Don D.
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This is the sixth review in a series of reviews I am writing on the various Steam/ Age of Steam expansion maps. As I pen these reviews, I will add them to my Steam/AoS expansion map Geeklist so subscribe to that list if you are interested in reading more of the reviews as they are written. Steam / AOS review list

I have played this map once with four players using the "small" map setup (which excludes the base game map being linked on).

Note for context: I play Steam much more often than I play Age of Steam and on balance prefer Steam to AoS. I do not ever play the family version of Steam. A quick list of what I like in AoS that is not in Steam has only item- The actions are more nerfed and therefore the auctions are a bit more important and tense. What I like about Steam that isnt in AoS: 1) Decision to switch out with income and VP is interesting. 2) A bit more streamlined in a way that sharpens the focus on the core competencies of the game. 3) Complete information. This is by far the most important and overwhelming factor causing me to prefer Steam. Everything else I could flip a coin with and end up happy either way, but I cannot stand the random goods production in Age Of Steam. It takes what is otherwise a beautiful game and adds a random element to it that can take players' fates out of their hands. And, yes, it is still random even if you bring your spread sheets with you.

General Conclusion:

This is a fairly basic map that is very solid and offers just enough variety to make it enjoyable.

Overview of this map with analysis:

This map does not have a whole lot going on that is very different from the base map- that isn't necessarily a bad thing. Here is a rundown of the differences:

- The map can be linked to the base game map to form a mega map of the majority of the Eastern Seaboard of the United States spanning from Southwestern North Carolina (where I did grad school- horray!) to Northeastern Maine.


I did not play this mega game. With 4 players it is optional to use the attachment and make a mega map, but that would be way too much space for only four players. The connected maps can hold up to seven players, but I think this would be quite the undertaking and my guess would be I would prefer just doing two games of steam simultaneously than one large game of 7. It is cool to have this option though.

- there is a new special action that eliminates terrain costs for all track buils on a turn.

This is a neat little wrinkle that doesn't do a whole lot but can really come in handy when building in the Appalachians. The map is loaded with mountains and rivers and lots of cities/towns smack in the middle of the mountains and rivers. This action can easily save a player six dollars on a turn. It does slightly reduce auction tension though.

- On turns 3 and 4, the civil war breaks out. Any goods shipped across the confederate/union border cost the active player one point of income.


This is the most significant wrinkle in the map. It forces players to visualize their route and make a plan for 3-4 turns ahead from the getgo in a way that most other Steam/AoS dont force you to do. Now, of course, this is something you SHOULD be doing regardless if you want to do well at Steam, but this feature forces players to do it. In that regard, this is a good feature for elevating relatively new players' game a notch or two by getting them in that habit. The map is also drawn in such a way that it is likely you will be shipping across that border during the civil war if you aren't specifically planning not to do so. The income hit is small, but Steam is after all a game of inches.

- There is a ferry link connecting the Virginia Beaches to the Maryland/DE peninsula across the Chesapeake Bay. It may only be built once Salisbury has been urbanized and it costs $10.

This is a neat little wrinkle that has been done by other maps before. I can't recall a ferry that is so costly though. This ferry can be fairly important because it connects a very isolated but potentially lucrative area of the board with the mainland area. This can pay enormous dividends depending on how the board was seeded at the start and how it develops over the course of the game.


Play Time: 120-150 minutes.


Relative Difficulty and Challenge: Low to Moderate

Final Thoughts:

This is a fairly simple map without a whole lot of changes from the base game. What few changes were made do add enough wrinkle to the game to make it a refreshing change of pace every once in a while. I do think that this is an excellent "second map"- one that you can pull out for the second game of steam after teaching new players how to play. It is a small step from base steam and its design will not overwhelm such players while it will also train them to think in advance thus building good habits for future plays.

I enjoyed this with four, I do not think it would work well with 3. I think it would be good at 5 as well. After 5 I think going to the double map would be necessary.

My Rating :

BGG Rating: 7.5/10

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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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I am intrigued about 7p AoS!
 
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Morgan Dontanville
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The extra action is really important in large groups.
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Don D.
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sisteray wrote:
The extra action is really important in large groups.


I imagine it is critical. The value of the "pass" action is also really interesting at 7p I imagine.
 
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Jake Waltier
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sisteray wrote:
The extra action is really important in large groups.

I'm considering adding that extra action to my standard games. When I mentioned it at the last game everyone said "whoah!"
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Morgan Dontanville
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Games are kits that have merely suggested rules inside. You should feel free to add it to other games. It sounds fun. The tile for it is included in the second expansion.
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Don D.
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sisteray wrote:
Games are kits that have merely suggested rules inside. You should feel free to add it to other games. It sounds fun. The tile for it is included in the second expansion.


Yes! Times 1000! I hate when people feel beholden to the rules of a game. A popular game gets playtested 100 times more in the first month of its release than it likely was prior to release- who is to say someone somewhere hasnt found a way to improve the game?? I only ever worry about balance issues when making tweaks, but if a tweak improves a group's experience who cares?

Adding that special action to the base map would really only make auctions friendlier and give people more options; I dont see it causing any balance issues to speak of. I wouldn't like that tweak but I'm not in your group am I?
 
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Bruce Murphy
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However, when you've played it with rules you made up, you probably shouldn't then write a review about it.

B>
 
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Bruce Murphy
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Wait, make the auctions friendlier? Good grief.

B>
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Don D.
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thepackrat wrote:
However, when you've played it with rules you made up, you probably shouldn't then write a review about it.

B>


No one has done that here. Thanks for the preemptive strike?
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Morgan Dontanville
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thepackrat wrote:
However, when you've played it with rules you made up, you probably shouldn't then write a review about it.

B>


I don't see why not. There are tons of wonderful house rules here on the geek, which is why we have a variant section for posters.
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Bruce Murphy
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sisteray wrote:
thepackrat wrote:
However, when you've played it with rules you made up, you probably shouldn't then write a review about it.

B>


I don't see why not. There are tons of wonderful house rules here on the geek, which is why we have a variant section for posters.


Well, if you're happy to have people review your maps without actually playing using the rules you wrote...

B>
 
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Morgan Dontanville
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thepackrat wrote:
sisteray wrote:
thepackrat wrote:
However, when you've played it with rules you made up, you probably shouldn't then write a review about it.

B>


I don't see why not. There are tons of wonderful house rules here on the geek, which is why we have a variant section for posters.


Well, if you're happy to have people review your maps without actually playing using the rules you wrote...

B>


Isn't that what the variant section is for?
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Bruce Murphy
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Since there's no way for something to be in both the reviews and the variants section then no, that's fairly obviously not what the variant section is for.

B>
 
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Don D.
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thepackrat wrote:
Since there's no way for something to be in both the reviews and the variants section then no, that's fairly obviously not what the variant section is for.

B>


You seem to be arguing with the designer, in defense of the designer. You are truly one of a kind!
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