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Subject: Brass 2 player variant suggestion. rss

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Henri Harju
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I have been thinking and tinkering with Brass 2 player variant. Here's what I would suggest:

Reducing the board.

* The following locations on the board are not accessible (can't build to these locations and can't link to these locations): Birkenhead, Ellesmere Port, Stockport, Macclesfield, Oldham and Rochdale.

* IMPORTANT: There is a canal connection to Scotland as well as a railroad connection.

Reducing the deck to 40 cards

* Remove the aforementioned location cards from the deck. Additionally remove one of each of the following: Manchester, Wigan, Liverpool, Lancaster, Preston.

* Remove:

3 x Cotton Mill industry cards,
3 x Port industry cards,
2 x Shipyard industry cards,
1 x Coal and Iron industry cards.

* At the beginning of the canal period remove 2 cards from the deck. No cards are removed at the beginning of the rail period.

Limiting the resources.

* Skip the £1 section of the coal & iron demand track. First resource on the market is £2. £1 is never used.

* At the beginning of the game both players receive £25 instead of £30.

* Remove one -1, -3 and both 0 distant market tile from the game. They won't be used. You should have total 8 distant market tiles in the game.

The game proceeds otherwise as normal 3-4 player game.

---------------------------------------

If someone (other than me) tries this, I'd be interested hearing about it. I think these changes make for pretty tight game.

I'm especially interested in how well the card distribution works. To me (after one play) it seems like it could use some more tinkering..

---------------------------------------

Alas, I hadn't got to play (test) against anyone since my first (and last) game, so I thought about doing some solo gaming. it's amazing how willingly my darker side accepted my offer. He must have developed some vicious plan. devil

What follows here is a session report of sorts. I'm editing it here, as to not to needlessly bump my own shit.

I (red, but you better pretend to be color blind so it's really green as I always play with green. But I'm not color blind, mind you, so it's black, seriously a voice whispers from the depths of my conscious. What are you talking about?? Like I was saying, it's as black as a painting portraying a pitch black night.. Will you just.. SHUT UP! Shuure. *smirk* devil) had preplanned to go for shipyard strategy, mostly to see how it would demolish all possible opposition, and just a little bit to see how it goes anyway..

My darker (and people often say, more handsome) side seems to be going with the basic of the basics. I can sense nothing vicious what so ever in his play, it's frankly disappointing. Nothing wrong with the basics, you know. I'm not the evil overlord type of player... Yeah what ever. My plan looks to be going pretty much as I had preplanned it. Amazing how the cards just show up in the right order. It's almost as someone down there likes me.. come to think of it, it's strangely mild here, the whole winter has been pretty lukewarm. I wonder if these things are connected somehow? Well enough of distracting my self, I have a game to play, moves to make, victory to claim. And it looks good. I have build lvl. 1 coal mine (and it has already flipped) and quite a bit of iron, which I'm using to fuel my development. Meanwhile my darker side.. (who's by the way playing yellow.. I'm NOT, you maggot, it's clearly black. Oh, sry, forgot you only see in black and other shades of black. Must be pretty dull world around here? Not, really. I like the northern lights. Come to think of it, haven't seen any lately..) ..is playing by the book. Seriously how dull can you be? About as dull as you, mister maggot. Ha! You haven't seen my plan to unveil yet! But i have, and by the way, your final score shall be 167, shall I tell you your final income? No need to spoil it all, is there? As you like, as you like.. Like I care. Ok, back to the track.. Like I was trying to say, before being distracted, my darker side and more handsome SHUT the f**k up! OK.. is playing by the book cotton strategy. Already he has developed the first level cotton mills away and building level two ones. It looks strong. But amazingly our income levels are about equal, even though I have build only one cotton mill, though those coal mines, them bring forth pretty good penny, the do. At the end of canal period my scores were..

Me: 50
Darker side: 41

I had only 17 points worth of 2+ level building on the board while my darker side had 20. Quite even really. Even the canal period felt pretty tight as only Colne remained untouched.

