Tuesday, 27 July 2010

Age of Steam Ireland

I played Age of Steam again after a long time. I played a 3-player game of the Ireland map, with Chong Sean and Aaron. Chong Sean said that the Ireland may is one of the highest ranked expansion maps to Age of Steam. There are some changes to the base game. Many cities on the western side of Ireland do not accept goods or produce goods. Goods accepting cities are mostly on the eastern side and near the coast. Urbanisation action is changed. You can't upgrade a town to a city. Instead you can remove one good from the board, i.e. nasty move to deny an opponent a delivery. Engine action is made weaker. When you choose it, you don't automatically gain an engine level. Instead, you have the option of gaining 2 engine levels by completely forfeiting both your move goods actions that round.

Chong Sean has played many games of Age of Steam. I have played some, but in all cases I was the game teacher. When I played with Chong Sean, I realised I had been playing some rules wrong. I had played that when adding goods onto the board, you could only add the 2nd and 3rd cubes onto the board if you had rolled 2 or 3 dice of the same number. That made the game more difficult, and the Production action more important. I also missed the rule that your new railroads must be connected to you own network. In the past I mostly built to extend my own network, so the impact of this mistake probably was not so big. Anyway, it is good to now know how to play more correctly.

Our game started relatively peacefully. Chong Sean started in the middle, with the intention of cutting me and Aaron off from the other halves of the board (which of course he only told us much later). Aaron started in the south, and I started in the north. Chong Sean was most aggressive in issuing shares and planning far ahead for the long deliveries. Aaron (first game for him) was most conservative in issuing shares. We actually had to encourage him to build track and not forfeit his action. Afterall, tracks = VPs.

In mid game, I made one very painful mistake. I had planned to build tracks to reach a purple city, so that I could deliver two goods that round. Only when I was about to build tracks that Chong Sean pointed out to me that I needed to build on 4 hexes, not 3. This meant I needed to have taken the Engineer privilege which allowed building 4 instead of 3 hexes. That really messed up my plans. I could only partially build the intended track, and had to deliver other less profitable goods. Thankfully I still had enough cash to pay for maintenance and pay dividends.

My "Oh SHIIIII... I'm screwed" moment, which Chong Sean found so funny that he had to take a photo.

This was where I made my mistake. I had intended to connect that town on the left of the black city to the #3 purple city at the bottom left. There were 3 hexes between the purple city and the town, so I thought I only needed to build 3 hexes. I didn't realise that I also needed to upgrade the tile containing the town, because it didn't have a railroad leading out towards the direction of the purple city. In this photo I had upgraded the town hex and had built one track towards another town. Only in the next round I could complete the railroad to the purple city.

Towards the later half of the game, we started taking the Urbanisation (i.e. remove one good on the Ireland map) privilege a lot, unfortunately with me being the target most of the time. Thankfully I had enough goods to deliver and the loss of some goods did not hurt me too much. I think having access to both the red+blue cities helped me a lot. I had access to 1 black and 2 purple cities too. Yellow was the only colour I didn't have access to. Once I knew there were enough goods to last me until end game, I worked on building more tracks for the VPs.

By the end of the final round, all three of us had the exact same income level! However Chong Sean had issued a few more shares than Aaron and I. Aaron had issued one share less than I. It was in the track building that outscored them, and I won the game. Me 118, Aaron 107, Chong Sean 97.

A very busy board.

I enjoy Age of Steam a lot and think it's a wonderful system. I really should play this more. I have 3 maps myself and have only played 2 of them.

The earlier tracks in the game. I (green) built in the north, and Chong Sean (red) built in the middle.

Early in the game. Chong Sean had already built a railroad track crossing from west to east.

Mid game. Aaron (black) had now built a coastal railway along the south of Ireland. Chong Sean had blocked me from extending past the brown city in the centre.

Southern Ireland was very congested now.

I (green) managed to build past Chong Sean's "wall" afterall, connecting to the #4 purple city via a town.

Now you see more and more tracks built for scoring and not for delivery.

No comments: