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Age of Steam Expansion #4: France and Italy» Forums » Sessions

Subject: French Lessons rss

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Jesse Dean
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Orlando
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Pound for pound, the amoeba is the most vicious predator on Earth!
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Last night, after finishing up an extremely lop-sided game on the Montreal Metro board, I got to play a three player game on the France board with Mike D. (who had played 6 games previously) and Mike R. (who had played 2 games previously.)

During the first round everyone issued 1 share. Mike D. and Mike R. quickly got in a bidding war for first place and, after realizing that there was no real point in bidding quite as much as they were putting up I dropped out. The fact that there were three potential first turn double ship build locations if you accounted for Engineer helped.

It turns out that after Mike R’s urbanization of Montpellier I had the opportunity to perform a double shipment between Toulouse and Lyons that was even better than the one I first saw, meaning that coming in third turned out to be reasonably advantageous after all. I was even able to build in such a way that Mike R. had no further ability to expand north unless he received the Engineer role.

During the following turn, I ended up passing again, going in third after their bidding went to high for my tastes. Mike R. grabbed urbanization again and urbanized Dijon, and then proceeded to connect it to Paris. His network was discontinuous thanks to my track build on the previous turn, and it looked like his urbanization had set me up in a great way. I know had a way to connect to Paris this turn where I did not previously! Unfortunately for me, Mike D. who has previously been expanding down the western side of the board from Paris to Nantes to Bordeaux decided to place a single track tile between Lyons and Dijon, preventing me from expanding all the way to Paris that turn. Luckily I had selected Engineer that turn for lack of anything better to do, and was able to get to Dijon at least this turn. I also started to build out of Paris, hoping to avoid getting locked out of it this time like I was last time we played on this map.

After that, our builds rarely impacted each other. I began to build a long loop around the north of Paris with the intent of being able to ship the frequent blue cubes that Paris was generating all the way to Nantes via the most indirect route possible and get multiple sixes in the process. Mike D began to build his own loop to the southwest of Paris through the mountains, eventually having his tendrils attach themselves to a majority of the southeastern cities as well, save for Nice and Marseille, which Mike R had to himself. Mike R stuck to the southeast, for the most part, but took advantage of opportunistic builds elsewhere in order to build his loop.

In the end, Mike D. was able to rocket ahead of the rest of us in the middle game on the strength of a multitude of five length shipments. He was never able to ship any sixes (and, in fact, never increased his locomotive past five), but he had so many five shipments it did not seem to matter. The fact that Mike R. had to ship on one of Mike D’s links for his best shipments also helped. I was able to set up my great blue loop and ship a multitude of sixes (though I ran out in the last turn and was forced to ship a single 5 in addition to my other six). This was enough to allow me to rapidly encroach on and equal Mike D’s score. By the end of the game our scores were tied, but he had taken out two less shares than I. Still, the track count was still in doubt, so while it appeared that he had a lead, it was uncertain if it was enough for him to win. Mike R was behind both of us in income and ahead of us in shares. He had taken the full 15. After the track tiles came up and the final scores were counted it turned out we were incredibly close. Mike D had a score of 98 to my score of 96 and Mike R was not too far behind with 86.

Looking over at the production chart, the only good left in Black 1-6 was a single blue cube. If it had come out I would have won the game. Similarly, if two yellow five cubes had not come out on Paris in the last round, I would have been able to pull off a win. This is not to take away from Mike D’s victory or to absolve myself of mistakes in the game. I think I made a few. This is, however, the closest game I have yet seen of Age of Steam, and heightens my perception of the few bits of chance that could have pushed the game a different way.

One thing I am unsatisfied with is the France map itself. It is definitely the most crowded of the available maps, and I found myself not having legal locations to build during the last few turns both in this game and in the four player game I played on the map. While I appreciate tightness, this appears to be a bit TOO tight, without any reasonable room for flexibility during the late game. There are a number of potential fixes to this (such as decreasing the total number of rounds available on the map), but as of right now it seems to be a major failing of the map, and one that makes me unlikely to play it again, particularly in comparison to the other 3-4 player maps that I like a lot better.
 
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John Bohrer
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doubtofbuddha wrote:
One thing I am unsatisfied with is the France map itself. It is definitely the most crowded of the available maps


Gee, Jesse, if you think France is crowded, wait until you try Italy!
 
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Pierre Paquet
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Boischatel
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We had great games on the France map specially with 2 or 3 players.
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Ingo Griebsch
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Bochum
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Hi Pierre,
dedefortin wrote:
We had great games on the France map specially with 2 or 3 players.

You played the france map with 2?
 
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