Monday, January 22, 2007

More Games?

Sure, why not?

Railroad Tycoon: I got this as a birthday gift from several family members. I was pretty surprised because it's out of print (Eagle Games recently went belly up) and has become hard to find. It's also pretty expensive (like $70 or so).
In Railroad Tycoon you play the role of a fledgling railroad company trying to strike it rich in the dawning days of railroading in America. The board is a hex grid that covers basically the eastern half of the US. One word about the board: It's big. I mean HUGE. It's about 3' X 4' and pretty much covers our dining room table if we don't have the leaves in. But it's not gratuitously big. If the board were any smaller you couldn't fit all the stuff on it that ends up on it during the game. Located on the board are all of the major cities from that time period and on each city are a number of goods cubes which the players will be delivering during the game. You start the game with a wimpy little engine, only able to move a cube 1 city away. A connection from one city to another is called a "link". During the game you'll build links between the cities and use these links to ship goods. As you get more money you'll be able to buy nicer engines which can ship goods farther and farther and the more of your links used to ship a good the more points you'll make. There's an intersting part of the game that drives Sylvia crazy. You start the game with no money. None. So the first thing you usually need to do is issue stock certificates in order to gather together some cash. Taking on debt sends Sylvia up a wall. And there's no way to pay back the debt you take in RRT. The stock certificates stay with you for the rest of the game. You can issue all the cerificates you want and pool together as much cash as you want but you have to pay dividends on each of the shares at the end of each round and each share also causes you to lose a victory point at the end of the game so you need to be careful with them.
We only got to play 1 and 1/2 games but I loved it. It seems like a game that will provide a lot of different ways to win and a lot of strategies to try out. It definitely needs to get on the table some more. It looks impressive, it's easy to get the hang of, provides a lot of player interaction and not much downtime. All aboard!

Elfenland: The Spousal Unit and I got this for Karrrl for x-mas. Neither of us had played it but the description and reviews at boardgamegeek made us think it would be something he'd like. We were right!
The Elfenland board has something like 20 cities on it and the object of the game is to visit as many of them as possible during the 4 rounds of the game. Each round starts by having the players lay tiles on the roads that connect the cities and these tiles show what mode of transportation can be used on that road. Only 1 transportation tile can be on any road so for that round only that type of transport is allowed if you want to use that road. There are things like carts, elfcycles, magic clouds, unicorns, wild boars- you know, the usual ways to get around a magic kingdom. After everyone has played their transportation tiles the players get to move around the board using cards that match up with the tiles. For example, if the transportation tile on the road between the city I'm on and city I want to reach is an elfcycle I need to play the appropriate number of elfcycle cards to use that road. I say "appropriate number" because each "vehicle" is more or less efficient depending on the terrain being covered. If the road is in a field or the woods I only need 1 elfcycle card. I need to use 2 elfcycle cards if I want to use an elfcycle road that's in the mountains. Elfcylcles can't be used in the desert at all. Sand in the gears I suppose.
The first time we played it was with 4 players. It was pretty friendly with everyone getting around from city to city as best they could. It took a few rounds but we all learned the value of trying to let other people play their transportation tiles first so you could find out if you could use the tiles they laid, then you could lay yours on other roads to make the best use of your cards with the tiles of your choosing. The second time we played there were 6 of us. The board was a lot more crowded so we needed to be more creative with the usage of our transportation tiles and cards. As often happens with our group of players the game spiraled downward with the dicovery of the "screw other people's routes" tactic. Personally, I love when this happens. Having the possibility of messing with other people's plans is a great feature in games and causes a lot more player interaction. We began purposefully playing tiles on roads that we didn't want to use for the sole purpose of making them more difficult for others to use. That put a serious damper on the "let others play tiles first" idea. It got a little out of control when 2 of the people playing thought it was the 4th round but it was only the 3rd. Since they had done everything they thought they could do already they spent the entire 4th round making it harder for everyone else to get where they still needed to go. It was very cut-throat and I highly enjoyed it.
I liked Elfenland a lot and I'll probably pick up a copy for myself. It's another game that's really easy to teach but after playing a couple times the subtleties of of the usage of the transportation tiles and cards is luring me back to it. Yes Elfen Masters... I will play with your evil wooden city markers again...

So those were a couple more games we played over the holidays. And yes, there were more still. I'm getting there. Hold your horses.


limpy99 said...

In railroad tycoon, do I get to bribe Congressmen to let me take over huge plots of land for little or no money? Can I exploit Chinese labor in horrible working conditions? Can I use my political connections to get the army to get rid of the pesky Indians who insist on living on my right-of-ways?

Because if I can I'm totally in!!

Phollower said...

Well, you can use a Land Grant card to get some land for free.

As for abusing the Chinese and taking care of those freakin' injuns who insist that just because they were here first they somehow have rights to the land, you'll have to download the Railroad Tycoon: Vice City variant from boardgamegeek.

limpy99 said...

You may be on to something with the "Vice City" version.