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Subject: Railroad Tycoon Review rss

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Jeff Hobbs
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After playing Railroad Tycoon at BGG.con this year I felt that this would be a good time to try to write my first review for Boardgamegeek. After all, I need to start earning that geekgold so I do not have to attend the next BGG.con without an avatar on my badge.

This weekend at BGG.con I got the opportunity to play two games of Railroad Tycoon at the Eagle Games table with Keith Blume and other fellow geeks. My first impression of this game after seeing it was, "Wow, what a massive and beautiful board". At that moment I decided I have to find some time during the con to sit down and try this out.

Before going into detail here I would first like to say that I have not yet played Age of Steam, so I will not be comparing or contrasting Railroad Tycoon with Age of Steam in this review.

The Components:
Eagle Games did an amazing job on this game. The pieces in the game are excellent quality. The pieces consist of:

1. The control locomotive pieces are in brightly colored miniature locomotives with a nice level of detail to them. They look nice sitting on the board and it's very easy to tell who has control of the different rails.

2. The Track tiles are sturdy and of a good quality. They even have different color track tiles for building through the mountains. It also seemed that the number of track tiles worked out well. We didn't have any problem running out of a specific type of track on the table.

3. The empty city markers are again nicely detailed and very good looking pieces. These are the pieces you use to place on a city that has run out of goods to deliver and they also keep track of the end of the game for you. (But I will go into more detail on that later)

4. The goods cubes are your standard colored wooden blocks like you would get in many Euro games. They look nice and fit into the hexes on the board well.

5. The engine cards are no less impressive then anything else in the game. They are made from a very thick cardboard stock and look like they could hold up to lots of gameplay and abuse. They also have very nice and historically accurate engines on them to represent the engine level you have during the game. As you upgrade your engine your card will have the picture of a more advanced and more recent train on it.

6. The railroad tycoon cards and railroad operation cards are also very nice. They are good quality cards with nice artwork. They are a good size as well. Not to big to shuffle, but not to small to see either.

7. The shares and the money. The shares seem to be made of a thick paper (or thin cardboard). They look nice and felt like they would last well. The money however is probably my only complaint. I'm usually not a big fan of paper money in a game. I realize that some games need paper money and this is one of them. The money looks nice and is a large size that makes it easy to handle, but it's still paper and could be damaged or torn. On the good side though is the fact that paper money is also easy to replace if need be so I guess there are good points to counteract the bad.

8. Last is the board. The board is very large. It's beautiful and it's very easy to fit all the components on the board without the feeling that things are getting to cramped up. I love the board to this game and I think the size of the board is what makes the game so attractive. The board has two main components two it. The first component is the play map. This is a map of the Eastern half of the United States with many of the U.S. cities marked on it. The second component is the income track. The income track is used to score victory points for the player every time they make a delivery or complete a goal. This track also shows how much money the player makes at the end of each round. The biggest complaint I heard from people as they walked by was the size of the board. The way I see it is that this game gives you a reason to by a bigger table. After all, shouldn't we mold our lives around our games instead of the other way around?

The rules:
Like everything else in Railroad Tycoon, the rules look nice and are put together very well. They are easy to read and understand. Which leads us to...

Gameplay:
Railroad Tycoon is a victory point game. Through the play of the game you will collect victory points for delivering goods or by completing the goal on a railroad operation card. You win the game by having the most victory points when the endgame requirements have been met.

Setup for the game is an easy process. The first thing you do is deal each player a tycoon card. These cards represent several of the historical tycoons of the railroad industry. Your tycoon is kept secret until the end of the game. At the end of the game if you have completed the goal of your tycoon card you get bonus victory points. The one exception to this is George Pullman (Gain 6 vps if you are the first player to upgrade to a level 6 engine). If you complete his goal you immediately show it and score your victory points. Then you need to load the board with goods. To do this you randomly pull goods cubes out of a goods bag and place them on the cities. The number of goods that you put on a cities is printed on the city itself. Then you take the three railroad operation cards with a yellow "S" printed on them and place them face up on the table. Then shuffle the remainder of the operation cards and turn face up 2 cards for each player in a community area of the board with the three starting cards. These are the community operation cards that you get to choose from. You will add one card per turn to these cards. Then you give each player their control locomotives and a level 1 locomotive card and place one control locomotive at the start of the income track. Note: Players start the game with $0. In most situations you must borrow money to start making money.

The game consists of a several turns. Each turn consists of three rounds and the players get to take one action during each round. A turn consists of three sections: 1) Auction to determine the starting player, 2) Player Actions, and 3) Income and Dividends.

At anytime during the game a player can take our a share. This is a free action where the player gets a "1 Share" note and $5000. During the Income and Dividends phase a player will have to pay $1000 for each share he has taken out so don't go to crazy with the shares. Also at the end of the game you subtract 1 victory point from your total for every share you have. These shares last until the end of the game and you can never pay them off.

