Sunday 29 July 2012

my photo in an exam paper

This is something completely unexpected. I received a comment at this particular blog post about Dixit, saying that the Hong Kong Examinations and Assessment Authority (HKEAA) wished to use material from my website and was thus seeking my permission. At first I thought it was some kind of Nigerian scam. But what could I be tricked of? My blog is public information anyway. So I wrote to that email in the comment. No response for the next few days. So I forgot about it.

And then I received a proper email with a formal letter from HKEAA. Looks like this is legit! So I happily replied within 5 minutes. I guess I’m quite easy to please. Even such a small thing made me pretty excited. It was just one of my photos being used as one part of one question in an exam paper. This is the photo.

This appears in the 2012 Hong Kong Diploma of Secondary Education Examination, English Paper 1, Part A, Reading Passage Question 13. I feel a little giddy that so many Hong Kong teenagers have seen my thumb. Is it too fat? Is my fingernail too long? Am I holding my hand at a good angle?

It was a relief that they didn’t actually use that blog post itself. My English was not exactly prim and proper. I was suddenly quite self-conscious of it for a while. Phew...

Saturday 28 July 2012

boardgaming in photos

13 Jul 2012. Playing Taj Mahal at OTK Cheras. This is classic Knizia, and it has been quite a while since I last played. We had 3 players, and I was the only one who had played before. I should be the stronger player since I taught the game, but Allen completely dominated this game. He made many province-to-province connections, and also kept the 2VP bonus card throughout most of the game. He kept competing for princesses so that he could hold on to the 2VP bonus card. We never managed to wrest it from him. I really need to relearn the tricks to this game.

Taj Mahal made me miss the Eurogames of the late 1990’s and early 2000’s. There are not many such games nowadays, I feel. These games don’t have many rules, but they have good strategic depth and they have good player interaction. The hot Eurogames nowadays seem to be much heavier rules-wise. There are more moving parts and more components, but in terms of strategic depth, are they really that much better than these older Eurogames? I’m not sure. I wonder whether the designers of these newer Eurogames have lost focus a little. Are they adding some not-very-necessary aspects to games and forgetting the purer aspect of strategic richness (as opposed to richness in theme, number of choices, number of moving parts)? More choices may not mean more strategic depth. “More paths to victory” may not mean more strategic depth. When playing Taj Mahal, and later Santiago, I was suddenly reminded of one of the signs of greatness in Eurogames - crafting strategic depth with a minimalistic ruleset.

5-player Santiago at OTK Cheras. It had been ages since I last played. I thought I could teach the game by referring to my concise reference sheets (I have a copy on my phone), but I ended up doing a lousy job, confusing even myself. Thankfully Jeff was there to save the day. Santiago is an auction game and a bribery game. Players bid for plantation tiles, place them onto the board, and then try to bribe the irrigation guy to expand the irrigation network in the direction they want. Plantation tiles not irrigated will spoil every round, initially having ownership cubes removed, and eventually the tiles themselves get flipped over to the wasteland side if still not irrigated. You score based on the size of a plantation multiplied by your cubes on it. E.g. the white player scores 10pts for the bigger banana (yellow) plantation - 5 connected tiles x 2 white cubes.

I thought I did rather poorly, not being able to get into many big plantations. I thought I was surely going to end up in one of the last two positions. To my surprise I came second. I think a decision in the late game to pay dearly for a pea tile and then to use my personal irrigation canal to keep it from spoiling was what saved me. Every player has one personal irrigation canal for the whole game, and only one player will get to use it in any round. So it is valuable and must not be wasted. I invested much in that particular round in order to boost my presence in a large pea plantation. Thankfully it was worth it. In Santiago the key is to focus on getting yourself into big plantations. Small plantations are rarely worth the trouble.

Santiago was a satisfying experience. However I suspect if it were published today, I would have completely ignored it, dismissing it as too simple. I think I am losing sight of what a good game should be like. I should rethink this.

14 Jul 2012. Roll Through The Ages on the iPhone. I thought I did exceptionally well when I scored 71pts (Late Bronze Age expansion used), but when I checked my records, I found out that this wasn’t even in my top 3. My previous highest record was 77pts. And I’m pretty sure even 77pts is not uncommon.

The chart is wrong. This part of the app has always been broken. I don’t know why they never bothered to fix it. Thankfully the actual score calculation is correct. the red parts are showing penalties (disasters), but I should not have so much red showing. I only had 3pts deducted the whole game.

