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Subject: Railroad Tycoon Review - A few issues rss

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Sterling Babcock
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Railroad Tycoon Review - A few issues

Well, a number of articles have discussed the play of Railroad Tycoon in a fair amount of detail. I will not go over that here. I would like to address the components of the game. For the most part the components are nice, but there are some issues I have with them and the game playability.

Bear in mind that this is coming from a person recently enamored of Age of Steam. So I am coming from that background. Some would say that Age of Steam is too gamey, but for me, having the information available and lack of randomness works for me. Also, this comes after one play of Railroad Tycoon, so take this with a grain of salt.

Overall, I liked the game, and the components are very nice. My main complaint about Railroad Tycoon is the variability, and some of the components, which will be addressed by a description of the components:

Components with a few issues:

* The Board: Nice and colorful. But poor construction and implementation:

- The board is unwrapped, just cut from printing on cardboard.

- The 3 fold boards do not lie flat. Plus the cuts are right across important information (i.e. the 14 income level.)

- Each board folds in a C like way. Thus when you fold it flat, it is naturally pulling the cardboard apart on one side or the other. Why did they not fold like a Z so that the board does not pull apart??

- Bubbles in the board: The board we played had noticeable bubbles in the mounted board.

- The board is HUGE. OK, they wanted a nice presentation, but it is a waste! They could have cut off a good 4 inches off each side of the board. Or at least use the space to show where to place active cards or pieces.

- The colors are poorly rendered. On the copy I played, the blue looked purple, and the purple dark violet. Everyone was trying to deliver purple to blue cities. The image online here is much better colors:
small: http://www.boardgamegeek.com/image/88465
huge : http://www.boardgamegeek.com/fullimage/88465
Someone is going to have to make paste-ups to correct this. (I hear that the designers are creating paste ups to make blue green. Now that is the way to support your game! Cool!)

- The income chart is tiny and you cannot see the numbers. You could only fit 1 locomotive on each spot even though many people tied for a level. That is not so bad, but we could not even use it! In order to see the income level for payment, we had to keep the locomotives off into the map area. The income $$$ should have been printed way out on the edge of the track so that you could see how much to pay people while locomotives were on the track.

* The Cards: Nice card stock. I will give them that, but I had some issues with the playability. Understand here, that some of these may be misinterpretations that need to be addressed in a FAQ. (Abbreviated here. See questions below.)

- Some of the Railroad Operations cards seemed unbalanced.(20 points if you get from NYC to the western link out of KC, I think. Also many extra actions card.(we played these wrong.)) These gave a leg up to one player that seemed unbalanced.

- The Tycoon Cards seemed somewhat unbalanced: Some were reasonable easy to achieve, others much harder. If you got the harder ones, you would have to focus your game to achieve them to the exclusion of other things. If you got the easier ones, you did not have to focus so much on that and could concentrate on other things in the game.

- The Perfect Engineering RR Operations card seemed really strong. (Player who takes it can lay 5 track/phase once per turn for rest of game.)

* The empty city markers are a very nice presentation. However,

- The empty city markers COVER the color of the city that is empty. This is just irritating because in planning your moves you have to keep moving the marker to see if you are passing through a city of the color of good you are moving. Glossy components are nice, but not when it detracts from the game.

- Why have more pieces than the game end condition? It should be that once you run out, the game is over. (I know, just set aside X of them.)

* The money was OK. I thought it was a little big because it took up too much space in the player areas. I would have preferred coins which would hold up better.

The Good:

- The locomotive player pieces are excellent quality and nice and bright with good detail.

- The track tiles are nicely colored and nice quality. The double sided presentation is excellent for quickly placing track. I like the grass/mountain version for the artistic aspect.

- The good cubes are nice size and brightly colored.

- The engine cards are EXCELLENT. Very nice quality and good to tell the cost. (Oh, and here the board should say under Upgrade Engine (5k-20K). It looks on the board as if it were free. The range of costs should be printed on the map board.) These cards are very nice and double sided.

- The cards are of very nice quality.

- Lots of nice color to all the components of the game. The game is very nice to look at.

Questions:

* Card: Major Line: Make a connection from NYC to KC and a Western link and get 20 points.
Does the whole link have to be all one player? Or just the player that completes it? It seemed like a big jump in points for someone just to do the KC and WL when NYC is already connected by other players. Oh, it costs a lot, but it is a major jump in points. (It looks like we played this wrong. Apparently all the links have to be of that player to make the connection.)

* Card: Railroad Executive: Immediately take 2 actions.
There were 2 of these out at the beginning of our game. The first player took both: Take RRE (2 more actions), Take RRE (3 more actions), now take 3 actions as the first player, first turn of the game to get a head start. Did we play this right? (It seems we played this one wrong as well. It sounds like the FAQ will disallow this.)