1) Auction to determine the starting player:
At this point the players will auction for the chance to make the first action in the Player action phase of the game. Starting with the player who went first in the last round (or the youngest player starts bidding on the first round). The bids must start at $1000 and increment by multiples of $1000. If a player does not want to bid he can pass, but keep in mind that once you have passed you cannot come back into the bid later. The starting player is the one who makes the highest bid after everyone else has passed. The winning player must now pay the amount of money of their bid to the bank. If the starting player does not have enough money to pay for the bid he must take out shares to get the money to pay for it. Place the round marker on the "1" space at the right of the board and move to the next phase.

2) Player Actions:
This is where the guts of Railroad Tycoon takes place. During this phase every player will get the chance to make three actions. The player who won the auction takes the first action and each player takes an action in clockwise order after the first player. After each player has performed an action move the round marker to the next position to keep track of the number of rounds. The actions consist of the following:

a) Build a track. The active player can play up to four track sections by paying the cost for the track sections. These track sections must be must start at a city or on the end of a track built in a previous round. Once you have laid a track to connect two cities you have completed a route and cannot lay any other track pieces this round. For example, Chicago to Indianapolis are three sections apart. If you build the three track sections to connect these cities you cannot build your fourth section in another location. The track section prices are: Open grasslands and following a river - $2000, Crossing a river - $3000, and in a mountain hex - $4000. It seemed that the hardest part to grasp here was determining when you were following a river and when you were crossing a river. The easy answer is this: If the river enters the hex and leaves the hex on the same side that your rail enters and leaves then you are following the river. Otherwise you are crossing the river. When you build a track you put one of you control locomotives on it to show that the rail belongs to you. One last important note on building a track. At the end of round three you remove all incomplete tracks from the table, so make sure that you are able to complete every track before the end of round three of each turn.

b) Deliver one goods cube. The goods cubes are separated into five different colors (black, blue, purple, yellow, and red). The cities on the board are also colored with these five colors with some cities also colored gray. You must deliver a goods cube to a city that matches the color of the cube. So you must deliver a yellow cube to a yellow city. There also must be a connecting rail between the two cities. You receive one victory point for each rail you control that you travel on to deliver the good. You can deliver a good over another players rail, but they get the victory point for that section of rail. The number of rail sections you can deliver across is limited by the level of engine that you have. A level 1 engine can transport a goods between two cities with one rail between them. A level 2 engine can go from one city, through another city and arrive at the third city providing you with 2 victory points (if both rails belonged to you). A couple of important notes on goods delivery: i) You cannot deliver a good to a city that does not match its color. So you can't stop it in one city on round one and finish delivering it in round 2. ii) If the good passes through a city of it's color it must stop and score there. You do not have to deliver it on the shortest route, but you do have to stop in the first city of it's color even if your locomotive is upgraded enough to deliver it to another city. iii) When you have delivered the last good in a city you put an empty city marker on it. This tracks how long you have left in the game (which we will talk about later). If you later add goods to an empty city you take the empty city marker off of it and set it aside.

c) Improve Engine. As an action you can pay to improve your engine to the next engine level. The cost to improve an engine is on the engine card that you are upgrading to. For example, Upgrading from level 1 to level 2 will cost $5000 and it goes up from there. The engine cards are double sided with one level on each side, so level 1 and 2 share a card, level 3 and 4 share a card, etc. The highest level engine is level 8 and will let you transport a good across 8 sections of track.

d) Urbanize. As your action you can choose to urbanize any gray city on the board. To do this you pay $10,000 and choose one of the new city tokens to place on the city. You get to choose which of four colors token you put on a city (blue, black, yellow, or black) and now goods of that color can be delivered to this city. You also pull two random goods cubes from the goods bag and place on the new city. If the gray city had an empty city marker on it replace the marker with the two new goods cubes. One note to keep in mind: You cannot urbanize a gray city to a red city. There are three red cities on the board and will never be any more. If you want to be able to deliver red goods you must connect to one of the three on the board.

e) Select a railroad operations card. As an action you can select one of the railroad operation cards that are face up on the table. Then follow the rules for the card type. There are five different card types represented by a symbol for each. A card with a purple diamond goes in front of the player who selects it and is usable once per turn (three rounds). A card with a red X is used immediately when selected. A card with a hand of cards icon is kept in the players hand until used and is then discarded. A card with a green circle is a goal card that is kept face up in a common area and is awarded to the first person to complete the goal listed on the card. When the goal is met give the victory points to the person who completed it and discard it. A card with no symbol on it is kept face up in front of the player and they get the benefit of the card for the rest of the game. A card with a gold "S" on it is a starting card that is placed face up on the board at the beginning of each game.

f) Build a western link. On the west side of the board on two cities (Des Moines and Kansas City) is a tile labeled Western Link. This tile represents that your track has been connected to the West and you can start delivering goods from the West into the eastern cities. As your action you can build a western link into one of the two cities. It costs $30,000 and you must have one of your tracks connected to the western link city. When you build a western link you place the western link tile on the board and you put four new red cubes on the city that had the link built next to it. These represent the goods coming from the west. These goods can now be delivered to any of the red cities. Chicago is a unique city in the game. Historically it was a hub for goods coming in from the Western U.S. and it is no different in Railroad Tycoon. Any red goods cube delivered from a western link city after it's link has been build will result in two random goods cubes being added to Chicago. This represents Chicago getting the raw goods from the West and processing them to ship out to the rest of the Eastern U.S.

