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Subject: Railroad Tycoon Review by Patrick Korner rss

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Patrick Korner
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Railroad Tycoon Review

In the beginning, there was Age of Steam (Warfrog, 2002). Martin Wallace’s watershed design has been the recipient of multiple awards and accolades, and has, in the years since its release, become one of the highest-profile and revered ‘heavy’ designs of the last 10 years. In other words, there are a whole pile of people out there who think Age of Steam is an excellent design – indeed, one of the greatest accomplishments in the ‘train game’ genre of all time. So, when Eagle Games released Railroad Tycoon, a modified and redesigned version of AoS in 2005, it’s to be expected that it would immediately be compared to AoS. And it’s also to be expected that, given the heady praise heaped upon AoS, not all of the comparisons would be favourable – after all, what’s worse than someone messing with one of your favourite games? Well, for better or for worse, I’ll be adding yet another voice to the chorus – in other words, read on for a complete review of RRT and where I think it stands in comparison with AoS!

Components

Eagle has an entirely justifiable reputation for making sure that you get as much plastic as possible when you buy one of their boxes. Never mind the low-tech cardboard counters – Eagle wants you to play with molded plastic bits that add to the overall aesthetic appear of the game. Here, RRT is no different, featuring piles of nicely detailed engine pieces in the six player colours (red, yellow, green blue, black, and purple) as well as a healthy number of “empty city markers” that are an assortment of train-type buildings and such – crossing signs, water towers, engine roundhouses, etc. A nice touch (which is now becoming more prevalent in games produced in China) is that all the plastic bits come pre-separated from their plastic sprues. No quality time with a hobby knife or such needed here.

The RRT box weighs in at a hefty six pounds or so, which means there’s got to be more than just plastic in the box, right? Right. You also get an absolutely enormous game board – so big, in fact, that it comes in three tri-fold sections and will pretty much overwhelm your standard garden-variety card table. This is a game that demands the entire dining room table, make no mistake. The board itself is quite nice, featuring a well-detailed map of the eastern United States (and a smidge of Canada) with a relatively small-scale hex grid overlay. One quibble with the hexes is that they exist more or less separately from the various rivers in the area, which can lead to some confusion in rules interpretation about crossing rivers with track and such. More on that in the Comments section below.

The other issues with the board, which have been well-documented across the Internet, are twofold: Firstly, the printing of the blue cities on the board is a bit off – they look more violet than blue. Secondly and (to some) more seriously, the board is only ‘finished’ on one side (in other words, the map is glued on to the one side while the backside of the board is essentially pure cardboard). This might not seem like an issue, except that, as the glue dries, it tends to want to contract, leading to some board warp, the severity of which seems (if accounts are to the believed) to vary from board to board. My copy of the game has a little bit of warp, but nothing that will prove to be a long-term issue since some judicious back-folding of the board segments appears to have more or less taken care of the problem. However, it is worth noting that others have commented that their boards are more severely affected. Eagle is well aware of the board issues, and a company representative recently commented that a planned second printing of the game will most likely feature fixes for them (second printing? Clearly, the game’s doing well for Eagle regardless of what I have to say here!).

Rounding out the game components are two sets of cards (Tycoon as well as Railroad Operations cards), a set of cash, a start player marker, Share cards, six sets of cardboard Engine Level counters and a whole pile of double-sided hex-shaped track tiles that, in addition to straight and curved sections, feature track crossings of various types. The paper / cardboard bits are all of very nice quality, and the cards in particular are quite good, given that they are of Chinese manufacture. I’ve commented in the past that I’m usually less impressed with the Chinese-produced cards, as they tend to stick together and feature some light ‘bowing’ at their edges due to a less-precise punching process, but the RRT cards may be an indication that things are changing across the Pacific – while still present, these issues are far less pronounced than they are in other games.

There are a few other bit-related issues with RRT that I find somewhat annoying. These include the fact that not all of the empty city markers are as user-friendly as they could be. In particular, the roundhouse pieces have fairly large, flat bottoms which make it easy to completely obscure the colour of the city onto which they’ve been placed. And since an empty city can still accept deliveries, this means that occasionally players will make mistakes about where they’re shipping to. It’s an easy thing to fix: I simply don’t use the roundhouses, pretty as they are. Thankfully, there are more than enough markers provided with the game to allow this, unless you’re playing a 2-player game (in which the number of empty city markers needed to trigger game end is highest).

