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Subject: Session Report: I get it! I GET IT!!! rss

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Michael Petrovic
United States
Tucson
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I got together with a couple of friends, Seth and John, on a Saturday afternoon to do some gaming. (Thanks for rescuing me from what was starting to look a lot like a boring day, guys!) The first game to come out was (big surprise) Railroad Tycoon. I really like this game and I've put it on my Definite Buy List, but I want to wait until they take care of the board issues in the upcoming second printing. I think the light bulb finally came on for me in this game or at least my score seemed to indicate that it may have.

The basic concept of Railroad Tycoon is to establish rail lines to deliver goods cubes to cities that demand it. Red cities demand red goods, Blue cities demand blue goods, etc. Grey cities do not demand any cubes, so you cannot ship cubes to a grey city (and there are no grey goods cubes anyway). Shipping a good from one city to another scores victory points (once) and generates revenue for the rest of the game. The farther you ship a good, the more victory points you score and the more revenue you generate.

Random cubes are set out at the beginning of the game, so you never know what kind of goods you will be able to ship out each game making the replayability factor reasonably high. What a city demands (the color of cubes it takes) stays constant, though there are ways to industrialize grey cities, making them a specific color allowing you to ship goods of that color to that city. There are only 3 Red cities, New York, Chicago and Charleston and you cannot industrialize a city to make it a red city, so these cities are a bit more important.

In our Saturday game, New England, Virginia and the Carolinas looked like the place to be as there were a lot of blue, red, yellow and black cubes available for shipment. This area of the map has many cities of those colors very close to each other. The Chicago area didn't look as a attractive as usual as there was not much in the way of red cubes in the mid-west, but it looked to me that there were plenty of purple, yellow and blue cubes which made a start in Western Pennsylvania and Ohio look attractive. The Southeast didn't seem to look as lucrative as the other locations.

I won the bidding for the first turn and started building in the Northeast, winning the first delivery bonus, but John and Seth had similar ideas about that area and competition began to heat up for real estate for rails and shipping out goods. At this point, probably turn 3 or 4, I started looking for other oppurtunities. I had drawn the Vanderbilt Tycoon card at the beginning of the game meaning I had to connect New York and Chicago to get his victory points. I also noticed the bunches of yellow and blue cubes in Toronto and Pittsburgh and the surrounding areas, so I issued quite a few shares and began building track through what I am guessing to be the Hudson River Valley to Buffalo then to Toronto and Pittsburgh making nearly 40 points in 5 point deliveries.

In the meantime, Seth captured the First 3 Link Delivery bonus and the First Person to Upgrade Their Train to Level 4 bonus before shifting his focus to a Western Link/Chicago strategy. John had shifted his focus to the Southeast. With a hotel in Charleston and a couple of Major Line and Service Bounty cards coming up in the area, he was definitely generating enough points to stay competitive.

Before long I completed my line to Chicago which put quite a damper on the Western Link strategy and paid off rather handsomely for me. At this point of the game, I had created a 27 point lead and began trying to empty cities of goods so that I could end the game. By the end of the game, even though I had nearly twice as many outstanding shares as anyone else with 12, it was still pretty much a competition for second. I think John eeked out second by a few points.

Lessons I've learned in the 5 games I've played of Railroad Tycoon:

1) Don't get stuck trying to make a lot of little 3 and 4 point deliveries throughout the whole game, start looking for 5 and 6 point delivery oppurtunities early in the game so that by mid-game you are making those deliveries.

2) If you have to compete with another player in an area, don't get drawn into a protracted battle. It'll just turn into a quagmire that will hurt you both. Instead deliver what you can and look for opportunites elsewhere, preferably connected to your existing track.

3) Money becomes less important the later in the game it is. (That is if you play right and don't draw one of the hoarding Tycoon cards.)

4) If you want to try the Chicago/Western Link strategy, build it as early as possible before other players get a chance to tap into Chicago. The easiest way to defeat an opponents Chicago/Western Link strategy is to build track out of Chicago. Is locking out Chicago to other players reasonably possible and a viable strategy? (Can you connect your track from other cities to all of the entrances to Chicago?) Don't know. Sounds far fetched.

