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Subject: Winner had a monopoly in the SE, and that's no John Bull rss

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Norbert Chan
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Wow, so this is what you get for 100 pieces of gold.
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Having played Age of Steam four times in the past month or so, including one game of AoS:Korea, it was only a matter of time before our group latched onto Railroad Tycoon. This was the first time we have ever seen a game board so huge, and table space was at a premium. The board barely left more than an inch or so of table space, so we had to put spare pieces on the board itself, and sidetables to store the game pieces . Don had purchased this game for around $75 at the Sentry Box just after Christmas, and it wasn't until now we opened it.

Players in clockwise order: Greg Nicholas, Trevor Brooks, Don Smith, Norbert and Jean Jodoin

Greg paid $4 to go first. The reason? He took the railroad executive (immediately take 2 actions), then took two hotels at Chicago and New York. (Hotels allow you to gain an income whenever any player ships a red cube to that hotel). At the time, we all thought that was a decent first move. Trevor built from Philadelphia to Baltimore, Don built from Jacksonville to Savannah, I built from Philadelphia to New York, and later that turn built from Philadelphia to Baltimore and Baltimore to Washington. . The only experience I could fall back on was AoS: try to build a 5 or 6 link backbone, increase your engine links and ship goods long distances. Unfortunately, I probably should have paid more attention to the cards up for grabs. Don had snapped up the first Jacksonville delivery card for an extra 4 income, while Trevor shipped the first good to gain 1 extra VP from the "Railroad Era Begins" card. I had built 3 links, but got no income and forcing me to to issue shares a little more often than I would like.

Also in the first turn, Greg established his first tracks from Detriot to Toronto, and took the perfect engineering card (build 5 tracks per turn).

Jean built from Providence to Boston, urbanized at Providence and shipped a good for his turn.

VPs: Don 5, Trevor 3, Jean 2, Greg 0, Norbert 0.

Turn 2: Jean paid $3 to go first this turn. Jean built from Charleston to Savanah. Greg built from Detriot to Toronto. Trevor built from Richmond to Norfolk and urbanized Norfolk. Don increased his engine links to 2 and built from Raleigh to Richmond. I also increased my links to 2 and shipped the rest of the turn.

VPs: Don 7, Jean 3, Norbert 3, Trevor 3, Greg 2.

Turns 3 and 4: Trevor paid $8 to go first, and deliver a good to Raleigh first to earn the 3 VP bonus. Don built from Raleigh to Wilmington. I continued along the NE corridor, building from New York to New Haven. At this point, Don cashed in another card worth 3 VP bonus, I think it was the first delivery to Mobile card. On turn 4, I spent $4 to go first, so I could earn 3 VP on "speed record" by making the first 3 link delivery. I thought I was in good shape in the game, as I continued building Washington to Richmond.

Turns 5 and 6: On turn 5, Don connected Charleston to Wilmington, then claimed the Atlanta to Richmond card to earn 8 VPs. I think the game was essentially over at this point. I did have more links and a longer backbone in the NE, but Don virtually had the SE all to himself and would make 4 VP deliveries unmolested for the rest of the game. I built from Atlanta to New Haven, and upgraded to 4 links first to claim the "New Train" worth 4 VPs.
Jean had built to Albany and was working his way towards Buffalo, while Greg was building to Toronto from Buffalo. Trevor kept hiimself in the running by shipping goods in the NE.

VPs/Shares: Don 21/5, Norbert 20/9, Jean 14/6, Greg 16/8, Trevor 17/6.

Turns 7-9: Don would work his way up to 4 links, and having the whole SE corridor to himself, would ship for 4 links for the rest of the game. Meanwhile I worked my way up to 5 links and 6 links so I could make a 5 link and 6 link delivery. Unfortunately, that meant I had to spend $30,000 upgrading the engine and building track, while Don had the monopoly on the goods in his area and did not have to expand.

We didn't expect the game to end so quickly, since cities were rapidly filling with empty city markers. The last round, 3 or 4 of them were placed on the board, closing the game quickly.

Jean had spent $6 to go first in the last round so he could upgrade to 6 links, then he revealed the George Pullman card (be the first to upgrade to 6 links and get 6 VPs). (Now there's a real realroad name, better than John Bull!). My railroad tycoon card was Daniel Drew (earn 7 VPs if you have the most money), but Trevor and Don had more money than I did, since I spent it all upgrading links. Even if I made smaller deliveries of 2 links, which a few were available, I don't think the extra 7 VPs I could have gained would have improved my position drastically. Trevor's railroad tycoon card was Jay Gould (earn 7 VPs if you have the fewest issued shares), but Don had the lowest already with only 5 shares. Don's railroad tycoon was Henry Farnam (gain 2VPs for each link from Chicago), but Don had no links to Chicago.