* End of game: We drew a RR Operations card that was already completed. Do we draw another, or do we just not get a RR Operations card that turn. Or do we leave it out and the first player gets the points?

Summary:

OK, this is a big, beautiful game. And it is more forgiving than Age of Steam. It seems right for the audience interested in it. It is a fabulous production! But, I am a perfectionist, and I hope that the designers and authors will not object that I had a few issues with the components of the game. I think this game will sell well, and it is a great value for the money. I just wanted to make people aware of some of the issues without sugar coating it. Really the issues I have with the game are minor irritants. If I get this game myself, I would fix a number of the problems with my own paste ups and with a Plexiglas sheet to cover the board.

(My first review. Please be kind.)
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Robert Martin
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Nice detailed review. Personally I was not bothered by any of the component issues cited here. We can't always expect perfection and I think Eagle did a really nice job with the game overall.
 
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Keith Blume
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Hi Sterling,

I think this is a thorough review and an excellent first effort. Thank you for taking the time and reviewing our game (your first no less!). I am about to eat some turkey so I will answer the questions shortly. Bottom line, I think your insights are good and the criticisms are valid (I may not agree with every one, but I understand all of them).

Enjoy the holidays and thanks again.

Keith
 
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Geo
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sbabcock wrote:
Components with a few issues:

* The Board: Nice and colorful. But poor construction and implementation:


Similar problems with DoW Memoire44 expansions and Desert board: Misaligned boards with bubbles, washed out colors, misaligned counters, e.t.c

And ProLudo has production problems with Tempus/Ostia.

All these games/expansions are printed in China and it seems that they may be cheaper to produce but their quality is inferior to the games produced in Germany.
 
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Philip Thomas
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Yes, board gamers should buy German, boycott the Chinese Bras!(ok, maybe that isn't a component in many board games, though I'm sure we could all think of some where they would add something to the play).
 
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Sterling Babcock
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keithblume2 wrote:
I think this is a thorough review and an excellent first effort. Thank you for taking the time and reviewing our game (your first no less!). Bottom line, I think your insights are good and the criticisms are valid (I may not agree with every one, but I understand all of them). Enjoy the holidays and thanks again.
Keith


Thank you , Keith. You all did a very nice job with the game. I just wanted to point out some of the issues that I saw for your consideration, should you end up doing a second printing or something. It is my nature to critique items for improvement.

I might do some labels myself, to provide the income numbers on the edge, and to fix some of the colors and other things with the board. I will have to see.
 
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Kevin Kelley
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I thought Sterling's comments were right on the mark. I had an opportunity to play this game for the first time last night and I was very shocked by the disparity in quality. Everything about the components was very pleasing and great value for the purchase, with one minor exception the money. I agree cardboard coins would be a much better route to standing the test of time.

The disparity come from the game board. I will list the major disappoints by increasing order of disturbance:

1. Oversized game board - I can live with this one because it is very pleasing to look at, but when it comes to fitting the board on our official gaming table, it would not fit thus limiting the locations to play.
2. Cutting the game board - three huge segments is too many and like Sterling mentioned, the cuts do not occur in the best place.
3. Confusing color for delivering goods - no excuse here, the colors are just an awful match. They got the colors right with the "new city" pieces, why is the board so wrong?
4. Scoring track - I happened to be sitting in the corner where scoring starts and also responsible for banking. I can not tell you how annoying it was to constantly be moving everyones scoring marker everytime I needed to hand out the money. This combined with the fact there is congestion with the scoring markers for the first half dozen rounds when everyone is tied up togeather.
5. Board Folding - There is no excuse here for the board to fold in a "G" shape. It is so disappointing to see your hard earned gaming dollars spent on a product that is self destructing. The damage was very apparent after one game play with the board tearing away from the graphics.
6. Board warpage - I can not explain to you what was going on here but as soon as the board was laid out flat on the table, it began to curl up on the horizontal edges. This was very alarming and difficult to play around. Tracks were built across the boards where the track piece became airborne because of the height separation between the two boards.

Unfortunately a game that I was so excited to purchase will now need to be placed on hold until there is a reprint of the board to fix most of these issues, if not all.
 
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Chris Atkins
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I really hate to see Eagle consistently putting out games that people want to buy but not getting the components right. I really hope they can address some of these map issues that they seem to keep having with their games.
 
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David Me
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Are they made in America? Is that the problem? America doesn't have great printing capabilities for boards, if I remember correctly.
 
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Kasper Christiansen
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I believe they were made in China
 
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