3) Income and Dividends:
After each player has taken their three actions you move to the Income and Dividends phase of the turn. All players now collect their income by looking at their location on the income track. As you gain more victory points you will gain more income. However once you get to a certain point (making $25,000/turn) your income will start to decrease as your victory points rise. After all players have been given their income they must pay their share dividends. Pay $1000 for each share you have taken out. Next remove all incomplete tracks from the board. Turn over a new Railroad operations card for the next round. Then return the round marker to the one position start a new turn.

4) Ending the game:
The game ends at the end of a complete turn following the turn in which a certain number of empty city markers have been placed on the board. The number of markers is determined by the number of players: 2 players/10 markers, 3 players/12 markers, 4 players/14 markers, 5 players/16 markers, and 6 players/18 markers. Once the specified number of empty city markers are on the board the endgame has been triggered and you will complete the current turn and play one more complete turn after the current turn. If a city is urbanized and goods are placed on it after the end game has been triggered you will still be in end game. You can put new goods on cities to delay the end game, but you cannot stop the end game once it has started.

After the end of the last round you score victory points. Each player turns over their tycoon card and scores the victory points for it if they have completed the goal. Then each player moves their locomotive back one space on the scoring track for each share they have issued during the game. The person with the most victory points at the end of the game is the winner.

I really enjoyed the game. It's has some depth of strategy and game play but is not to complicated to lure some non-gaming friends into playing it. There are ways that you can cut off and mess with your opponents to satisfy the cutthroat players, but enough options where you can get through a game without getting cutoff at every turn.

I have already ordered this through my regular crack err game dealer and look forward to cracking this open at my next get together.

Have fun,
Jeff
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Paul Thomas
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Jeff -

Great review! I've been looking for a step up from Ticket to Ride and I think this fits the bill . . .

I have heard issues around the playing time, but I think that comes from people taking the time to learn the game. I imagine after a couple of plays, the time it takes to play the game will decrease dramatically.

Nice job - Bravo.

PT
 
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Jeff Hobbs
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I think if everyone knew the rules and were familiar with the game play time would be about 2 hours and up to 3 if you play with people who slowplay. (You know who you are).
 
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Tim Myers
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Excellent Review!! I also placed an order for it with my FLGS and can not wait for it to get in.
 
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Chris Brooks
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In my two plays so far, both with newbies, we've seen the following play times:

* Three players (with my 9 & 11 year old sons) - 1 hour, 15 minutes
* Five players - 2 hours, 10 minutes

With experienced players, I doubt you'll ever see a play time longer than 2 hours unless folks get very analytical.

-Chris
 
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Chris Brooks
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tornadog wrote:
How was it with 3 players?


I think it was great. Fast, short, but great. The shortness of the game forces some competition for the NE lines in my opinion.
 
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J C Lawrence
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jchobbs wrote:
1. The control locomotive pieces are in brightly colored miniature locomotives with a nice level of detail to them. They look nice sitting on the board and it's very easy to tell who has control of the different rails.


I found them fiddly. They fall over easily and are larger than a single track tile, making clearly marking track in heavily congested areas more difficult than it needs to be. Age of Steam's simple wooden discs are a marked improvement over RT's molded plastic.

Quote:
2. The Track tiles are sturdy and of a good quality. They even have different color track tiles for building through the mountains. It also seemed that the number of track tiles worked out well. We didn't have any problem running out of a specific type of track on the table.


The track tiles are double sided, which can make for annoying hunt-the-tile problems in the mid and late game when all the face-up sides aren't what you want and you have to hunt randomly through the face down sides.

Quote:
3. The empty city markers are again nicely detailed and very good looking pieces. These are the pieces you use to place on a city that has run out of goods to deliver and they also keep track of the end of the game for you. (But I will go into more detail on that later)


I found them annoyingly large, especially the water towers, in that they blocked view of the board on the other side of them.

Quote:
4. The goods cubes are your standard colored wooden blocks like you would get in many Euro games. They look nice and fit into the hexes on the board well.


Two fit well enough, three or more frequently presented problems in telling what colour the city was underneath. We had frequent mistakes in this area.

Quote:
5. The engine cards are no less impressive then anything else in the game. They are made from a very thick cardboard stock and look like they could hold up to lots of gameplay and abuse. They also have very nice and historically accurate engines on them to represent the engine level you have during the game. As you upgrade your engine your card will have the picture of a more advanced and more recent train on it.


The simplest approach is to deal a full set of train cards out to each player and then have them simply place their current level on top as they upgrade.

