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Subject: Kurt's House Rules (request for feedback) rss

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Kurt Frank
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I'm seeking feedback/commentary/suggestions on the following set of house rules prior to uploading it as a Word file. So far these rules have been played twice each with two different groups and both groups felt it was a significant improvement on the base game.

I also have a (simple) idea to reduce the dominance of the NorthEast, but have yet to test it.


Railroad Tycoon

Errata & House Rules

Tycoon Cards
All players will be dealt 2 Tycoon cards and then get to choose one of them. If a player is dealt 2 cards with the same properties (4.44% chance per player) he may demand a reshuffle. Any sixth player (determined randomly) then gets to choose from 3 of the discards (again redrawing any duplicates). The two Tycoons that score 7 points if they have the lowest number of issued shares will still score 2 points if only tied for the lowest number of issued shares.

Build Track
If taking a Build Track action then you may remove the last tile from your own incomplete link and immediately pay to rebuild with different tile before continuing work on that link. When delivering a goods cube, a player may not use another players track (or Hotel) unless by doing so he increases his own VP gain. If he does use other player(s) track (Hotel) he must use the minimum possible in maximising his own gain on the VP track.


Starting Railroad Operation Cards
The “New Train” card is unchanged. The “Speed Record” card is now +2 points for the first 2-link delivery (on purely one’s own track). The “Railroad Era” is now the first player to deliver one cube of each colour (on purely one’s own track) gets 6 victory points. As a player delivers his first cube of each colour, it is placed on his Engine. Once someone is awarded the Rainbow bonus, all the goods cubes being used to track progress for this bonus are returned to the bag.

Other Railroad Operation Card Rules
There can be at most one “Railroad Executive” card amongst the starting line-up, replace any additional Executive and reshuffle it into the deck. The bonus for completing the New Orleans to Minneapolis major line is increased to 14 points. The “New Industry” card does NOT also give the selected city two more cubes, that’s what “City Growth” is there for.

Western Link
The cost to build a Western Link is reduced to $25,000.

Income & Dividends
If a player has over 100 VP, his income is $9 for the rest of the game.

Ending the Game
Once the appropriate number of empty city markers has been placed the game end is trigged, even if some are later removed. Note that the game ends after the FOLLOWING turn !!

The number of empty city markers needed to end the game is:
2 Players: 18 Empty City Markers
3 Players: 24 Empty City Markers
4 Players: 18 Empty City Markers
5 Players: 21 Empty City Markers
6 Players: 24 Empty City Markers



Commentary
This is merely a compilation of variants and errata that appear to work well together, some are my own and some (notably Gnurd’s rainbow bonus) are from the ‘Geek. Some of these changes involve marking the various cards, I for one just stuck numbers from (removable) video tape labels on them to reflect the new values.

Tycoon Cards
Some Tycoons are better than others (depending on goods distribution and number of players); this change gives the players a better chance of avoiding a dog. The low share tycoons score (reduced) points even if tied as all players have an incentive to issue as few shares as possible, the other tycoons simply don’t face this level of competition.

Build Track
The remove tile rule was apparently forgotten. The Max-Min rule is more personal taste, in my opinion if you want to play Kingmaker, then you should play the game of the same name.

Starting Railroad Operation Cards
As it stands the first player will usually get “The Railroad Era Begins” while one player will almost always get both “Speed Record” and “New Train” as they’re only one action apart. Now no one player is guaranteed to get any particular bonus and while the new Rainbow card has an administrative overhead, it makes for a far more interesting starting set of bonuses.

Other Railroad Operation Card Rules
Having both “Railroad Executive” cards out at the start has the potential to unbalance the game and it would be very difficult for inexperienced players to put a realistic bid on them. The value of the New Orleans – Minneapolis major line has been increased in order to better reflect the difficulty of building it. The last bit is a clarification; think of the two operation cards as each being half an Urbanise action and yes, I know this is the opposite of the “official” errata. I just think the idea of a “get $10,000” card is wrong, now its effect is more like “Government Land Grant”, you save money but only get half the action. It’s not the first (and won’t be the last) time I’ll disagree with Eagle’s design choices.

Western Link
The price reduction is simply in the hope that it might actually be built.

Income & Dividends
This does contradict the rules, but not necessarily the map and it seems to make a bit more sense.

