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Subject: A Rambling Review of "Steam: Five Way Town" rss

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Jonathan C
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"He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep, to gain what he cannot lose."
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Introduction

The review herein contains a brief examination of Steam: Five Way Town, a mini-game consisting of a single cardboard hexagonal tile and a small ruleset, which expands the Steam base set, as shown below:


Image courtesy of
CLS Games -- Atlanta's Board Game Warehouse
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http://www.boardgamegeek.com/image/1434845/steam-five-way-to...

This was a promotional item from Mayfair Games, distributed at GEN-CON 2012, and is not widely available for sale.

My Background

In order to set the stage for this review, and as an aid to the careful reader who may be using the material contents of this concise work as a basis for his or her own decision on whether to purchase or otherwise acquire this game by other means, a fair and balanced "gaming background" is provided herein with the purpose to provide full disclosure of any pertinent pre-formed gaming habits and tastes. Had these details been lacking, it would seriously call into question the legitimacy and usefulness of the examination itself, tainting especially any conclusions which could be drawn.

My earliest memories of gaming begin with the quintessential battles of Monopoly, which was quite effectively ruined with the addition of two house-rules added to the game, one intentional and one not. First, my clergyman father insisted on the existence of a "Poor-Man's Fund", which could be tapped by any player upon going bankrupt and losing the game, thus making the game last an infinite length of time. Quite often the so-called "Poor-Man's Fund" became so lucratively tempting, due to the $100 payment from the bank each time a player passed "Go", that intentionally going bankrupt first was a viable strategy in the end-game. Except the end-game became the mid-game. The second crippling, and un-intended, house-rule, involved the omission of the auction-rule in the event a player does not choose to buy the un-owned property on which he or she's pewter marker has landed upon. Suffice it to say, these day-long battles of Monopoly did not leave me hungry for more boardgames at the tender age of seven. So I moved on to more traditional card games, the first of which was entitled, infamously, "War." But this was not a war-game in the traditional sense, and cannot be found on the Wargame subdomain here on Boardgamegeek. Now here at least was a game of skill! Or, at least, one that could be actually won or lost. I finally had a reason to perfect my victory dance, but in retrospect, the only usefully-acquired skill was in learning how to riffle-shuffle a 52-card deck.

Then, I lived on board the Logos II for a few years:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MV_Logos_II

It was here, in the fragile years of 1988-1991, enjoying the balmy breezes of Western Sahara, Canary Islands and Cadiz, Gambia, Sierra Leone, Ivory Coast, Scotland, Senegal, Cameroon, Brazil, Northern Ireland, Estonia, Latvia, Russia, Finland, Denmark, Germany, Holland, Poland, England, Equatorial Guinea, and Togo, that I learned (mostly by losing) some of the art and technique of a good chess match from my best friend, a South Korean named Augustine (Do-Seong) Park. Our chess battles were intense, our concentration unbroken, as two 9-year-old Bobby Fisher want-to-be's went head-to-head daily in the ship's mess. Only on rare occasion was the epic dance of pieces around the chess board derailed by a loud and raucous 10-player Speed-UNO game being played on the adjacent table by the Venezuelans, who were kicking back from the engine-room night-shift. Chess was like a cruel lover; my opponent rarely walked away from the table in defeat, and while I loved the game, it treated me with such cruelty most days.

Fast-foward a couple of years to highschool. Once again state-side, I traded in my copy of Risk upon discovering Axis & Allies with fellow homeschool classmate Delchi Fafach. I recall that we enjoyed the long, lazy summer-afternoons in Colorful Colorado hoping, praying, that the next roll would give us the Heavy Bombers we so desparately needed to secure the victory. My freshman year of University in Dubuque, Iowa had me pondering the ancients in their mysterious, late-night rounds of Euchre. "Why does everybody just throw their last few cards down, and stop playing the hand?!"