Other minor quibbles include the fact that no unique markers were provided as scoring track markers for the players (you’re expected to use a locomotive from each player’s supply) or as a round marker (people typically use one of the empty city markers for this purpose). The round marker issue is really more of a nit-pick, but the scoring track marker issue actually does affect the game’s functionality: the locomotive markers are awfully big for the VP / income track, especially when there are more than 2 on a given space. Others have recommended simply adding some wooden discs in appropriate colours, but it does seem like the kind of touch that Eagle should have taken care of themselves.

Rounding out the production issues is the fact that while a turn summary is printed on the game board, it only shows up the one time near the bottom of the board. Given that this is a table-encompassing monster of a board, it seems unreasonable to expect that all players will be able to refer to that summary without having to get up or crane their necks. Turn summary cards would have been a helpful touch – and I’m not the only one who thinks so, since they were among the first user-created add-ons and downloads available for the game at BoardGameGeek. I highly recommend picking them up, as they make a new player that much more comfortable about what they can do and when.

Overall, I’d give the components an 8 out of 10, with the main reasons for docking points coming as a result of the game board issues. While I personally don’t find them to be showstoppers, I can appreciate the opinions of others who feel that a game this detailed and bit-heavy should feature the highest-quality bits possible – after all, if you’re going to use components as a sales tool, then you should probably make sure that they don’t drop the ball, right?

Game Setup

The basic premise of RRT (and indeed its precursor AoS) is that the players are railroad executives working to secure delivery contracts for their companies. In other words, the chief objective in the game is to make deliveries which increase your income level (and, of course, provide victory points). Added to that basic framework are some additional opportunities for scoring points which are new additions to RRT – in AoS, the only way to get anything was to deliver goods. In RRT, each player starts the game with a randomly-drawn Tycoon card which has a secret objective that they will get extra points for at game’s end (provided they meet the conditions, of course). There are also various Railroad Operations cards in the game, some of which will also award points when their conditions are met.

Before getting started, the game board is populated with goods cubes, randomly drawn from a bag and spread out over the board according to the numbers shown on each of the city hexes printed on the board. In other words, larger cities tend to get more cubes, while smaller burgs will usually only get one. Many of the cities are coloured (colours match the available cube colours) – the colours show which colour of cube is to be delivered there. However, there are also quite a few grey cities that, while sources of cubes, can’t take deliveries at the start of the game. It should be noted that there are many more cities on the RRT board than on the AoS board – this is a feature of having relatively small hexes on a relatively (okay, really rather) huge board.

The only other piece of game setup required is laying out the initial Railroad Operations cards. There are three cards which are always laid out to start the game – these are marked with a small “S” to show this. Extra cards totaling twice the number of players taking part are then added – so in a 4 player game, an extra 8 cards get added and so on.

There are various kinds of Railroad Operations cards, each of which are distinguished by a small icon in their lower right-hand corner. Some of them represent bonus points that are awarded as soon their ‘triggers’ are met – typically these are either ‘first delivery’ of a cube to a specific city or achieving a connection between two specific cities. Such ‘triggered’ cards are marked by a green circle. ‘Trigger’ cards don’t need to be claimed by a player – their points are awarded as soon as the required condition is met.

The other cards are grouped as follows: cards that are used immediately and then discarded (small x icon), cards that are claimed and then held in reserve to be used later (hand of cards icon), cards that are claimed and can then be used once per round for the rest of the game (purple diamond icon), and cards that are in effect for the rest of the game (no icon). All of these cards need to have an action (more on those below) spent to grab them.

Gameplay

Gameplay is, for the most part, similar to Age of Steam, although there are differences throughout. Each round, several different phases take place: Auction, Action, Income & Dividends, and Railroad Operations.

The first major change between AoS and RRT is in the Auction phase. In RRT, the winner of the ‘raise or pass’ auction gets to go first during the Action phase – same as in AoS. However, subsequent actions are carried out in clockwise order in RRT, while AoS’s player order is determined by the order in which players dropped out of the auction. The other difference is that nobody but the winner of the auction has to pay their bid in RRT, while AoS made everybody else pay half their bid – this is the first indication that money is not as tight in RRT as it is in AoS.