Pfffft, celebrating a difference of only 9 points, pathetic! Pfft to yourself. At least I was trying to play some interesting moves here and there! And thee shall regret it later, thou shall. Whatever.. and now to the real deal.

The rail period begun, like it has a habit of beginning, and that is hotly as a steam engine. I had a nice pile of cold hard cash to invest to the early railway expansion, fueled by my own coal mines. Splendid! Meanwhile my darker side was struggling with money shortage and building some coal mines to and a little bit later his first lvl. 4 cotton mill. Bwahahahahahhaa! Thank you, and while building hes empire of wicked child labor using cotton mills and ports he manager to cut me out of barrow-in-furness. A major setback for my shipyard building strategy! Ha! Want me to build all the spaces in Preston, too? You wouldn't? Bwahahahahhaa.. Well, damn you. Why thank you, didn't know you had manners.. It seems the one who was liking me during canal period was attending to his bonsai trees and after that feeding his jesting Saber-toothed cats. I couldn't even build shipyard to the still available Liverpool as I had no location or industry cards. Well damn. A little bit later My darker side did an evil play and build over my lvl. 2 iron works. The bastard. Your flattering won't give you any mercy, you know? I wasn't flattering, and certainly not asking any! Oh, so brave. Scary. Whatever. And so my game plan was grumbling. I concentrated to building some juicy railroads, but it really did nothing to my already grave cash situation. In the end I was forced to take another loan, while trying to get some cotton shipping going. My darker side had his own problems too, as his cotton shipping was getting pretty hard as there wasn't so many spaces left to build cotton mills. It was a literal space war. Additionally he was struggling with his port cards, or rather the lack of them. I on the other hand had plenthora of them, nice to build railroad with them. devil But! Sometimes the rays of the sun hit the deep depths of the deepest ocean, as I finally drew that one Liverpool card that I needed! Oh the joy, praise whoever it was looking after me! No one's looking after you, you dim-wit.. Will you just shut up at the moment of my victory over statistics? Ok, whatever..(and you didn't exactly win..) And so the Liverpool sees the rise of the most grand and most long-waited shipyard of the history (of the country). Meanwhile, the darker side of me had managed to build his shady cotton empire consisting mostly of the third and fourth level cotton mills, sore he had some ports too, actually quite many of them. High level too. The end was nearing and for the first time during the game I felt it. The wide smirk somewhere behind my eyes, the laughter in my ears, the smell of the defeat. Serves you right, never underestimate the basics. The last actions were played, excuses said, curses cursed. All the was left, was the counting of points. My hands tremble as I count my points. 167. As I said. Mine are 184. I stare at nothing at particular, disbelieved. Sure, I knew I wasn't that clever, surely not very intelligent, maybe, just maybe even a little bit dumb. But I just lost to myself? How can this be?

I will walk towards tomorrow as broken man...

Ok, so now that I have gotten over the loss.. some observations time:

* The new (the current) card distribution worked better than the last one (that you haven't ever seen). I had too much ports and cotton mills in the last one.

* The canal period can be surprisingly interesting because of space limiting and the fact that you really, really, really don't wanna help you opponent.

* You will run out of building space quickly during railway period as in 3/4 player games. Good.

* The cards still pose problems at times as in 3/4 player games...

* Iron works building is tricky and dangerous business as you'll have to be careful to not let your rival build over your industries. The fact that the resource track has less cubes enhances this "problem".

* It also means that you'll probably have to time your developing better..
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Kevin Thatcher
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Under Limiting the Resources, do you mean skip the 1 pound section of the "coal & iron demand track" rather than the "coal & cotton demand track"?

I will definitely give this 2 player variant a try.

Kevin
 
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Ricky Gray
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Quote:
I will definitely give this 2 player variant a try.


As will I. The holidays may slow me down a bit, but one of my regular gaming buddies and i have plans to take this for a test drive or two.

