Introducing Railways of Europe
Ever since I first played 2005's Railways of the World, I loved it. I still do! And if I made a list of my Top 10 favourite games, Railroad Tycoon is certain to be one of them. But it's not perfect, and particularly the two player and three player game was somewhat lacking, and there were several rules that needed tweaking. So when an expansion Rails of Europe was announced in 2008, with a different map, and particularly designed to be enjoyed with fewer players, I was very excited about it. (My personal copy has sentimental value because I received it as a birthday gift from the Masked Man.) It didn't disappoint. The good news is that now in 2010, Rails of Europe has just had a minor face-lift under the new name Railways of Europe. And that's what is the subject of this review. The Railroad Tycoon system is now being marketed under the new name Railways of the World, along with two expansions, Railways of Europe and Railways of England and Wales. In this review, I'll cover what the Railways of Europe expansion adds to the base game (whether Railroad Tycoon or Railways of the World), as well as the minor changes from the original Rails of Europe version that was first released in 2008. Fans of both Railroad Tycoon or its re-implentation as Railways of the World will be pleased to hear that Railways of Europe is an excellent add-on for both base games in the series, and for many gamers it will be an absolute must-have. Let's first learn a bit more about the history of the series and of this expansion, and then take a more in-depth look at Railways of Europe itself.
Railways of the World and its Ancestors
One of Martin Wallace's most successful game designs is 2002's Age of Steam. But despite its brilliance, Age of Steam wasn't for everyone, and there were people looking for a more friendly and accessible game than the tougher experience offered by Age of Steam. Enter Railways of the World, which was the result of a collaboration between Wallace and Glenn Drover in 2005, and took the core mechanics of Age of Steam, but made the game more forgiving, added lavish components, and broadened its appeal. In 2009, Railroad Tycoon got a makeover, and was made obsolete by the new and improved Railways of the World, the new base game of the series - it's essentially the same as Railroad Tycoon, but with some minor tweaks. The Railways of the World system is essentially Railroad Tycoon Mark II, and the strong pickup-and-deliver theme, economic system, and over-produced components have made it extremely popular.
The differences between Railways of the World and Railroad Tycoon are not substantial, and will only be addressed in this review in so far as how Railways of Europe changes both games. Whether you own Railroad Tycoon or Railways of the World, this review will give you the information you need to know how the Railways of Europe expansion will fit with your base game.
Railways of the World and its Descendants
The main map in the base game (in both Railroad Tycoon and Railways of the World) is a map of the Eastern US. Two expansions have been released that offer extra maps and a different playing experience: Railways of Europe and Railways of England and Wales. Both of these expansions can be used with the original base game (Railroad Tycoon) or with the new base game (Railways of the World) - in fact you'll need the components of either of these base games because this expansion isn't playable without them.
Coming out later this year is the newest member of the family, Railways of the World: The Card Game.
The Railways of Europe expansion also has its own history. It was designed by Glenn Drover, and first released in 2008 under the name "Rails of Europe" as an expansion for Railroad Tycoon. It's now been re-named and re-released in 2010 under the name "Railways of Europe". The changes, however, are minor, and I will outline them towards the end of the review. So let’s check out this expansion in more detail.
Both the Railroad Tycoon and the Railways of the World boxes are the same size, and the Railways of Europe expansion has the same horizontal and vertical dimensions, so they stack nicely together on a shelf.
The 2010 cover is essentially unchanged from the 2008 Rails of Europe, but reflects the new name Railways of Europe:
The reverse side of the box features some of the components, and a brief synopsis of the game:
"It is mid-19th century Europe. The railways that first appeared in England are now appearing on the European mainland. Wealth and prestige await the player who can tap into the resources and meet the demands of the continent. do you build through the rugged mountains of Southern Europe, or across the vast expanse of Western Russia?"
So what's all inside the box?
● 30" x 36" map of Europe
● 39 cards (Railroad Operation cards, Railroad Baron cards, and Reference cards)
That's it? Yep, that's it! But if you're familiar with Railways of the World (or Railroad Tycoon), you'll know that all the attraction is in the gameplay. The splendid new map is the biggest feature here, and we can expect a totally different feel when playing the game as a result. As for the other components - well you'll need everything else from your base game, but replace the map of the Eastern US and associated cards with the map and cards of the expansion. And the rules do make some excellent changes to the game-play, especially if you're only familiar with Railroad Tycoon and not Railways of the World.