My developments. Empire was nice. 10pts for the the development itself, plus 1pt for each of my seven cities.

20 Jul 2012. Playing Gosu on BoardGameArena (BGA). This is the discard pile. Impressive, isn’t it?

I played against Han, and this game really went back and forth. I had a good hand in round 1 and beat him soundly. Then in round 2 he made good use of the trailing player bonus. Many of his cards were powered up because he was the trailing player. He got many powerful cards played, and also decimated my army. It was a crushing defeat. In round 3, things didn’t look so good for me. I decided to concede this round to conserve my strength for the next round. In round 4, it was my turn to enjoy the trailing player bonus, since Han was leading 2:1. However he only needed to win one more round to win the game. I needed to win two rounds consecutively. Thankfully I managed to make good use of the trailing player bonus. I won round 4, and managed to stay in a strong enough position to be able to win round 5 without the trailing player bonus. I did not win by much in the last round.

Gosu continues to be an interesting and relatively quick card game. It’s not really that big in the combo aspect. It’s much more about making difficult choices among the many goblins you can choose from, and making the most out of the goblins’ powers based on your situation. In that sense it’s a quite tactical. The more strategic view is picking the goblins to keep in your army for the long haul, e.g. those with good activation powers.

Monday 23 July 2012

For The Win

Plays: 2Px5.

The Game

For The Win is a Hive-like abstract game, with ninjas, monkeys, aliens, zombies and pirates. Seriously. The base game is a 2-player game, but it can be expanded to be played with up to four. Every player has 10 square tiles, two of each type. The objective of the game is to create a chain of connected tiles which contain all five types. On your turn you can add a tile into the play area, move a tile, push a tile, use the special ability of a tile, or reactivate a tile. When adding a tile into the play area, it must not touch any of your own existing tiles (which is the opposite of Hive), not even diagonally, because diagonally adjacent tiles are considered connected. When moving a tile, you move it one step orthogonally or diagonally. When pushing a tile, you can only push it orthogonally, but you get to shove the whole row (or column) of tiles next to it. When using a special ability, you flip the tile to the deactivated side. The alien attracts any other tile to a space next to it. The pirate picks a tile next to it and moves it anywhere on the board. The ninja moves anywhere. The naughty monkey flips all tiles adjacent to it (including diagonally, of course). The zombie converts one adjacent tile into a zombie (possible even your opponent’s zombie), but if all zombies are already in play, it just deactivates the target tile.

The turn order in For The Win is a little unusual. There are rounds, in which each player starts with 5 action points. One player is the start player. On your turn you can spend 1 or 2 action points before passing the initiative to your opponent. If you run out of action points, you can’t do anything until the end of the round. In a two player game, it is possible to get 5 actions in a row. Let’s say your opponent is the start player for a round, and he keeps spending 2 action points on his turn. By the time he uses up his 5th action point, you still have 3 action points left, which you’ll use consecutively. After that, a new round starts, and you are the start player. You can choose to use 2 action points on your first turn. That’s a total of 5 actions in a row.

The tiles showing the red sides are the deactivated ones.

The player reference card, which is also used to track action points used. The black pawn at the top is to indicate the start player of the round.

Like Hive, there is a no-breaking-up- the-play-area rule. All tiles must be connected at the end of your turn. However due to the possible 2 actions per turn, you can temporarily break this rule after your first action. This creates new opportunities.

The game ends immediately when one player creates a connected chain of tiles which contains 5 tiles of different types each being in an active state.

The Play

Michelle wasn’t so keen on this, but I managed to convince Shee Yun (7) to play easily. She already knows how to play Hive. She’s not exactly a formidable opponent, but at least I get to experience what the game is like. The special abilities of the tiles allow many interesting plays. They are powerful both offensively and defensively, but of course the drawback is your tile becomes deactivated. The monkey can be very powerful, because of its ability to flip many opponent tiles at once. Don’t go near your opponent’s monkey. The zombie is handy in the early game. By biting an opponent tile, you can remove one of his tiles and add one of your own. That’s a 2 tile difference. The tactic of hanging at the edges to tie down an opponent piece in Hive is very much applicable here too. If you make an opponent tile the only tile connected your tile to the rest of the tiles, this opponent tile will be effectively immobilised because of the can’t-break-the-play-area rule.