Ricky
 
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Henri Harju
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Kevin Lee Thatcher wrote:
Under Limiting the Resources, do you mean skip the 1 pound section of the "coal & iron demand track" rather than the "coal & cotton demand track"?

I will definitely give this 2 player variant a try.

Kevin


Good catch. I wonder how I didn't notice that when I was proof reading.. surprise

I will appreciate any feedback you guys might be able to give.
 
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Kevin Thatcher
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Henri,

thanks for the variant. Interestingly, I will probably play with it as my first game of Brass. It will be interesting to see how it colors my view of any 3 or 4 player games I will play afterwards!

I will definitely let you know how any two-player games go.

Kevin
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Ingo Griebsch
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Kevin Lee Thatcher wrote:
Henri,
I will definitely let you know how any two-player games go.
Kevin


I hope us too.

der ingo
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Chuck Parrott
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I will give this a try as well sometime. I played a 2p game with my gf recently, but the only change we made was to add 2 more action rounds following the 4p = 8 3p = 10 pattern. Though it played okay, there was never any real competition for space to develop. It was pretty much solitaire industry building for both of us. I think we ended with scores of 199 for me and 192 for her. But it was a learning game for her and I helped her along a bit with advice of how to build her networks. I almost exhausted all my buildings in the game, though I developed quite more than usual to get to the higher tech buildings sooner.
 
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Tony M
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Has anyone considered a very simple 2P variant thats nothing more than "Each player plays 2 colors. Your score is whatever color scores the least VP ?"

If you wanted to reduce card management, you could play:
Each player gets a hand of 8 cards and draws replacements before playing his second color in a round.


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Henri Harju
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tmarozas wrote:
Has anyone considered a very simple 2P variant thats nothing more than "Each player plays 2 colors. Your score is whatever color scores the least VP ?"

If you wanted to reduce card management, you could play:
Each player gets a hand of 8 cards and draws replacements before playing his second color in a round.


I don't know for anyone, but I sure have. (I had a hand for each "player" and the victory went to the player having most points after adding both scores together..). To me the problem is that I end up making decisions for two players instead of just one, but it sure changes how you play the game. It becomes much more "cooperative" this way. I actually like your suggestion of adding only the lowest score, though it can result in a lot of "needless" calculation..

But you certainly are right in that it is the easiest solution to the problem. I have played Puerto rico this way and I thought it worked just fine.
 
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Paulo Soledade
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Henri

I've tried the two player variant this weekend and we liked it enough to try again soon.

We just thought that the external market could have a -1 tile and one -3 less.

The final score was something about 156 against 153!

Paulo
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Henri Harju
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Soledade wrote:
Henri

I've tried the two player variant this weekend and we liked it enough to try again soon.

We just thought that the external market could have a -1 tile and one -3 less.

The final score was something about 156 against 153!

Paulo


Hey, appreciated.

The idea to remove 0s and -1s was, as you probably have guessed, to limit the external shipping and thus make competition for the remaining port slots more fierce. As a side effect it made the external math rather simple, too.

If you draw -4, then you know there will be 2 external shipments.
If you draw -3 and -2, then there is 50% chance for 1 additional shipment.
If you draw -2 and -2, then you have ~83% chance for 1 additional shipment.

The original expected value for successful shipments is ~3.7. And in my variant it's 2.67, this might be a bit too harsh.

I am actually liking your suggestion more and more now that I'm doing the math as removing one -3 and adding -1 makes it possible, though quite unlikely, that there could be 4 shipments (I'm too lazy to do the exact math, but it's in the neighborhood of ~5%). The average of successful shipments goes up to 2.8 also.

I'll try this next time I can threaten someone to play. But i have this feeling, that I'll like it more, though.

PS. My high score in 3 player is 200, sharp.
 
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Bill Bass
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I would like to try this out, but I would like a clarification of something first. You mention that Ellesmere Port, Stockport, Macclesfield, Oldham and Rochdale are inaccesible, no building within or connections to these cities. This means that The Midlands is also inaccessible, and Yorkshire is only accessible through Colne, correct?