Up to this point, the record shows what I now consider my "pre-gamers" history. It was not until the introduction of my first modern hobby boardgames-which happened to be the "Euros"--Carcassonne and Catan -- that the state of affairs with respect to my gaming life started to become truly unmanageable. Carcassonne is called "gateway" for a reason--night after night, my new bride and I would battle in game after game, weighing the respective benefits and risks of farm, city, or road. Playing "nice" turned into playing "nasty", as we soon began to employ every manner of blocking and tile-crowding as was possible in order to lock up each others meeples. My infatuation with Klaus Teuber's Settlers was deeply shaken however, due to my perception of the game's heavy dependence upon randomness after the initial starting-positions were decided upon. But these euros begged bigger and greater euros, and it wasn't long before I discovered http://www.BoardgameGeek.com For those of you unaware, this online resource--a community, really--which is overflowing with recommendations, reviews, and information for gamers seeking to ask or answer questions, develop new ideas, get free stuff, or get the scoop on their favorite designers or game publishers. Here I learned of the BGG Top-100, and a subsequent purchasing-spree was about to unfold which has only recently started to diminish (somewhat). Puerto Rico, Power Grid, Dominion, Race for the Galaxy--I absorbed these like an ameoba phagocytosing nutrients, but wanted more. Agricola, Dominant Species, Steam--ah yes, Steam. Discovering PBF Vassal helped my interest in these systems flourish, as my gaming spiraled into Tigris & Euphrates, Haggis, Combat Commander Series, Troyes, El Grande, Glory to Rome, Pax Porfiriana, High Frontier, Tichu, Thunderbolt Apache Leader, Ra--those favorite games which I now feel describe the "me" in "gamer". And the beginnings of a momentum shift from the euro game to the wargame.

Components (3/4)

This cardboard hexagon fairly accurately matches the size of previously-manufactured Steam-brand track tiles produced by Mayfair Games. It suffices to say that it is neither too large, nor too small, but is sized adequately. Rest assured that it will not need to be trimmed with a knife in order to fit the hex-spaces on Steam-brand game boards. Nor will the tile take up too little space, thus leaving unattractive gaps between the tiles on the game board.

Gameplay (2/4)

Unlike any previous Steam town tiles, the Five-way town contains no more and no less than 5 connections. This makes it not only unique, but also makes it a very costly tile to build. It is not very much unlike a City or "urbanized" town insofar as track may be built to or from all but one face of the hexagon, offering quite a bit of flexibility. But as a town, this location may not be a goods destination for delivering goods and thus making money during the course of the game, unless subsequently urbanized. One must certainly address the question before building this track-tile: should I not, instead, try to urbanize this town?

What Others Think
No known opinions have been found to date.

What Others Are Saying
Official BGG Entry wrote:
This official Mayfair promo expansion was included as a convention and retail give-away on a tile sheet titled: Game Variants & Mini Expansions Set #1.

This tile adds five track access into one town.


No truer, more concise or apt words have been spoken. At least, not in this particular section of my review.

Before you Buy
If you can even find this promotional item for sale, is it worth shelling out the money? Maybe. And that's final. Ok, not final, see my conclusion below.

Conclusion
I'd love to have it in my Steam collection. But why? Mostly because I am an OCD completist and want to own everything for every game I own, put it in a plastic baggy, sleeve it, laminate it, upgrade it, pimp it, what have you. But it is a bit pricey at $4.95, and I will probably pass.

http://www.boardgamegeek.com/geekstore.php3?action=viewitem&...
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Jonathan C
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"He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep, to gain what he cannot lose."
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tom moughan
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ahh....I love the smell of a stack of sketchily placed animals in the morning!
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As much as I want one of these for my copy of age of steam....5 plus 8 shipping is whoa. Not saying I would never do it but whoa.
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Will Mellor
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This is more a review of your life than a review!
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Adam Carter
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Best review ever. thumbsup
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Samantha RD
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Harrismith
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looleypalooley wrote:
--I absorbed these like an ameoba phagocytosing nutrients, but wanted more.


. You know you're a Zoology geek when you get such a good chuckle out of a line like this one.

Excellent story-review-lifequest thing.
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Doug Hook
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"Many that live deserve death. And some that die deserve life. Can you give it to them? Then do not be too eager to deal out death in judgement. For even the very wise cannot see all ends."
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"I wish it need not have happened in my time," said Frodo. "So do I," said Gandalf, "and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us."
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I liked reading the review and a bit about you. Thanks.
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Chris T
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Fascinating.
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