Like most abstract games, there’s the feeling of needing to be effective with every move. It often comes down to how few moves you need to reach the winning condition. You need to look for opportunities to make moves that serve multiple purposes, e.g. one that links up your tiles and also blocks your opponent from linking up his.

I (black) have won. All my tiles are in one chain. Although one of my monkeys are deactivated, I do have one other active monkey.

The Thoughts

For The Win is certainly full of possibilities, especially considering the special abilities and the push action. The action point system also allows for powerful consecutive moves, with the risk that your opponent may pull the same on you. It is very dangerous to allow your opponent many consecutive moves, so this is something you need to keep in mind. I’m not a particularly big fan of abstract games and have not played that many of them. I keep comparing For The Win with Hive because that’s the only other abstract game I can think of which is similar. I think For The Win has more possibilities, although I can’t say for sure whether that’s necessarily better. Some may prefer the simpler (but definitely not simple) Hive. I can see some would prefer the more interesting special abilities in For The Win. For playing with children, Hive is better because it is more straightforward.

Saturday 21 July 2012

one of the top sites

I only recently discovered that my boardgame blog has been listed as one of the top boardgame sites at Frugal Dad. Woohoo! It’s a long list with 33 entries, but still. Here’s how my blog was described:

"Sharing insightful reviews and analysis of a variety of different board games, Hiew’s Boardgame Blog lives up to its name. Each review includes detailed descriptions of the game and the instructions, as well as impressions from actual play. The comprehensive thoughts shared in each review help provide a clear picture of each specific game."

This list appears to have been made quite some time ago though. Some of the websites on the list are no longer active. BGG is not on the list, and I’m curious why. Anyhow, I am going to stick that fancy-looking logo on my sidebar.

11 Jan 2013: There link to Frugal Dad's list does not work anymore. It seems the page has been taken down, or they have done an overhaul to their website. Now I can only find their logo. I'm using this old logo because this was their logo when they released their top boardgame sites list.

boardgaming in photos

29 Jun 2012. Continuing our journey to play most of the games on BoardGameArena (BGA), Allen, Han and I played Coloretto, the simpler and more straight-to-the-point but did-not-win-the-SDJ older brother of Zooloretto. A player from Taiwan joined us and thrashed all three of us soundly. How embarrassing. When I later looked at the final score, what went through my mind was - I had no idea what I was doing...

In the Year of the Dragon on BGA. Designer Stephen Feld is very popular, but somehow most of his games don’t quite click with me. In the Year of the Dragon is the only game I really like. I enjoy Notre Dame too, but not as much as this game. Maybe it’s because I’m Chinese. I also like the sense of impending doom. I certainly experienced much doom in this particular game I played with Han and Allen. I made some missteps in the early game, and my house of cards came tumbling down. The events knocked me off my feet, kicked me before I could get up, and then dropped a fridge on me, twice. OK, maybe not literally, but that’s the general idea. Yet, I still felt good at the end of the game, because despite coming dead last, my final score of 81 was not that far from Han’s 102 and Allen’s 98. In this game most of your energy is spent on damage control and survival, with only the leftover spent on actually scoring points.

1 Jul 2012. Chen Rui (5) asked me to play Kids of Carcassonne with her. She doesn’t understand the strategy yet (yes, there is some) so I sometimes make suggestions when she makes a sub-optimal move, or when she misses a good opportunity. Hmm... I should bring out (adult) Carcassonne to play with Michelle. It has been quite a while.

6 Jul 2012. Puerto Rico 10 year anniversary deluxe edition, played at OTK Cheras. We did a four-player game. This time I decided to go for a shipping strategy. My cash flow was rather poor. All the others earned money better than me. In the end I failed to buy any of the big buildings. In hindsight I probably should have saved up money earlier and sacrificed other things. Since I was the only one fully focused on shipping, the Customs House would have greatly benefited me. I was a little surprised that I still managed to come second. Jeff won, greatly helped by the combo of Factory plus all five types of production buildings. The Factory makes money depending on the types of goods you produce, and he produced all five types.

The deluxe version looks very good.

My island at game end. I focused on corn (yellow) and indigo (blue), the cheapest to produce goods. I wonder why the publisher swapped the positions of the building spaces and the plantation spaces in the deluxe edition. The upper half of the board used to be for the buildings.

