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Subject: Steam: A review and comparison to Age of Steam, 3rd Ed. rss

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Ted Alspach
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Steam: A review and comparison to Age of Steam, 3rd Edition
A detailed comparison of components, rules, and overall playability


I’ve played a lot of Age of Steam, and since 2007, I’ve played both the Basic and Standard games of Steam. Given that, I thought I might be able to shed some light on the two games, how they compare, and my advice for purchasing either, neither, or both games.
The bulk of this review will focus on the changes to the Standard game of Steam and how it compares to the 3rd edition of Age of Steam. This review assumes that the reader has played Age of Steam (any edition).

Disclaimer
First off, I have NO direct financial interest in either game. I provided play testing feedback to Mayfair for Steam for which I was not compensated. For the 3rd edition of Age of Steam (printed by Eagle/FRED), I supplied artwork that is being used for the track tiles in exchange for a few free copies of the game. In addition, I “kindly granted” (ha ha) Eagle permission to include Barbados and St. Lucia, an expansion I designed for 1 and 2 players, respectively. FRED paid John Bohrer a miniscule licensing/royalty fee to include these maps on my behalf. I opted to include them to help boost awareness of Bezier Games other expansions. Now that you’ve read this paragraph, that impact is effectively irrelevant in my opinion.

In addition, I have designed, to date, more than 20 different expansion maps that can be played with Age of Steam. I have recently released new rules for each of those maps so they can be played with the Standard game of Steam. While these maps can be purchased through the FRED distribution network, they can also be purchased directly through Bezier Games as well as other resellers/distributors.

Steam: The Base Game
Let’s get this out of the way first: The Base Game is really not that good in comparison to the Standard Game (or to Age of Steam). I’ve played it quite a bit during play testing, and have found it to be significantly lacking the strategy, tension, and interesting gameplay choices that are present in the Standard Game. If you are new to Age of Steam/Steam, do yourself a favor and don’t mess with the Base Game, as it will only confuse you later as you migrate to the Standard Game (or Age of Steam). I understand what Martin/Mayfair were trying to do here, but the only thing that is really gained is a slightly shorter game due to no auction.

This review focuses on the Standard Game as a result of the Base Game being so lacking.

Components
This section is based on imagery, statements from Mayfair, and other evidence regarding the components. I do not have a production version of the game at this time (they don’t exist yet, to the best of my knowledge). If the production values vary significantly from my assumptions here, I will update this section once I have a “real” copy.

What I do know is that this game was printed in Germany, presumably at LudoFact, which is the high standard for gaming. The Warfrog 1st and 2nd editions of Age of Steam were printed there, and my own mounted maps (Mississippi Steamboats/Golden Spike, America/Europe and Vermont/New Hampshire/Central New England) were all printed there as well.

Rules
The Steam rules are full color, written adequately, and easily digestible. But (and this is a Sir Mix-a-lot sized but), if you want to jump right into the Standard Game, you’ll have a bit of work ahead of you, which is unfortunate.

To make matters worse, the rules are presented as if the Base Game is the “regular” way to play, with the Standard Game rules “differences” presented at the end of the rules, so players who want to play the Standard Game must read the Basic Game rules and then un-learn some of those rules to play the Standard Game.

The Age of Steam rules are also in full color, with great examples and more concisely written. Unfortunately, there’s already been a significant rules omission found in them, however (something that’s unlikely to happen with the Mayfair rules, as they have been made available to the world prior to publication to ensure that didn’t happen). For reference, that missing rule is that the last two players in the bidding both pay the full amounts they have bid.

Tiles
The Steam tiles are double-sided, which totally changes the tile mix, making it more fluid and less constraining than the AoS mix. In addition, instead of town markers for two and four spur track, they are preprinted on the tiles. The artwork is a slight improvement from the Warfrog “crazy red” tracks, but is (at least from posted images) exceptionally dark with the railroad ties places super-close together, resulting in a more gritty, slightly old-looking track design.

The AoS tiles are single sided, resulting in stricter limits in terms of tile types. However, the track is crisper and cleaner, and ties are spaced closer to actual track that exists in the real world. Disclaimer: my track art is on those tiles, so I am clearly biased.

Markers
The Steam markers are round wood bits, just like the ones in the Warfrog edition, with one major difference: They are all different colors than the cities. So there are no yellow, red, blue or purple player markers (or gray ones, but there weren’t gray in the original game). For me, that’s bad news, since I always play yellow.