The rulebook features the same artwork as the box cover.
Not counting the front and rear cover, the rules themselves consist of only two pages of text, along with some pictures! That's because the basic gameplay doesn't really change from Railways of the World, but you simply substitute a new map and new cards. In fact, most of the rules described in the rule-book will already be familiar if you have the Railways of the World rules and duplicate them. For example, the explanation about several aspects of gameplay (e.g. building cost of water hexes is $3000, availability of Major Lines throughout the game, issuing bonds only when money is needed, choice of one out of two Railroad Baron cards) are already in the Railways of the World rules. I suspect that they have been included anyway for the benefit of owners of Railroad Tycoon who might not be familiar with the changes implemented in Railways of the World. They're small changes, mind you, but definite improvements, and their inclusion here in the expansion rules is a good move, because it will enable Railroad Tycoon owners to play the expansion using the latest and best rules for the base game. The one part of the rules that will be of value to everyone is the section explaining the new Operations Cards - but we'll get to those later.
One important part of the rules are the provisions for two player games. With a two player game, the number of goods cubes placed in each city is reduced by one (to a minimum of one per city). With this expansion, the game end is triggered with the following amount of empty city markers: 9 for 2 players, 11 for 3 players, 13 for 4 players, 15 for 5 players (all of which are fewer than the base game).
The map is magnificent. It's 30 inches by 36 inches in size, so it's large, but not as unwieldy or big as the map that comes with the base game.
It has a matt finish, similar to the Railways of England expansion map, but has a different finish from the more glossy US map that comes with the base game. I personally prefer the matt finish of this gameboard. The details on the map looks beautiful, and the colours look great - it's a very attractive looking product. And look, it even includes Essen!
One noticeable difference from the base game is that the major lines are marked on the board, because they are available permanently for all players. This is a good improvement.
You might notice that the colour of the purple and blue cities is slightly different than the colours used for those cities on the US and England maps. However, the colours on the 2010 Europe map do match perfectly with the colour of the cubes that come with Railways of the World base game.
The map also includes a "turn order" box, in the event that you want to use one of the player order auction variants (for examples, see the discussion here: So where are these player order auction rules?).
Railroad Operations Cards
The deck of 29 Railroad Operation cards replaces the cards from the base game, and is geared towards the map of Europe.
Cards are as follows:
3x Starting cards (The Railroad Era Begins, Speed Record, Passenger Lines)
5x Service Bounty
4x New Industry
3x City Growth
3x Tunnel Engineer
3x City Charter
2x Capital Charter
Starting cards. These will be familiar to players of the base game, although the "Passenger Lines" card will be new to Railroad Tycoon players, and is a definite improvement over the "New Train" card that comes with that game, because it gives more variable goals.
Service Bounty. The Service Bounty cards give bonuses for the first player to deliver goods to the European cities of Naples, Moscow, Marseilles, Constantinople, and Lisbon.
Hotels. Hotels work the same as in the base game, but naturally reflect the European map - the cities that give hotel owners income for deliveries to them are Amsterdam, Athens, Rome, Madrid, Milan, and Vienna.
City Growth & New Industry. These are the same as in the base game, and are for immediate single use and discarding.
Note that the Railway Executive that comes with the base game - and regarded by many as over-powered - is not part of this expansion.
New card: Tunnel Engineer. This is one of several new cards introduced by the Europe expansion. There are lots of mountains on this map, and the Tunnel Engineer helps reduce the costs of building track through mountainous territory.
New card: City Charter. The City Charter cards can be used to prevent other players building track to Essen, Munich, or Prague.
New card: Capital Charter. This is similar to a hotel, but gives points for every link built to Berlin or Paris.
Railroad Baron cards
The 10 Railroad Baron cards replace the ones from the base game.
These feature some cards with objectives that are identical to the objectives from the base game, while others are specific to the Europe map.
Here are some of the Railroad Baron cards with Europe-specific objectives:
There are 6 reference cards, which nicely summarize the actions available on each turn:
On the reverse side of these is a reference corresponding to the Major Lines reference shown on the map.
Comparison with Rails of Europe
Railways of Europe (2010) replaces the previously titled Rails of Europe (2008).