8 Jul 2012. Hacienda on the iPad was on sale, so I bought it. I’ve always liked Hacienda, although it is not among Wolfgang Kramer’s most well known designs. The interface of the iPad implementation is good. Stability seems to be a problem in the first version I downloaded, but after an update, it seems to be fine.

The AI’s seem to be weak unfortunately. Even against expert AI’s I (green) have not lost a game so far.

9 Jul 2012. I have now started Shee Yun (7) on Ticket to Ride. She likes it enough to request to play. She even plays against AI’s by herself. She doesn’t understand all the strategies yet, but she does try to make the longest route. She enjoys completing her tickets. Of course, I don’t play nasty with her. So, no intentional blocking. In this particular game she actually beat me, because of the 10pt bonus from longest route.

11 Jul 2012. Tigris & Euphrates on iDevices has good AI’s. I had learnt from them. In this game one of the AI’s beat me! I still enjoy an occasional game because the AI’s are challenging, and I am often surprised. Not just by unexpected moves of the AI’s, but also implications that I hadn’t foreseen when I made certain moves. This really is a very clever game design.

This particular game was unusual because many disaster tiles were used, not only by me but also by the AI’s. Four had been played in total. I rarely see this. The disasters broke up nations and triggered big changes on the board.

Sunday 15 July 2012

Get Bit

Plays: 4Px1.

The Game

Get Bit is a simple filler-type game with double guessing. Players are swimmers swimming in a queue (don't ask me to explain why). A shark chases them from behind, and takes a bite off the last swimmer at the end of every round. It bites swimmers limb by limb, until finally eating whole a swimmer with no limbs left. To win, you need to be at the front of the queue when there are only two survivors left.

Each player has a same set of numbered cards. Every round everyone plays a card onto the table simultaneously, and then they jump to the front of the queue in ascending order of the numbers played. That means bigger numbers are better, because the later that you jump ahead means the further in front you will be when the shark bites. What's interesting is if multiple players play the same number, these players don't get to jump ahead at all. So playing a big number doesn’t guarantee safety, and playing a small number doesn’t guarantee injury.

Cards played are left on the table, which means your hand dwindles. Only when you get bitten, or when you run out of cards, you get to pick up all your played cards. This is a consolation when you get bitten. The game is all about avoiding the shark, and if you last long enough to be in the final two, you need to manoeuvre to be positioned in front.

With four players, cards numbered 1 to 5 are used.

The Play

I did a four-player game. The number of cards used is different for different numbers of players. With four players, we used cards numbered 1 to 5. The game is mostly double guessing. There is a bit of calculation, as you ponder the cards already played by other players. You gamble, you pray for a little luck, and you groan or curse or cheer or breath a sigh of relief. There is more pressure on the last player in the queue, because if he happens to choose the same number as any other player, he’s screwed because he won’t be able to jump from the last position. That’s something to take into account whether you are the last player or not. You also need to plan how to use your cards. That 1 card is always risky, but if you guess well and play it when others have clashing numbers, then you turn it around to be a useful card. There is pressure as your hand dwindles, because your choices will narrow. You have to watch your opponents’ cards played and try to stay flexible. When you are down to your last card, your opponents will know exactly what you will play. It’s tricky to manoeuvre yourself into a better than pessimistic situation, but it’s possible.

Two of the swimmers were already legless by this point. The shark figure is a bonus. The basic game has no shark. Allen bought Get Bit on Kickstarter, and at his pledge level he got this shark figure as a bonus.

That’s the shark card that is used in the basic game.

I don’t remember many details from the game we played. I think Allen won. I was eaten by the shark.

The Thoughts

Get Bit is a filler type game, with double guessing and a little hand management. Strictly speaking there is no luck. All the decisions are made by the players. There is no randomness. It’s arguable whether you should blame luck if you keep guessing wrong. The game works with up to six players. It can work as a party game, and definitely a drinking game too (now that would be interesting...). It can be easily taught to casual players. It can work with children too, as long as you don’t describe the setting too graphically. Don’t ask me how a limbless swimmer swims. I don’t know head-style swimming.

Saturday 14 July 2012

Mundus Novus

Plays: 6Px1.

The Game

Mundus Novus was developed based on the card trading mechanism in Mare Nostrum. The basic idea is every round everyone is dealt 5 goods cards, and then they do trading, trying to collect sets of similar cards or different cards. They use these cards to earn victory points or claim development cards (special ability cards), and any cards left over are discarded before the next round starts. The game ends when a player reaches 75VP or when a player collects all 10 different types of goods cards.