In AoS 3rd edition, there are plastic trains for the player markers and wood bits for the charts. The trains are a little too large for the tiles. The colors are the traditional Black, Green, Red, Blue, Yellow and Purple.

Board
The Steam Board is double-sided (a different map on each side), with lots of charts and “lists” around the edges. Martin Wallace games tend to crowd lots of things like this (score track, income tracks, etc.) onto the main game board, and I’m not the biggest fan of those designs, but it works adequately for Steam. It was designed so that 3rd party expansion maps (like mine) can fit on top of the board and still keep the charts visible. This actually does work in practice for most maps, but for odd shaped ones it’s so awkward that I’ve designed a player aid that has the charts on a separate sheet. The two maps are very good, with one being designed for 3-4 players and the other for 4-5 players. This in itself is quite limiting, as there is no built-in option for 6 players, and you are forced to use a single map for 3 or 5 players. The artwork is rich and hexes are clearly discernable.

The Age of Steam board, by contrast, is single sided, though that single side may play 3-6 players. It is printed in china, but the quality is still very good. It isn’t LudoFact quality, but it’s not going to be a distraction while playing. The artwork is clear and a big step up from the Warfrog editions. In addition to the main board, another two maps are included, but these are not mounted; they are printed on heavy stock. Barbados is for one player and St. Lucia is for two players. That allows players to play anywhere from 1-6 players right out of the box. There are two semi-mounted chart boards for tracking income, etc. which are better quality than the previous editions, but are still very bland and kind of ugly. You can download a variety of replacement charts on BGG, including a set I created which is much more colorful and usable (it comes printed on heavy stock in my Secret Blueprints of Steam expansion set as well).

Minor Rules Changes
There are two major rules changes: Income/Victory Point splitting and Production chart/Goods Supply, which are discussed in detail below. But there are also a number of smaller rules changes that impact gameplay to some extent:

Tile mix change
The tiles mix is different in the two games, primarily because in Steam the tiles are double sided and in AoS they are single sided. In addition, AoS does not have any preprinted 2 or 4 spoke town tiles like Steam does. Both games, however, require that you only use track tiles available. Steam’s rules are unclear relative to replacing a track tile that is in use with one that has a different back. Regardless, if a track tile you want to use is not available, you may not build that track.

I personally think that tile limits are an unnecessary and un-fun aspect of tile-laying train games. While I can suspend disbelief for many aspects of the game, never has a railroad been unable to be completed because “there’s no track of that type available.” It’s a game production limitation, and a rule I dislike very much. Others (Michael Webb, JC Lawrence) disagree with me on this, but they obviously aren’t nearly as enlightened as I am.

Auction: first bidder may start at 0
In Steam, the first person to bid on the turn order auction may bid 0…if all the other players drop, he may go first for no cost. In AoS, the first bidder must bid at least 1. This seems like it would benefit the leader who is already going first and bids first, but in reality, due to the way that AoS handles income, it’s pretty much a non-issue, and in my opinion, an unnecessary rules change.

Locomotive Action cannot be chosen if your Links are at 6
This is a change from AoS that is very favorable to other players being able to catch up to the leader(s). It in no way makes up for the lack of income reduction, but it does take away one of the nastier tools in the leader’s arsenal. This is not used that often in AoS, and is probably another one of those rules changes that Steam could have done without.

No Income Reduction
Due to the split track in Steam (where Income and VPs are recorded on separate tracks), this rule was removed (or maybe it was removed for another reason…but that’s my guess). In AoS, every 10 income results in 2 more income being reduced at the end of a turn. This was the “catch the leader” mechanism that many people despised (or at least thought was “stooopid”). It’s not present in steam, and guess what…there is more of a runaway leader problem here than in AoS, as expected. In AoS, this kept many games from becoming blowouts, but it didn’t change the order of player rankings (though players could cleverly bump another player over the limit by one, effectively lowering their income by two due to the reduction rule). In Steam, a clear leader remains a clear leader. However, you don’t necessarily know the leader until a turn or two later in the game. But once they’re ahead, it’s even hard to catch up in Steam.

