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If you’ve looked past this game, thinking it’s just another Railways of the World expansion, then think again. Inside this box, which modestly pretends to be just another expansion, are two completely separate games. You get:
1. Railways of England & Wales: BASIC Railroad Tycoon Expansion
2. Railways of England & Wales: ADVANCED Share System
But strangely enough, the two games have very little to do with each other, aside from the fact that they both use some Railroad Tycoon components, and share some concepts. For the most part, the second game is quite different from the first, and strictly speaking is not even part of the Railroad Tycoon series but requires separate treatment.

I’m rather ignorant when it comes to business models and marketing. But in my limited way of thinking it doesn’t seem to be the most brilliant marketing strategy to package a new Wallace game as merely an “Advanced” version of an expansion. Maybe the marketing team missed an excellent opportunity to pitch this as a brand new Martin Wallace train game? Which it is! So maybe some reviews will help clarify what isn’t immediately obvious from initial appearances, and this review intends to help that process.



Just to be clear, what’s in this box is not an entirely independent game. It needs components from 2005’s Railroad Tycoon (or it’s 2009 re-implementation: Railways of the World). But assuming you’ve got one of those two base games (which are almost identical), then this package will give you two games for the price of one:
1. another excellent expansion for Railroad Tycoon.
2. a completely new game from Martin Wallace that happens to use Railroad Tycoon components.

This review is the first of a three-part series, and the aim of this instalment is to introduce you to Martin Wallace and his train games, and to Railways of England and Wales in particular. In the next two instalments, I’ll walk you through the two games inside the box, but for now let’s give a quick overview of what you get for your money with this game.

Introducing Martin Wallace

Britain’s Martin Wallace is currently one of the world’s leading game designers. Originally a substitute teacher but now a full-time designer, he has a passion for games, his first successful title being Lords of Creation in 1993. Since then, he has earned a solid reputation for designing complex games that blend some of the best elements of mechanics from Euro style games along with solid themes from American style games. As Wallace himself observed, “I always start with the theme. Then it is a case of finding mechanics that will fit the theme.” And elsewhere: “Theme always comes first for me.” The themes are often historical, as he notes, “I nearly always start with a theme. A lot of my games, especially the Warfrog ones, have historical themes. My usual approach is to read a few books and then try to draw out what the important features were of the period. Then it is a case of coming up with the mechanics.” Wallace’s complex strategy games are often themed around civilizations (e.g. Struggle of Empires, and Rise of Empires) and trains. It’s especially his train games that are the focus of this review.



Another train game from Martin Wallace? It seems hard to believe, because there hasn’t been much buzz about it. We heard lots of hype about Steam months before it showed up in stores, but very little has been said to promote the new train game inside this box. But it’s true: beneath the wrapping paper of the Railways of England and Wales expansion for Railroad Tycoon, is a brand new train game from Martin Wallace.

Introducing Martin Wallace’s train games

But we can only properly appreciate the contents of this new box when we place it in the context of Martin Wallace’s other designs, and trace how his train games have developed. When an interviewer observed that Wallace has designed a lot of rail games, his response was telling: “I’ve actually only designed two railway games, all the rest are developments of those two. Ferrocarriles Pampas went on to spawn Prairie and Pampas Rails, while Lancashire Railways begat Volldampf, Age of Steam and Railroad Tycoon. Steel Driver is a development of the former series, it’s a stripped down version of Prairie Rails.”

Essentially Wallace sees himself as the designer of two families or systems of train games, each of which had their own development:
1. Ferrocarriles Pampas --> Prairie Railroads, Pampas Railroads, Steel Driver
2. Lancashire Railways --> Volldampf, Age of Steam, Railroad Tycoon (= Railways of the World), Steam
Generally speaking, Steel Driver and Railroad Tycoon would classify as the "lighter" members of each family.

