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Subject: Shares? I don't need no stinkin' shares! rss

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Brian M
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Lisa and I held off on trying Railroad Tycoon because it looked too much like Age of Steam, but when our friend who's the big Age of Steam fan offered to show it to us, we figured it was time to give it a try. Lisa pulled ahead in the last turn to win that game, and we liked it enough that we just had to go buy it.

The first challenge with playing our new copy was setting it up. This board is HUGE! It is just a little too large for our normal game table. We could have set up two tables together, but that would mean we'd be having to walk around the tables to reach the other side of the board, and that just seemed like too much trouble, so we settled for letting it hang over the edges a bit. The board is solid enough for that, but it did make for a lot of boardquakes! During one of these, Yellow and Red's scores were moved slightly, but we could figure out where they were within a point or two and given the final results it didn't really matter.

We took an idea that Jeff had shown us to help play a little; since there are more than enough empty city markers, we used the "buildings" to mark empty cities, and used the railroad signposts to mark which cities had railroad operations card currently applying to them. For example, when the Service Bonus for Raleigh came up, we put a little railroad sign in Raleigh to remind us all of where it was.

The initial assortment of cards included 3 government land grants - there was going to be a lot of free building!

Blue bid to win the first turn. In retrospect, my choice for where I wanted to go was an absolutely terrible idea. I had Jay Gould (+7 points for issuing the least stock) so I was looking for a place where I could score a lot of deliveries with very little track. The northeast looked perfect for this - there were several good commodity combos with 2 link deliveries. I passed on the government land grant because I was dead set on using the northeast, which had really short links. I was also determined that since I was going first I was going to build first, then deliver next turn to score the "Railroad Era Begins" bonus. For a mesely 1 point, I shouldn't have stressed.

Yellow grabbed a land grant and built across the area from Chicago to Toledo. Yellow was also thinking poorly; with J.P. Morgan (+6 points for the longest track: most total links) he was thinking he needed lots of actual track section and went for the open northwest. Since its links that count, not actual track, someplace with lots of little links would be better.

Red actually got two of the land grants, as everyone else was determined to follow their own plan which didn't seem to include them. This meant she didn't do much on the first turn, just built a free line up from Columbia to Raleigh. She may have wanted to not spend money since her tycoon was Daniel Drew (7 points for the most money), but I think it was just overall a great move.

Green began building a route across the southern middle of the map, down in the vicinity of New Orleans. She was looking for a lot of short hops to score her bonus for Theodore D. Judah (8 points for the longest consecutive line).

One the second turn, we got a Service Bonus card for Raleigh. This was perfect for Red, as she had already built there and had a good to deliver. With a deliver, another free build and another 1 link delivery, Red was up to 5 points - still without having issued out any stocks!

I discovered a major tactical error on the second turn. The problem was, I was thinking Age of Steam style where track is the big expense and upgrading your engine is free! I had a nice batch of 2 link deliveries ready with only 2 track sections, but needed to take out another share to get an engine to haul them! With Red having acheived decent income and not having issued ANY shares yet, scoring my bonus looked pretty dismal, so I set in to try to make a lot of deliveries. I was able to get a hotel in Boston, which would give some nice bonus points.

Red expanded along the coast while Blue took up the cities in the northeast. They were running into each other pretty quickly, while Yellow and Green were mostly free to build in their areas.

A few turns in, the major line for Baltimore to Toledo came up. Yellow was in a position to complete that fairly quickly, but only with some expensive mountain building to get to Baltimore, and everyone else was eyeing that area for their own connections that all seemed to be converging in that general area. Yellow managed to score it, but took out three shares to do so. Probably too much to pay!

Green continued with solid track building up the middle of the map, laying a good route from New Orleans up through Pittsburgh with a few branches along the way. She did have to detour a little when Yellow spent an action to build a stray 2 track sections unconnected to everything else between Atlanta and Chattanooga.

Blue had scored a few points well early on, especially with the hotel bonus, but attempts to get more easy points by taking City Growths and Urbanize actions had failed, and blue was looking rather hemmed into a small area.

Red had dropped off on scoring a little, but had managed to create a fairly solid line, got her trains upgraded, and started taking the lead very quickly - all without issuing any shares!

Late in the game, it looked like a solid Red lead, with Green maybe being able to compete, Blue maybe having a slim chance of catching Green, and Yellow pretty well lost.

Yellow decided to build down to Des Moines to get a western link. This would give a bunch a 4 point scores to Chicago and hopefully build a good stock of cubes in Chicago for more deliveries (once a western link is made, any deliveries to Chicago cause two more cubes to be placed there). However, there were two problems with this plan. First, it was only after lots of track building and actions spent that Yellow realized it was really only three links to Chicago - wasting a lot of energy for deliveries that weren't really worth that much. Second, the other players suddenly emptied out four cities, leaving only one left to end the game! There would hardly be any time to make use of Chicago's extra cubes.

Predictably, the final city was emptied next turn, so it was that and one more to finish the game.

Blue made a dash across the mountains to connect to Chicago through the one remaining link and score the New York to Chicago major line bonus (no one else could do this due to Blue's thorough connections to New York).

Green was having a hard time finding much to do, until she realized that by urbanizing a city in the middle of her line, she could set herself with two 5 link deliveries.

Red was still sailing smooth. With an urbanization, she was pulling off several 5 and 6 link deliveries. Green's abrupt points surge made it look close, but no one doubted Red would win the day.

Yellow was just flopping futiley to not end too far behind. A bunch of 3 link connections were all he could manage.

With the final tally, Green, Yellow and Red had all completed their secret goals. Blue never really stood a chance of finishing his.

Yellow was a solid last with 47 points. Blue only managed 59. Green did well with 71, but couldn't catch Red's 77 points. 77 points without issuing a single share!

Overall, I think this is a really fun game. In many ways, I like it better than Age of Steam. Its easier to just relax and play. Like many have said, its more forgiving - one mistake won't doom you! I would like it if the board were smaller; this would be a great game for some of our game nights played in public areas - I'm sure it would draw attention with such a gorgeous, colorful board, and it has a theme that's readily accessible to the general public. But there's no way we could ever fit in on any of the tables at a place like Borders!

Ah well. Hopefully I've learned my lessons. Next time my grand railroad network will surely triumph. Surely.
And hopefully with a better shuffle we won't usually get quite that many Land Grants right away!
 
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Glenn Drover
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Sounds like you had a fun night!

Not sure if you played the land grants correctly...it costs an action to take the card, and another to build the track (which is then free). Thus, the land grant saves money, but costs time (paperwork, I guess... )

Cheers,

Glenn
 
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Brian M
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Glenn - yup, it was an entertaining game. We did do the land grants correctly - one action to take it, one to play it. Though I can see that would have been an easy mistake to make.

We did goof one thing up. We only put out 6 cards at the start rather than 8; we learned with 6 cards, and forgot it was 2x the number of players rather than a fixed amount.
 
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Lisa Bjornseth
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Actually, red only got one of the three government land grants. Yellow took two of them. Reds first turn was:

1. Take government land grant
2. Build from Columbia to Raleigh with the government land grant
3. Deliver a cube from Columbia to Raleigh scoring 4 points! The Raleigh service bonus was in the initial draw of cards.

This gave me an income of 6 for next turn. The second turn I used all my money to build to Richmond and made two small deliveris between Richmond and Raleigh.

It only worked because of the government land grant, the service bounty to Raleigh with a yellow cube in the vicinity (Columbia in this case) and the fact that Raleigh and Richmond had cubes for each other. I don't expect to see 0 share games very often. devil
 
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Charles Reese
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Impressive! thumbsup
 
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