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Subject: First playthrough of Kings of Air & Steam - two player rss

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Peter Schott
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Roanoke
Texas
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I broke this out the past weekend with my daughter. She was quite intrigued by the different ships and characters, but we decided to do a basic two-player game for our first game. We took a little time separating the components, picking our colors, and going over the "before you play" rules to make sure we hadn't missed anything. As we were playing basic, that was pretty straightforward.

I went over the actions and goals with my daughter. She grasped them pretty quickly and away we went. I started the game, moving towards some luxury items that were first up on the increased value board. She took off towards some food that was also increased in value. No conflicts yet and we both did a pretty good job planning our moves, upgrades, and shipping for a first round. I upgraded my airship for a diamond pretty quickly so I could use a diamond card during my 2nd or 3rd movement phase. That helped clarify that to my daughter, though I suspect she didn't need much help.

We finished up the first round pretty quickly with my daughter completing two shipments of goods and taking the lead money-wise. I managed to ship my luxury good and upgrade my airship and train as well as build another depot (I think). First round over, produce goods, move the tiles, plan our next round.

Round two starts and we both decide to take off after the same caches of goods because they're more valuable. My daughter moves first and then uses a route adjustment as her action to move onto the factory and load the goods into her airship. I fuss at her, but change my plans to go after a different factory. No major issues so far and I manage to complete another shipment during this round, but watch my daughter's cash supply grow like crazy even with her upgrading and buying another depot or two. I place another depot and upgraded my train and ship during this round as well. My cash is starting to run low.

We move on to round three. More racing to get the goods first and some changes of plans. I think we messed up a rule here as my daughter had planned to get some goods, route adjust as an action, and drop them in her depot. Reviewing the rules/forums, it seems like this is legal, but I played as if once you picked up or dropped off your movement phase was done. I apologized to her after checking on that rule because she had a pretty good strategy worked out that blew up because of it.

Round 4 hits and I'm starting to get a little money which I use to upgrade my airship. I see a cache of parts that is about to max out in value next round so I want to make sure my airship can get all of them. My daughter keeps going and we don't quite interfere with each other this time. She's still flush with cash, though. I'm definitely not feeling confident that I can even come close to her score right now.

We move on to the last round. I plan out my moves so I can get 5 parts and ship them for maximum profit, except that I forgot I had worked a route-adjustment into my plans as well to make another high-value delivery. My plans go awry because my train isn't upgraded to handle the delivery! I manage to ship 3 of the goods to a city that had been fulfilled, but two are undeliverable. My daughter makes some great plays as well in this round, but she's left with pretty much only the option to build a depot the last round.

I pause to check the rules and to make sure she understood that we'd get one more "deliver" opportunity when the game was over. She was about to place a depot that would have enabled me to send off that last batch of parts during the end-game phase. Knowing that, she chose a different track for her depot. Done, game over, skip the "produce" phase that seems to be in the rules as it doesn't make sense here and start scoring.

I passed out money for the upgraded trains and airships as well as for the built depots so we could track it better. After adding up the totals for depots, upgrades, and completed deliveries it turns out that I did win by ~$30, but as I'd misread a rule earlier I don't count that as a victory. I think my daughter was on her way to beating me before that and still held her own very well.

Some observations after the game:
1. I misread the rule about route adjustments and goods. That made a big difference.
2. My daughter chose to take cash once or twice. I think that hurt her in the long run. If she'd built a couple of depots instead, she'd have been much closer or won the game.
3. Those tiles like to spin a bit. I know others have found ways to handle that, but I'll want to check that out a bit. It was really easy to bump a tile and have it spin or move.
4. I wish the box were just a little bigger. Putting everything back in results in a very tight fit. We can do it, but it's definitely crowded.
5. The airships are a bit large for the game. They look great, but are definitely a tight fit for the spaces.
6. I think it was a fun game, even for two player. I look forward to playing again now that we know the rules a bit better. My daughter is really looking forward to playing with the ships/characters and is having trouble deciding which to pick.
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Seth Jaffee
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Tucson
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Great report! I'm sorry you missed that rule - Route Adjustments aren't very useful without it!

Sounds like your daughter liked the game as well? She seemed to pick it up with no problems, and it sounds like she was well on her way to defeating dear old dad

For reference, how old is your daughter? For example, if you say "4 years old" I'll be awfully impressed But really, for demographic reasons, I would like to know.

Thanks for posting this session report! I look forward to seeing another once you've played with the characters!
 
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Peter Schott
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Roanoke
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Well, we used Route Adjustments to bring us that little bit closer an awful lot, but not to pickup/dropoff then route-adjust. My bad and I apologized profusely for that. I think she would have won the game had I gotten that right. She was doing really well - much better than I expected with pre-planning her moves.

For reference, she's 10 now. She probably could have handled it at a late 8 or when she was 9 - we've played the Railways of the World card game which has similar pickup/deliver mechanics, though nothing involving programming movement patterns. She does pretty well most of the time when playing with her parents and better than her grandparents. In this case, I really thought that she had me until we started counting up the depots and such. It helps that we've played the sort of games that you'd find on this site since she was 6 or so, including Ticket to Ride and Dominion. She does pretty well at Eminent Domain, too.

I wouldn't say that most of her peers could handle it the same way. Her experience in playing board games is somewhat rare. I usually hear of other kids playing Monopoly and Risk as the pinnacle of their gaming experiences. Gotta get a couple games that would be kid-friendly to introduce at that age.
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