Martin Wallace’s love affair with train games began relatively early in his design career. Wallace says it was only because John Bohrer asked him to design a railway game that he got on board designing train games in the first place. He wanted to design something “quicker and simpler than 18xx”, and the seeds of success were first sown in Ferrocarriles Pampas (which became Prairie Railroads and Pampas Railroads) and Lancashire Railways (which became Age of Steam). The core delivery mechanic evident here paved the way for the more mature designs he perfected in later games. Since Wallace really hit the big time with his shining Age of Steam, we’ll start our summary there - mainly for the benefit of those not that familiar with the Wallace train families, and trying to figure out the relationship between the different games and which of the newer ones to buy.

2002 Age of Steam



Created by Wallace and developed by John Bohrer, this is the heavy-weight train game that won various awards (including the 2003 International Gamers Award for Best General Strategy Game) and at one time was in the BGG Top 10. More of a tough, brain-burning experience for serious gamers, this is arguably his magnus opus. In an interview Wallace credits Bohrer’s significant contribution in helping develop this game from Lancashire Railways. Wallace considers Age of Steam his “dream game”, since it is “a railway game that looks good, doesn't take forever to play, and is fun.” He states “It would be fair to say it is my best railway game.” But the train ride of success didn’t end there.

2005 Railroad Tycoon



In collaboration with Glenn Drover, the mechanics and game-play of Age of Steam were simplified and streamlined, and attractive over-produced components were added, making the game more appealing to less hardcore gamers and more accessible to a wider audience. In Wallace’s own words: “What I attempted to do is strip AoS down to a more basic, faster moving version. The emphasis is firmly on track building. The auctions and special actions have gone, shares are easier - you get to take them out as you need them. It is designed for a wider audience than the original AoS was.” Railroad Tycoon spawned two expansion maps (Europe and England), and the attempt to appeal to a wider audience was a definite success.

2009 Steam



Developer John Bohrer and Eagle Games produced a third edition of Age of Steam in 2008, featuring more over-produced components similar to Railroad Tycoon. But Wallace himself completely reworked his original 2002 game with all new artwork and rules under the new name of Steam. Steam comes with two rule-sets: “Standard” rules (offering a more intense and tight game like the classic Age of Steam), and “Basic” rules (offering a more forgiving and quicker game). The expansion Steam Barons adds a stock-market system to the game.

2009 Railways of the World



Railways of the World re-implements Railroad Tycoon, with the benefit of some tweaks and minor improvements first seen in the two expansions, Railways of Europe and Railways of England and Wales. Railways of the World is expected to be released at any time, and almost certainly represents Wallace’s medium-weight railroad game at its best, being at the end of the process of evolutionary curve of development that began already before Age of Steam.

All of these games are essentially the same system, but have been refined and improved over time. So this means that today the modern train gamer and Wallace fan has several options:
1. Heavy-weight game: Age of Steam, or Steam Standard.
2. Medium-weight game: Railroad Tycoon (replacing Railways of the World), or Steam Basic.

But now there’s a new heavier-weight contender from Wallace we need to add to this list, although it diverges more sharply from the existing curve of development:

2009 Railways of England and Wales Advanced Share System



More than just a Rails of the World expansion, this box also includes rules for an all-new complex train game from Wallace. So let’s find out more!

Introducing Martin Wallace’s newest train game

Technically, this product is marketed as another expansion for the Railways of the World series, much like the Rails of Europe. In fact, it plays a lot like Rails of Europe, but on an England map. But there’s a big difference: the Railways of England rulebook has a separate section describing an Advanced game. But the Advanced game is not part of the Railroad Tycoon evolutionary curve of development, even though some of the same components are used. The Railroad Baron cards, Railroad Operation cards, New City tiles and Engine cards are all not used for this game. In their place are Share certificates, Share markers, Shares Issued and Available Shares boxes, and Company tiles. In other words, it’s a completely different game with a very different feel! Experienced gamers who’ve played it suggest that it is more akin to the 18xx series or to Imperial than to Age of Steam.



Let’s find out more about what comes with this expansion!

Game Box

The box front features a train – no surprise there! Aha, I even spy Martin Wallace’s name on the cover!