Ending the Game
The first section is a clarification. As for increasing the game’s length, under the standard rules we found that the game ended before the various networks met up and the high range trains (5+) were bought, now you might even get a Western Link up and running. So far feedback on the extended game has been positive.


That's it, all constructive feedback welcome.

 
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Peter Evett
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Feedback note: I've only got a 6-player, 5-player and two 3-player games as experience.

I like your Tycoon card variants

Your Build Track rule is quite fiddly, but if it keeps your pot from boiling over...

I have no problem with the speed record change (although I might prefer leaving it the same and increasing the New Train card to a 5 train). The rainbow card is obviously fiddly, but too much so. I don't like:
Quote:
The “Railroad Era” is now the first player to deliver one cube of each colour (on purely one’s own track) gets 6 victory points.
I see no reason at all for "purely one's own track" -- it adds another fiddle to keep track of, I like the pressure that might be put on someone to decide if it is good strategy to ride someone else (after the required own 1st link), and can reward players who visualize good synergy with other player's rails -- which I feel has been a key part of all of Wallace's train designs.

Other Cards: Like the Exec change. Like the NO to Minn change (would probably argue it should be higher still). Do not like New Industry change. A great tension in the game is when a good card is drawn from the deck. Careful bidding for such a card is needed. Your option reduces this card's value, and thus the tension of the bidding (NOTE that it isn't as big a deal at the start because no track has been laid yet); and reduces the number of cubes in play, which reduces the fun in my book.

No problem with Western Link -- I might actually scale it for number of players -- its pretty good in a big player game because theere will be more chances to use it. In 3 player there is little value in getting it. I have no idea what a good scale would be however due to my limited play.

Your income rule makes total sense.

Your game end should be labled "Longer Game" or some such to clarify what you are seeking to do (since it isn't reliant on the other house rules).

Note that another recent thread http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/98111 has some intriguing ideas about the RR cards, especially the bonus route cards. I really like the idea of dealing out some number of those at the start so that everyone knows what is out there -- the randomly appearing Raliegh to Atlanta (for ex.) run you made or did not make seems the wildest random event in game.

Good ideas -- PAE
 
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Bob Wilson
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Hi Kurt,

I agree the anti-kingmaking activities are a bit fiddly. And somehow go against one of the strengths of RRT, which is that the rules are a set of things you can do, not exceptions to rules, which somehow ruin a game.

As the Rainbow Bonus, my group has been using it extensively (See previous variant post). It is still a satisfing substitution to the Speed Record.

goo*** Kurt pointed-out that I miss-read his original entry, and so I've struck-out the parts of my post that don't match what he originally posted. Sorry about that Kurt, thanks for keeping me honest! goo

As for Tycoon cards, your method fails with 6 players, as there are only 10 cards, and can fail with fewer than 6, because someone might be dealt two fo the same card. So I recommend you try "Choosing Tycoon Cards: a Slick Method", my previously posted variant. I do suggest you try the "Deal three cards to each player, in player pairs of two" method I came-up with. There is no need for a re-shuffle, as everyone will have at least two cards to choose from, and there is a greater possible pool to choose from for each player than simply giving two cards to each.

In my version, players go in pairs, drawing 3 cards, choosing one from the three, then suffling the two discards back into the deck. Then, the next two players go as a pair. The reason for this pair system is three-fold.:

1.) Each player will draw at least two types of Tycoon cards
2.) It accounts for the fact that there are only 10 cards but up to 6 players
3.) By reshuffling the discards before the next pair of players makes a draw, no player is exactly sure of what another player has chosen before her.

 
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Kurt Frank
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paevett wrote:

I have no problem with the speed record change (although I might prefer leaving it the same and increasing the New Train card to a 5 train). The rainbow card is obviously fiddly, but too much so. I don't like:
Quote:
The “Railroad Era” is now the first player to deliver one cube of each colour (on purely one’s own track) gets 6 victory points.
I see no reason at all for "purely one's own track" -- it adds another fiddle to keep track of, I like the pressure that might be put on someone to decide if it is good strategy to ride someone else (after the required own 1st link), and can reward players who visualize good synergy with other player's rails -- which I feel has been a key part of all of Wallace's train designs.


