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The Age of Steam List
Michael Webb
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Age of Steam is Martin Wallace's great gift to Euro gamers who want to play a train game, but don't have the 4-6 hours necessary to invest in a meatier option like the 18xx series which AoS was inspired by.

AoS was originally published in 2002, and became an almost immediate success. Because of the positive reaction, both Warfrog and Winsome games have since produced several expansion maps to add further life to the game.

As of 2005 AoS is also starting to develop a very healthy fan made expansion community. 3 of these (The Bay Area, Reunion Island, the Moon) were released at Essen 2005 and as of 2006 the expansion releases are accelerating at an alarming rate.

This list is a simple recounting of all of the AoS maps available to date, and is intended as a way for aficionados to debate the relative merits of the various maps as well as to detail the different options available and what they do to the game for those who are looking to pick up the game and an expansion or two.

As I noted above, as of 2006 the sheer number of free fan-made expansions is starting to become overwhelming, and it will be my policy from here to add them to the list as soon as a finished version of the map and rules exist in an immediately useable way. There are a number of prototypes available at any given time, but maps will not join this list until they are finished products.

The new Geeklist ordering function is now allowing me to fix the order of this list up a bit. From here on out officially licensed / commercially released expansions will always be moved to the top of the list and organized by date of release, while finished, internet download fan expansions will be later in the list.

Note: I am now associated with AoS Team, the group that released Moon, Mars, Iraq, NY Subway, 20 000 Rails Under the Sea and so forth. I will never rate my own maps, and I believe I can rate expansions other than my own with as much "objectivity" as I can other games, but for those of you who are skeptics, consider this your good-natured warning. All comments about maps that were released prior to Essen 2008, at the very least, should be taken as "pure" because I was not associated with AoS Team prior to that.
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26. Board Game: Age of Steam Expansions: Southern US & Pittsburgh [Average Rating:7.46 Unranked] [Average Rating:7.46 Unranked]
Michael Webb
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Essen 2007 saw the release of two more Winsome expansions designed by John Bohrer. They were sold as part of the standard Winsome games package, and were limited to 80 pieces. The possibility of a re-release is unknown at this time.

The Southern US map is mainly notable for the introduction of 14 white goods cubes representing cotton. These cubes are seeded out onto the towns at the start of the game, and can be delivered to port cities for a bonus income. The Civil War also occurs midway through the game and temporarily increases income reduction.

Pittsburgh, meanwhile, is a 3 player map which simulates the tough geography of the mountain city by making straight track $10 per piece (i.e.: cost of building a bridge or tunnel) while curved track is still inexpensive. Towns are completely free to build in. The map is also tight, only about 1/2 of the size of a standard AoS map.

I've now played Pittsburgh, and like many of the weirder Age of Steam maps, I like some of the stuff and dislike some of the other things. The track building here is wonderfully tight and there are a lot of interesting decisions going on there. Building straight track feels like putting a gun to your own head. The freebie towns, which seem like a good deal, are actually hard to use because of the track building scheme. By the end game, the map is clogged full of track and there just aren't any viable places to put in track. I would like this loosened up a little bit, though I still think the track building phase is, on the balance, where the action is here.

Downsides are present though, mainly in terms of goods. The map starts out light, but it becomes loaded up by mid-game, and the end of the game still features more available goods than the map starts with, this I don't care for. Delivering those goods for high income can still be very tough because of the rainbow nature of the primary city corridor, which means this might not be a huge issue though. I think mentally I wanted a little more out of a map of Pittsburgh though, the geography is abstracted as being tough, but I would like to see more of the reality...the hills, the rivers. On its own merits this is a good map though, and the rules fit together pretty well.

Southern US, meanwhile, works, but it doesn't do anything particularly original. The cotton goods essentially soften the early game to the point where players can easily get into the black with fairly minimal effort, even ignoring the non-cotton cubes for a few rounds. This makes the map suitable as an introductory map, as it makes early game planning much easier, but I'm looking for more of a challenge at this point in my AoS career.
 