The back of the box showcases the map, some of the components, and tells us a little about what we get inside.



The actual size of the box is the same as the Rails of Europe expansion box. For comparison, here’s the expansion with its older sibling (Rails of Europe), and mother (Railroad Tycoon):



Components

So what do you get inside the box? Here’s what everything looks like, still in minty fresh shrink-wrap:



A complete listing of all components:

Components needed for both games:
● 1 Board of England & Wales
● 1 Rule book
● 6 Reference cards

Components needed only for Railways of England: Basic Railways of the World Expansion
● Railroad Baron cards
● Railroad Operations cards



Components needed only for Railways of England: Advanced Share System
● Shares
● Shares Issued box
● Available Shares box
● Share markers
● Company tiles
● Share price track



If you add in the components from the base game, Railroad Tycoon (which I’ll refer to in the rest of the review using the name of the re-implemented version, Railways of the World), it looks something like this:



Rule Book

The rule book matches the artwork on the box cover.



Including the front and rear cover, it is a grand total of 8 pages, of which only five pages consist of text about the rules.

Basic Railways of the World Expansion

Since the basic gameplay hasn’t changed from Railways of the World, only the modifications and changes to the basic rules are included – essentially the same changes already introduced with Rails of Europe. This takes up barely a page of text, and is very straight forward.

Advanced Share System

Three and a half pages of text (with few illustrations) are devoted to explaining the Advanced rules. Introducing a share system into the game changes it completely, effectively making it a whole new game. A new game? Really? Don't take my word for it, here's what others have had to say about this:

"Calling them 'Advanced Rules' is a misnomer that hurts in learning them. They are not an 'advancement' on the previous rule-set, but a completely new style of play. You pretty much put most of the components (all of the cards, Train Types, tycoon cards) back in the box and start from scratch. The new rules turn it into an 18xx-ultralite. The game is fantastic, and it will be hard to play with the regular rules again." - Rob Leveille

"The advanced rules change up the gameplay quite a bit. The game becomes a stock buying and investing game (players do not own companies, they buy shares in them to make money) No engines are used, so deliveries can be as long as the track you build! Companies can merge with other companies, making for huge lines and big delivery $$ The game has a great catch - up mechanic. If someone is running away with the game, invest in the companies he/she is, and watch your profits rise. I have seen games were the person who won did not control a single railroad - he only invested in the money making ones, and it paid off to diversify his stocks." - Sean Brown

It's clear that the advanced game was intended to be a very different sort of game from Railroad Tycoon, despite using some of the same components.

Map

In my opinion the map is the best one yet in the Railways of the World series.



A big thumbs up for the beautiful board! Here’s a close-up of the artwork:



The surface is less reflective than the Rails of Europe expansion map, and so creates less glare, and somehow it seems to be better quality. Size wise, it is the same dimensions as the Europe map, but rotated 90 degrees.



It’s certainly smaller than the original Railroad Tycoon map, making it easier to find a large enough surface on which to play the game.



Critics of previous editions will be pleased to know that the purple and blue cities are quite distinct from each other. It’s good to know that this is no longer a production issue, although the difference in colours could still present problems for those who are mildly colour-blind.



There map also includes a scoring track around the board, and spaces for keeping track of Turn Order and Round.



What do I think?

Considered only as an expansion to the Railways of the World system, Railways of England and Wales is already excellent in its own right. The map offers a different feel than Rails of Europe, and I prefer playing with maps and improved rules offered by these expansions than the original. But by adding in a completely new Martin Wallace train game as a bonus, Railways of England and Wales becomes a very attractive product indeed. Certainly the Martin Wallace fan now has lots of options.