Urbanization is now a Super Action
Steam’s Urbanization action adds the ability to place three cubes from one of the goods supply spaces directly on the New City when it is placed. This makes the 2nd most powerful action in the game even more powerful (but Loco is still a better choice in the early game, all things being equal). Add in the lack of a penalty for removing the town stubs from your links (see directly below), and who wouldn’t want Urb? Place a city and you have a new destination and three more cubes on your route which you can use that very same turn. Wow.

Links instead of Tiles for VPs at the end of the game
Steam counts each link as 1 VP at the end of the game, compared to AoS’s 1/3VP per tile (or 1 VP if you count each income as 3VP, per the rules). This means that building track, and therefore the Engineer action, are less valuable in Steam. In AoS, Urbanization could be used to take away VPs from an opponent in the end game. This isn’t possible with Steam.

Shipping restriction
In Steam, you may not ship a good that gives you less links than any one other player. AoS has no such restriction. This can really have an impact on cube-tight maps, where you don’t mind give the player in last place more than you just so that you get one or two income. I believe this rule is in place to prevent king making, but in reality it is unnecessary and irritating. Another rule change Steam could easily have done without.

The Split Income/Victory Point track
This is one of the two biggest changes to the way AoS is played: There is a new income track that goes from -10 to +10, in addition to the Victory Point track that starts at 0 (with no end). The Share track has been removed from Steam. At the beginning of each turn, each player reduces the income track as much as they want and receives $5 for each space moved backwards on it. When they deliver a cube, they may move either the income track marker or the VP marker. At the Income/Expense phase, they add their locomotive links to the income marker value, and pay or receive cash. If they do not have enough $ to cover their expenses, they must move the VP marker down one space for every $2 they need. If the VP marker is at 0, they must move the Income marker down one space for each $2 they need. If income is at -10 and VP is at 0 and you don’t have enough cash, you are bankrupt.

Unless you are a crazy bidder or playing on the tightest of maps with horrible cubes, you just won’t go bankrupt in Steam. This makes the game friendlier and appears easier to new players…they might not have any VPs, but they will feel good about having positive income. However, this also causes a whole lot of gaminess that wasn’t in AoS: in order to maximize your income, you need to reduce it so that when you deliver a cube (or two), you end up at +10. Anything less than that, and you are being inefficient. As a result, the endgame 3-4 turns are about how to make the fewest income deliveries while still having enough $$ to make it to the end of the game and protect your high value cubes on the board. This is totally different than AoS’s end game, which often focuses more on denying the leader(s) certain critical actions or cubes.

The penalty for taking more $$ than you need in Steam is slightly less than in AoS. In AoS, each share you take costs you $1 per turn for each remaining turn as well as one VP in end game calculations. Because Steam caps your income at +10, you’re limited in how much income you can receive (at the most, you’ll get $9/turn, but that’s pretty much a semi-impossible scenario). Most players will cap at $4 or $5/turn in income. Taking an extra income is actually a cost of a VP…it’s a future VP opportunity that you’ve given up (because you have to make up that negative income), as well as a certain amount of $ (somewhere between $1 and $9). The Steam system seems easier to handle, and doesn’t feel even closely as nasty as AoS…the reality is that they’re very very close in terms of impact.

The choice between VPs and Income isn’t really a choice at all. Unless it’s the last few turns, you’ll always take the income unless it would push you over +$10 (and then, you might do it as well because you need the $$). Otherwise you’ll take the VPs.

For final scoring, each $2 in positive income (rounded down) = 1VP, and each $1 in negative income = -2VPs. The strange thing about this is that optimal play is to have your income at 0 at the end of the game; anything more or less and you’ll have given up VPs in favor for less efficient income. More gaminess.

Goods Supply and the City Growth Action
In AoS, there is a production action which allows the action taker to place cube(s) directly on the production chart. There is also a goods growth phase where dice are rolled and cubes are taken from that chart and placed on the map. That’s all gone in Steam, replaced by the City Growth Action and the Good Supply spaces.

Each Goods Supply space (there are 12 of them) contains 3 random goods cubes (or 2 for 3 players). These spaces are used for two things: (1) When a New City is placed via the Urbanization action, the player with the action chooses a set of cubes from one of the Goods Supply spaces, and (2) Whoever has the City Growth action places one set of cubes on a city (that has not received cubes yet this way) during their building phase. Simply, the only way cubes come into the game is by choosing these two actions.