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27. Board Game: Age of Steam Expansion: Texas, Oklahoma & New Mexico [Average Rating:7.55 Unranked] [Average Rating:7.55 Unranked]
Michael Webb
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Texas, Oklahoma & New Mexico is the Essen 2008 expansion designed by John Bohrer, which was included with the normal Winsome Games set. Note that this is the first year where the Essen Set was not the main source of the Winsome expansion, and there are likely around 200+ copies of this expansion total because of the unnumbered games that were sold as part of the US sets.

This expansion features an expansive map with two new actions: Ranching and Cattle Drive. An astounding 32 extra cubes are also going to be included, which seems to imply the new cattle are a focal point for this map.

This has been advertised as a beginner's map.
 
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28. Board Game: Age of Steam Expansion: Vermont, New Hampshire & Central New England [Average Rating:7.84 Unranked] [Average Rating:7.84 Unranked]
Michael Webb
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This expansion is either 2 maps or 3 depending on its configuration. One map features Vermont, the other New Hampshire. The maps can also be combined to form a larger, 8 player map of Central New England if you buy 2 copies of the expansion.

Vermont features a Seasonal Change rule, where certain rounds have higher track building costs, but also offer higher income boosts for shipments. The actions also pile up coins ala Puerto Rico, making even weak abilities more lucrative as the game progresses.

New Hampshire features changes mainly in the track building phase, as players are not allowed to ship over other people's links, and each 2 locations can only be linked by one player. (i.e.: I build a link between City A and City B, no other player may now do so).

The combined game is defined by the Soul Train rule: you need to change boards when you ship goods unless you select the Smuggle action, which allows shipments to stay in the same state. This is in addition to the normal rules for the individual maps.

I've played New Hampshire now, and it strikes me as a conflicted map. On one hand, the race to get lucrative links on the board is good, and ratchets up the tension. This is dialed back significantly by the "you mayn't ship over anyone else's track" rule and the track building rule itself is not on full display here because the map is littered with tonnes of towns, making it easy to find alternative ways to connect any two locations. The basic track-building restriction idea is good here, but the rest of the map doesn't seem to have been built to take enough advantage of it.
 
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29. Board Game: Age of Steam Expansion: Secret Blueprints of Steam Plans 1 & 2 [Average Rating:6.83 Unranked] [Average Rating:6.83 Unranked]
Michael Webb
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Another expansion set by Alspach, this expansion contains 2 sets of 4 mini-maps. Each player has their own board, and competition only occurs over actions, New City tiles, and through the cube-filching production role. Building and delivering of cubes is done simultaneously (no need to do it in order because you are building on your own board), so the game plays much faster.

Having played this, I have to say that this is not an expansion that fits my tastes at all well. Though the game is much faster, as advertised, it also lacks almost everything I like about AoS: there is no way to directly screw opponents with track placement or with cube shipments. Though production can be used to harm their cube situation, it is a crap shoot guessing what is going to hurt them the most. Most egregiously, a lot of the game seems to centre on the initial cube draw, the initial growth chart fill, and the way the dice roll. Players with a decent collection of initial goods for their board, both in their first 6 and in their natural growth columns will be at a rather large advantage over their opponents who aren't similarly blessed. Beyond this, a few early rolls that favour one player over the others will set up more income growth possibilities, which means that they will have an easier time affording the Urbanization action (which creates more delivery points and creates more cubes) and the production one. On a normal map, rolls favouring one region over another aren't usually a big issue, because it is possible to build into that neighbourhood and start reaping the benefits. This is not an option on SB, and I think it's a less interesting expansion as a result.
 
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30. Board Game: Age of Steam Expansion: Special 2008 Spiel Limited Edition – Essen Spiel & Secret Blueprints of Steam Plan #3 [Average Rating:7.50 Unranked] [Average Rating:7.50 Unranked]
Michael Webb
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This special map pair was a bonus for people who pre-ordered the other bezier expansions in 2008.

Essen is a map that is designed to shrink when it is played with fewer players. It has no default cities on it, and the cities move around each turn, so play on the board is reputably chaotic.

Secret Blueprints of Steam Plan #3 is simply another set of boards that function like the original Plans 1 & 2.
 
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31. Board Game: Age of Steam Expansion: Chile, Egypt and CCCP [Average Rating:7.28 Unranked] [Average Rating:7.28 Unranked]
Michael Webb
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This was the Spiel 08 release by Alban Viard.