If you’re looking for a medium-weight Wallace train game, you can choose between:
2009 Railways of the World (aka, the new and improved Railroad Tycoon) with its expansions Railways of Europe and Railways of England and Wales; or
2009 Steam Basic.
But if you’re looking for a heavy-weight Wallace train game, you can choose between:
2002 Age of Steam
2009 Steam Standard (and for heavier play the expansion Steam Barons); or
2009 Railways of England and Wales Advanced Share System

For many gamers, Steam may have seemed to be the most sensible choice, since it offers a heavy weight Age of Steam style game (Steam Standard), along with a medium weight game (Steam Basic) thrown in as a bonus. But now Railways of the World paired with the Railways of England and Wales expansion becomes an attractive option too, because it offers a medium weight Railroad Tycoon style game (at the high point of its evolutionary development), along with an entirely new heavy weight game (Railways of England: Advanced Share System) thrown in as a bonus! The Advanced Share System rules that come with Railways of England make the series go in a different direction, and it will be interesting to see where gamers will end up when they embark on this new train!

The final word

Obviously I’m not done yet, because I’ve only reviewed the components, development, and history of the game, and not the game-play. But hopefully this gives you a helpful overview of what you get when you buy Railways of England and Wales, what to expect from it, and the broader context of the game. Because we’ve got two separate games in this box, I intend to post two separate reviews for that, rather than one massive review which confuses the two. They’re two distinct games, and deserve separate treatment.

But already it can be said that this game is a pretty good deal, because you effectively get two games for the price of one: a great expansion map for Railways of the World (aka Railroad Tycoon Mark II), AND a light 18xx type game. I like my theme, and I like my Martin Wallace, so both games definitely deserve a closer look!



Want to learn more? The next two installments of this series of reviews are available here:

The BASIC Expansion for Railways of the World - a fine addition for a time-tested train game
http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/445363

The ADVANCED Share System - a Martin Wallace design for a brand-new train game
http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/445920

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
The complete list of Ender's pictorial reviews: http://www.boardgamegeek.com/geeklist/37596
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J C Lawrence
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Umm, no. It isn't even slightly a light 18xx game. It remains a pick-up-and-deliver game, not an monomaniacal exercise in capital management.
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Nice review of the components. As for the "Advance Game" rules, there are a few open issues with the play that has prevented my group from wanting to give it another go. I hope we get some calification on these points soon.

See:
(1) http://www.geekdo.com/article/3763517
(2) http://www.geekdo.com/thread/434703
(3) http://www.geekdo.com/thread/436702

for some discussions on the issues.
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Quote:
But strangely enough, the two games have very little to do with each other, aside from the fact that they both use some Railroad Tycoon components, and share some concepts.


As has been pointed out in other threads, the difference is that the basic rules were written by FRED and appear to be fine from reports, and play much like any other RRT map.

The advanced game is (according to FRED) Martin's alone with the rules very slightly edited for clarity. FRED to their credit are sticking with assertion that there's nothing wrong with the advanced game, numerous other people have pointed out game-breaking insta-profit actions that make it unplayable without someone actually developing it into a finished game.

I'm sure everyone who has bought a copy hopes that Martin won't try to hurt FRED by screwing his fans who bought his game.

Quote:
This review is the first of a three-part series, and the aim of this instalment is to introduce you to Martin Wallace and his train games, and to Railways of England and Wales in particular. In the next two instalments...


That's an interesting approach to collecting thumbs. If you plan to make this about Martin's train games, why don't you include the games where he actually developed his pick up and deliver stuff like Lancashire Railways, or the early share work of Ferrocarriles Pampas. You know, back when Martin was first working with John and started doing train games.

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kneumann wrote:
Nice review of the components. As for the "Advance Game" rules, there are a few open issues with the play that has prevented my group from wanting to give it another go. I hope we get some calification on these points soon.

See:
(1) http://www.geekdo.com/article/3763517
(2) http://www.geekdo.com/thread/434703
(3) http://www.geekdo.com/thread/436702

for some discussions on the issues.


Martin is back from holidays. Can you geekmail him about the problems and tell us how he responds?

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there is now another option for more heavy play for Steam:

Steam Barons:
http://www.boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/56890

which adds a stock-market system to the game.

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True, but the stock system in Steam Barons seems much simpler.

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It's not Martin's responsibility to support a game that wasn't published by him. It's Fred's responsibility as the publisher.
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thepackrat wrote:
That's an interesting approach to collecting thumbs.