Once the auction has been completed, the start player takes the first action. Again, there is a major change here from AoS – in RRT, multiple players can choose to carry out the same action, while AoS was set up to only allow one player to do any one thing. This is consistent with the auction simplification – since players act in clockwise order (not bid order), they have less control over what other players can choose do, and it wouldn’t be fair to hamstring their play options just because someone else overbid. Each player gets to carry out three actions, one at a time – after that, the Action phase ends.

There are a variety of actions which a player can choose to carry out, each of which is summarized below:

Choose Railroad Operations card: Very simply, this action allows a player to choose one of the face-up Railroad Operations cards and then either use it immediately or save it for later, depending on what the card specifics are.

Build Track: Players may build up to 4 hexes worth of track a turn. All track must be continuous, and players can’t build more than 1 link (a connection between 2 cities) per action. Track must be built starting at a city (each city has track symbols on it to show where legal track placements are) and move outwards as the player wants. Track costs vary depending on the type of terrain the track is being built over: plains are cheaper than hills, and crossing ridge lines (indicated on the board by dark brown lines) costs an extra premium. Track that crosses a river also costs extra (although ‘following a river’ – i.e. building track whose alignment mirrors the river it’s being built on – doesn’t). If a player builds an incomplete link (i.e. it didn’t make it all the way to a city for whatever reason), then they have until the current round of actions ends to complete it – otherwise the unfinished track is removed from the board at the end of the Action phase (note that this is different from AoS, where abandoned track remained on the board for any other player to claim). When a player finishes a link, he puts one of his train markers on it to show ownership. It should be noted that, because deliveries have to be able to be traced across links of known ownership, there is no way in the game for two tracks to merge – they can cross over each other, but they will never join.

Urbanize: A player may pay to upgrade a grey city to a coloured one. There are a finite number of upgrade options, and it’s worth noting that one cube colour (red) cannot be added to the board as an urbanized city – this makes the red cubes especially important since there are only three cities on the entire board that can take them as deliveries (New York, Chicago and Charleston). An urbanized city gets two new random goods cubes added to it as well. Note that players cannot ‘re-urbanize’ a city in order to change its colour, and they cannot urbanize non-grey cities.

Upgrade Engine Level: A player may pay to increase their engine level (each player starts the game at 1 and can go up to a maximum of 6). Engine level dictates the maximum number of links that a cube can be delivered across – in other words, the higher your engine level, the lengthier (or more circuitous) a route your deliveries can take. The cost to upgrade gets higher as you advance across the levels, too.

Make a Delivery: This is really the heart of the game, as deliveries are the primary way of getting victory points and income. In order to make a legal delivery, a number of rules must be adhered to: the cube must first travel over a link the active player owns (while cubes can travel over other player’s rail networks, the first leg of their journey must always be your own), the cube cannot travel more links than your current engine level, and the cube must stop (i.e. be delivered) at the first city it comes to that matches its colour. Note that this does not mean you’re obligated to choose the shortest trip possible – far from it! This is a game where you want to be inefficient, and make cubes go on all sorts of roundabout trips before making their final jaunt. Cubes, once delivered, are removed from the board and returned to the bag. The player who made the delivery then gets victory points equal to the number of his links that the cube traveled over, while any other player whose routes were used also get points. So, for example, a cube that Mr. Red delivers might have made 5 hops – 3 on his own tracks and 1 each on Mr. Yellow and Mr. Green’s tracks. Red would score 3 points, while Yellow and Green would score 1 each.

Build Western Link: One major addition to RRT is the Western Link option. During the game, a player that has built a link that connects to either Kansas City or Des Moines can, for a one-time cost of 30 thousand dollars (i.e. a pretty hefty sum), build a Western Link at the city he’s connected to. This puts 4 red cubes onto that city, which would then presumably be delivered to Chicago (being the closest red city). The trick with these deliveries is that each time one of the red cubes is delivered, two new random cubes get drawn from the bag and added to Chicago, thus adding to the potential income to be had in the Midwest. I will mention that since these extra cubes can be shipped by anyone and since the cost to build the Western Link is high, I’ve never actually seen this action carried out – but it’s there if you want to try and become a latter-day cattle baron, I suppose.