Because there are only 12 spaces and 8 New Cities as well as at least 7 opportunities (one per turn) to use the City Growth action, the Goods Supply spaces pretty much always run out by the end of the game. Relative to AoS, there are significantly less cubes coming in through the game in Steam: 36 total in Steam vs. 52+ in AoS (+ is due to the Production action). While the roll of the dice in AoS makes the actual total fluctuate, typically most of the cubes (85% on average, about 44+) make it to the board. That’s about 8 more cubes than in Steam. However, Steam maps are cube-rich at the beginning of the game, having on average one more cube per city than in AoS.

In summary, in AoS you don’t know when and if certain cubes will come out, while in Steam you don’t know where certain cubes will come out. Where is much more important than When in a delivery game, so the randomness in Steam is actually much higher than in AoS. While you might be able to make some assumptions about location during a certain turn regarding cube placement, there is almost no ability to do long term planning in Steam for off-board cubes like you can in AoS. This makes the game less A/P prone, a good thing, but also less strategic, a bad thing.

If you don’t own AoS
Play both before making a decision, and pick one, not both. There is no clear “better” game between the two, both have plusses and minuses in terms of gameplay and components. It is entirely a subjective decision.

If you already own AoS
There are a few reasons to spend $50 or so on the 3rd edition. You’ll get plastic trains (a personal preference one way or the other), a snazzier looking board (again, a personal preference), mounted charts (which are still butt-ugly), and much nicer looking tiles (this is just a fact…even though I am admittedly biased). And you’ll have replacement pieces like cubes in case you lose anything. Finally, if you didn’t buy it elsewhere, you’ll have a nice 1 and 2 player expansion.

Steam might be a valuable purchase as well because the rules changes are very appealing to some AoS players. Expansions you already own will work with the new system (though publishers/designers must provide updated rules…this has already been done for Bezier Games maps). I suggest playing a few games of Steam before you buy.

I don’t think many players will opt to play both regularly, but instead will pick one over the other as their main base game. It’s actually a little hard to keep the rules changes in mind as you move between the different base games. Add to that the rule changes for the different expansions, and it could be frustrating to play both regularly.

Summary
The split of AoS into two branches is a good thing for gamers. If I had to pick a long-term winner, it would probably be Steam, as it is more forgiving and will attract a wider audience/gamer type than the harsher AoS. But AoS already has 8000 copies out there (6000 English/German and 2000 Korean) which are in gamers’ hands already, and all the expansions currently available only have AoS rules in the packaging (you have to go online to get the Steam rules).

Me? I’ll be playing both for the foreseeable future, a casualty of designing expansions that need to work well in both systems. But if I had to choose, a gun pointed at my head, I would definitely pic

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--Edit on 2/17/09: Fixed the "not enough cash" rule to accurately reflect the Steam posted rules (VP and Income track were backwards)
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J C Lawrence
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Nicely written.
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Christopher Dearlove
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toulouse wrote:
another one of those rules changes that Steam could have done without.


That probably depends on whether your perspective is Steam as a change from Age of Steam, or Steam as a brand new game that can have whatever is viewed as the "best" rule without a worry about backward compatibility. Both reasonable viewpoints I would have said.
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Jim Cote
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toulouse wrote:
In summary, in AoS you don’t know when and if certain cubes will come out, while in Steam you don’t know where certain cubes will come out. Where is much more important than When in a delivery game, so the randomness in Steam is actually much higher than in AoS.

Randomness as in not knowing which cubes the players will pick and where they will place them?
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Tim Condit
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toulouse wrote:
But if I had to choose, a gun pointed at my head, I would definitely pic

[ERROR 3091 – MAXIMUM LENGTH EXCEEDED]


What? shake That's a complete cop out if I've ever seen one... I'm going on record as saying that I will never again without a doubt purchase one of your many expansion maps that I so dearly enjoy playing. Quit your play testing and keep the expansion maps coming. I've almost played all of them (6-7 still to go).
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Andrew Smith
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Thank you for your sincere and unprejudiced opinion!

Keep the maps coming btw!!

Andrew
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ekted wrote:
toulouse wrote:
In summary, in AoS you don’t know when and if certain cubes will come out, while in Steam you don’t know where certain cubes will come out. Where is much more important than When in a delivery game, so the randomness in Steam is actually much higher than in AoS.

Randomness as in not knowing which cubes the players will pick and where they will place them?