My concern is that this could change the strategic options somewhat, particularly when it comes to Cotton Mills. In a 3-4 player game, a player may build a Cotton Mill in one of the aforementioned towns (excluding Ellesmere Port of course), connect it to one of the external locations, and ship cotton to the distant market this way. With this variant, if I understand it correctly, cotton shipments will not be possible in the canal period of the game until one of the players actually constructs a port.

I have only played a couple of times so far, so I have not fully developed any master strategies yet, but it does seem that one option in the 3-4 player game would be to try to be the first build a couple of cotton mills in these towns and flip them early, using Yorkshire or The Midlands to access the distant market, and depleting it before the other players can use the distant market. This option would not be available in the 2 player variant.

Is this a big deal? Probably not, and it is probably not the only strategy which would have to be retooled for a 2 player environment. I just want to make sure I am playing this variant as intended, just so we are on the same page as everyone else as this variant evolves, as I expect it will over time.

Thanks for posting the idea!
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Henri Harju
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Tazzmann wrote:
I would like to try this out, but I would like a clarification of something first. You mention that Ellesmere Port, Stockport, Macclesfield, Oldham and Rochdale are inaccesible, no building within or connections to these cities. This means that The Midlands is also inaccessible, and Yorkshire is only accessible through Colne, correct?

My concern is that this could change the strategic options somewhat, particularly when it comes to Cotton Mills. In a 3-4 player game, a player may build a Cotton Mill in one of the aforementioned towns (excluding Ellesmere Port of course), connect it to one of the external locations, and ship cotton to the distant market this way. With this variant, if I understand it correctly, cotton shipments will not be possible in the canal period of the game until one of the players actually constructs a port.

I have only played a couple of times so far, so I have not fully developed any master strategies yet, but it does seem that one option in the 3-4 player game would be to try to be the first build a couple of cotton mills in these towns and flip them early, using Yorkshire or The Midlands to access the distant market, and depleting it before the other players can use the distant market. This option would not be available in the 2 player variant.

Is this a big deal? Probably not, and it is probably not the only strategy which would have to be retooled for a 2 player environment. I just want to make sure I am playing this variant as intended, just so we are on the same page as everyone else as this variant evolves, as I expect it will over time.

Thanks for posting the idea!


About your question. Yes, your assumption is correct. If you feel that this is problem, then you might want to allow canal connection to Scotland. That's the best fix I could think of quickly.

The fact that you only have one distant port accessible was kind of intended as I felt that having too many distant ports would cause the players to just build over their "own" part of the city (in addition to that there is only so many cities you can erase from the board without making it too confusing). But having only one way to access to them, might be a problem, I admit. I really haven't thought about it too much. I probably should.
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Henri Harju
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I managed to squeeze a game out of my pal, MichaelB here at geek. I had my ass handed to me, but at the very least I got to play test some of the very good suggestions you guys have been providing. Thanks.

I'm making the Soledade's suggestion "official". We played with Soledade's suggestion and while the actual -1 tile did not materialize, I think it is a change towards better game. Thanks again. (I dominated the distant marked and lost, by the way.. I build all the level 4 cotton mills..)

Another change to the "official" rules for 2 player game is to include a canal link to Scotland as per Tazzmann's concern. I think that's a valid concern and while this either didn't actually materialize in out game, I think it is a change towards the right direction.
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Ingo Griebsch
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Hi all,

has anybody else tested this variant since the last post who can tell us if it works? I'm interested to here, if the rules are working after more than one game or if they need to be a adjusted a little bit more.


 
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d0gb0t wrote:
Hi all,

has anybody else tested this variant since the last post who can tell us if it works? I'm interested to here, if the rules are working after more than one game or if they need to be a adjusted a little bit more.




Ingo, thanks for directing me to this thread. I played a solo game tonight 2 player using the rules as lised in the pdf. I thought it played quite well. Red 126 Green 108. I'm not 100% sure I am scoring links right. I need to re-read the rules. There was a good deal of fighting for space and cards were a little limiting which is good.


