Everybody else has already talked about rules, so I want to say
why this is my vote for my most fun game of 2005 (tied with
Louis XIV and Caylus, but those are different kinds of games).
First, though, is the point that its expensive. I paid $112!
I'm sure you're saying - No! Its only $40 online!
But you aren't paying attention to the real costs:
Game: $32 (nice preorder price)
Covering: $40 plexiglass to keep the board flat
Light: $40 floor lamp to tell the different color cities apart.
And this doesn't solve all the physical problems. In the last game,
Tim built an initial link from Chicago to Detroit, intending
to deliver a lot of Black on Chicago to Detroit, and Purple
on Detroit to Chicago.
Except Detroit is Blue and Chicago Red. From his angle, through
the glass, even with two extra floor lamps, the cities
looked Blank and Purple! Tim basically had to forfeit the whole
game because of this!
Despite these flaws the game is worth every penny!!! Its the
most fun everyone has had in a long while. Why?
The board is impressive! The rules work amazingly well. (Except
the river crossing rule.) You have enough room to try out
different things, and still will be fighting your neighbors.
There are enough different approaches that we haven't explored all
of them yet including:
1: lots of short deliveries in the NE
2: break across the mountains
3: the mid-South from Charleston
4: South to New Orleans (probably not enough resources here to compete)
6: monopolize Chicago and build Western Link
The initial resource laydown will make the game significantly
different every time which is a major plus (but people have to
pay attention to this)!
I agree with the purists that the Operation cards have a
random element that can be annoying, but if you think of this
as a reason to drive the auction for the start of turn, this
really adds a strategic element to the game. A friend, Jared,
was complaining that someone spent $5K to start the game.
He seemed to think this was far too much. Except I won the
last game by spending $13 to buy the first turn of the game.
(Executive priveledge - Hotel New York, Build link out of
The building in the game is easy and generally there isn't
much analysis paralysis.
Another very nice touch is the payout curve of$ income vs. railroad
size. This leads to a variety of strategies. I've delivered goods
until I reach $25K income and then pause delivering for several turns
while I build infrastructure and prepare to make large deliveries.
We have also fought over the curve at the top when income drops
to almost zero. Several of us were fighting, trying to keep our
cash reserves so we wouldn't have to float more shares. This let
others win the starting player and was a very nice balance.
Overall, with the right group who wanted to play heavier games,
I might choose Caylus, Louis, Age of Steam or Goa, but I feel for
lots of less intense gamers Railroad Tycoon is an excellent game.