With Ender having more thumbs than most people on BGG combined, I doubt this is a ploy to obtain additonal thumbs .

thepackrat wrote:
Martin is back from holidays. Can you geekmail him about the problems and tell us how he responds?

Does this imply that he did not reply to your inquiries?

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kneumann wrote:

Does this imply that he did not reply to your inquiries?

Let's not give him the excuse of not replying merely because the question come from someone who hasn't been 100% supportive of everything he has ever done. It's clear there is an oversupply of such people, one of them should ask.

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jschlickbernd wrote:
It's not Martin's responsibility to support a game that wasn't published by him. It's Fred's responsibility as the publisher.


And I think that's designer's responsibility. Look at Tom Lehmann - every(!) question regarding Race for the Galaxy has response from him. Michael Schacht - same.

It should not be the case where designer, designs a game, sells is and forgets about it.

Of course I don't have anything against Martin Wallace - just didn't have any questions about his games that were not answered already somwhere on BGG.
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jschlickbernd wrote:
It's not Martin's responsibility to support a game that wasn't published by him. It's Fred's responsibility as the publisher.


That's certainly a view you can take and I've made it very clear that there's no threat hanging over Martin if he decides to hang his fans out to dry.

I see a great many game designers in these forums supporting games that they didn't publish themselves. Most established designers don't self-publish, in fact, yet they appear here to provide varying levels of support.

So, just because Martin doesn't have to support the seemingly broken game he designed doesn't mean that he should not support it. But as always, he's free to make his own choices.

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kneumann wrote:
thepackrat wrote:
That's an interesting approach to collecting thumbs.

With Ender having more thumbs than most people on BGG combined, I doubt this is a ploy to obtain additonal thumbs .

It's more continuing along rather than doing something new.

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Um, folks, the PUBLISHER PUBLISHES. The Designer designs. The publisher TAKES ALL THE MONEY. The Designer SIGNS A CONTRACT. It is nice when Designer's support, but NO WAY is it expected, necessary, or required. One of the reasons the DESIGNERS SIGN A CONTRACT instead of publishing themselves is TO GET OUT OF THE OBLIGATION OF SUPPORT. If your Railways of England and Wales was missing pieces, would you expect MW to provide you the pieces? NO. WHY NOT? Because the publisher SUPPORTS THE GAME.

Geezus, a few designers say a few things about their game and people all of a sudden get this sense that they are somehow entitled to support from the designer. You aren't. Get over it. Request that the company who gets the money provide the support, in this case FRED.
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jschlickbernd wrote:
Um, folks, the PUBLISHER PUBLISHES. The Designer designs. The publisher TAKES ALL THE MONEY. The Designer SIGNS A CONTRACT.

Wow. I hadn't realised the Wallace camp was still being so shrill.

You don't think the designer gets any money? Interesting. How do contracts work on your side of the pond?

Quote:
Geezus, a few designers say a few things about their game and people all of a sudden get this sense that they are somehow entitled to support from the designer. You aren't. Get over it. Request that the company who gets the money provide the support, in this case FRED.


Yes, clearly expecting a designer to provide service according to the standards at the high end of the industry is ridiculous. If designers want to step so far back from their works, perhaps the old days of no designer credit were the Right Thing? Only the publisher name needs to be on the box, right?

Noone is entitled to anything. If Wallace cares about hurting his fans by producing a clearly broken game only saved by the addition of 3rd party rulesets, it would behoove him to fix it. If he doesn't care then he's perfectly free to publicly say "Why should I care? I got my money" in front of all those fans. I'll keep an eye out for this.

Of course, if he does wash his hands of it, it'll probably get fixed by someone who does care. I hope the hypothetical person receives full credit.

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jschlickbernd wrote:
Um, folks, the PUBLISHER PUBLISHES. The Designer designs. The publisher TAKES ALL THE MONEY. The Designer SIGNS A CONTRACT. It is nice when Designer's support, but NO WAY is it expected, necessary, or required.