I think it works quite well. I like this alot more than playing 2 hands each....way too cumbersome I think. I suppose another possibility is a dummy 3rd player that the 2 humans alternate controlling but he doesn't score...or maybe does. Either way, the two player variant seems to work well after a solo play.


edit: I am scheduled to try it out against a human Saturday night. I'll try and do a session report if he shows up.

 
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Ingo Griebsch
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Hi Rastak,
Rastak wrote:
Ingo, thanks for directing me to this thread.

No problem!

Rastak wrote:
Either way, the two player variant seems to work well after a solo play.

I hope so! I will try it myself as soon as i have time.

Rastak wrote:
edit: I am scheduled to try it out against a human Saturday night. I'll try and do a session report if he shows up.

That would be great!
 
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Henri Harju
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If you guys get to play it, could you try to keep an eye on how the coal and iron demand market works. At the moment it's the thing that bugs me most. The way I see it, it changes how the game plays a bit too much. (Making players want to build and use their own resources if at all possible, a bit too much.)

What I'm going to try (whenever I get to it) is to turn the current resource market upside down and skip the £4 section on it instead of the £1. Additional resources outside the track would be £4, then.

And as always, any feedback is better than no feedback.

Edit:

If someone comes up with clever way to reduce number of cubes on the demand track (and not unbalance industries in the process), I'd very much like to read about it.
 
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Henkka wrote:
If you guys get to play it, could you try to keep an eye on how the coal and iron demand market works. At the moment it's the thing that bugs me most. The way I see it, it changes how the game plays a bit too much. (Making players want to build and use their own resources if at all possible, a bit too much.)

What I'm going to try (whenever I get to it) is to turn the current resource market upside down and skip the £4 section on it instead of the £1. Additional resources outside the track would be £4, then.

And as always, any feedback is better than no feedback.

Edit:

If someone comes up with clever way to reduce number of cubes on the demand track (and not unbalance industries in the process), I'd very much like to read about it.



Hello Henri.

I played a two player game against a friend of mine tonight. He was a complete newbie and I was close, but had the advantage of reading the rules 3 or 4 times and playing a solo game.


My thoughts on the two player variant. I thought it worked extremely well. My buddy had very little idea of strategy and really screwed himself several times. He conceded halfway through the rail era, but I saw enough to know that if he had played better the variant would have been excellent.

I think I agee a bit on the demand track. I scooped up a few flips by exploiting the demand track being down. It did seem to launch me up the income track pretty fast.

I have to admit, my session wasn't perfect in gauging things because my buddy screwed up several times.


Let me say this, I had a great time and he had a moderately good time....LOL.
 
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Henri Harju
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I soloed the game through with the "flipped" resource market yesterday, and I was pleased to notice that actually using the resource market didn't seem so bad (as in allowing your opponent to take advantage of it didn't seem as bad). I was less pleased to notice that this change makes it much more likely that over building could happen (which is naturally huge in 2 player game..).

Consider the following sequence..

During early rail period, player 1 builds double railways + something else (generally uses much money) and there's already 2 iron used. Now player 2 has an option to simple develop twice and next turn build over player 1's iron works.

I'm not saying that this couldn't happen as the rules are currently, but it is quite tempting to just build iron works elsewhere (if possible, of course) and get that £4 back (instead of £2). Also, it is more unlikely for the demand track to have 2 iron used (with the current rule set) in the first place (because of the £2 starting prize).

Still, I really need to play against somebody other than me to gauge this properly...
 
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Inno Van
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2 player map candidate 2008.03.09

Criticisms so far:
In our playtests, whoever gets Lancaster-Preston owns the top of the map, likewise Burnsley to Colne own the east of the map. Having a starting hand of only Bury, Bolton and Manchester in the canal age is an automatic lose.