So what are the differences between the components of the two editions, and what has changed from the original Rails of Europe? All the changes are relatively minor, but here's a complete list:
1. Improved non-glossy map. The map that came with Rails of Europe had a high gloss to it, and the shading of the colours made it hard at times to distinguish between some blue and some black cities. The new map with Railways of Europe has a non-glossy finish (the same finish as the map that comes with Railways of England and Wales), and there is no longer any potential confusion between the blue and black cities. Some editions of the original Railroad Tycoon had issues with the blue and purple cities being too close in colour, but that's also not an issue with this expansion, because the colours of blue, purple and black are all quite distinct:
However, the blue and purple cities are now a light blue and dark blue - this matches the new cube colours that come with Railways of the World. Apparently in 2010 blue is the new purple! All the originally purple cities now have a dark blue colour, and all the originally blue cities now have a light blue colour. This does solve the problem in the 2008 edition where some blue and black cities were too close in colour. It also matches the Railways of the World cubes perfectly, although the matching with the cubes of Railroad Tycoon will be less than perfect. The maps of both editions arguably have some confusing aspects, and though it's not perfect, overall I prefer the 2010 map, its colours and matt finish. See the images below if you want to compare the map colours of the 2008 and 2010 editions more closely.
If you are having any difficulties distinguishing between cities of two different colours, there is a solution - use poker chips (as described here).
2. Explicit scalability for two players. Rails of Europe was always a fine game when played with only two players, but the rules and game didn't explicitly mention it. Railways of Europe specifically mentions that the game can be played with 2-5 players.
The end of a 2 player game is triggered with 9 empty city markers, and the rulebook makes special mention of the fact that "for a two player game, reduce the number of goods cubes placed in each city by one (to a minimum of one goods cube per city)." This was previously a point of discussion, because although the reduced number of cubes was essential when playing on the Eastern US map of the base game, there were differences of opinion about whether reducing the number of cubes was necessary when playing a two player game on the Europe map. I argued that the game plays fine either way, and Glenn Drover communicated to me at one time that "In Rails of Europe there is no reduction of cubes. The game was actually designed to play well with fewer players." I guess you can play it both ways, but the rules of Railways of Europe do now state that reducing cubes is the correct way to play. Given Glenn Drover's message and how well the game works with 2 or 3 players, I think this is optional. Either way, it offers a great two player game experience, something very difficult with the base game on the US map. Note that unlike the base game, with three players you do not reduce cubes in each city.
3. Revised artwork. All references to Rails of Europe naturally have been changed to reflect the new title Railways of the World, including on the map itself and the Railroad Operation cards and Railroad Baron cards.
A less obvious change is the name of the train in the artwork. The large red train on the box cover and rulebook now says "Eagle Games" instead of "Adler Games", although the artwork on the Railroad Operation cards for both Railways of Europe and Railways of the US still has the "Adler Games" artwork. What is "Adler Games"? Google it, and nothing will turn up. On the other hand, check what the German word "adler" means, and you'll quickly figure it out! A great inside joke from the folks at Eagle Games!
4. Revised rulebook. The rulebook has had a minor edit. Nothing substantial has been changed to the content and all the revisions are minor - essentially the only changes made are to update previous references to Railroad Tycoon to Railways of the World, and to adopt some of the new Railways of the World terminology (e.g. "bonds" instead of "shares"). In short, there's no significant changes other than formatting and cosmetics. If you're really interested in seeing some of the differences, compare the pages below.
Summary. In short, all the changes from the Rails of Europe edition (2008) to the Railways of Europe edition (2010) are of minor significance, but reflect the ongoing improvement of an already established product.
Because this is an expansion for Railways of the World (or the earlier Railroad Tycoon), the basic gameplay is the same as the base game, but there are a number of changes - all improvements in my opinion - which will be noticed especially by owners of Railroad Tycoon.
Changes to notice if you have Railways of the World
If you own the Railways of the World base game, then you'll notice the following changes and additions with Railways of Europe:
1. Different distribution & proximity of cities. The distribution of cities on the US map differs considerably from the Railways of Europe expansion.