The Chile map features valuable gold cubes which can reduce your share-load when you deliver them. The map is quite mountainous though, so track costs are higher than normal.

Egypt features two interesting new mechanics: the pyramids and the Nile. The pyramids are piles of cubes that must be delivered layer by layer. The Nile, meanwhile, periodically floods, which means a special role, the Felluca, is required to access cities and goods along one side of it each round.

CCCP, meanwhile, puts the red cubes to an interesting new use, as the player who has delivered the fewest over the course of the game is not allowed to win the game. A special action, Communism, allows players to trade in delivered black cubes for red ones on a limited basis.

I've now played Egypt and found it an enjoyable, albeit somewhat painful experience. The rules are changed up in pretty significant ways, but all of the new things that are added flow from a creative use of the theme, so they're easy to understand, at least superficially. The game is driven by early game goods scarcity except for the pyramids, each of which can only be shipped out of every other round. The rainbow city up north also beckons. What this means is that there are two obvious spots that would be ideal to link up with maximum track in between them, but those spots are almost impossible to link in that way because everyone would ideally like to do the exact same thing. Throw in some high track costs and other complications because of the flood and you have a tough and interesting map.

The CCCP map is also tough, albeit in different ways. The two core mechanical issues here are that links to towns only count the town when black cubes are being delivered (and black cubes can be delivered to towns) and the need to ship red cubes to avoid an auto-loss. The board play itself is extremely tight because of the first rule though, and pushes the value of Urbanization into the stratosphere. The layout of the board also encourages this, as most cities are quite distant from one another. This value also means that Urb seems to happen in patches, one player Urbanized, and then others are also drawn into that area, leading to more Urbanization there and some very tight competition. Sand-bagging early seems to be powerful here, because getting longer shipments up is a real bear until some New City tiles are out. The downside to this, of course, is that the New Cities are in such hot demand that building into them requires care, lest you get cornered. Definitely a tough and tight map that I enjoy. Not sure how often I would want to play it though. The "towns don't count" novelty is good every once in a while, but I think it would make this appeal less to me with anything approaching regular play.
 
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32. Board Game: Age of Steam Expansion: Washington DC and The Berlin Wall [Average Rating:7.73 Unranked] [Average Rating:7.73 Unranked]
Michael Webb
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Washington DC and the Berlin Wall is another expansion pair by Alban Viard. Initially printed on plasticized card stock, the Berlin Wall was reprinted in hardboard format in 2011 by FRED as part of the Moon/Berlin Wall expansion.

Washington DC's central hook surrounds the highway that surrounds the city. While it can allow for quick goods transportation, it also becomes increasingly congested as the game goes on, eventually becoming all but impassable.

The Berlin Wall, meanwhile, has several thematic hooks related to this interesting period in German history. The wall divides the board into two halves, and troop garrisons on each side of the wall impede goods movement. Meanwhile, the players can try to chisel away at the wall, creating more delivery opportunities in the process. Of course, the wall eventually falls in 1989, creating a slew of new delivery opportunities.

Washington DC's highways create a very interesting in-game dynamic that make this map particularly well-suited for 3. Because the corners are all virtually connected, it is very easy for players to interfere with each other even when they are all the way across the board. Relying too much on the highways can be a crippler by the mid to late game though, as the highways start to congest and block goods movement. (This is also a positive because the role that allows one to ship through congested highways is in hot demand as a result, which makes the auction very good, even with 3, which is unusual). The centre of the board also lures players with its delivery points and goods, but the track cost can be quite prohibitive. One of the better 3 player maps out there.

The Berlin Wall, as usual for Viard, has some very interesting and thematic touches. In play, the divided board functions quite effectively, as each side of the board features a shortage of some sort, and the troop cubes are a serious pain to deal with as they impede goods movements of all sorts. Playing this well seems to hinge on careful urbanizations and on breaking through the wall at advantageous spots and locations. Another map that is interesting with 3, though the auction is a touch soft.
 
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33. Board Game: Age of Steam Expansion: Finland & Portugal [Average Rating:7.21 Unranked] [Average Rating:7.21 Unranked]
Michael Webb
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Finland & Portugal is part of the Essen 2009 Winsome set.