Quote:
7. The shares and the money. The shares seem to be made of a thick paper (or thin cardboard). They look nice and felt like they would last well.


I haven't checked the rules to see if the number of shares each player has issued is public or not, but the shares cards as versus a public shares track with a token for each player at the appropriate place makes it much easier to keep share counts private. Depending on your gaming tastes this is good or bad. As I always play games with trackable information open I didn't like the extra effort provided by the shares cards.

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The money however is probably my only complaint. I'm usually not a big fan of paper money in a game. I realize that some games need paper money and this is one of them. The money looks nice and is a large size that makes it easy to handle, but it's still paper and could be damaged or torn. On the good side though is the fact that paper money is also easy to replace if need be so I guess there are good points to counteract the bad.


The most money I've seen in player's hands so far is about $100,000. For that low a range it is easy enough to make a money track and move a counter along it. If you don't like that, use poker chips.

Quote:
8. Last is the board. The board is very large. It's beautiful and it's very easy to fit all the components on the board without the feeling that things are getting to cramped up. I love the board to this game and I think the size of the board is what makes the game so attractive. The board has two main components two it. The first component is the play map. This is a map of the Eastern half of the United States with many of the U.S. cities marked on it. The second component is the income track. The income track is used to score victory points for the player every time they make a delivery or complete a goal. This track also shows how much money the player makes at the end of each round. The biggest complaint I heard from people as they walked by was the size of the board. The way I see it is that this game gives you a reason to by a bigger table. After all, shouldn't we mold our lives around our games instead of the other way around?


Several complaints:

1) The board is too large. It makes keeping your stock of trains, money, cards etc to the side of the board problemic on almost all tables.

2) The board is too large. It makes seeing the various income return levels for different VP levels on the other side of the board too difficult.

3) The player aid (lists the available actions and costs) is only at the bottom of the board, and is thus either upside down or at right angles to the majority of players.

4) The board is too large and the lines marking hex boundaries, especially on the coast, are too fine and too easily missed when the player is on the far side of the board. We had several major errors with illegal builds attempted or planned simply because the player coundn't see that there wasn't a legal tile play across a water body.

Quote:
e) Select a railroad operations card. As an action you can select one of the railroad operation cards that are face up on the table. Then follow the rules for the card type. There are five different card types represented by a symbol for each. A card with a purple diamond goes in front of the player who selects it and is usable once per turn (three rounds). A card with a red X is used immediately when selected. A card with a hand of cards icon is kept in the players hand until used and is then discarded. A card with a green circle is a goal card that is kept face up in a common area and is awarded to the first person to complete the goal listed on the card. When the goal is met give the victory points to the person who completed it and discard it. A card with no symbol on it is kept face up in front of the player and they get the benefit of the card for the rest of the game. A card with a gold "S" on it is a starting card that is placed face up on the board at the beginning of each game.


We found the action cards grossly annoying. Potentially getting a third of your final game VPs from a single action card (20 VPs) is ridiculous, especially in a game of this length.

Quote:
I really enjoyed the game. It's has some depth of strategy and game play but is not to complicated to lure some non-gaming friends into playing it. There are ways that you can cut off and mess with your opponents to satisfy the cutthroat players, but enough options where you can get through a game without getting cutoff at every turn.


It has done well with casual gamers here, and fairly thoroughly flopped otherwise.
 
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Jeff Hobbs
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Ok, I understand. You are an Age of Steam fan and feel threatened by Railroad Tycoon and feel that you need to attack the game to try to make your preferred game look better. I understand this concept even though I don't agree with it. What you are not seeing here is how RRT fits into the scheme of things. This is a second stage gateway game. This is the game that you introduce your Ticket to Ride players to and have them play for a while before you break out Age of Steam with them. Don't hate the game that's going to bring so many more players to the game that you love so much.

Case in point. I have never played Age of Steam. I looked at the board, the small wooden disks, and the paper player tracks and thought "This game is ugly. They want how much for a paper player track and those components?". Then I went to BGG.con and saw Railroad Tycoon and thought "Wow, what a beautiful game. Look at the train markers, this is awesome. I have to play this." I played it and I loved it. Then someone told me that RRT is based off of Age of Steam. By the end of the con, I had watched a group play Age of Steam and had a brief overview of the differences of the games. I also left the con with a copy of Age of Steam and a copy of RRT on order. Both of these games will get played at my table depending on the level of player I have playing with me.

clearclaw wrote:
jchobbs wrote:
1. The control locomotive pieces are in brightly colored miniature locomotives with a nice level of detail to them. They look nice sitting on the board and it's very easy to tell who has control of the different rails.


I found them fiddly. They fall over easily and are larger than a single track tile, making clearly marking track in heavily congested areas more difficult than it needs to be. Age of Steam's simple wooden discs are a marked improvement over RT's molded plastic.