2x Red, 4x Blue, 4x Purple, 3x Black, 4x Yellow, 14x Gray = 31 total for Railways of Europe
3x Red, 5x Blue, 4x Purple, 4x Black, 7x Yellow, 29x Gray = 52 total for Railways of the World = Railroad Tycoon
The number of cities on the Railways of Europe map (31) is considerably less than the amount on the original US map (52). Unlike the Railways of England expansion, there's not a lot of cities of each colour, but only 2-4 cities of each. This means that certain cities are going to be key, because for most goods there are only just a few cities that you can transport them to. This also ensures that industrialization is an important option. Notice also that the cities are all quite reasonably spaced apart. Unlike the US map in the base game, there's no area of the map with a particularly heavy concentration of cities (e.g. north-east USA). The cities are more evenly spread, and the board is more symmetrical. The distances do mean however that there are very few places where building track can be done cheaply, and particularly with the significant amount of mountainous territory, finances are not going to be easy.
2. New Railroad Operation cards . Most of the cards are the same, including the starting cards, although naturally the cards that were specific to US locations have been changed to European locations. The key changes are the additions of the City Charter and Capital Charter cards, and the Tunnel Engineer, and the removal of the Railroad Executive, Perfect Engineer, and Government Land Grant. The Tunnel Engineer is not a bad addition. I'm not entirely convinced yet about the merits of the City Charter card, and it haven't seen as much play thus far.
3. Tighter money. The income track has been adjusted, so that the leader begins losing income at an earlier stage of the game. In the base game, the scoring track maxes at $25 between 41 to 48 points, whereas in Railways of Europe, the income starts to drop already after 35 points, and a maximum of only $22. This is a good balancing mechanism, and gamers are likely to appreciate the more difficult challenge they'll be faced with in juggling bonds and finances.
4. No Western link. The US map has provisions for earning points via a "Western link" to two cities on one side of the board. Like many others, we didn't use this often at all, and I don't miss it on the Europe map whatsoever.
5. Suitability for fewer players. The tighter game and more even distribution of cities makes Railways of Europe ideal as a game for fewer players, especially for two and three player games, whereas the original base game was geared towards 3-6 players, and arguably best with 5 or 6. Attempts have been made to make the base game work with two players, such as the the popular two player variant using only the middle board segment of the US map. But when playing with fewer players, the Europe map offers a more satisfying game, not surprisingly because it was specifically designed as such. Note that the England expansion is also good for fewer players, but has a more forgiving set-up with cities located more closely together. On the whole the Europe map scales better than the US map, and is a better choice for when playing with 2-4 players. Gamers looking for a solid two-player version of the base game are not likely to be disappointed. Here's an example of the two player set-up:
Changes to notice if you have Railroad Tycoon
If you own the Railroad Tycoon base game, then there will be several additional changes to the rules that you'll notice. These have already been implemented in the Railways of the World upgrade, and are worth considering adopting retroactively to Railroad Tycoon as well. When Rails of Europe first came out in 2008, it was the addition of these rules that really helped iron out any remaining wrinkles from the base Railroad Tycoon game, and so not surprisingly they were all included in the rule-set of the Railways of the World base game in 2010. So if you have the Railroad Tycoon base game, you'll find that these changes not only apply to Railways of the Europe, but are well worth incorporating into your Railroad Tycoon experience when playing on the US map.
1. Permanent major lines. All the Major Lines are permanently available from the start of the game - there are reference cards for each player and on the map to help keep track of this. This is a big improvement. The appearance of a valuable Major Lines card could at times make Railroad Tycoon come down to the luck of the draw. Having major lines available to all players from the beginning of the game enables players to make more long-term plans about their routes. (Note: you can also play this way when using the US map, as discussed here.) Big thumbs up to this!
2. More choice for Railroad Baron cards. At the start of the game, players are dealt two Railroad Baron cards, from which they select one. This gives more choice about your long term objective in the game, based on the randomized set-up of that particular game, and is another good improvement. I’d also recommend playing this way in the base Railroad Tycoon game on the US map as well.
3. Clearer hex classification and costs. Mountain hexes are identified by a dot and have an associated cost of $4000, whereas any non-mountain hexes with water (blue) have an associated cost of $3000. The original Railroad Tycoon rules about “following a river” had the potential to create confusion. Having any hex with water cost $3000 simplifies the rule and works well, and again translates well to gameplay on the US map.
4. Greater restrictions on issuing bonds. Bonds can only be issued when cash is needed. This prevents players from taking out a truck load of bonds at the end of the game simply to meet the requirements of the Railroad Baron objective that rewards the player with the most money. Another sensible change worth importing retroactively if you’re playing Railroad Tycoon.
