Monday, July 20, 2009

14th July Session Report: First Attempt At Being A Railroad Tycoon!

It was quite a wait but finally, the first of my new games have arrived - Railroad Tycoon and Nexus Ops. My original order included only Nexus Ops cause its price was an absolute steal at A$20 but I couldn't resist adding Railroad Tycoon since it was also on sale at A$60.

Ben joined Van and I for games and I spared no time taking out Railroad Tycoon for its test-run. I have heard the board is big but didn't expect it to come in 3 separate pieces (this is one time I shouldn't have been lazy to use the camera, bah). I had some doubts about acquiring this game initially when I found out Steam was slated for release. After playing RRT though and reading about how Steam differs, I suspect I would stick with RRT as to fill the railway niche in my collection rather than opt for Steam.

The game ended 49, 35 (Van) and 22 (Ben) in my favour. I suppose being more familiar with the rules, I paid greater attention to the new card introduced each turn, and promptly won the auctions when valuable cards were available. Van and Ben probably took awhile to fully grasp the implications of the cards so struggled to value them aright. We played with some recommended tweaks such as laying out the major lines from the start as well as dealing each player 2 Tycoon cards at the start for them to pick one. In addition, I opted to play that cubes added to cities could be drawn before deciding the city to add them to. These served to reduce the luck in the game though I question if the last tweak gave too strong an advantage which the game wasn't designed for. I enjoyed the game except for the fact that there was minimal conflict with only 3 players building tracks on such an enormous map. Perhaps the expansion Railways of England and Wales will prove a better option for 3-4 players.

As mentioned earlier, I decided that I would probably keep RRT despite Steam is being at a preferred weight for me. While not Age of Steam, I figured that Steam remains sufficiently "mathy" to put me off. After my experience with Power Grid, I realized that while I will play them, such games aren't much of an attraction for me. Furthermore, the more casual nature of RRT's gameplay coupled with its attractive components make it a boon when introducing the game to new players. Steam's rules which by no means complicated are somewhat more fiddly IMO. My collection has skewed towards weightier games in recent times, and is in need of some "gateway" sort games. Plus, good eurogames that play up to 6 are a rarity although I realize that I frequently game with 3 (I try to convince myself it's better to be prepared). So apart from a slightly longer gameplay for what it is and the lack of conflict with 3-4, RRT seems a potential keeper. But what sealed the deal was the advanced rules I read for Railways of England and Wales which will offer a weightier alternative to the original ruleset - it has been described as 18xx lite.

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