Final scores:
Don 49 (5 shares),
Norbert 35 (9 shares),
Trevor 30 (6 shares),
Greg 23 (8 shares),
Jean 16 (6 shares).

Strategy wise, I think Don played a great game to have an area all to himself. He was very opportunistic to seize the cards that were face up to earn approximately 15 of his VPs. The cards are all something we are going to have to pay more attention to in the future. Greg's initial strategy of grabbing the hotels did not work. He eventually built beside New York to ship red cubes there himself, but that plan never really got working, and no one built a link to Chicago. Also no one built a western link in this game.

I think we were all of the opinion that this game is a more streamlined version of AoS. It appears to be a bit cleaner in terms of the rules. I would still prefer to see VPs rewarded for tracks built, but perhaps that is taken into account from the face up cards.I have to admit, the pieces and game board are very nice, and very worthwhile for the price.
 
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Norbert Chan
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Players:Jean, Rob, Ken, Don, Trevor and Norbert

Date: March 4, 2006

Second game of Railroad Tycoon.

My railroad tycoon card was the George Foreman (okay, it's the George Pullman card, I wasn't going to take an uppercut for playing that card), which gives you 6 VPs if you are the first one to 6 engine links. The cards on display were the gain 3 VPs for a delivery to Raleigh, gain 4 VPs for being the first to 4 engine links, and a double action card. The standard one of getting a bonus VP for delivering a cube first was there, so I decided it was worth bidding $5 to go first, and that bid held up. I took the double action card, laid down track from N.Y to Philly, then delivered a cube to get 2 VPs. Ken had built from Philly to Baltimore, so my next play was to build from Richmond to Washington (hoping to connect to Raleigh and earn that bonus first). My plan was to build up to 4 and 6 engine links first.

Unfortunately, Rob built up Charleston to Wilmington, and Wilmington to Raleigh, Charleston to Savannah, and built up to 3 links faster than I could, and made the first delivery to Raleigh, claming the two cards (first delivery to Raleigh, and first to make a 3 link delivery) for 6 VPs and Rob rocketed into the lead. But his lead would be extended when he was the first one up to 4 engine links to earn another 4 VPs, so it looked like Rob's game to win.

I was thinking about strategy before this game began and if the opportunity came up, I would have liked to try the strategy of building a rail line from NY to Chicago, then to Kansas City to earn the 20 VP's if that card came up (this card did turn up in our game). But my George Pullman card dictated a different strategy. Fortunately, I was able to witness first hand someone else trying the strategy. Jean acquired the card that lets you build 5 track per turn, built from New York to Albany, Albany to Buffalo, Buffalo to Cleveland (bypassing Toronto, and the 3 VP card that rewarded the first delivery to Toronto), Cleveland to Toledo. When he reached Toledo, Trevor sprung into action, building out of Chicago to Indy (Trevor's secret tycoon card was earn 2 VPs per link out of Chicago). However, Trevor didn't realize Jean could build 5 track per turn, so Jean detoured to Indy before reaching Chicago. Jean earned the 8/10 VPs for the card for the first player reaching NY-Chicago.

Everyone thought that Jean was going to win the game handily. Jean then merrily continued to Kansas City, and issued 5 or 6 shares to build the western link. (It didn't hurt that Jean's tycoon card was the N.Y. Chicago bonus card).

Meanwhile, I had upgraded to 6 links first, and eventually got to 7 links, using it to deliver three red cubes from New York to Charleston, earning 5 VP per dellivery and paying Rob and Ken once in the process. Ken had built two links from Baltimore to Washington DC, forcing me to use that link at least 6 or 7 times. Ken had a hotel in Charleston and was the beneficiary of many people using his rail lines.

Don was playing a smart game, issuing the fewest shares (he only issued 3 shares the whole game). He had spent time taking two government land grant cards (free build on clear terrain) to reduce his cost and built up a small network in Boston, Providence and New Haven.

Trevor had built up the Louisville /lesington/Cincy triangle, but with his engine links at 2 or 3 the whole game, he was not making much income.

So the question was when the game was going to end. Jean urbanized once to keep the game going and increase his engine links and get some VPs from shipping (before he had completed the western link). I wonder if he had closed the game if that would have been to his benefit. It was going to be extremely close as the game ended. Scores:

Norbert 41 (57 VP, 16 shares),
Rob 40 (49 VP, 9 shares),
Don 40 (36 VP, 3 shares, 7 VP for fewest shares),
Ken 37 (43 VP, 6 shares, no bonus for fewest shares card),
Jean 36 (53 VP, 22 shares, 5VP for Chicago-NY tycoon card),
Trevor 28 (28 VP, 4 shares, 4VPs for two links out of Chicago).

I thought I had spent too high on the shares to be competitive. But it was an extremely tight game.
 
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