Randomness is not the best word for this case. Certainly it is far harder to determine where a cube will appear in Steam than it is in Age of Steam. One result of this is that look-ahead in Age of Steam is easier. That same look-ahead is (far) more difficult in Steam due to the uncertainty around Urbanisations and Productions, making general game prediction daunting.

I usually approach the first turn order auction in Age of Steam already having planned out my early game track, mid-game track and end-game track along with the basic deliveries at each point and the likely actions I'll need at key points in the game. I don't believe I could get near to doing that with Steam. Whether that sort of planning ability and game-foresight is attractive to you is a personal preference. I like it.
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Nice review. I'm personally torn about this issue and I'm most likely going to get one of these games (though I don't like the system all that much) as if I don't, I know I'll regret it later..

Steam looks like it'll offer better/more interesting gameplay (for me). I absolutely dig the new way the cubes enter the board (the equivalent system in Age of Steam was its worst aspect, imho). The actions seem more balanced, which I regard largely as a good thing and if the tile mixture is more "forgiving".. good (though, I can't recall ever having issue with this in AoS, so this is a tsunami in a glass of water sort of issue for me). The game comes with 2 boards instead of one.

But then they had to ruin the very best aspect of AoS - the basic economic system.. So this new system is a big fat minus for Steam.

So, my question (yeah, I eventually got there) is:

How easy it would be to import the AoS economic model (single track + "permanent" shares) back to Steam?

I'm currently thinking that I would buy Steam and then if I don't like the one thing that there is to hate about it I'd change back to good old AoS economic system.. but will it work in Steam? Sigh.
 
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I really appreciate the review.

As a long-time Age of Steam player, I'm not at all excited about the rules changes to Steam. Each differences sounds like a tooth pulled from the original game. I don't WANT it to be less harsh....that was always one of the beauties of the game.

I'm pretty satisfied to go on with my "old" copy of Age of Steam, although if I had to purchase one of the two options today and the price was comparable, I'd get AoS Third Edition.
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Henkka wrote:
I absolutely dig the new way the cubes enter the board (the equivalent system in Age of Steam was its worst aspect, imho).


You might also try my insta-production rules with Age of Steam. I've played them with most of the maps out there and have yet to encounter a problem. Insta-production smooths the rate at which cubes enter the game while also making it completely predictable.

Quote:
The actions seem more balanced, which I regard largely as a good thing...


I'm less convinced of the value of balance. The auction needs grossly imbalanced action values in order to make the dollar auction aspect of the auction both viable and interesting.

Quote:
I'm currently thinking that I would buy Steam and then if I don't like the one thing that there is to hate about it I'd change back to good old AoS economic system.. but will it work in Steam? Sigh.


I can't think of a reason it wouldn't work. Then again I'm more concerned with Steam's seemingly lower planning depth and more tactical gameplay vs Age of Steam.
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cornjob wrote:
As a long-time Age of Steam player, I'm not at all excited about the rules changes to Steam. Each differences sounds like a tooth pulled from the original game. I don't WANT it to be less harsh....that was always one of the beauties of the game.


Ted has been telling me from the get-go that Steam wasn't going to be my sort of game. I'd hoped for a tougher, nastier more unforgiving game than even Age of Steam, but that wasn't the plan. Sigh.
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clearclaw wrote:
Henkka wrote:
I absolutely dig the new way the cubes enter the board (the equivalent system in Age of Steam was its worst aspect, imho).

You might also try my insta-production rules with Age of Steam. I've played them with most of the maps out there and have yet to encounter a problem. Insta-production smooths the rate at which cubes enter the game while also making it completely predictable.

That is certainly something to consider, yes.

clearclaw wrote:
Henkka wrote:
The actions seem more balanced, which I regard largely as a good thing...

I'm less convinced of the value of balance. The auction needs grossly imbalanced action values in order to make the dollar auction aspect of the auction both viable and interesting.

Yeah, I'd expect the bidding to go down a notch, too. I'm having hard time trying to gauge whether the effect is positive or negative without having played the game. That said, I'm edging on the positive for now. I'm not positive if having slightly more balanced actions to choose from would make the decisions during bidding less interesting either. It's more likely that you have to choose between choices and you're not entirely sure which is correct.

clearclaw wrote:
Henkka wrote:
I'm currently thinking that I would buy Steam and then if I don't like the one thing that there is to hate about it I'd change back to good old AoS economic system.. but will it work in Steam? Sigh.