Proposals:
Canal link from Bury to Yorkshire?
Rail links from Bury and Manchester to Yorkshire?
Rail link Lancaster to Burnsley?
Add any 2 coin linkages to the existing layout?

 
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Henri Harju
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Innovan wrote:
2 player map candidate 2008.03.09

Criticisms so far:
In our playtests, whoever gets Lancaster-Preston owns the top of the map, likewise Burnsley to Colne own the east of the map. Having a starting hand of only Bury, Bolton and Manchester in the canal age is an automatic lose.


I'd say your a bit pessimistic about auto-losing. But then again, I haven't played this variant against real opponents all that much, so this might very well be true.

Innovan wrote:

Proposals:
Canal link from Bury to Yorkshire?
Rail links from Bury and Manchester to Yorkshire?
Rail link Lancaster to Burnsley?
Add any 2 coin linkages to the existing layout?


The problem with these suggestions is, that unless you actually print out your own 2 player map (which looks nice, I must say) it's quite a hurdle to implement these changes.

I actually wouldn't make more distant ports accessible during canal period as there's only 3 ways to get there in 3-4 player game. I'd say 2 is enough.

But making the north more accessible and another connection to Yorkshire (I'd say a rail link from bury) could be ideas to consider.

I don't think the map needs more 2 coin linkages. No one really used that south linkage anyway if they could avoid it. And adding that rail link from bury to Yorkshire already adds one.
 
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Ingo Griebsch
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Hi,

we have played the game 2 times yesterday and i must say it works great. The games were very challenging because there is not as much space as on the original map. The rule changes feels natural and not like a crutch.

We have played it with the initial defined resource market rules (£1 is never used) and it works ok for us. I don't think that changing this part of the rule makes the game more playable. But we don't have used the chance to "build over".

All in all a very good variant. We will try it again and report our impressions here.
 
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Ingo Griebsch
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Hi,

Innovan wrote:
2 player map candidate 2008.03.09

Criticisms so far:
In our playtests, whoever gets Lancaster-Preston owns the top of the map, likewise Burnsley to Colne own the east of the map. Having a starting hand of only Bury, Bolton and Manchester in the canal age is an automatic lose.

I don't would call it an "automatic lose". During our last two games it was a little bit like a race for the best places on the map (and you can't hold them all).

Regarding Lancaster-Preston or Burnsley-Colne: What did you means with "owns the top" or "owns the east"?

In our second game i build an harbor and a cotton mill in lancaster with the two actions in one of my turns to hold away my opponent from the top (so i can build a shipyard a few rounds later). But my opponent has build a link between Preston and Lancaster and between Lancaster and Barrow... and so he had all chances to build the shipyard first.

The external locations are accessible if any link is build to it (sure, you can block the way if you own the whole city in the rail-period and the link to this city but you can't block all ways). So i don't see this as a problem but more as a competition.

Innovan wrote:

Canal link from Bury to Yorkshire?
Rail links from Bury and Manchester to Yorkshire?
Rail link Lancaster to Burnsley?

I think two external locations are enough for two players. There must be a compactness regarding the strategies to win the game or the game will be playable but very dry and solitare. We have played our first game with two players but with the 3 player rules. It was ok to learn the game but it was not challenging because we both could mix any strategy that is possible (cotton, links, shipyards).

Innovan wrote:

Add any 2 coin linkages to the existing layout?

Hm, maybe in the south of the map?! Must think about and maybe try it.

Innovan wrote:

Very nice. I have also already thought about such an modification of the map. It seems to be specific to your proposals. Anyway, how have you made it? And will it be available for download?
 
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SoRCon 8 27 Feb - 1 Mar 2015 Basildon UK http://www.sorcon.co.uk Essex Games 27 Jul '15
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Henkka wrote:
* IMPORTANT: There is a canal connection to Scotland as well as a railroad connection.


Two bad things about this.

- Adding to the board is inelegant.

- Have you seen how far it is from Lancashire to Scotland? There's a reason why a canal to Scotland isn't allowed.
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