1 Jan 2009. Michelle and Simon, playing Taj Mahal. I bought the German version a few years ago, at I think USD59, because the English reprint wasn't out yet. Unfortunately I have not played it many times. This is one of Reiner Knizia's classics.
Close-up of the game. Michelle did very well in this game. She ran out of palaces to place. Even by mid game she was already far ahead of us.
2 Jan 2009. Brass, with the 2-player variant. Non playable locations were covered with silver coins. This was at the end of the game. We had flipped the railroads to the canal side, to mark the railroads than had been scored.
Close-up. Hmmm... now that I noticed it, I wonder whether I forgot to score my railroad between Wigan and Bolton.
4 Jan 2009. Michelle and I played Age of Steam. This was the Korean map. The minimum number of players is 3, but since the Korean map seems to be quite tight, we decided to try it with 2. This was the start of the game. Two unique things about Korea is the hills are expensive to build on (+$3), and cities have no colour to determine what coloured cube they can accept. They accept a colour if there is a cube of such colour in them, which is an interesting twist.
Michelle started in the south east, and I started on the west.
Michelle built the two cheap tracks between Seoul, Suwon and Inchon. This is an anomaly of the Korean map. There are no hexes between these 3 cities, but you can put a marker on the circle between these cities as if you are building a track between them. Michelle's move didn't interrupt me much, as I later built another railway between Seoul and Inchon. It did help her deliver some goods though. Other than that, we delevoped our railroad networks quite separately.
Michelle did more urbanisation, and continued to expand northwards along the east coast. Korea turned out to be not as tough as I had imagined. Probably 2 players is not so suitable. You probably still need at least 3.
By now we are starting to build tracks for points and not really for delivering goods. Usually goods production in Age of Steam is a good thing, because it means there are more goods moved to the board for you to deliver. However on the Korean map this can be disruptive to your plans. Sometimes when you have planned to deliver a cube from one end of a long route to the other, a new cube suddenly gets placed in a city in the middle of that route, halfing your profit because then you would be forced to deliver the cube to this city in the middle rather than the originally intended destination.
This was the end of the game. No one wanted to build to Pyongyang in North Korea.
Aerial and "upright" view of the board at end game, for comparison against the starting photo.