Once all players have carried out their three actions, the Action phase ends and the Income and Dividends phase begins. This is more of a ‘housekeeping’ phase, and is pretty straightforward. In turn, each player obtains income (based on the number of victory points he’s accumulated to date) and pays out the debt load that his shares have incurred. Shares? Yup. In RRT, the players start with zero cash. Nada. In other words, you have no choice but to issue shares since you can’t very well get anything done without cash, right? Each share, which can be issued at any time, will get you 5 thousand dollars – at a cost of 1 thousand per round for the rest of the game. No, there isn’t any way to pay off your debts – you’re stuck with them for the rest of the game. Note that the way shares are treated in RRT is slightly different than AoS – in that game, you could only issue shares at the start of a round, which meant inevitable down-time while players tried to figure out how much cash they’d need for the current round. It also meant that some players ended up with nasty surprises when they found out they’d borrowed too much or too little…

In any case, in RRT, the players generally check their income level and subtract 1 for each share they own. So a player with an income of 10 but 3 shares would get 7 thousand dollars for the round (note that all denominations in the game are in thousands). This is identical to AoS, with one important exception: In AoS, the players started with an income of zero. The first cube they delivered (and each subsequent cube) got them an increase in income of 1. At that rate, it was very, very difficult to become solvent, and there are numerous cases of players entering a ‘death spiral’ right from the get-go of having to perpetually borrow to cover their debt – needless to say, this is not a recipe for success. In RRT, the income track starts at 3 and moves up from there, although the increments gradually lessen, so that it takes longer to move from 20 to 21 than its does from 10 to 11. The income level also starts dropping once a player hits 50 victory points – so the better your company does, the more you have to pay attention to your opponents, lest they start to outspend you!

Once all players have their money (or issued shares to pay their debts!), the Railroad Operations phase occurs. This is the simplest phase of all: nothing happens except that 1 new Railroad Operations card is added to those available. That’s it – afterwards, a new round begins with the current start player opening the bidding.

Over the course of the game, cities will naturally start getting depleted of cubes, and this is the mechanic that drives the game to its conclusion. Depending on the number of players, once a certain number of cities are empty (and have those oh-so-pretty empty city markers placed on them), the game end is triggered, after which one more complete turn (including 3 rounds of actions) is played. After that turn, each player loses 1 victory point for each share they issued and checks to see if they scored any bonus points for their Tycoon card. After that final accounting, the player with the most victory points is the winner. Note that unless you have one of the Tycoon cards that give you points for having the most cash, your liquid assets at the end of the game mean nothing.

Comments

At its heart, RRT is a game of pick up and deliver, with various additional elements added to that central mechanic to add flavour and theme. And it is exactly those additional elements that highlight how different this game is from its predecessor. In comparison to AoS, RRT is a more ‘complicated’ design, as it features more bells and whistles. However, RRT is also a significantly lighter design than AoS, due to many of that game’s mechanics being streamlined and adjusted. In other words, RRT is yet another example of the new ‘hybrid’ game design, not unlike another of Eagle’s recent titles, Bootleggers. Here, the game depth is middleweight and the theme is strong – the same gaming recipe that drives many of the traditional US designs. This means that the deeper ‘hardcore’ style game that is Age of Steam has been replaced with a lighter, more thematic and (yes, this will indicate which side of the fence I sit on) engaging gameplay experience that doesn’t demand rigid adherence to proper accounting and provides additional random elements to eliminate the need to play at 100% efficiency at all times.

Some will complain that there is little to be gained in playing a game that is lenient enough to allow for a sub-optimal player to win, and I can certainly understand that position. To be honest, I think it very much depends on the types (and experience levels) of the other players. If I am to play a game with a set of highly experienced AoS players who understand the unforgiving nature of that game, then AoS is a good choice. But even then, it will often come to pass that one (or more) players end up stuck in neutral while the game speeds on without them, sentenced to the role of spoiler from (seemingly) the opening bell. And that’s not much fun. In contrast, it is rare for anyone in a game of RRT to feel as if they have no chance of making a recovery and getting back into contention – even if it’s their first time playing. That level of accessibility is probably the primary reason I actually prefer RRT to AoS – the ability to play a game in which all players have fun and feel like they’re part of the action right through to the end.

