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Subject: "I shall consult the planes!" rss

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Jon Erler
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As the box of my copy can attest, I have spent many, many hours enjoying this game.

It mixes a unique mix of peaceful expansion of your own empire, and hostile takeovers of your friend's infrastructure. This aspect was best exemplified in the two groups I played this with. In college we were rather cut-throat. Constantly attempting takeovers of each others hubs. Where our high school group usually chose to "Care Bear" it until we had to beat down the person nearing victory.

I'll always remember how one player would say "I must consult the planes." and throw the plastic plane figurines onto the table to see what they would tell him.

But seriously now.

In addition to the before mentioned play style's and how the game can accommodate to both types of groups. There are many other reason's this game remains my primary choice at gatherings.

1: You can loose to both other players and the game system.

As your sitting there feeling secure in Atlanta and Miami, and holding more than half of DC. Suddenly your good friend to the south in Houston decides its time to expand into the south east. SST's an overseas spoke into Atlanta, drops a 747 on one of your spokes, enters fare wars, and obliterates your Atlanta stronghold.

While these hostile takeovers are the norm in many games. There is danger even in times of presumed peace between the companies.

The dreaded oil price hike can ruin an entire company that hasn't taken time to hold onto liquidated capital. Combine this event with some of the others such as recession, strike, and crash, (sometimes hitting several times in a game) you can find every player having to liquidate hubs in order to stay afloat.

I personally have seen a game that had over half a dozen oil price events that reduced every player holding only a few spokes.

With both of these elements driving the overall score and cash flow for the players. Every round is full of activity.

2: The time

While set up can take 5 to 10 min depending on how much of the board your using. Once your going the game can take as little as 60 min. Games in which experience alot of random events can take up to 2 hours. But these are not to common.

For a group of 3 to 5, even with new players your looking at an avg. of 1.5 hours.

3: Balance of difficulty

Experienced gamers will usually get the hang of the game in the first few rounds. However new gamers or those who don't have the longer attention spans (i.e coffee table gamers) may find it a bit overwhelming

Though in most cases in which my group has played with new commers, it has worked as a gateway game into the even more complicated genres. Though in doing so were careful to foster them through it.

4: its pretty

For an AH game its board is a step above that of "Rail Baron" and the older "Britannia"

The map is colorful, good artwork, easy to read, and friendly on the eyes.

Though not with the crisp beauty that some AH remakes have experienced recently by other companies. This one has held up well over the years.


A few downfalls:

1: Dumb luck

Sometimes your spokes just wont get drawn. For new players this can be very discouraging. But this is nothing a second game played later wont fix.

2: The Western Empire

Be careful about leaving someone alone out west. Getting LAX (Los Angeles) and SFO (San Fransisco) in your pocket and having few neighboring companies in Denver or Phoenix. Gives this person a rather strong advantage. While the midwest, southeast, and Atlantic coast battle it out the western super power will expand and expand.

This is further complicated by the problem that its not easy to hold a company in only Denver and Phoenix. So for two companies to battle out in the west, your looking at a close quarters fight between SFO and LAX.

One way to help this is to add overseas spokes to Denver and or Phoenix. Fortunately the game comes with extra tokens. You even have enough to add a third hub out in the northern rockies.

Here's a few suggested variants.

1: add a overseas spoke to Denver and Phoenix to give a player a more of a defensible position. Out of Denver have one flying to Calgary (Or other Canadian city of your choice) on a 5-10 payoff. From Phoenix have one flying south to La Paz or any other Mexican city of your choice with the same 5-10 payoff. Both of these preferably without SST options.

2: add a new hub.

Spokane 5-10 payoff with a 20-40 market share.
(This market share value wont effect end game scores as much. However if you wish you can always push victory conditions up 10-20 market share)
Spokes
Boise - 2
Billings - 1
Missoula - 1

Connections to SFO and DEN and Chicago (ORD)

This addition of a new hub allows the Midwest power another means to attack the west and visa versa. Also if a player holds Denver and Phoenix they can strengthen their position with this northern rockies hub.


Regardless this game remains to be my favorite.

For those who love business games and war games (the hostile takeovers providing a scratch to your conquest itch), and you have 3+ people able to play. This one is one to consider if you can find it.







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Max Jamelli
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Getelusive wrote:


A few downfalls:
Sometimes your spokes just wont get drawn.

It's also nothing a loan can't fix. If you roll lousy dice, then you can have a long game. But if you aren't getting paid, take a loan out and go into fare wars and try to expand that way.



Quote:


2: add a new hub.

Spokane 5-10 payoff with a 20-40 market share.
(This market share value wont effect end game scores as much. However if you wish you can always push victory conditions up 10-20 market share)
Spokes
Boise - 2
Billings - 1
Missoula - 1

Connections to SFO and DEN and Chicago (ORD)

This addition of a new hub allows the Midwest power another means to attack the west and visa versa. Also if a player holds Denver and Phoenix they can strengthen their position with this northern rockies hub.


This would make for an easier way to break up the west, is there a real life model of airlines connecting Spokane to Chicago? Chicago has 5 connections already, which is the most any hub has (not including foreign spokes).


Quote:

Regardless this game remains to be my favorite.

For those who love business games and war games (the hostile takeovers providing a scratch to your conquest itch), and you have 3+ people able to play. This one is one to consider if you can find it.


Agreed.

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Jon Erler
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Actualy I can think of a real world example of an airline that connects the Great Lakes to the Northern Rockies. Northwest Airlines (now part of Delta) in conjunction with Horizon Airlines run alot of the flights between these states.

True, this area does see far less air travel than the rest of the country.

Game mechanics wise, its been the best bet for those i've been playing with to prevent the untouchable westnern empire scenario.

While it adds one more hub linkage to Chicago, we have not seen any ill effects comming from this variant.

If someone did feel chicago was to busy with a link to the northern rockies, you could link it to Detroit instead. It is a Northwest Airlines hub infact.

Another idea, would be to not forget our firends across the boarder. If spokane was to much of a stretch. Calgary could substitute.

same as before 20/40 market share 5-10 payoff. Spokes could be a combination of US and Canadian cities, preferably 3 of them.
 
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Jon Erler
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Recently played two games of Air Baron with people from work. Expecting to try out the additional hub concept again soon.

I should also mention it was nice of the makers to include extra chips of the exact same size and shape as the originals. Makes for an easy addition of another hub.

Some cities you could use if you like in this area.


Hub:
Spokane (the largest in the area,est MSA population of 400,000 people as of 2007)

Spokes: (3 of the following)
Boise
Missoula
Billings
Eugine
Casper
Jackson Hole

Canadian options as domestic spokes (technically not domestic but for mechanics sake why not)
Calgary
Edmonton
Kamloops

Of course you could add a foreign spoke from any of the above if you wished.
 
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