I can't think of a reason it wouldn't work.

That's reassuring.

clearclaw wrote:

Then again I'm more concerned with Steam's seemingly lower planning depth and more tactical gameplay vs Age of Steam.

This seems to be one issue that we're clearly going to disagree on. I always found the AoS gameplay to be a bit too abstract/chess like. A little more tactical approach to it wouldn't hurt it from my side of the fence.
 
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clearclaw wrote:

I'm less convinced of the value of balance. The auction needs grossly imbalanced action values in order to make the dollar auction aspect of the auction both viable and interesting.


I completely agree. With a balanced auction, (assuming 1st place was only slightly better than 2nd, etc.) why would I want to bid at all? Why take out shares to be the cash leader going into an auction? Why win auctions defensively?
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Monotone wrote:
clearclaw wrote:

I'm less convinced of the value of balance. The auction needs grossly imbalanced action values in order to make the dollar auction aspect of the auction both viable and interesting.

I completely agree. With a balanced auction, (assuming 1st place was only slightly better than 2nd, etc.) why would I want to bid at all? Why take out shares to be the cash leader going into an auction? Why win auctions defensively?

The thing is.. I don't think this aspect has changed all that much, really. There still are 2 best actions (locomotive and urbanisation) and then there's the rest. Only now production isn't completely useless and urbanisation might (or might not) be better than before.

But I'm no expert on AoS so I won't be entering in a heated argument about the actions any time soon.
 
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toulouse wrote:
But if I had to choose, a gun pointed at my head, I would definitely pic

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Oh, come on!
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Leezer wrote:
toulouse wrote:
But if I had to choose, a gun pointed at my head, I would definitely pic

[ERROR 3091 – MAXIMUM LENGTH EXCEEDED]

Oh, come on!

I don't think you have to do too much reading between the lines to figure out which system Ted prefers, Lee. I know he'll be playing both, to allow him to support both systems, but it seems clear from the review that his heart and mind remains with the original game.

(Forgive me for putting words in your mouth, Ted, but it does seem pretty obvious from what you wrote.)
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toulouse wrote:
Shipping restriction
In Steam, you may not ship a good that gives you less links than any one other player. AoS has no such restriction. This can really have an impact on cube-tight maps, where you don’t mind give the player in last place more than you just so that you get one or two income. I believe this rule is in place to prevent king making, but in reality it is unnecessary and irritating. Another rule change Steam could easily have done without.

I'm speaking out of ignorance here, because I haven't played the new game yet. But surely this is more significant than you indicate. Isn't the main effect to make it harder for players to "steal" lucrative cubes away from opponents? Particularly at the end of the game, this could be very significant. The situation in AoS would be nastier, but the Steam rule might allow for more advance planning.

Quote:
In summary, in AoS you don’t know when and if certain cubes will come out, while in Steam you don’t know where certain cubes will come out. Where is much more important than When in a delivery game, so the randomness in Steam is actually much higher than in AoS. While you might be able to make some assumptions about location during a certain turn regarding cube placement, there is almost no ability to do long term planning in Steam for off-board cubes like you can in AoS. This makes the game less A/P prone, a good thing, but also less strategic, a bad thing.

I can't talk too much about the new system, but with regards to AoS, I wonder if the long term planning is something of a chimera. Yes, it's nice to be able to survey the situation at the beginning of the game, and plan late deliveries based on the development cubes. But when (or even if) those cubes come out is awfully important and that uncertainty, combined with the effect of opponents more easily swiping cubes you had counted on, can make such planning very tough. Let's put it this way: I think flexibility is a very good characteristic for an Age of Steam player to have.

It sounds like Steam is intended to be a more dynamic game. Players will have to judge when it's necessary to get the jump on your opponents and place a specific influx of cubes into a critical spot. Naturally, this will have to be weighed against all the other options available to you. This balancing act of wanting to do more things than you can is usually a very good thing in a design. It remains to be seen how well this works in the new game and if it is indeed "dynamic" or just "chaotic".
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Roland Wood
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toulouse wrote:
If they do not have enough $ to cover their expenses, they may move the income marker down one space for every $2 they need. If the income marker is at -10, they may move the VP marker down one space for each $2 they need. If income is at -10 and VP is at 0 and you don’t have enough cash, you are bankrupt.