As far as gameplay itself goes, I can find little to complain about except for the river / hex issue I alluded to above. Typically, hex-based games will go to pains to ensure that any rivers or other linear features of note are confined to hex edges, making it obvious to all when a track crosses them. In RRT, the fact that rivers cross through the hexes, while making for a pretty map, leads to various questions about when a player actually has to pay the surcharge for crossing a river or not. The game rules are relatively clear on the matter, but there is a logical error with them: if a player plays track that parallels the river, they pay nothing extra. When a player does, he pays extra – no exceptions. So what this means is that it is technically possible for a player to build track that can be traced from one city to the next without ever actually crossing a river (in other words, a track approaches but does not cross a river, parallels it for a while, and then diverges again) – yet have to pay the surcharge to satisfy the game rules. I would say that gaming groups should choose how to enforce this rule themselves, since it’s really only something that will come up the first time they play, after which some sort of ‘house rule’ or ruling will have been reached.

One additional track tile note worth making: the original AoS game had a ‘sharp turn’ tile that showed track entering the hex from one side and exiting again via an immediately adjacent side. RRT does not have this tile option, which means that players must be more careful with their track-laying plans – it’s much easier to get cut out of entering a city in this game (especially some of the cities along the Eastern Seaboard, which have limited points of entry thanks to the proximity of the ocean). It’s an odd instance of a design change that actually makes RRT a little more tricky than AoS, which is in contrast to the rest of the edits that were made to the design.

Finally, there are some issues with the Railroad Operations and Tycoon cards – all dealing with the various “Major Line” bonus points available to players who complete specific links between cities. The issue is that occasionally, a player will be in a position where they can claim one such card without having to expend much energy at all – they may only need to complete one inconsequential link in order to claim a significant bonus in victory points. This has been commented on by others as being unfair, since one player gets a bonus without really having had to work for it or do much strategizing (note that the rules do specifically mention that any Major Lines that come up during play that have already been completed earlier are simply discarded and replaced with a new Railroad Operations card). One way to work around this issue is simply award half points to any player who finishes an ‘almost finished’ Major Line – simple and hopefully restores some of the perceived imbalance. Of course, you may choose to ignore the problem completely and assume that players should then bid accordingly to prevent a player from having the points handed to them.

The Tycoon card issue is peripherally related to the Major Line issue – it seems that not all Tycoon cards are created equal. In particular, there is a Tycoon card that gives you an extra 5 points if you manage to connect New York with Chicago. Problem is, there’s a Major Line card that gives you 10 points for making the same link, which means that the Tycoon will probably see some stiff competition for an end-game bonus that isn’t all that great to begin with. How to fix this? Well, you could either increase the bonus value to make it more palatable, omit that particular Tycoon card when playing, or deal with it and take being dealt that particular card as a sign to concentrate more on board position than end-game bonuses. Again, your choice, and your opinion about whether this is a real problem or not will decide if you feel the game needs any tweaking or not.

Conclusions

Railroad Tycoon is an excellent game that is easy to learn and engaging to play with a wide audience. I have read several reports of non-gamers having a blast with the game, and the opinions of the more hardcore gaming crowd, while understandably mixed (due to the AoS comparisons) have generally been positive as well. Play time isn’t nearly as long as a game this size would appear to require (6 player games have clocked in at a little over 2 hours, which is perfectly acceptable to me), and players tend to feel involved and ‘part of the game’ the entire time. Thanks to the game being split into various phases (many of which are completed simultaneously), I find that there is little downtime in the game.

There are, of course, some details about the game that I’m not a fan of, but they appear to be primarily confined to the areas of graphic design, production and such. The few design-related issues I’ve mentioned above all have easy fixes should you choose to believe that they are, in fact, issues – as I said before, your mileage may vary and you may find that the extra random elements add something to the game that you actually like better. Overall, the game’s a worthy addition to the AoS universe that clearly shows the hand of two designers: Martin Wallace for the fundamental game mechanics (the beast) and Glenn Drover for the chrome (the beauty). I’ve coined the term “Droverization” to refer to this process, whereby a solid gamer’s game is edited, streamlined and made more accessible to the general gaming audience. If RRT is any indication, I will look forward to future collaborative efforts with great enthusiasm. I would strongly recommend RRT to anyone looking for a fun, big, splashy game to play with casual gamers that still has some teeth to it – while the luck’s present, you still need to plan ahead and pay attention to your opponents if you want to win and claim the title of Railroad Tycoon for yourself.