That's funny because all the time I was looking at these control markers I was thinking, "I could use these in Age of Steam and it would make the game look so much better."

clearclaw wrote:
I haven't checked the rules to see if the number of shares each player has issued is public or not, but the shares cards as versus a public shares track with a token for each player at the appropriate place makes it much easier to keep share counts private. Depending on your gaming tastes this is good or bad. As I always play games with trackable information open I didn't like the extra effort provided by the shares cards.


The way I remember it the shares are open knowledge. If fact at the beginning of each turn everyone will know how many you have based on the fact that you have to use them to calculate your income.

clearclaw wrote:
3) The player aid (lists the available actions and costs) is only at the bottom of the board, and is thus either upside down or at right angles to the majority of players.


The player aid is also on the back of the rule book to give another list of actions that can easily be handed from player to player. However, after you have played a game or two you won't even need these. By my second game I knew what I could do and how much they cost and I didn't need to refer to the back of the rulebook.

clearclaw wrote:
We found the action cards grossly annoying. Potentially getting a third of your final game VPs from a single action card (20 VPs) is ridiculous, especially in a game of this length.


In the second game I played, I went for the cross country goal that requires a connection from New York to Kansas City with a western link. This rewards the player 20 (or 21 I don't remember) victory points. On the last turn of the game I completed this and came in second place to the person who build reliable 4-5 length routes and delivered through most of the game. To complete a goal of this size you almost have to devote your entire game to completing this route with just enough other connections and deliveries to have enough money to pay for the route and western link. And in the end it still wasn't enough to gain the win.
 
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J C Lawrence
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jchobbs wrote:
Ok, I understand. You are an Age of Steam fan...


Correct. (My ratings and play history would reveal this)

Quote:
...and feel threatened by Railroad Tycoon and feel that you need to attack the game to try to make your preferred game look better.


Bollocks. My statements have been simple, factual and supported. I disliked the game and have stated why I disliked it along with supporting reasoning. What little interest I have is helping publicise how light, luck-based, and unchallenging RT is. That way I have some hope of reducing the rate at which I'll be asked to play toward zero.

Quote:
I understand this concept even though I don't agree with it. What you are not seeing here is how RRT fits into the scheme of things. This is a second stage gateway game. This is the game that you introduce your Ticket to Ride players to and have them play for a while before you break out Age of Steam with them. Don't hate the game that's going to bring so many more players to the game that you love so much.


I don't play gateway games, I rarely play with casual or gateway gamers, I'm not a family gamer except for the few times I play games with my kids, and while I realise that others are and value those things, I don't.

Quote:
Case in point. I have never played Age of Steam. I looked at the board, the small wooden disks, and the paper player tracks and thought "This game is ugly. They want how much for a paper player track and those components?". Then I went to BGG.con and saw Railroad Tycoon and thought "Wow, what a beautiful game. Look at the train markers, this is awesome. I have to play this."


Fair dinkum. I have yet to have that reaction to a board game. I play boardgames because the games themselves are interesting and challenging, not because they have cute bits or neat themes.

Quote:
The way I remember it the shares are open knowledge. If fact at the beginning of each turn everyone will know how many you have based on the fact that you have to use them to calculate your income.


Good point, I'd forgotten that. Thanks.

Quote:
clearclaw wrote:
We found the action cards grossly annoying. Potentially getting a third of your final game VPs from a single action card (20 VPs) is ridiculous, especially in a game of this length.


In the second game I played, I went for the cross country goal that requires a connection from New York to Kansas City with a western link. This rewards the player 20 (or 21 I don't remember) victory points. On the last turn of the game I completed this and came in second place to the person who build reliable 4-5 length routes and delivered through most of the game. To complete a goal of this size you almost have to devote your entire game to completing this route with just enough other connections and deliveries to have enough money to pay for the route and western link. And in the end it still wasn't enough to gain the win.


Yep, it is often a hail mary play. My complaint is purely that such a large luck factor is present in the game. A 30% VP swing based on a lucky card draw is a game breaker for me. It defines the game as not worth the time to play, and the fact that there are several other smaller but still large VP luck cards in the game sure doesn't help. I don't mind luck factors in games, but I want them small, of limited effect, and well contained and defined. RT breaks all those points.
 
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Gerard Crowe
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clearclaw wrote:

Yep, it is often a hail mary play. My complaint is purely that such a large luck factor is present in the game. A 30% VP swing based on a lucky card draw is a game breaker for me. It defines the game as not worth the time to play, and the fact that there are several other smaller but still large VP luck cards in the game sure doesn't help. I don't mind luck factors in games, but I want them small, of limited effect, and well contained and defined. RT breaks all those points.


This is a ridiculous statement. Where is the luck involved?

The cards are dealt at the start of each turn, and are there for all to see. If a card like the Major Line mentioned previously appears, everyone has an option to go for it. If you're close to it already when the card appears, that's lucky I'll agree, but other players can still very easily conspire to stop you, as there are only a finite number of links out of each city on the route, with some more than others. You *may* get to go first to improve your chances, if you bid high enough to do so, but then you'll be paying through the nose to do so.