Every round a Trade Master announces how many cards everyone must trade (between two and four). Everyone simultaneously picks these cards and reveals them as his offer. Whoever has the highest valued cards starts trading by picking one offered card from someone else. That someone else then continues the trade by picking another player’s card, and so on. Cards are numbered 1 to 9, and there are jokers too. Sets of different cards (jokers disallowed), and jokers by themselves can be spent to earn VP’s. Sets of at least three cards of the same value can be used to claim development card. The higher the number of cards and card value, the more options you have. The development cards give all sorts of special abilities. Ships let you get more cards every round. Warehouses let you keep some cards for the next round. Some cards let you convert the values of your cards, some cards let you make money from other players’ ships, etc. Since the basic number of cards received every round is only five, it is important to make use of development cards.

There are two rows of cards at the centre of the table (well, columns in this particular game we played). The left column are the five development cards available to be claimed. With a weak card combination, e.g. three of 2’s, you can only claim the first development card. With a medium card combination, e.g. three of 5’s or four of 1’s, you can pick any from among the first three development cards. With a strong card combination, e.g. three of 8’s or five of 3’s, you can pick any development card from the pool.

The column or three goods cards are a swapping area to be used during the trading phase. If you don’t like any goods card offered by other players, you can still take a goods card belonging to another player, move it into this swapping area, and then take a goods card you want from the swapping area.

Sometimes the development cards pool triggers events affecting everybody. Most are bad, e.g. ship owners losing cards and warehouse owners being unable to keep cards. Players have some control over whether an event occurs though. An event only occurs if its icon is on the first development card on the table. If you want to avoid the event, take the card. The next development card will slide down to take the place of the first development card, so you can see what’s coming too.

The Play

I did a six-player game, with a mix of players who have and have not played before. The early game felt rather futile, with only five cards to work with. Putting together five different cards won’t earn you much money, so you might as well try to put together a set of similar cards in order to claim a development card, which will help you in the long run. The early game seems to be a no-brainer - you should go for developments. What types of development you go for will define your strengths. I went for a heavy shipping approach, because having ships meant I received more cards every round. Every round a pool of cards are turned face up depending on how many ships the players own in total, and then depending on the players’ ship values, they take turns claiming cards from the pool. I had many ships and their values were big, so I was often last to claim cards, which meant I got mostly lousy cards. Perhaps my shipping strategy was a bit too unsophisticated.

Every round upon looking at my starting hand of five cards, the first decision was whether to shoot for many different cards so that I could earn many VP’s, or shoot for many similar cards so that I could get a good development card. Sometimes it was a bit of both. What was important was to try to not waste cards, because unusable cards must be discarded.

I really like the artwork of this game.

The highest valued goods card is 9.

Fighting for the Trade Master privilege can be useful, although it means you need to be willing to part with high valued cards. Being Trade Master allows you to start the trading, to decide who buys developments first, and also to dictate how many cards are to be traded in the next round. Being able to dictate the number of cards to trade means you can pick a number most suitable for your hand. You can intentionally go for a higher number (max is 4), to break up good hands others may have. Or go for a smaller number so that everyone has limited trading capability.

Some players went for the VP path, i.e. trying to accumulate as many VP’s as possible every round to reach 75VP and end the game. From the beginning I tended towards the instant win victory, thus my approach of getting as many ships as I could. I actually could have switched to the VP path, since having many cards meant I could make larger sets of different cards. The game is quite naughty, tempting you from both directions. One other interesting decision is when do you switch from engine-building to scoring, i.e. when do you stop emphasising claiming development cards and try to go all out for VP’s. In the case of going for the 10 different cards instant win, you probably can do development for longer, since the instant win is a one-shot thing and not an accumulated thing.

Going for the instant win was nerve-wracking, because towards late gate I was sure I was too far behind the VP-earners to be able to switch approach, so it was a race against them as well as against other fellow moon-shooters. VP’s were hidden, so I could not be sure how close the VP-earners were to 75VP. Eventually it was Allen who pulled off the instant win. He had ships, but not as many as me. He had warehouses though, which I didn’t have. That let him keep cards. He also had a development card that let him convert one card to a different value. Together these let him make his set of ten.