Scores

(Out of Five)
Components: ****
Balance: ****
Fun Factor: *****
Replayability: ****
Duration: ****

Overall Rating: ****1/2
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Christopher Hill
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Regarding the Western Link: Correct me if I'm wrong here, but no one can start a shipment on a western link owned by another player. All shipments must be started on a link you own. Hence, if you own the western link, only you can start a shipment there. This is where the value of a western link comes through. If that player has set up a couple links of his own to Chicago, then it becomes even more valuable. Don't underestimate the Western Link. If obtained during mid game it can be a very powerful asset, especially if there is little or no competion in the midwest for links.
 
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Patrick Korner
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kinga1965 wrote:
Regarding the Western Link: Correct me if I'm wrong here, but no one can start a shipment on a western link owned by another player. All shipments must be started on a link you own. Hence, if you own the western link, only you can start a shipment there.


True, but my point about others being able to ship the new cubes was in reference to the ones that spawn at Chicago whenver a Western Link cube makes it there. Those are fair game for anyone who has a link to Chicago.

kinga1965 wrote:
Don't underestimate the Western Link. If obtained during mid game it can be a very powerful asset, especially if there is little or no competion in the midwest for links.


I don't deny that it's got its uses, and that it can be powerful during the game. I just haven't seen anyone dedicate the kind of financial investment it demands yet - certainly in the games I've played, there were always other more pressing matters to attend to mid-game. Perhaps the Western Link is something that is more fully exploited by highly experienced players - which means I'll have to play this game even more, which is hardly a hardship.

pk
 
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Mark Biggar
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Some points about the western link:

1) the 4 red cubes go on the city (KC or DM) not on the western link itself, so any player that connects to KC or DM can move them.

2) If there are already red cubes on KC or DM then they also cause the extra cubes to be created in Chicago when moved there, so take that into consideration when deciding if you want to build one.

3) the western link does belong to the player that builds it (put a track marker on it) and so counts for the longest railraod and most links Tycoon cards.

4) note that the 20 point NY to KC "Major Line" cards also requires building a western link that is connected ot your network (although it doesn't have ot be the KC western link)

Side note, there is a Tycoon cards that gives you 2 points for each link connected to Chicago, those are direct links only, so that card can be worth at most 8 points.
 
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Richard Hecker
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Thanks for the review - I played AoS for the first time and loved it, although my brain felt a bit melted afterwards. I've been keeping an eye on this one, and your review plus payday is another sale coming up this lunchbreak from the FLGS.


[added text] It's about an hour later and I have a copy in my hot little hands. O, the bits. O, the board. But O, it's so heavy to lug up a hill.
 
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Jay Moore
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This is a great review! I'm a huge Age of Steam fan, and have played RRT once. I liked it enough to buy it. I think your analysis of what makes the two games similar but different is great. I agree 100% that on the pro-side, it's hard to ever feel as out of the game in RRT as you can in AoS. On the other hand, you can win in RRT without playing perfectly, and in AoS you have to play pretty much flawlessly in order to do well (most of the time).

Again, great review.
 
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Gotthard Heinrici (prev. Graf Strachwitz)
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Many thanks for the LONG and detailed review. Luckily your computer did not crash wile writing...

Have pondered a lot wheather to buy or not. Checked Tom Vasels review and now have the confirmation
Will run to my shop.

I had a problem with warping of my Conquest of the Empire board....

I hope this is a lesson for Eagle games that HUGE isn't always better.

Will write my findings in the comoing weeks.
 
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colin darra
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kinga65 wrote:
I agree with what you are saying Mark, but I think the rules were a little misleading. I think the intent of the western link is that the red cubes are coming from somewhere west, not the link city (Des Moines or KC) and the first link in the shipment is the western link owner's. Otherwise, when someone spends the money to purchase the western link there would be no advantage for that player. Why would you purchase the link at $30,000 only to share the benefit with other players?


with respect Kinga I disagree. I have pulled the exact rule quote out of the book and is as follows...