I don't really see how requiring it to be on one's own track makes it more fiddly, as it's something you'd check when grabbing the cube. Naturally you can drop this requirement, but I'd suggest that you reduce the bonus to 4 points in that case. With the rule as it is, I've seen players manouver to put in spur lines and then cough up $10,000 to urbanise and grab the bonus, which of course won't happen if anyone can use that line (for the purpose of grabbing the bonus).


paevett wrote:

Other Cards: Like the Exec change. Like the NO to Minn change (would probably argue it should be higher still). Do not like New Industry change. A great tension in the game is when a good card is drawn from the deck. Careful bidding for such a card is needed. Your option reduces this card's value, and thus the tension of the bidding (NOTE that it isn't as big a deal at the start because no track has been laid yet); and reduces the number of cubes in play, which reduces the fun in my book.


Fair enough, I guess your feeling on this would come down to which aspect of the game you regard as more interesting, auction or action choice. As bidding games generally do nothing for me, it will come as no surprise that I prefer to differentiate the actions as much as possible. If you seek to increase the value of the auction you could for instance change "Government Land Grant" to an instant action => "Immediately take a build track action where all the track laid is free". Naturally I prefer the current setup where you are saving money but losing time.


paevett wrote:

Your game end should be labled "Longer Game" or some such to clarify what you are seeking to do (since it isn't reliant on the other house rules).


May well do so, I should probably also note that each section is independant of the others. I play with all of them but others are naturally free to chop and change at will, it's not like they're tournament rules or anything.

Thanks for the feedback.
 
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Kiri Naiman
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I have been toying with the idea of increasing the number of starting
bonus cards to five by adding the Rainbow (or Magnate, if you prefer
something with a gamier flavor) Bonus for five points, reducing the Speed
Record to two points for a two-link delivery, and adding a three point Hub
Bonus awarded to the first player who completes three links to the same
city. I like the one-point bonus for the first delivery -- it figures
into my calculations for bidding to go first and choosing whether to
build track or take a card for my first action.

I agree that the New Orleans to Minneapolis Major Line should be worth
more, and possibly the New York to Kansas City Major Line as well.
I think that the value of the Richmond to Atlanta Major Line should be
reduced to five or six points, however, because it so easy to build and
the track is extremely useful as part of a larger network. I would also
like to see a Major Line between someplace such as Cincinnati (which,
I hope, will be spelled correctly in the second edition), and Dallas,
worth perhaps 10-12 points, to provide some incentive to open up the
southwestern portion of the map.
 
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Bob Wilson
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Kiri,

I like the major-line ideas. Especially the one to Dallas... that would open things up quite a bit. The question then becomes, do we create a brand new Railroad Operations Card deck? Probably would to make the backs match.
 
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Kiri Naiman
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The starting cards have the same backs as the rest of the deck, which is
actually slightly inconvenient when setting up the game, as we have to
sort through the deck manually to find them (unless they were segregated
on discard in the previous game). If we create new starting bonus cards
with a different back, we can transform the existing starting bonus cards
into new Railroad Operations cards using some creative mutilation.

 
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Kurt Frank
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I've uploaded the finalized rules.

As the replies were mainly taste issues the rules themselves haven't changed, but your input has been reflected in the commentary.
 
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Kurt Frank
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As it would seem that the file I uploaded will not be accepted, here are the revised rules along with my map rebalancing effort. I'm afraid you'll have to cut, paste and format for printout youself:


Railroad Tycoon

Errata & House Rules

Tycoon Cards
All players will be dealt 2 Tycoon cards and then get to choose one of them. If a player is dealt 2 cards with the same properties (4.44% chance per player) he may demand a reshuffle. Any sixth player (determined randomly) then gets to choose from 3 of the discards (again redrawing any duplicates). The two Tycoons that score 7 points if they have the lowest number of issued shares will still score 2 points if only tied for the lowest number of issued shares.

Build Track
If taking a “Build Track” action then you may remove the last tile from your own incomplete link and immediately pay to rebuild with different tile before continuing work on that link.


Starting Railroad Operation Cards
The “New Train” card is unchanged. The “Speed Record” card is now +2 points for the first 2-link delivery (purely on one’s own track). The “Railroad Era” is now the first player to deliver one cube of each colour (purely on one’s own track) gets 6 victory points. As a player delivers his first cube of each colour, it is placed on his Engine. Once someone is awarded the “Rainbow bonus”, all the goods cubes being used to track progress for this bonus are returned to the bag.

