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

Subject: GBG Goes to Italy rss

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Andrew Young
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And if you never have, you should. These things are fun and fun is good.
Last night we had a foursome. Good for golf, good for gaming and good for... well, never mind.

Check out our crew here:

The team all had exhausting days and was adverse to learning and slogging through a new, heavy game. So, we decided against Imperial 2030 this night and went to old faithful.

I have so many maps that its been a mission lately to play them all at least once. I've loved this game ever since I first played it way back when. I found a copy of the game in a store that was going out of business- in Acton. This was like 5 years ago. AoS was out of print then so I knew I had found a gem. The box is well worn with age and blood... and pain.

We chose a map that I had largely ignored for over 5 years- Italy. I was thinking as to the reasons for this but really couldn't come up with one. I think I've ignored it b/c of things I had heard about it- like it being more 'funky' or leaving the AoS reservation, etc.

Well, with maps like Disco Inferno and Zombie Apocalypse how 'strange' could Italy be?

I think 4 is a great number for this map. I'd never play it with 3 and 5 may be too many. Not sure. The problem with 3 players on this map (and my issue with 3 on Ireland) is the black cube mechanic (and deurb on Ireland). With such aggressive suppressing mechanisms the classic 3 player problem unfolds. 1 person attacks the other and that person retaliates with the 3rd person benefiting.

I like these mechanisms, don't get me wrong! But, I think a 4th player is needed to keep such tiffs honest.


I've borrowed the above photo to show you the map. Italy has several changes. You populate the board first sans black cubes. Then you add the blacks back into the cup and do the display. There are no towns and no traditional urbanization. A-D are cities on the map already but E-H are not in the game at all.

Urbanization allows someone to replace a black cube on a city or on the display with a random draw. Why? B/c black cubes are income killers. A player can ship a black cube on other player links thus lowering their income by the number of links traversed. So, they are little beacons of potenial pain IF they are in your network. So, urbanization allows a player to flush a few in needed.

In our game Chris broke the ice and shipped 2 black cubes on one of his turns- midgame I'd say. He didn't really have many good shipments himself so he figured he would counter balance everyone else's shipment gains. It was a good strategy of which I bore the biggest burden.


Chris had begun his network in the boot and had a turn or so of building before he could start shipping longer goods. So, again, this made sense.

In addition to the Urbanization/Black cube changes the Italian map also changes Engineer. Instead of 4 track one gets to place 1 of their builds for free. Coupled with this is that one can build as many track they want on a turn provided it is only 1 link (no unfinished track allowed in this game) and is the cheapest route from city to city. So, one could conceivably build from the north all the way to the south in 1 turn as long as it is the cheapest (fastest usually) route. Takes $ though, right? Well, in Italy one can issue as many shares as one wants- no 15 limit. In addition to issuing shares normally a player can issue additional ones in the auction, in building and in income and expenses. However, if issue during those phases you only get $3 instead of the $5. Shares only cost 2VPs at the end of the game as well, not the usual 3. 7 new tiles are in the game: 2 complex and 5 complete (or superduper complex costing $7). The picture above shows the 7 new ones. Lastly, there is no income reduction in the game.

(not sure if I'm forgetting anything but who cares, let's go on!)

As mentioned, Chris began in the South, Rob on the cost near Rome and Jim and I were entangled in the North. I wanted to stay away from Rome to begin b/c it looking more like a blue/red choke point than anything. We'll see. I concentrated on getting my links up early thinking that I could pay for them if in trouble (can issue shares in income/expenses). Jim was doing a twisty-turny dance in the north and I was looking for a way to break out of it south. I got built around but did manage to get a route down to the Yellow D city on the Eastern coast. I was locked from going south anything further however. Rob soon joined us in the north as did Chris.

The auctions were spirited with First Build, later First Move, Urbanization- fear of the black cubes!, and Engineer all being sought after. I like when auctions are difficult. I also like maps that force First Move into the game. I thought about taking Production once but opted for Urbanization (kind of a variant production) instead. Locomotive was also popular as it always seems to be!

Chris could have built in the South making his decision on the fact that no black cubes would come out there during the game. Actually, I think only 1 black cube was on the black city side of the display. The white, northern cities had more black cube potential. I shipped 1 black cube during the game I think spreading the pain. Though, b/c Jim's network was so entangled in the central north I think he took it on the chin the most. It was more of a function of people needing to use it to get to other networks, however.


But, it didn't hurt that Jim was getting crotch kicked anyway. It was a close game from start to finish. Rob had to use other people's networks for some of his shipments- he spread it around equitably btw Jim and myself. However, I think I was the luckiest in the end. The last turn of the game found everyone at 9 shares issued and roughly the same income. Chris issued another share (from 8 to 9) in the last track phase to essentially gain 5 VPs on tracks. It was a good move. There was one black cube in Rome that was tantalizing me... I was thinking about taking urbanization so as to remove it defensively. But, I was also thinking that it could be a trap. If I leave it there Jim (who had chosen First Move) would ship it and hurt me (by 4 at most). However, I could get 8 total making up some and he would have used one of his shipments himself. I should have taken Urb in the end b/c I had no $ left to build (and I wasn't going to issue any more shares). It was a risky mistake. He took the cube and pounded me. In the end, it wasn't enough.

Great game. I think this map is a great 4 player option.

Andy- 104
Chris- 101
Jim- 99
Rob- 99
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