eric must carry the board with him at all times!


I was at home, and if it makes you feel any better, I did get the board out before I replied.
 
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Eric Brosius
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debwentworth wrote:
In both cases, I ran out of money before delivering my second load. So did my two gaming partners, one of whom was another novice. We took forgivable loans of 20k from the bank and continued playing.


One variant we often play is this: If you have less than 50 in cash, you may give up your whole turn to take 1 from the bank. (Often known as the "alms" variant.) This allows you to overcome small errors in budgeting, while imposing some cost (the need to spend a turn to do it.)
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Deb Wentworth
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kevinwho wrote:

I have, I suppose, some general guidelines I try to follow when deciding where my initial build will take place. I look for two loads going in the same direction, ideally starting from or even finishing at the same city. If not that, then at least a return load that can come back on track I build for the first delivery, so the return trip is mostly profit.


Kevin, thanks for those thoughts. At this point, I think it would take me about 20 minutes just to figure out the starting city options of the 9 loads depicted on the 3 cards! And once I've finally figured out where I get goods depicted on the 3rd card, I would have forgotten the locations from the first 2 cards.

The small print on the board and nondescript depictions don't help. I mean, really, what does bauxite look like? Couldn't I deliver something more recognizable, like horses or bedroom furniture?!

I can imagine that, with frequent play, you learn at least some of them. Heck, even I have learned one - flowers are from Holland! One down.

Fun game, whining aside. There is something about the low-tech nature of it that appeals to me.

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Kendall Johns
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I think you are trying for too big loads too soon. Although I have always felt that the starting figure should be higher,and have sometimes played starting with $60.

We also allow borrowing - I think it was originally given as a varient.

You borrow as much as you like from the bank, but only for rail building/rent paying - not for upgrades, although changes within the same level are permitted.

You have to pay back DOUBLE! - All deliveries must go to paying off your debt.

What we do is to take money from the bank and place it face down in front of us untill it is repaid. e.g. If we build track and are $10 short then we take $20 from the bank to indicate our debt.

Playing with this rule it is still NOT a good idea to go too deeply into debt.



 
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Ben Foy
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Roughly 20-30% (of the time spent playing the game) is spent prior to the first turn! Once the game gets going, it increases speed. Until the players have built most of their track. Then they are just looking at cards, counting out runs and getting paid. Then there is a slowdown, just before the game ends, where players try to figure out how to win. Occasionally there is a flurry of card dumping.
 
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Ed Sherman
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BFoy wrote:
Roughly 20-30% (of the time spent playing the game) is spent prior to the first turn!


surprise

It takes us a few minutes to get started, maybe.
 
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Ben Foy
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edosan wrote:
BFoy wrote:
Roughly 20-30% (of the time spent playing the game) is spent prior to the first turn!


surprise

It takes us a few minutes to get started, maybe.


It takes time to look at all the initial cards, count out the likely cost of the track, pick one to discard. Then each player builds $40-60 worth of track, in order, in $20 increments. I can't see how you do all the initial planning in that short of time.
 
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Ed Sherman
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BFoy wrote:
edosan wrote:
BFoy wrote:
Roughly 20-30% (of the time spent playing the game) is spent prior to the first turn!


surprise

It takes us a few minutes to get started, maybe.


It takes time to look at all the initial cards, count out the likely cost of the track, pick one to discard. Then each player builds $40-60 worth of track, in order, in $20 increments. I can't see how you do all the initial planning in that short of time.


Definitely not "20-30% of the game." If you're playing a three-hour game then it takes you 36-54 minutes to get going? Five to ten minutes tops.
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Ben Foy
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edosan wrote:
BFoy wrote:
edosan wrote:
BFoy wrote:
Roughly 20-30% (of the time spent playing the game) is spent prior to the first turn!


surprise

It takes us a few minutes to get started, maybe.


It takes time to look at all the initial cards, count out the likely cost of the track, pick one to discard. Then each player builds $40-60 worth of track, in order, in $20 increments. I can't see how you do all the initial planning in that short of time.


Definitely not "20-30% of the game." If you're playing a three-hour game then it takes you 36-54 minutes to get going? Five to ten minutes tops.


We generally finish Eurorails in around 2 to 2 1/2 hours. 30 minutes to get going isn't unusual. I'm suprised that isn't the norm. There is so much planning up front. BTW, is that 5-10 minutes per person?
 
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Kaleb Eubank
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Our biggest slowdown when we play is just unfamiliarity with the map. While I can figure out what country a city is in by the name it can often take a few minutes just to find it in that area lol.

We can usually accomplish the first 3 turns in about a half an hour, the first 15 minutes of it being spent looking at the board and figuring out what loads are where and which ones we can connect.
 
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Eric Brosius
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Deb, how about you draw three more cards and post them, and everyone can think about what they would do. Then you can post your idea and others can contribute with alternatives.
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Deb Wentworth
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Ha! I'm imaging several of you out there with a crayon in one hand and a stopwatch in the other, ready to time yourselves laying virtual rail!

Ok, here goes, completely at random:

22 bauxite Holland, 32 machinery Napoli, 11 cattle Toulouse
27 cattle Beograd, 46 beer Lisboa, 19 coal Luxembourg
31 tobacco Ruhr, 55 marble Stockholm, 17 tourists Cork

Where ya going?
 
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Deb Wentworth
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Eric Brosius wrote:
Then you can post your idea


Uh, wait, I think I misread your post. By YOU and YOUR you're talking about ME?

Oh, my, this is going to be different..... Ok, I'll dig out the game later this evening and see if I've learned anything from your previous tutelage. I still have only 2 games under my belt, so don't time me.
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Eric Brosius
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That's the spirit!

All the others should also think about their ideas and after Deb posts, the others can post, and then we can talk about the different ideas.
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