Finland features scads of impassable hex sides and also features two off-board delivery locations, Sweden and Russia which both start out demanding everything, but which dry up as the game progresses.

Portugal is a more standard map, notable mainly for its geography though it does have some minor twists such as a city that reloads to full capacity each round and a free piece of track at the start of the game.

Having played Finland, I have to say that in a lot of ways it reminds me of Switzerland, but playable with 4. Though the map is large, the huge volume of blue lines means that the map is actually tighter than it looks and there are a lot of opportunities to cut people off, making the game very track-focused. It doesn't have enough of a twist to really blow me away, but it's a good 4 player option when you want to play an AoS variation but don't want to learn too many new rules.
 
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34. Board Game: Age of Steam Expansion: Brazil / Chicago [Average Rating:7.43 Unranked] [Average Rating:7.43 Unranked]
Michael Webb
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Brazil and Chicago is a new map pair from the Steam Brothers, their first in a couple of years.

Brazil features rules that can benefit or penalize you depending on what goods you've shipped over the course of the game. Track costs also vary by round.

In Chicago, the presence of striking workers begins as an irritant and becomes increasingly dangerous as the game goes on, providing an interesting wrinkle to play.
 
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35. Board Game: Age of Steam Expansion: Holland / Madagascar [Average Rating:8.00 Unranked] [Average Rating:8.00 Unranked]
Michael Webb
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Holland and Madagascar is the new two map set from Alban Viard that will be released at Essen 2009 as well as through mail orders for those in North America. A total of 200 pieces are being printed on heavy plastic coated paper.

Madagascar is one of the poorest countries in the world, and in this map players have to deal with negative actions rather than benefit from positive ones.

Holland is a more gentle evolution from basic Age of Steam, and features a map that is restricted by flooded hexes until midway through the game when polder opens things up. The polder, not incidentally, protects all of the yellow cities on the map.

I've now played Holland, and for being a fairly simple map to explain rules-wise it has some nice wrinkles in the board play. The polder artificially shrinks the board for half of the game and creates chokepoint corridors that are a huge pain to deal with until it opens up. A subtle rule that I didn't list in the general description, that being that Engineer and Urb trade turns being unavailable for the entire game, which helps to keep things interesting for players in the auction even when there are only 3 players (as otherwise there is no real incentive to bid: Loco, Urb, and Engineer are all very useful due to the map geography). A nice map, particularly because it is simple enough to play with newbies (to explain) but different enough to provide some challenges for the old hands.

Madagascar is the star of the show here though, the simple idea of having the actions be bad has completely thrown the auction for a loop and also has large ramifications on the board play. The game takes on a texture similar to the High Society bad tile auctions where everyone is just waiting for the other people to drop out, which inflates the auction throughout the game. Sometimes there are 1-2 roles that someone actually wants (like the relatively useful to extremely good Loco with no track for the round role which comes into its own by mid-game) but for the most part the auction seems to make everyone want to dodge a particularly nasty bullet or two. The interesting thing is that the bad roles that are available change from round to round, and there are only ever X+1 available where X is equal to the number of players. This means that one has to reevaluate things at the start of each round. Cool design.
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36. Board Game: Age of Steam Expansion: Alabama Railways, Antebellum Louisiana & Four Corners [Average Rating:7.51 Unranked] [Average Rating:7.51 Unranked]
Michael Webb
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This expansion is part of bezier's 2009 releases. It features 2 2 player maps which have a larger, normal player count game on the flip side. The maps are printed on high quality card stock.

The Alabama 2 player maps focuses on poverty, with deliveries being worth less money than usual. The Antebellum Louisiana map, also for 2, allows players to create new towns and features extreme goods paucity.

The full count game, the 4 Corners map, features geographically specific cube specialties and players keep the cubes they deliver in front of them with a 4 income bonus being awarded immediately for collecting sets of the 4 different colours ala Knizia. This is touted as a beginner's map because of this extra income.
 
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37. Board Game: Age of Steam Expansion: 1867 Georgia Reconstruction, South Carolina & Oklahoma Land Rush [Average Rating:7.39 Unranked] [Average Rating:7.39 Unranked]
Michael Webb
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Like the above maps, this is part of the 2009 bezier set and features 2 2 player maps with a full count game on the flip side. Printed on heavy card stock.

