Hello fellow Geeks,
This Christmas my favorite gift was, “Railroad Tycoon.” It was just soooo big and outrageous I had to have it. My wife allowed me to choose one game for my Christmas present, and after extensive research and waffling between Ra, Age of Steam, Ticket to Ride: Europe, Game of Thrones and others this was the game I chose. I chose this game looking for a more medium in-depth strategy game, that would still be accessible to those sad people we like to call “non-gamers.” I would love to own a copy of Game of Thrones being a huge Martin fan but it would just sit on a shelf. So I anxiously anticipated this first playing of Railroad Tycoon, knowing that the first play usually dictates whether it sees life again or is relegated to a doomed life of sitting on the shelf collecting dust, (believe it or not Puerto Rico fell into this latter category.) So this session report will go over, our first playing, it’s success in attracting new “nongamer” players, my first strategic impressions and overall thoughts on the game after play number one.
After becoming familiar with the rules I decided eliminate some rules for simplicity for our first play. We did not use the Tycoon cards and we did not include the Western Link. Although the “beginning rules” in the book suggest eliminating the operation cards, I felt it might remove too much of the game to not include them so we did play with the operation cards.
I was playing with my wife Kristin, her sister Kim and her sister’s husband Kevin, (I do feel a little out of place with a first name that starts with R) So I started to explain the slightly modified rules. Kevin, in his usual style stopped listening to the rules 2 minutes in which led to humorous results shortly into the game.
After as brief a briefing on the rules as possible, we began the game. At first things were a little clunky, it took a while for people to determine exactly what there options were and how much track cost and how using the tiles to connect the cities actually worked. But things started moving slowly and steadily. Kim started developing in the southeast, my wife Kristin in the west, Kevin made a nice northern connection to Canada, and I started by connecting all those short trips in the Northeast, with most people staying out of each others way.
Kevin quickly accumulated seven shares of stock, and soon after was re-explained why it was bad to accumulate a lot of stock early, and had a very hard time, accumulating very little income each turn.
Kristin started to develop very long routes in the west, we later discussed how a strategy that seems to be so dominant in the game ticket to ride, to accumulate long western routes, was detrimental in this game due to the price of the rails compared to being rewarded with the same amount of victory points with a one tile track link in the Northeast (did that make sense?)
Kim incredibly was able to develop her Southeastern network and sustain the entire game by issuing only one share of stock, due to use of some operation cards early in the game.
I just continued to make short connections in the Northeast until eventually I connected a straight route from Norfolk to Boston. Eventually later in the game I was able to spend two or three actions a turn delivering 3,4, and 5 link goods, putting me up by a decent margin.
However, Kim’s lack of stock allowed for her to make an impressive comeback especially after getting a major boost from a major line card late in the game. Then the lateness of the evening started to play a factor and the impatience factor started to emerge. Kevin asked the inevitable question, “How does the game end again?” after determining how many empty cities there were, and realizing he was far out of contention began to empty cities as fast as possible.
So after a few more turns, the required number was achieved the game ended and Kim’s comeback fell just about 3 points short. My monopoly on the Northeast proved to be very strong and win me the game.
So what was the verdict of the game from the group? Kim mentioned that she thought she liked it even better then Ticket to Ride, my wife really enjoyed the game after getting the hang of it and even Kevin remarked on wanting to try the game again now that he has a better understanding of the rules.
I liked the game a lot and am looking forward to playing the game again when everyone has a good understanding of the rules and having it play more smoothly. Before playing the game I was concerned with the length of the game and was happy to note that the playing time with rules instruction took about two and a half hours which was less then I anticipated. I think that the next game could be played within or less than two hours.
I am also interested to play the game again to see what happens strategically. I want to see if there will be more conflict in different areas in the board. Questions I am wondering about are; Is an uncontested northeast always very dominant? Is the western section of the board always inherently inferior to the eastern side of the board? How does the western link change these two questions? How do the tycoon cards change play? Is it worth it strategically to block other players? Et cetera et cetera…..
As you can see I really enjoyed the game and would recommend it to geeks with a similar desire to own a “medium” weight game that will appeal to non-gamer family and friends.
Thanks for reading, please post your comments, questions and suggestions.