Tuesday 8th November - AoS Switzerland
As it was my turn to choose the game for tonight, after a bit of thought, I decided it would nice to play one of the Age of Steam expansion maps that I acquired from Essen in October. As we going to be 4 players, the Switzerland map seemed ideal as it allows upto a maximum of 4 players.The main differences between the Switzerland map and normal Age of Steam map relate to track building in a mountainous country, the full rule differences can be summarised as follows: Some hexes are greyed out - indicating you can't build in them Some hex borders have dark boundaries - indicating you can't build across them Track building, Track Upgrading, Town Building & Upgrading are all $4 There are several tunnels that automatically get built on Turn 5 There also 3 green cities to which accept deliveries of blocks of any colour In a players have the option to buy back one share for $8 each turnRandomly determining starting order results me starting. Initially I issued 2 additional shares (calculating I would need to pay $6 maintenance & $12 for track building plus some a little bit more for bidding). Bidding $2 on first bid I was a little surprised that none of the other players upped the bid.I choose to increase my train size to 2 - whilst Garry took first build, Steve Urbanisation & Colin Turn Order. For our first builds Garry expanded from La Chaux-de-fonds to Bern via Biel, I connected Schaffhausen, Zurich & St Gallen together via Winterthur, Steve expanded east from Geneva to an urbanised Fribourg whilst Colin connected Basel to Zurich via Aarau.My 2 train gave me an advantage on the first turn as I was able to deliver goods generating a total of 4 income, the other played mostly delivered goods to a value of 2 after manually increasing their train size.As the game progresses I expanded east trying to increase my route length by getting to the yellow city Steve had (kindly) placed on Fribourg (I had access to alot of yellow cube on my eastern cities) whilst Steve attempted to expand his route the other way so that he could deliver goods to Geneva (A green city). Garry tried to do a similar thing to Steve and access more cubes that could be delivered to La Chaux-de-fonds (A green city as well), whilst Colin became stymied because of a lack of good to deliver (Almost going broke at one point).As the game entered its final stages, on turn 5, the tunnels were automatically built allowing easier access to the southern part of the board. Despite this we do not connect to Lugano, which remained isolated from the rest of the board. In fact because of the way the map was designed
there was only ever one route into Lugano and that that only became available once the Gotthard tunnel appeared on turn 5. None of us really felt it was worth the effort in building it (Minimum of 2 turns building).At the end of the game both Steve and I were generally shipping blocks for 5 points, which was generally more than Garry or Colin. As I had issued less shares a generated slightly more income during the game I came out the winner.
I know Colin did not enjoy the game as it went badly for him. I don't know why, but he seems to have a blind spot when it comes to playing Age of Steam.The re-strictive nature of the map (ie the mountains) means there is quite a bit of necessity to pay to use other player's track - which means if you get certain routes first you can generate a bit of cash from other players using it. I also felt the game could have done with a bit of extra play testing, especially as regards the consequences of how certain tile plays can restrict access to certain critical parts of the map (one of the reason I think Lugano was not reached was because of how I placed the Zurich - Luzern link on my second build - effectively making it expensive to reach Zug and therefore the tunnel beyond it on Turn 5).
Now all I need to do is get 7 players together for the Netherlands map I have!!
Richard 111, Steve 85, Garry 37, Colin 34