This is incorrect. If they do not have enough $ to cover their expenses at the end of the turn, they must move the VP marker down one space for each $2 they need. If their VP marker is at zero then they must move their income marker down.


Quote:

More gaminess.

Is this not a game we're talking about? What is this negativity against gamey mechanics? If you must have a thematic veneer for your mechanics its usually not too difficult to come up with something (for example someone already likened the split VP/Income tracks to paying out dividends vs reinvesting the profits into the company). Strip away thematic elements and all mechanics are gamey. But, as you say, this is just more personal preference stuff.

Very nice review otherwise thumbsup
 
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Roland Wood
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Profesor Mora wrote:
toulouse wrote:
In summary, in AoS you don’t know when and if certain cubes will come out, while in Steam you don’t know where certain cubes will come out. Where is much more important than When in a delivery game, so the randomness in Steam is actually much higher than in AoS.



An advanced variant could be limit the goods in the goods supply to 5 or less, and fill the other seven one by one when one of the initial five is chosed?


This doesn't fix their issue of "where". The chart in AOS allows a player to know exactly where future cubes are going to go. A player simply doesn't know exactly when or if the cubes will come out. Your fix would narrow down which cubes would be coming out but still not allow anyone to predict where since any of your opponents could choose any of the five sets and put them in any open city on the board.

Another variant idea would be to place a numbered marker on each city space and each city growth space and then roll a d12. The number rolled would indicate which cubes would come out to which city. The City Growth action would allow you to fill a City Growth space of your choice with three cubes. Then you would know exactly where the cubes would go--just not when.

Only problem? City Growth turns to garbage as an action once again...
 
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Matt Sargent
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toulouse wrote:

I don’t think many players will opt to play both regularly, but instead will pick one over the other as their main base game. It’s actually a little hard to keep the rules changes in mind as you move between the different base games. Add to that the rule changes for the different expansions, and it could be frustrating to play both regularly.

I agree, it's a shame AoS split into two games for this reason. Players of one rule system will become reluctant to play the other one, resulting in both games being harder to bring to the table.
toulouse wrote:
The split of AoS into two branches is a good thing for gamers.

Wait, what?
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Matt, am I the only person who thinks that the combination of your two Geekbadges might represent TMI? laugh
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toulouse wrote:
The Steam rules are full color, written adequately, and easily digestible. But (and this is a Sir Mix-a-lot sized but), if you want to jump right into the Standard Game, you’ll have a bit of work ahead of you, which is unfortunate.

To make matters worse, the rules are presented as if the Base Game is the “regular” way to play, with the Standard Game rules “differences” presented at the end of the rules, so players who want to play the Standard Game must read the Basic Game rules and then un-learn some of those rules to play the Standard Game.


I'm fine with rules that build one section on the previous where each section is playable as in Conflict of Heroes. However, when one section starts reversing previous, already learned rules too much it gets annoying especially if that is not offset by at least having a coherent final set of rules where you can read through without having to remember what will be reversed later.

If the differences listed in Steam between basic and advanced are too extensive,that would be a vote for AoS. However, I do still like the idea of some base game for casual gamers. I know that such a version might not satisfy the AoS fans but it might be much better at getting new, casual players and could be better than Ticket to Ride.

edit for clarity
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Tim Harrison
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Profesor Mora wrote:
clearclaw wrote:
ekted wrote:

Randomness as in not knowing which cubes the players will pick and where they will place them?


Randomness is not the best word for this case.


Which is the word?


I agree. Uncertainty is a far better word. Dice are random. Player choices are (usually) not.
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Jim Cote
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GamesOnTheBrain wrote:
I agree. Uncertainty is a far better word. Dice are random. Player choices are (usually) not.

My preferred terminology is randomness and chaos, both sub-categories of uncertainty. Randomness is based on pure mathematical probabilities. Chaos is based on psychology, but has many facets: evaluation skills of the game (mathematical and psychological, leading to infinite regression), knowledge of the skills of others, mood, revenge, ego, metagaming, etc.
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Mik Svellov
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noon wrote:
it's a shame AoS split into two games for this reason. Players of one rule system will become reluctant to play the other one, resulting in both games being harder to bring to the table.

So far I have had no problems playing AoS day and Tycoon the other.
I don't see why I shouldn't be able to remember one or two additional sets of rules.
 
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