5) Realize that there is an early-game, a mid-game and a late-game phase of a game of Railroad Tycoon. Adjust your strategy accordingly.
 
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Trenton
Canada
Saskatoon
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j01969 wrote:
Lessons I've learned in the 5 games I've played of Railroad Tycoon:

1) Don't get stuck trying to make a lot of little 3 and 4 point deliveries throughout the whole game, start looking for 5 and 6 point delivery oppurtunities early in the game so that by mid-game you are making those deliveries.
I agree. I believe that the mid game is for setting up a couple links to make the all important 5-8 link deliveries at the end of the game. Those will shoot your score to the top.

j01969 wrote:
2) If you have to compete with another player in an area, don't get drawn into a protracted battle. It'll just turn into a quagmire that will hurt you both. Instead deliver what you can and look for opportunites elsewhere, preferably connected to your existing track.
I've experienced that as well.

j01969 wrote:
3) Money becomes less important the later in the game it is. (That is if you play right and don't draw one of the hoarding Tycoon cards.)
Going back to your 1st point, the mid game is for spending money on building an infrastructure and upgrading your train. The end of the game is only for making the big deliveries.

j01969 wrote:
4) If you want to try the Chicago/Western Link strategy, build it as early as possible before other players get a chance to tap into Chicago. The easiest way to defeat an opponents Chicago/Western Link strategy is to build track out of Chicago. Is locking out Chicago to other players reasonably possible and a viable strategy? (Can you connect your track from other cities to all of the entrances to Chicago?) Don't know. Sounds far fetched.
From experience, I agree here too. My wife and I had a little tissy in the Chicago - Kansas City area, and it turned out that neither of us wanted to deliver to Chicago... If it's yours and yours only, then it's great.

j01969 wrote:
5) Realize that there is an early-game, a mid-game and a late-game phase of a game of Railroad Tycoon. Adjust your strategy accordingly.
Also knowing what stage you're in is half the battle.

Very nice session report,

Trent
 
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Richard Dewsbery
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Sutton Coldfield
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Trenton wrote:
j01969 wrote:
Lessons I've learned in the 5 games I've played of Railroad Tycoon:

1) Don't get stuck trying to make a lot of little 3 and 4 point deliveries throughout the whole game, start looking for 5 and 6 point delivery oppurtunities early in the game so that by mid-game you are making those deliveries.
I agree. I believe that the mid game is for setting up a couple links to make the all important 5-8 link deliveries at the end of the game. Those will shoot your score to the top.


It is worth noting that a 3-link delivery is clearly so much better than a 1-link delivery (you get three VPs for just one action, and although you've spent two other actions upgrading your loco, but you'll reap the benefit turn after turn).

There is a point where upgrading gives diminishing returns.

A 7-link delivery isn't THAT much better than a 6 - it gets harder to find 7 (or even 8) point runs that don't involve handing too many points to the opposition, or that can actually make the full length of the run without finishing at a city of the right colour too soon. Other disadvantages are that those big trains are expensive (although late in the game you might not have any real use for the cash, I accept), and crucially you are giving up an action to upgrade the loco. Late in the game, when you want to be reaping in the points, that lost action can be a heavy price.

I'd rather make 4 deliveries for 6 points each, than upgrade to a 7 loco and then make 3 deliveries with the same 4 actions. In fact, assuming that you only use your own track and have the cubes available, the "break-even" point is when you can make SEVEN deliveries with a 7 loco - otherwise you're better off shipping with a 6 loco 7 times for 42 points than upgrading for $20,000 and shipping 6 times with a 7 loco (also 42 points, but now you're down $20k).

Of course, a lot depends on the position of cubes on the board and the track that you've built, but upgrading in the last couple of turns isn't the same "no-brainer" decision as the upgrade in the first couple of turns.

Although a 3 loco is almost certainly going to be too small, it is possible to do well with a 4 with certain setups.

 
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J
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Thank you, Micheal. Great session report. Reminded me how much I think I'd like this game.
 
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