I must say from the outset that Age of Steam is not one of my favourite games,this opinion is not shared by the other players in my group, most them enjoy every opportunity to play. The maths do my head in and I cannot see the most productive routes to build from the off. That being said, I quite enjoyed this version of the game. Maybe because I got a reasonable build in early,it didn’t progress much but I didn’t come last which is my usual position when we play this. Garry, Neil, Richard and myself were the budding rail tycoons. This version of the game has several rules variations to the basicgame. Namely, no urbanisation, this becomes de-urbanisation!! This option lets you remove a block from the board. Obviously an opponent stuffing tactic. Also there are water links between England, Wales and Scotland. These links represent the only outlet for blue, red and yellow blocks. They cost $6 to build and you may only build one per turn. Presumably so that one player cannot have a monopoly of these links. There are also brown hexes, these start out with 2 or 3 blocks but do not produce any more. The locomotive action has also been changed. When you take the locomotive you are able to upgrade your loco twice but forfeit both move actions.
I think that as goods have so few outlets it is necessary to built long networks and upgrade your train to be able to transport the blocks over them. So when to upgrade or forfeit 2 moves and take the loco action become a vital decision. Richard and Neil both had large locos, and at the end were transporting over long routes. Neil had a 6 loco, and Richard had a 5. Garry and myself were trailing behind. My train never got above 3 and although I had lots of transportable blocks available it was never enough. Money is tight right up until the end and Garry was struggling, even going back 1 space on the income track. Usually that is my trick!! Richard got stuffed by the de-urbanisation twice and Neil once. I think this made for some nice re-thinking for those two.
Overall I think that I liked the Irish map better than some of the others, probably because it is smaller and it’s easier to see what is going on.
Final Scores (*denotes starting player)
Colin* 58, Neil 99, Garry 43, Richard 96