The Thoughts

I had only heard of lukewarm responses to Mundus Novus, but it turned out to be better than I expected. Overall it is quite simple. It is fun to put together effective combinations of development cards. Set-collection itself is fun. There is also an interesting timing aspect to your strategy execution. How long do you try to keep your options open? When do you decide which victory condition to focus on? When do you switch from engine-building to VP-earning? I think this is a game that can be comfortably played on auto-pilot. The steps are simple and turns are quick. Some actions are done simultaneously, and even when you are waiting for others to take their turns, you need to remain conscious of the cards on the table to prepare your next move. Deciding what to do with your cards is tactical. Picking developments is strategic. You need to pay attention to what developments others are going for, because some developments affect the potency of others.

Saturday 7 July 2012

Age of Steam: Alabama Railways

Plays: 2Px1.

I have always liked Age of Steam, but I seldom get to play it. When I saw a number of 2-player expansion maps on sale, I decided to get some, so that I could play against my wife Michelle. The player count for the base game is 3 to 6. I bought two expansions, and each expansion contains three maps, two being small 2-player maps, and the third being a 3-5 player map. That means I have four 2-player maps now. I started with the simplest-looking map.

The Game

In Alabama Railways, and in other 2-player maps, a number of changes have been made to make the game more suitable for such a small number of players. The maps are much smaller, of course, forcing competition. There are goods of three colours only, instead of five. The roles (i.e. special abilities) for players to choose from are fewer. In Alabama Railways specifically, there is reduced income. For every delivery, $1 less is earned. This is a big deal. You don’t make money at all by making 1-link deliveries. You only earn $1 for 2-link deliveries. This means it’s much harder to crawl out of net loss. In the game that we played, I kept running low on cash and once I even ran out. I kept needing to issue more shares to fund my track building. There was once I was forced to reduce my income level because I didn’t have enough cash in hand for train maintenance and dividend payment. That was painful.

Another unique aspect is there are no cities accepting goods at the start of the game. Players must take the Urbanisation action to create markets for the goods (i.e. cities of the specific colours). Because of this, bidding for turn order can be very important, to make sure you can pick Urbanisation, place the new city somewhere convenient for you, and also build tracks first to gain access to the new city.

The game expansion itself is just sheets of thick paper - game board on the top right, game "cover" on the bottom right, and a few other sheets underneath. No mounted game board. But the paper thickness is sufficient for the board to stay flat, so it is no problem. The 2-player boards are on one sheet each, while the 3-5 player map is on the back of both the 2-player boards, i.e. two sheets need to be placed together to form a larger game board.

The Play

I made a number of small tactical mistakes in the early game, which made my company financials rather wobbly. In contrast, Michelle was more efficient in building tracks, and thus saved money. I teetered on the verge of the downward spiral towards bankruptcy for quite many rounds, needing to issue new shares round after round, to pay for new tracks, to pay for train maintenance and also to pay for the dividends for those shares themselves. Only towards the late game, my long-term planning paid off. I had more tracks, and had planned for making longer deliveries. It was these long deliveries that let me pull ahead. Also a $1 loss for a $6 delivery was much less painful than a $1 loss for a $2 delivery.

Michelle had not planned as well as I did for the longer deliveries toward game end, so by then her income level fell behind. Also we were quickly running out of goods to deliver. Throughout the game whenever we rolled dice for new goods, there was only once that we rolled two of a kind, so although all the 1st place goods came onto the board, only one of the 2nd place goods came out. We agreed to end the game one round early, since goods were running out and there wasn't much else for us to do.

The four starting cities are brown and they only produce goods but not receive them. There are only three goods types - red, blue and black.

I (green) created red city A, while Michelle (red) created blue city B and black city C. I had a half-built track from city A to city C, pending to be completed the next round.

Near game end. I was the one who created black city D, but because I was so focused on track-building somewhere else (towards brown city 5/6, which had many goods), Michelle connected to it before I did.

Game end. In the Goods Display, you can see that almost all the 2nd and 3rd place goods still remained. In the Action Selection section, you can see that for this map, only Urbanisation and Locomotive are available.

The Thoughts

2-player Age of Steam works very well! Alabama Railways is scaled well and the game is very competitive, tight and unforgiving. I really enjoyed the struggle for survival in the early game. That penalty of reducing my income level was a rude wake-up call, reminding me of how brutal Age of Steam can be. I'm quite happy with my purchase and I look forward to trying the other three 2-player maps.