5. New Railroad Operation Cards. In addition to the new Railroad Operation cards already discussed (Capital Charter, City Charter, Tunnel Engineer), the biggest change you'll notice is the Passenger Lines card, which replaces New Train as starting Railroad Operations card. This is another solid improvement, because it gives a more balanced set of incentives at the start of the game. Otherwise the New Train card could often be claimed by the same player who claimed the Speed Record card, leading to a significant advantage. The Passenger Lines card rewards transporting differing types of goods rather than multi-link deliveries, and thus gives a new strategy for players to pursue. I was also glad to see this change carried over into the Railways of the World base game, and it's a recommended variant for owners of Railroad Tycoon to implement on the US map as well.
Many of these variants are commonly used by experienced RRT players. In addition to the above rule changes, there's one difference in components that Railroad Tycoon owners will notice:
6. Improved component quality on the map. Railroad Tycoon was infamous for its enormous map, which exceeded the size of many a table. The Railways of Europe map is a much more manageable size. The matt finish is more pleasant to look at and use than the original US map, and instead of coming in three separate panels, it is a quality product which folds up nicely. Some editions of Railroad Tycoon had issues with the distinction between blue and purple cities. That is not a problem with the Europe map, although these two colours are more of a light blue and dark blue in the 2010 edition rather than a purple.
What do I think?
I've already summarized most of my own thoughts when commenting on the changes in components and gameplay. But in short, the Europe expansion has a smaller map with less cities that are arranged more symmetrically, and seems to result in a tighter and more balanced game with tougher choices, that is particularly well suited as a better choice for 2 and 3 player games. The US map has too many cities concentrated in the northeast, and cities on the rest of the map are too sparse. As a result, many games force players to fight out the north east, and building track in the more distant areas of the map is often costly and inefficient. There's also less interaction when playing with fewer players. The Europe map avoids all of these issues, and is a more balanced and symmetrical game.
Railways of Europe will be particularly appreciated by owners of the original Railroad Tycoon, because it also includes most of the improved rules that were later incorporated in Railways of the World. The permanant major lines, clearer rule about costs when building on hexes with water, improved starting Railroad Operation cards, and more choice for Railroad Baron cards all improve the mechanics and rules of the original Railroad Tycoon. Most people will regard all of these things as fixing all the shortcomings of Railroad Tycoon, and welcome improvements. It's a good example of an expansion making an already good game even better.
The chief attractions of this expansion:
● More variety: an alternative map to the US map of the base game
● More manageable: a smaller sized map than its US counter-part
● More balance: a more symmetrical board without a single area of concentration
● More challenge: a tighter and tougher game
● More scalability: a better choice when playing with 2-4 players
● More refinement: improved rules over the original Railroad Tycoon
Regardless of whether you own Railroad Tycoon or Railways of the World, this is an excellent expansion with a great map, offering a much better and more balanced game for a smaller number of players. For fans of the original, you'll only be too happy to play the same game on a different map anyway! For games with five or six players, you'll probably want to stick with the US map, but with anything less, the Europe map is probably a better choice. If you love Railroad Tycoon or Railways of the World, then getting an expansion is a no-brainer. The only question might be: do you get the Europe or the England expansion? They're both excellent, and regardless of which you choose, I don't think you'll be disappointed. The advantage of the England expansion is that it comes with an optional "advanced" game that introduces share-holding to the game (although be aware that there are contrary opinions on the subject of how well this works); the advantage of the Europe expansion is that it offers a tougher game that particularly gamers will appreciate. Both are good. Very good! Having a variety of maps can only be good for the game, and the Europe expansion certainly delivers! If you own the base game and are looking for a game that works better when playing with 2-4 players, and offers a slightly tougher challenge, you can't go wrong with Railways of Europe!
What do others think?
