The Golden Age of Greed, uh, Steam
Game night occurred at my place last night. I planned to give Domaine a go but 5 showed up so we decided to play Railroad Tycoon instead. We’ve played this at a couple of other game nights so everyone but Dan was familiar with the game. After setup and a quick explanation for Dan, we were off building our railroad empires to become the best rail baron of all!
Bob won the bid and took the New York hotel to start. Just about everyone at the table proceeded to take one card or another — hotel, land grant, etc. Strange…plans within plans I guess. Me? I plunked down $2K for the New York – Philly link. Two red in Philly and at least one blue in NY…cheap, easy points in my book. Of course, Bob happily piggy-backed on my New York deliveries with that slum of a hotel he was running.
What did I say at the outset? There ought to be 2 or 3 players going toe to toe along the eastern seaboard! Bob built New Haven to New York but then he bugged out for peaches and pecans around Atlanta. Dan hung around longer, building Philly/Baltimore, New York/Philly and Boston/Providence but then, he too, sought warmer weather in the South. Troy has a fascination with the Midwest — he likes building along the corridor between Pittsburgh and Louisville and quickly settled into familiar territory. Jeff had a date with a golden spike and started snatching up routes in the Chicago area. So what’s a fledgling rail magnate to do? Why, meander along the coast buying up all those lovely routes and hook into to the handy network them good ol’ boys had been building in the meantime.
In all fairness, Dan fought the good fight. He was trying to make things work in the East but I gained control of the first player spot and was aggressively buying up the best routes along the coast. The situation was frustrating and the South was wide open. Bob, though, was just as merciless — stealing the service bounty into Mobile just as Dan was planning the same move.
Further west, Jeff and Troy jockeyed for points around Chicago. Troy was the ultimate slum lord, owning hotels in Chicago, Baltimore and Charleston(?). Not only did Jeff build the Western Link (in Des Moines), he built both of them! My, the goods flowed through Chicago. Did I mention the sleazy boarding house Troy passed off as a hotel?
While they were playing for the long term and building up infrastructure, I was emptying out cities and accumulating points as quickly as possible. They knew the score though and as the city markers dwindled, shouts of ‘Urbanize!’ spread across the land. And so the game lasted another three or maybe four turns longer. By then, I was slowing down while others where still accelerating deliveries (particularly Troy). In the end, the East Coast Corridor strategy (is there such a thing?) was good enough to secure the win.
Jim — 101 (106 – 5 shares + 0 from Tycoon goal [fewest shares, Jeff had 3])
Dominate the eastern seaboard, service bounties and other bonuses, major line from Richmond to Atlanta
In general, I think it’s good to find a cheap link early in the game to build a few points and get the cash flowing. Usually that’s somewhere between New York and Richmond. Depending on how folks play, building in the East usually makes the early service bounties a little easier to attain.
Troy — 88 ( 87 – 6 shares + 7 from Tycoon goal [most cash])
Dominate the Midwest, build a solid network for a lot of 4-6 point deliveries late in the game, hotels
Troy’s play was the most interesting of the group. He could’ve gone into the death spiral but managed his way around it by conserving cash and careful play early on. He came on strong at the end and vaulted into 2nd place. He picked up a fair amount of points with the Chicago hotel since Jeff had to deliver the Western link cubes there to make his strategy work.
Bob — 81 ( 78 – 5 shares + 8 from Tycoon goal [consecutive links])
Primarily southeast with a late run toward Chicago, hotels in New York and Atlanta
Originally, I thought Bob should’ve stayed along the coast to scoop up more routes but I can see why he left. The longest railroad goal awards the most points of any of the Tycoons (unless you have the Chicago goal and can control all 4 connections, then it’s also worth 8). Still, this may have been served just as well by leap-frogging down the coast (around Richmond/Raleigh) and building toward the south.
Jeff — 64 ( 62 – 3 shares + 5 from Tycoon goal [Western link])
Chicago, Western link
I think there are more points in this strategy than it shows. To make this worth it, you need to build up the infrastructure as quickly as possible without going into the death spiral and open up the Western links so that you have as much time as possible to deliver the cargo. That means heavier investment and more than just 3 shares. Jeff had great cash flow management but the Western link developed too slowly.
Dan – 61 ( 67 – 6 shares + 0 from Tycoon goal [NY – Chicago])
Initially northeast, then south, major line from Boston to Washington
New guy hazed by the experienced players! 🙂 Inexperience here…one of the main things when you are one of two players fighting for control of an area is to play before the other guy. And that means winning the start player bid or make it expensive enough so that the other player has a harder time messing with your plans or doesn’t have the resources to remain the start player turn after turn.
I enjoy Railroad Tycoon a lot…and not just when I win! Even with the frustrating parts, Dan enjoyed the game and would like to play again. Everyone has played before and all like the game. We ran about 3.5 hours. I’d say 3 hours with 5 players would be just right but anytime it hits the table is a good time. I hear there is a board warping issue but not at my house…a monster piece of Plexiglas on a monster board…no worries!