"When they perform this action, they place a “Western Link” tile in the appropriate “Western Link” hex west of the city to which they have connected and place their control locomotive on it. 4 red cubes are then added to that city (taken from the goods bag). The cost for performing this action is $30,000.

Once a western link has been built, all red cubes delivered from a western link city to the city of Chicago cause 2 new random cubes to be placed on Chicago. Note, the delivered red cube is removed as usual."


One reason off the top of my head that you might want to build this link for $30,000 is that there is a victory point award for doing so in at least one of the tycoon cards. Additionally, I also suspect that you might only build the link if you have already ensured you have the best chance of moving said cargo to Chicago.
 
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colin darra
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Nice review Patrick - I already have the game - but if I didn't your review would have helped me choose to buy it.

one minor point though, you mention that the game ends on the round following the deployment of the last Empty City Marker, whereas in fact there is a complete turn (3 rounds) to be played after completing the turn in which the last Empty City marker is deployed. I quote from the rules...

Ending the Game
The game ends at the end of a complete turn following the turn in which a certain number of Empty City markers have been placed on the board. The number of Empty City markers that ends the game depends on the number of players:...
 
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Patrick Korner
Canada
Coquitlam
British Columbia
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Thanks for the heads-up, Colin. I actually did mean to indicate 'turn', but my choice of words made it less than clear that you do, in fact, get a whole extra turn, complete with 3 actions and all. I've updated the review to suit.

pk
 
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Christopher Hill
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Wilmington
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Colin,

You are absolutely correct. I was shown the error of my ways in another post as well. Still, I think my interpretation of the rules fits the price tag better. I guess I can make a house rule, or take a vote with my group.

CH
 
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colin darra
Wales
LINCOLN
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By all means have an agreed house rule if you like, but I think the rules are OK as is

So far in my (only) three games no-one has bothered building the Western Link - the 5VP's scored for achieving it with the Cyrus Holiday Tycoon Card are somewhat outweighed by the cost of 6 VP end game penalty if you have had to "issue shares" in order to build the link.

But my point is that surely you will only build this link if you can be pretty sure that you will gain most from building it. Chris is correct in suggesting that others will probably benefit too, either from shipping cargo from one of the "Western Link" terminals, or even more likely by shipping from Chicago the extra cargo that will accrue there as a result of the "Western Link" deliveries.

But back to my point, when a person builds the Western Link, he/she should make sure that he/she benefits most.

 
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nate ben-porat
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Jerusalem
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exellent, exellent review! but there are few questions i would like to ask if i may:
1. i didn't understand how money thing works. how do i get my income level up? what are shares and how i get/lose them?
2. what are links? didn't really catch that one..
3. do you find the game fun with 2-3 players? or it's only suggested for more players?

thanks,
nate
 
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Frank Domick
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Duesseldorf
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Hi Nate...

I hope my answers will clear things up.

freezing chicken wrote:

1. i didn't understand how money thing works. how do i get my income level up? what are shares and how i get/lose them?

Let me try to answer the "shares-question" first. You start the game with no money at all. In order to be able to build tracks you have to take shares. One share is worth 5000$ which you will get from the bank immediately after taking the share(s). The downside of shares is that you can't get rid of them. So at the end of each round you have to pay 1000$ for each share that you possess.

You could think of a share as a credit from the bank for which you will have to pay each single round without being able to ever get rid of it. Another bad thing about shares is that each share you take costs you one victory point in the final scoring.

So taking shares is one (expensive) way of getting money. A better approach to get a steady cash-flow is to deliver goods from one city to another. This is achieved by a "Make a Delivery-Action" as it is described in the review. Each delivery you make is at least worth one victory point and victory points correlate directly with your income. You can determine the amount of money you will make at the end of a round by looking at the victory points track.

For example: If you have 13 victory points you will get 15.000$-(the number of your shares * 1000$). If you own just one share you'll would recieve 14.000$.

freezing chicken wrote:

2. what are links? didn't really catch that one..


A link is simply a connection between two cities.
During one round you lay some tracks from City A to City B so that they are connected, put a train in your colour on that track and call it your link.

freezing chicken wrote:

3. do you find the game fun with 2-3 players? or it's only suggested for more players?


So far, all of my games of RRT have been 3-player games so I can't really tell you if it is better with more or less players. But I really enjoyed every game I played. RRT is just a lot of fun.
 
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