Criticism. I could only find one genuinely critical comment on this expansion:
"This version takes Railroad Tycoon, which I love, and turns it into Age of Steam which I loathe. The city charter cards are excessively powerful, the "simplified" water rules make building in Italy preposterously expensive, and the absence of any red cities in the southern half of the board means that building in northern Europe is even more of a necessity than fighting it out in the Eastern US is in Railroad Tycoon." - Laura Appelbaum
With all due respect, I think this is strongly over-stated. It's also very much a minority opinion, but there is something useful we can glean from it: playing on the Europe map can be a slightly tougher game than playing on the US map. Don't be surprised if you find yourself issuing a lot of bonds! But aside from this one negative comment, virtually all other remarks about the game are extremely positive. If there are minor criticisms expressed (e.g. whether or not people liked the permanent major routes, the Railroad Operation deck, and the tighter money and more competitive play), they are largely acknowledged as a matter of taste and opinion, and come in the context of an overall appreciation for what this expansion offers.
Praise. The average rating for this expansion is 8.18, and presently there are more than five pages of comments that rate the game a 9 or 10! That's really outstanding! Here's a selection:
From the perspective of Railroad Tycoon as the base game:
"In virtually every way possible, it has improved on the original ... it is a viable two-player map. The cards are better. The tycoons work better. The start cards are better. The map is better" - Stephen Smith
"A better version of Railroad Tycoon. Better map, better rules, better length." - Giacomo Mangiarano
"This is what the original game should have been, a better map and some of the random goals are fixed and can be worked towards now." - Houserule Jay
"Always really liked Railroad Tycoon -- this map improves on the game in every way!" - Richard G
"I loved Railroad Tycoon, and this expansion makes it that much better! The smaller board doesn't reduce play time, but it does provide a much tighter feeling and refined edge to what is a great game mechanic." - Serene Lau
"The base game is amazing, this expansion refines it to perfection." - Rob Hamilton
"Tighter, more balanced and shorter that Railroad Tycoon. If you like RT, this is a must have! Everything has been improved - cards, bonuses, board size..." - Carl-Johan Strömwall
"It's like they took every single nit pick from the base game and fixed it." - David K
"After playing Rails of Europe I dont think I will play Railroad Tycoon again. Smaller map, simpler gameplay, improved mechanics." - Farid Widjaya
From the perspective of both base games:
"Because I have Railways of the World, Rails of Europe wasn't that huge revelation, since most flaws of RRT have already been taken care of, but it's worth it just for the map itself." - S.L.
"Fantastic addition to the series." - Jimzik
"I like this map much better than the US. The cities are more even spread across the map, and still have some of the tight feeling from the east cost of the US map." - Morten Løvåsen
"An awesome expansion." - Bill Abner
"After playing Railways of England, this RRT variant feels harsher and more unforgiving ... issuing of stock is frantic in comparison with the base RRT. In this manner, it feels more like AoS, than of RRT. This is neither good or bad, but rather a matter of taste of what people want." - Kentaro Sugiyama
"Great expansion for RRT. Nice to be able to play on an actual table. Tight competition and very challenging." - Brendan
"Better than original one for 3-4 people " - Tomas Vera
Is Railways of Europe for you? If you can't get enough of Railroad Tycoon or Railways of the World, then getting this expansion is essential. There's very little here that you'll find disappointing, and it only makes an existing good game even better. If you're so-so on the base game, but looking for a way to enjoy the game with fewer players, than this expansion might just be the ticket. If you play regularly with just 2 or 3 players, the Europe map will prove more rewarding and enjoyable in the long run than the US map, and also offers a slightly more challenging game. As for me, I'm one of those who can't get enough of this series, so I'm only too pleased to be able to play it on this fantastic Europe map! Highly recommended!
My review on Railways of England & Wales expansion - available here
My review on Railways of the World base game - forthcoming soon, subscribe to this list to be notified when it's posted
The complete list of Ender's pictorial reviews: http://www.boardgamegeek.com/geeklist/37596
Subscribe to this list to be notified when new reviews are posted.
- Last edited Mon Jan 31, 2011 6:47 am (Total Number of Edits: 5)
- Posted Wed Apr 21, 2010 3:43 pm
Thanks for the post!
This is my favorite rail game because of its accessibility. I own both the Wales and Europe map. Great just great stuff and can't wait for more!
◄ əpıʌɐp ►
Yay! I rejoyce!
This time your wonderful review won't hurt my wallet!!
(as I already am in possession of Rails of Europe)
And this, ladies and gentlemen, is what I call a review.
Nothing to see here
Question... With the Mexico map, isn't there already a valid option for two or three players?
Salt Lake City
Thank you very much. Never thought any reviews can be so thorough and helpful.