Other Railroad Operation Card Rules
There can be at most one “Railroad Executive” card amongst the starting line-up, replace any additional Executive and reshuffle it into the deck. The bonus for completing the New Orleans to Minneapolis major line is increased to 14 points. The “New Industry” card does NOT also give the selected city two more cubes, that’s what “City Growth” is there for.

Western Link
The cost to build a Western Link is reduced to $20,000.

Income & Dividends
If a player has over 100 VP, his income is $9 for the rest of the game.


Ending the Game
Once the appropriate number of empty city markers have been placed the game end is trigged, even if some are later removed. Note that the game ends after the FOLLOWING turn !!

The number of empty city markers needed to end the game is:
2 Players: 18 Empty City Markers
3 Players: 24 Empty City Markers
4 Players: 18 Empty City Markers
5 Players: 21 Empty City Markers
6 Players: 24 Empty City Markers


America: Land of Plenty
(or how to even up the map)

Basic map change:
All 1-cube cities are now 2 cube cities.

2-3 players:
Each city gets one less cube to a minimum of 2.

4-6 players:
The cities of Tulsa, Dallas, Little Rock and Shreveport are out of play at the start of the game (and receive no cubes). Once all 3 starting bonuses have been claimed the US has successfully mugged Mexico and these cities enter play (and receive their cubes).



Commentary
This is merely a compilation of variants and errata that appear to work well together, some are my own and some (notably Gnurd’s rainbow bonus) are from the ‘Geek. Some of these changes involve marking the various cards, I for one just stuck numbers from (removable) videotape labels on them to reflect the new values. All of these changes can be used independently, however I recommend that the extra cubes and more empty cities be used together.

Tycoon Cards
Some Tycoons are better than others (depending on goods distribution and number of players); this change gives the players a better chance of avoiding a dog. The low share tycoons score (reduced) points even if tied as all players have an incentive to issue as few shares as possible, the other tycoons simply don’t face this level of competition.

Build Track
The remove tile rule from “Age of Steam” was apparently forgotten.

Starting Railroad Operation Cards
As it stands, the first player will usually get “The Railroad Era Begins” while one player will almost always get both “Speed Record” and “New Train” as they’re only one action apart. Now no one player is guaranteed to get any particular bonus and while the new Rainbow card has an administrative overhead, it makes for a far more interesting starting set of bonuses.

Some might like to drop the requirement to use one’s own track, but I'd suggest that you reduce the bonus to 4 points in that case. With the rule as it is, I've seen players manoeuvre to put in spur lines and then cough up $10,000 to urbanise and grab the bonus, which of course won't happen if anyone can use that line (for the purpose of grabbing the bonus that is).

Other Railroad Operation Card Rules
Having both “Railroad Executive” cards out at the start has the potential to unbalance the game and it would be very difficult for inexperienced players to put a realistic bid on them. The value of the New Orleans – Minneapolis major line has been increased in order to better reflect the difficulty of building it. It has been suggested that the bonus for the Atlanta – Richmond major line be reduced, but I’m disinclined to do anything that reduces the appeal of building in the SE.

The last bit is a clarification; think of the two operation cards as each being half an Urbanise action and yes, I know this is the opposite of the “official” errata. I just think the idea of a “get $10,000” card is wrong, now its effect is more like “Government Land Grant”, it’s not the first (and won’t be the last) time I’ll disagree with Eagle’s design choices. This will increase the importance of action choice at the expense of the 1st player auction, on the other hand if you seek to increase the value of the auction you could for instance change "Government Land Grant" to an instant action => "Immediately take a build track action where …”.

Western Link
The price reduction is simply in the hope that it might actually be built.

Income & Dividends
This does contradict the rules, but not necessarily the map and it seems to make a bit more sense.

Ending the Game
The first section is a clarification. As for increasing the game’s length, under the standard rules we found that the game ended before the various networks met up and the high range trains (5+) were bought, now you might even get a Western Link up and running. So far feedback on the extended game has been positive.