The only element of luck in the game is in the cards, and even then it's only those that are drawn during the game (as opposed to the starting cards) that could be considered luck-related. Given that you only draw one per turn, and games last maybe 10 turns(?), I'd say the level of luck is very low.

Personally I think it's a deceptively fiendish game. I've played several times now, and each game has played out very differently, with a number of different strategies attempted. It's never clear who's going to win until the very last round, something I like in a game, and it's also possible to recover from a poor start, something I've heard is very very difficult in AoS. I've not played the latter, and will give it a go at some point, but I love RRT and will happily play it for a very long time.
 
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clearclaw wrote:

Yep, it is often a hail mary play. My complaint is purely that such a large luck factor is present in the game. A 30% VP swing based on a lucky card draw is a game breaker for me. It defines the game as not worth the time to play, and the fact that there are several other smaller but still large VP luck cards in the game sure doesn't help.


You're forgetting a couple important points. First, you have to bid for turn order. People can easily outbid you and take the card themselves if they see you have a realistic shot of completing the route. Second, in order to actually score those points, you have to build a huge rail network halfway across the board. Everyone knows you have the card, so they can probably stop you fairly easily by building blocking links. If anything, the person who decides to go for the 20 point card is taking a fairly large risk.
 
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robartin wrote:
You're forgetting a couple important points. First, you have to bid for turn order. People can easily outbid you and take the card themselves if they see you have a realistic shot of completing the route. Second, in order to actually score those points, you have to build a huge rail network halfway across the board. Everyone knows you have the card, so they can probably stop you fairly easily by building blocking links. If anything, the person who decides to go for the 20 point card is taking a fairly large risk.


You can't take the card in this case, because it's got the green circle on it and so just remains in play until someone completes it.

However your point about other players is quite correct, it's usually pretty obvious if someone is going for the link, and also pretty easy to stop them if necessary.
 
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Further, going after the 20 VP means using turns otherwise spent transporting cubes, which also gives you VPs. Puts things very much into perspective, doesn't it?

I personally consider the luck factor to be way below that of AoS. Production anyone? (Not that I consider luck to be in the least a problem in either game).

As for RRT, I by no means regard it merely as a gateway game or such. I'm an AoS veteran and believe AoS will have a hard time hitting the table in our circles now that RRT has been released - though the Scandinavian and Korean variants are such fun that they may yet tempt me. But really I'm looking at modifying RRT slightly to suit me in those areas in which I prefer AoS (auctions, financial tightness, cube competition, perhaps) rather than going back to playing AoS.

I fully understand and can see why other AoS veterans feel otherwise. Though our gaming circle's AoS veterans mostly seem to echo my feelings on the matter.

Servus aus Berlin, Charles
 
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gamesmeister wrote:
However your point about other players is quite correct, it's usually pretty obvious if someone is going for the link, and also pretty easy to stop them if necessary.


It isn't guaranteed that the card will come out. All that is required is that a player has built the most contentious sections of the route by the time the card does come out. PYL. I've seen several games where the card came out in the late mid-game or later, leaving only one player as the one with any incentive to build the route (due to previously built track), and the only one who could feasibly compleat it (all other players would have to sacrifice too much opportunity cost).

Remember: Track builds do not have to be contiguous.
 
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gamesmeister wrote:
clearclaw wrote:

Yep, it is often a hail mary play. My complaint is purely that such a large luck factor is present in the game. A 30% VP swing based on a lucky card draw is a game breaker for me. It defines the game as not worth the time to play, and the fact that there are several other smaller but still large VP luck cards in the game sure doesn't help. I don't mind luck factors in games, but I want them small, of limited effect, and well contained and defined. RT breaks all those points.


This is a ridiculous statement. Where is the luck involved?


The action cards.

Quote:
The only element of luck in the game is in the cards, and even then it's only those that are drawn during the game (as opposed to the starting cards) that could be considered luck-related. Given that you only draw one per turn, and games last maybe 10 turns(?), I'd say the level of luck is very low.


I would agree if single randomly drawn cards weren't able to deliver up to 30% of final game scores.

Quote:
It's never clear who's going to win until the very last round, something I like in a game, and it's also possible to recover from a poor start, something I've heard is very very difficult in AoS.


AoS can suffer from a run-away winner problem. While not ideal, I don't consider this a problem as they earned their win. It can be very difficult to recover from a poor start in AoS. AoS is also unforgiving of any other errors made during play. Early errors are worse simply because they have longer to compound over the course of the game. I consider this a positive feature of the game in that it establishes and maintains tension and challenge. DON'T MAKE MISTAKES!
 
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charlesf wrote:
Further, going after the 20 VP means using turns otherwise spent transporting cubes, which also gives you VPs. Puts things very much into perspective, doesn't it?


No. I build a link, something which doesn't normally earn VPs, and that gets me 20VPs. I then deliver twice over that link for 3-4 each, giving a total of ~27 VPs for one round. That really doesn't seem so bad.