The 2 player Georgia map features some unique twists as unclaimed track starts on the board and is available for players to claim. There is also a modified bidding system.

The 2 player South Carolina map also features the modified bidding system and requires players to pay money as a bribe each time they make a delivery.

The full count game, set in Oklahoma, is the full count version of the St. Lucia system where goods start seeded onto the board and can be delivered once they are connected to. Players also are forced to all start on one side of the board, creating races.
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38. Board Game: Age of Steam Expansion: Beer & Pretzels [Average Rating:6.94 Unranked] [Average Rating:6.94 Unranked]
Michael Webb
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This is the final part of the bezier 2009 releases. It is available only as part of the package deal and is printed on card stock.

The map features SE Pennsylvania and strips out most of the rules to make the game easier to play. Players start with $20 in cash, can't issue shares, and receive $5 in cash each time one of their links is delivered over.

This map is borderline for being on the list, as Ted has said that it was originally designed as a Steam expansion and was later converted over to AoS. It remains presently mainly just to keep people from thinking that I missed a map. laugh
 
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39. Board Game: Age of Steam Expansion: The Zombie Apocalypse [Average Rating:7.90 Unranked] [Average Rating:7.90 Unranked]
Michael Webb
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This is another one of my expansions; Age of Steam Expansion - The Zombie Apocalypse, it was released in October of 2009.

The expansion comes with 2 maps, a 3 player map of Michigan and a 4-5 player map of Western Pennsylvania. In the game, zombie minis are seeded out onto the board at the start of the game and then shamble toward the nearest goods cubes. When they end their movement in a city or town, the location is razed and is effectively turned into a colourless city, and any goods present there are thrown back into the bag. As the game progresses, the board becomes more and more ravaged, and players have to deal with increasing expenses from the zombies both when they build track and when they ship.
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40. Board Game: Age of Steam Expansion: Germany & France [Average Rating:7.82 Unranked] [Average Rating:7.82 Unranked]
Michael Webb
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This is a re-release of the Germany map from Expansion #2 and the France map from Expansion #4. Both maps are designed by John Bohrer.

For more information, go back to the first page and read the original entries on these games.
 
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41. Board Game: Age of Steam Expansion: 1890 Berlin [Average Rating:7.94 Unranked] [Average Rating:7.94 Unranked]
Michael Webb
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1890 Berlin is a single map by John Bohrer that came packaged as an extra with German games magazine Fairplay in early 2010. It was later reprinted in colour and sold at Boards & Bits.

The central hook of this map is that cubes are used to denote the city colours on the map, so the overall map contour is going to change from game to game considerably. There is always a set mix of colours, but where they are located will always change. As Richard notes below, the way the goods cubes work is also unique, as they are lined up horizontally in the cities and only the right-most cube can be delivered.

Having played this, I think it's an interesting and innovative design. The map is very tight and creates some tough decisions in the track building phase, not to mention the shipping one. The game does seem to last a bit too long though, as the track-building options can be literally non-existent in the late game, which I find problematic. Creative central ideas here though, and well worth the (low) price of admission.
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42. Board Game: Age of Steam Expansion: California Gold Rush & Underground Railroad [Average Rating:7.60 Unranked] [Average Rating:7.60 Unranked]
Michael Webb
United States
Western Mitten
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This is the first pair of new maps in the Essen 2010 release catalogue from prolific designer Ted Alspach.

Gold Rush features new gold cubes, which offer large income boosts when they are delivered to the tune of 5.

The Underground Railroad, meanwhile, has players delivering slaves to the north in addition to their normal cargo. The hitch? Delivering slaves pays no money, but the winner is the person who has delivered the most of them.
 
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43. Board Game: Age of Steam Expansion: Amazon Rainforest & Sahara Desert [Average Rating:7.27 Unranked] [Average Rating:7.27 Unranked]
Michael Webb
United States
Western Mitten
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Amazon Rainforest and the Sahara Desert is the second set of new Age of Steam expansions by Ted Alspach that are set to debut at Essen 2010.

Amazon Rainforest adds an interesting market economy to the Age of Steam system, with the value of goods fluctuating based on supply and demand.