Wow - take it easy. First of all some designers are paid % from sold games. If there're unresolved issues it's in both designer and publisher interest to solve them. I just think that designer is The Best person to resolve those issues. I didn't say he's obligated. But I would expect this from designer.

I just look at this from developer perspective. I code some application, it is tested both by me / my company and company I sell it to. But after it goes live and there're errors / bugs, it's my responsibility to remove those bugs as it is my design - of course I have this in my contract , that I'm fixing bugs, lets say until 2 month after "go live" for free. Of course, designer-publisher contracts probably don't have that kind of statement. I just say that designer is more suitable to this job than anyone else. And if there're flaws in the design, then future games of this author can have problems to find publisher.

But to return to this review. EndersGame: I'm looking forward for your part 2 and 3 of this review. My "Railways of England and Wales" copy should be here in one week - than I can confront your thoughts about this game and check if there are really design problems.
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Whatever Bruce. I'm saying that no designer including MW has to support a game. There have been many games in the past that have had no support from designers and have been fine games. Avalon Hill many times took games and finished the development of them without input from the original designers.

I'm not in any 'camp' and I resent you saying that I am. I'm only pointing out facts.
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yosz wrote:
jschlickbernd wrote:
Um, folks, the PUBLISHER PUBLISHES. The Designer designs. The publisher TAKES ALL THE MONEY. The Designer SIGNS A CONTRACT. It is nice when Designer's support, but NO WAY is it expected, necessary, or required.


Wow - take it easy. First of all some designers are paid % from sold games. If there're unresolved issues it's in both designer and publisher interest to solve them. I just think that designer is The Best person to resolve those issues. I didn't say he's obligated. But I would expect this from designer.

I just look at this from developer perspective. I code some application, it is tested both by me / my company and company I sell it to. But after it goes live and there're errors / bugs, it's my responsibility to remove those bugs as it is my design - of course I have this in my contract , that I'm fixing bugs, lets say until 2 month after "go live" for free. Of course, designer-publisher contracts probably don't have that kind of statement. I just say that designer is more suitable to this job than anyone else. And if there're flaws in the design, then future games of this author can have problems to find publisher.



Software development is a lot different from designing and publishing boardgames. Designers generally resolve issues with released games by working with the publisher, who then releases errata. Do you see FFG designers here on BGG answering questions? No, because they resolve the issues with the publisher and then an FAQ is issued BY THE PUBLISHER. Days of Wonder does the same thing. That's the proper and professional way to handle rules problems.

Back in the day, we actually played games and never heard a word from a designer because there was no internet to tell us.

All we can do as consumers is demand an FAQ/fix from FRED for the broken rules. MW is not in that equation nor does he need to be. I really don't care about MW and FRED's legal issues, what I care about is getting a working product from the publisher that I paid money to. If FRED can't talk with MW to get this fixed, then they have a responsibility to fix it themselves.
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jschlickbernd wrote:
Software development is a lot different from designing and publishing boardgames. Designers generally resolve issues with released games by working with the publisher, who then releases errata.


Yes.

Quote:
Do you see FFG designers here on BGG answering questions? No, because they resolve the issues with the publisher and then an FAQ is issued BY THE PUBLISHER.


FFG is not a good example as I think designers are "part of" FFG.

Quote:
All we can do as consumers is demand an FAQ/fix from FRED for the broken rules (...) If FRED can't talk with MW to get this fixed, then they have a responsibility to fix it themselves.


OK - I agre. BGG spoils us as we have designers here for the asking
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jschlickbernd wrote:
Whatever Bruce. I'm saying that no designer including MW has to support a game. There have been many games in the past that have had no support from designers and have been fine games. Avalon Hill many times took games and finished the development of them without input from the original designers.

I'm sure many fine games did not need support from designers. This is not one of them.

I'm unclear what exactly you think you're disagreeing with. I'm suggesting that Martin stands on the edge of a PR disaster and losing some amount more fans because he's focussed on his spat with FRED.