Quote:
I personally consider the luck factor to be way below that of AoS. Production anyone? (Not that I consider luck to be in the least a problem in either game).


Yeah, the dice rolls for production are annoying, but they rarely determine games. I would however prefer it if AoS were a perfect and certain information game and am working on a map where production is deterministic.

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As for RRT, I by no means regard it merely as a gateway game or such. I'm an AoS veteran and believe AoS will have a hard time hitting the table in our circles now that RRT has been released...


So far RRT has appeared in 3 of the 5 groups I play with. I don't expect to ever see it again in 2 of them (it fell flat), and wouldn't be shocked to see it a three or four times a year in the other (50+ players in the group). Across the 5 groups AoS hits the table at least 3 times a month and often more.

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...though the Scandinavian and Korean variants are such fun that they may yet tempt me.


Ahh, Korea is my least favourite of the maps. Far too random. Scandinavia is Okay, but just not very interesting. Prosaic: too much of the tension and challenge of other maps is missing. Ireland is my favourite (as well as of that of several locals), with Germany close behind.

Quote:
But really I'm looking at modifying RRT slightly to suit me in those areas in which I prefer AoS (auctions, financial tightness, cube competition, perhaps) rather than going back to playing AoS.


A friend has been designing AoS maps which further accentuate AoS' tight and unforgiving aspects. Excellent stuff. Hopefully he'll release them in a few months.

Quote:
I fully understand and can see why other AoS veterans feel otherwise. Though our gaming circle's AoS veterans mostly seem to echo my feelings on the matter.


Fair dinkum. Groups are different. By year's end I'll have played AoS around 30 times this year (23 to date). I'm by no means near the lead for AoS plays this year across the groups. I see no reason for RRT to be changing that play pattern across the groups.
 
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clearclaw wrote:
No. I build a link, something which doesn't normally earn VPs, and that gets me 20VPs. I then deliver twice over that link for 3-4 each, giving a total of ~27 VPs for one round. That really doesn't seem so bad.


This is not the case. You don't build A link and get 20 VPs. You end up building at the least 8 continuous links and a Western link to get these 20 victory points. To get these points you have to have a link from New York to Kansas City with your tracks only. This will take at least eight tracks and if someone notices what you are trying to do they can cut you off and make it take even longer. So you are getting these ~27 vps in the same period of time that someone else could have made ~30 vps by delivering goods the entire time. You cannot just complete this mission on a spure of the moment thing you have to work towards this and if the card comes up late in the game you are not going to be able to do it anyway.


clearclaw wrote:
I would agree if single randomly drawn cards weren't able to deliver up to 30% of final game scores.


Like I said the 30% of the final game score might not be that good of a thing if you could have scored 40% more points had you delivered goods instead of going for this one single card. In the game I completed this Link I ended the game with 67 vicotory points (47 plus the 20 from the card). The guy in the lead who had been delivering goods the entire game had 90 vps. So the fact that you are getting 30% of your final score is not that big a thing when you could have made more from not going after the card in the first place.
 
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jchobbs wrote:
clearclaw wrote:
No. I build a link, something which doesn't normally earn VPs, and that gets me 20VPs. I then deliver twice over that link for 3-4 each, giving a total of ~27 VPs for one round. That really doesn't seem so bad.


This is not the case. You don't build A link and get 20 VPs. You end up building at the least 8 continuous links and a Western link to get these 20 victory points.


In an absolute sense, yes, but more generally, no. During the course of the game up until the 20VP card comes out I will have been building a network, much of which might be presumed to lie along or contain that route. Then, after the card comes out, if I haven't already made the connection, and to the degree that others can potentially threaten my connection without castrating their own VP growth, I proceed to iteratively close those remaining links, possibly delivering all the while, and claim the card.

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To get these points you have to have a link from New York to Kansas City with your tracks only. This will take at least eight tracks and if someone notices what you are trying to do they can cut you off and make it take even longer.


Why bother? I don't even know that the card is going to come out. Neither does anyone else. Instead players build their networks, and the player that most closely approximates the card when it appears uses his initial builds to lock down control of it.

In two games that I've seen and one that I've played there was only one player in contention for the card, and there was nothing the other players could do to interfere that wouldn't critically hurt their own VP-earning rates. Sure, they could have all colluded against that player, thus hurting themselves equally, but that would have merely given the critical advantage to the one player who didn't bother to collude. Blech.

Quote:
So you are getting these ~27 vps in the same period of time that someone else could have made ~30 vps by delivering goods the entire time.


What says that the player who claims the 20VPs hasn't be delivering the whole time too?

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You cannot just complete this mission on a spure of the moment thing you have to work towards this and if the card comes up late in the game you are not going to be able to do it anyway.


I have not seen this in practice. What I have seen is players building along in normal competitive fashion and then finding themselves under a windfall.

