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Designed by: Evan Davis
Published by: Avalon Hill (1996)
Mfg suggested: 2 to 6 players
90 to 120 minutes
Ages 10 and up
Category: Family Strategy
Air Baron is an economic strategy game published by Avalon Hill in 1996. Despite its family-oriented marketing, Air Baron plays far more like a war game than a typical family economic game like Monopoly. Air Baron is for two to six players with an adjusting play area and victory conditions.
Game Bits: There are a great number of bits included in this game, like most AH games. The cardboard chits are of good quality but lack going the distance. Granted we have over played this game but the chits have started to separate and are losing their ink. The plastic molded jets are a nice addition to this game--they definitely add to the theme. The game board comes in two sections. Depending on how many players and which side of the continent you would like to dominate. The board it self is a nice representation of the United States but some of the cities are not close to their locations but work for the game.
Game Play: Air Baron challenges players to build an airline empire in the United States by amassing market share and cash.
Players seek to control of hubs in order to amass market share. Dominance of a hub is gained by controlling the majority of connected domestic spokes; it carries a moderate income potential and market share. To dominate a hub you need to control all of the connected domestic spokes. In turn it doubles the income potential and market share.
Any uncontrolled domestic spoke may be purchased at face value from the bank. Hostile takeovers of controlled spokes require a higher fee and an opposed dice roll versus the controlling player. There are several factors which contribute both positively and negatively to each player's dice total.
At the start of each round, a new turn order is chosen. All the starting player chit’s a put in a cup and drawn out for turn order. The starting money is also determined from starting order of the game. First player rolls a die and gets that amount plus one more dollar and the second player receives plus two dollars and so-on.
Income is earned when one of your controlled spokes or hubs is pulled from another cup. At the start of each players turn they start by drawing two chits from said cup and the appropriate player gets paid. At the end of the round all the chits are returned to the cups and a new round begins.
You are able to spend your earned income on a new spoke to try and gain control of a hub, you can buy a foreign flight, jumbo jets, or a SST. The above options all have advantages to them and depending on your strategy will give you bonuses to your game.
To Win: If, at the end of any players turn, that they have a combined total of market share and cash equal to or greater than the victory margin, he wins.
Final Thoughts: I have played many, many games of Air Baron. Where I do like this game and loved it when it first came out. I have come to enjoy more of a European style game and games with too much luck have fallen out of my favorite category. What can I say I am not an Ameritrash fan.
This is a fun game. But isn't the basic strategy to be the first player to gain control of the Miami area hubs?
Yea, Miami is good but then I have won from many different starting positions. New York is also a good starting Hub. But Miami does have the most defensive potenial.