America: Land of Plenty
Our group has found that if:
1 player is in the NE, he will definitely win.
2 players are in the NE, one of them will probably win.
3 players are in the NE, one of the other players will win.

The problem is bad enough in a 4-6 player game; in a 2-3 player game the rest of the country is a virtual desert. This change should make a railroad that is NOT based in the NE a viable contender (as long as there are at least two players fighting over the NE).

This will naturally make the game longer, I estimate about 3 full turns longer (of course you can make it shorter again by reducing the number of empty cities required if so desired).

However I strongly recommend keeping the longer game as it adds much greater strategic depth. The players based in the NE will tend to find that they run out of cubes to deliver a couple of turns before the end of the game and will have to break out from the NE in order to keep scoring.

Of course, if the SE and Midwest players have done their job correctly there will be no easy pickings left anywhere near the NE. Hence one of the most important decisions for the NE players becomes “Just when do I start expanding from the NE?”

If using the rule of 100+ VP = $9/turn with the longer game then players will have to be even more cautious when issuing shares. I also suspect that a Western Link is far more likely to be built with this change, as there should be sufficient time to benefit.

Unfortunately this hasn’t been as thoroughly play-tested as the other rules, largely because I wanted to be absolutely sure that the problem needed rectifying before making the change. None the less it has proven to be a very satisfying change so far.

Anyone who sets up under this rule will quickly note that the SW cities are out of play at the start due to cube limitations. I chose them for two reasons, firstly because I can’t see why any sane player would want to start there and secondly it’s kind of cool that I can give a historical excuse.


 
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Bob Wilson
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Nice total set, glad to see the Rainbow bonus made it in there, but I would recommend the method I listed under variants for choosing Railroad Tycoon cards, it's less messy, and automatically eliminates the duplicate tycoon card problem.

It works like this: players, going in pairs, draw three Railroad Tycoon cards, choose one, discard the rest. Now, reshuffle the deck with their disards mixed back in, then th next pair of players chooses one of three, and so on, until all have a card.

-b-
 
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Kurt Frank
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I did indeed consider Lord Bobbio's method for choosing Tycoon cards, but chose to stick with the one I originally posted as I believe in most cases it will be faster and fairer.

The potential problems with my method are:
1. A reshuffle is required 15-25% of the time.
2. Any sixth player must be randomly determined and he has to choose from the cards other players discarded as being the poorer choice (to some degree this is compensated by choosing from 3 cards and having an excellent idea as to which tycoons are in play).

The potential problems with Lord Bobbio's method are:
1. In a 3-6 player game a first player must be randomly determined.
2. A player might only get two choices (if he draws a double) while others get three.
3. Being first or second is clearly better than being third or forth which is again better than being fifth or sixth (as the better Tycoons will be pulled from the deck).
4. After dealing out the first two players you have to wait for them to choose before reshuffling for the next two players and then perhaps waiting and shuffling once more for the last two players.
 
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Dustin Andrews
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Kurt Frank wrote:
I did indeed consider Lord Bobbio's method for choosing Tycoon cards, but chose to stick with the one I originally posted as I believe in most cases it will be faster and fairer.

The potential problems with my method are:
1. A reshuffle is required 15-25% of the time.
2. Any sixth player must be randomly determined and he has to choose from the cards other players discarded as being the poorer choice (to some degree this is compensated by choosing from 3 cards and having an excellent idea as to which tycoons are in play).

The potential problems with Lord Bobbio's method are:
1. In a 3-6 player game a first player must be randomly determined.
2. A player might only get two choices (if he draws a double) while others get three.
3. Being first or second is clearly better than being third or forth which is again better than being fifth or sixth (as the better Tycoons will be pulled from the deck).
4. After dealing out the first two players you have to wait for them to choose before reshuffling for the next two players and then perhaps waiting and shuffling once more for the last two players.



Both methods give a slight to the last player to select a tycoon and require a way to figure out the order. What about one of these methods?

Method 1: Compensate the loser
Allow players to bid for the first turn, then select Tycoon cards in reverse turn order.Therefore the person who wins the first turn bid selects tycoons last. The player who end up being last have a little compensation.


Method 2: One more reason to win the first turn bid
Allow players to bid for first turn, then select tycoon cards in turn order. Now it pays a little more to win the first turn bid.
 
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