Quote:
So the fact that you are getting 30% of your final score is not that big a thing when you could have made more from not going after the card in the first place.


Of couse. I don't actually care if that 30% ends up creating a winner or not. I do care that a player got 30% of his final position from a random event. In a game design sense, that's obscene.
 
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clearclaw wrote:
Of couse. I don't actually care if that 30% ends up creating a winner or not. I do care that a player got 30% of his final position from a random event. In a game design sense, that's obscene.


Is this equivalent to drawing a 24 value route card in Ticket To Ride in the middle of a game for a route you have already [almost] completed? If so, then agreed with blech.
 
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ekted wrote:
clearclaw wrote:
Of couse. I don't actually care if that 30% ends up creating a winner or not. I do care that a player got 30% of his final position from a random event. In a game design sense, that's obscene.


Is this equivalent to drawing a 24 value route card in Ticket To Ride in the middle of a game for a route you have already [almost] completed? If so, then agreed with blech.


It isn't much different.
 
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Lawrence, have you tried 1830?
I think that game would suit your preferred game mechanics rather well.
 
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Arngrim wrote:
Lawrence, have you tried 1830?
I think that game would suit your preferred game mechanics rather well.


Yes I've played 1830, though it isn't my favourite 18XX (I prefer 1856 and 1860 with their stronger concentration on track building for instance). In general I play an 18XX every Wednesday night.
 
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jchobbs wrote:
Ok, I understand. You are an Age of Steam fan and feel threatened by Railroad Tycoon and feel that you need to attack the game to try to make your preferred game look better. I understand this concept even though I don't agree with it. What you are not seeing here is how RRT fits into the scheme of things. This is a second stage gateway game. This is the game that you introduce your Ticket to Ride players to and have them play for a while before you break out Age of Steam with them. Don't hate the game that's going to bring so many more players to the game that you love so much.


I don't think much of JC's attacks (the idea that there's this danger that he's going to be accosted by people asking him to play RRT, that this is a great imposition, and therefore he has to put it down to avoid that dire outcome, strikes me as farfetched, to say the least). But, I also don't think he should like the game for the reason you suggest. There's a reason that games like Age of Steam tend to be played by "hardcore gamers". It wouldn't be much fun to play with the people you mention, anyway, because the game is both too tactical and too dry for their tastes. The experienced players would beat them consistently *and* no one would have much fun in the process. More generally, niche products (e.g., "gamers games") are the way they are precisely because they are made for a niche audience. If you broaden the group that you are trying to appeal to too much, then what you end up doing is diluting the values of the original market. The evolution from AOS to RRT is a perfect example. RRT isn't a threat to AOS gamers (and, in my view, it's a *good* thing that it's so random and less serious, because that means that AOS players are less likely to start playing RRT instead). But, in the long term, there's a real danger, if you "draw in" too many people whose tastes are more casual and random games, that publishers will tend to target that broader audience (and larger market) and thus there will be fewer of the games that the original "hardcore" gamers liked more.
 
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clearclaw wrote:

4) The board is too large and the lines marking hex boundaries, especially on the coast, are too fine and too easily missed when the player is on the far side of the board. We had several major errors with illegal builds attempted or planned simply because the player coundn't see that there wasn't a legal tile play across a water body.


I think that most of your points are a matter of taste.

This, however, I have to quibble with. If this happened at my table, where a player attempted to do an illegal build and then blamed the error on the size of the board, my response would be "Move off your perch and circle around the table."

As a related aside, I find it funny that a game is being accused of having 'too big of a board', esp. given all the crying about how the board for WotR was too small (and it wasn't much smaller than RRT. People will complain about anything.
 
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OusterX wrote:
This, however, I have to quibble with. If this happened at my table, where a player attempted to do an illegal build and then blamed the error on the size of the board, my response would be "Move off your perch and circle around the table."


It doesn't matter what your response would be. JC's point was that the player made the error because of the large board (i.e., if the board had been smaller, the players would have made fewer errors). This seems pretty manifestly true to me---when I saw the game played, I thought the board was inconveniently large.

OusterX wrote:
As a related aside, I find it funny that a game is being accused of having 'too big of a board', esp. given all the crying about how the board for WotR was too small (and it wasn't much smaller than RRT. People will complain about anything.


No, different people complain about different things. The people expressing a preference for the smaller AOS board over the larger RRT board are not the same people expressing a preference for a larger WOTR board. So there's no contradiction at all.

WOTR also needs a large board for a completely different reason that doesn't apply to RRT---namely, because there can be a large number of units in any individual area, and so it's necessary to make all of the areas big, or else sometimes have some areas with more units than can fit. This doesn't happen in RRT because you don't have a huge army of lots of units being pushed around the board from hex to hex: the number of items that can ever occupy any given hex is limited.

A large board is also less of a problem in a 2-player game than in a multi-player game because it's easier for the 2 players to move around the board to make their moves. Especially in an igo-ugo type game like WOTR where each player spends a long time moving while the other player is not doing very much.
 
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