Does this mean he has to support a game? No. He's free not to, as I've said all along. Noone is stopping Martin from antagonising every single person who is willing to pay money for his designs.
Quote:


I'm not in any 'camp' and I resent you saying that I am. I'm only pointing out facts.

You're in the camp of people tilting at strawmen. I hope it's fun over there.

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Clay Blankenship
United States
Huntsville
AL
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That's a moray!
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How did an expansion get released before the base game?
 
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Bruce Murphy
Australia
Pyrmont
NSW
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snoweel wrote:
How did an expansion get released before the base game?


Because it's an expansion for two different base games. Railroad Tycoon (out for years) and Railways of the World (forthcoming shortly)

B>
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Richard Young
Canada
Victoria
BC
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Old Ways Are Best!
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clearclaw wrote:
Umm, no. It isn't even slightly a light 18xx game. It remains a pick-up-and-deliver game, not an monomaniacal exercise in capital management.


Uncharitable poke JC - and after he almost quoted you, referring to you as an "experienced gamer." At least you didn't pile on by deriding his reference to a "light 18XXX type game."

The majority of casual gamers who don't have extensive libraries of train games are inevitably going to refer to any rail game that incorporates stock certificates and a rising and falling share price mechanic as being 18XX-ish. I think most will understand what he is getting at here.

Actually, there appears to be an abusive tactic available in this game that pretty much falls into the "monomaniacal excercise in capital management" if you ask me...
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Richard Young
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kneumann wrote:
Nice review of the components. As for the "Advance Game" rules, there are a few open issues with the play that has prevented my group from wanting to give it another go. I hope we get some calification on these points soon.

See:
(1) http://www.geekdo.com/article/3763517
(2) http://www.geekdo.com/thread/434703
(3) http://www.geekdo.com/thread/436702

for some discussions on the issues.


Yes, I've been interested in these discussions as well. I think Sean has done a yeoman's job of putting out fires as best he can short of expert advice from the designer. I think the answers he has given to most of the issues raised here stand up reasonably well and I agree with him that the game is playable as written. You may not like how it plays however.

It is possible that the design here is somewhat fragile in that the group dynamic can have a large effect on the experience, or that players can do things that appear abusive if not stopped by the other players. I've heard similar things about Container or Indonesia. The tactic of buying a share, doing nothing, then paying dividends to oneself, rinse and repeat should only happen once before folks are on to this and kill it dead. The merger process has been explained satisfactorily enough for me, as has how dividends are calculated and distributed.

I think the problem here is that, once again, Martin has designed something outside the box that has a lot of people scratching their heads. It looks close to being something like stuff people have seen elsewhere but oops! not exactly. I think maybe some are trying to stuff his system into a familiar paradigm and it won't quite fit.

Remember that Martin is famous for reducing a lot of erstwhile recognizable bits into abstractions that do what he intends but not necessarily the way you think they ought. He is first and foremost a game designer not a creator of simulations. I've seen a number of reports from people who say that the game itself played fine from a cash flow perspective and from a competitive perspective, but they weren't sure that the bits along the way made perfect sense to them. Sounds like a classic MW experience to me and something you could say of many of his designs (recalling Brass when it first came out).

I think that rather than giving up in frustration, the advanced game needs to be played a fair bit more before passing final judgement. It may be something that you simply have to get used to in order to appreciate (he said hopefully)...
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J C Lawrence
United States
Campbell
California
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Bubslug wrote:
The majority of casual gamers who don't have extensive libraries of train games are inevitably going to refer to any rail game that incorporates stock certificates and a rising and falling share price mechanic as being 18XX-ish. I think most will understand what he is getting at here.


I understand that. I also understand that it is an equally uninformed opinion to the one that equates any car with low profile tires and a big spoiler on the back to being a high-performance racing car.

Quote:
Actually, there appears to be an abusive tactic available in this game that pretty much falls into the "monomaniacal exercise in capital management" if you ask me...


Nahh, that's just a leak. He's just got an unbounded feedback loop. It still isn't a capital management game.
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