The Sahara Desert, meanwhile, revolves around player access to water, which, as in the real world, can quickly dry up if there is too much demand. Lack of access to water increases player expenses.
 
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44. Board Game: Age of Steam Expansion: Atlantis & Trisland [Average Rating:7.27 Unranked] [Average Rating:7.27 Unranked]
Michael Webb
United States
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Atlantis and Trisland is the third part of bezier's 2010 Essen set.

Atlantis is billed as exceptionally harsh, with a large central city surrounded by brutally expensive terrain. Ted claims that this one was actually shelved due to its difficult economy for 5 years, but that it was loosened up a bit for this printing.

Trisland is a simple 3 player map, purportedly with no major changes aside from the symmetrical map.
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45. Board Game: Age of Steam Expansion: Sharing [Average Rating:7.20 Unranked] [Average Rating:7.20 Unranked]
Michael Webb
United States
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Sharing is a bonus expansion for those who pre-order the bezier AoS map set for 2010.

The central mechanic is the sharing of routes, as multiple players can control each link.
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46. Board Game: Age of Steam Expansion: Paris & Moscow [Average Rating:7.14 Unranked] [Average Rating:7.14 Unranked]
Michael Webb
United States
Western Mitten
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Paris & Moscow is the centrepiece of Alban Viard's 2010 releases.

Paris features an unusual fixed map of Paris with large districts and pre-determined linkages between them. Rather than laying track hexes, players simply claim those links.

Moscow, meanwhile, features one of Viard's classic mechanics, changing city colours. In this case, players are trying to avoid the Russian mafia, who turn cities black.
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47. Board Game: Age of Steam Expansion: Robot & Hexpansion [Average Rating:0.00 Unranked] [Average Rating:0.00 Unranked]
Michael Webb
United States
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Robot (Factory) and Hexpansion is a pair of mini-expansions that are designed by Alban Viard and that will be made available at Essen 2010. Both modify existing Age of Steam maps.

Robot (Factory) adds one tile to be used with the Moon map. The tile accepts all non-black goods and produces black cubes when it receives deliveries.

Hexpansion is a set of city tiles that are designed to replace the existing base cities on the Rust Belt map. They have peculiar colour combinations and also modify delivery rules.

The Robot Factory is a charming extra that suffices as another excuse to pull out the Moon map once in a while. Nothing drastic, but certainly an interesting addition to the game, as the factory is all colours other than black when it is on the light side, and produces black cubes when it receives deliveries. Just make sure to put it at the end of your line, as it can easily end up being a problem rather than a solution if you don't! Unnecessary for many players, but if you like the Moon and want to spice it up a bit, it's a nice add-on.
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48. Board Game: Age of Steam Expansion: Poland [Average Rating:7.33 Unranked] [Average Rating:7.33 Unranked]
Michael Webb
United States
Western Mitten
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This is Winsome's 2010 Essen set map, Poland.

As is standard for Bohrer, Poland features a simple, but interesting twist: players make money when they connect towns up to the track grid for the first time. Warsaw also always gets a black cube during goods growth.

This is not a map that I would specifically look to play often, but it functions well as a teaching map that will still keep veteran players interested because of the physical layout of the board. The cities are almost all clustered in the eastern portion of the board and the towns in the west, so the bonus town income is not just a series of handouts like it would be if the rule was used with most AoS maps. The Warsaw black cube is actually much more important, as it can allow players to set up repeated runs if they plan for it, though, obviously, too many hands in the proverbial cookie jar means no one will reap too much benefit from it. It definitely made First Move worth more though.
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49. Board Game: Age of Steam Expansion: Time Traveler [Average Rating:6.74 Unranked] [Average Rating:6.74 Unranked]
Michael Webb
United States
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Time Traveler was designed by FRED in-house designers Charlie Bink and Sean Brown.

The key hook for this expansion is that it is made up of several smaller, 8.5x11 sub-boards that players can jump across by building off of the edge of the boards at relatively high cost.
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50. Board Game: Age of Steam Expansion: Mexico & China [Average Rating:8.00 Unranked] [Average Rating:8.00 Unranked]
Michael Webb
United States
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This is a hardboard re-release of two Steam Brothers maps, Mexico and China. Scroll up and read the original entries for more information on these maps.
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