Thursday, January 04, 2007

My Love Affair With Train Games

Long-term readers may remember my heretical article where I mentioned that I didn't like Ticket to Ride, nor train games in general. So my love affair with train games is somewhat like my love affair with my ex-wife, except she had the good grace to leave me. (I sound like an Australian liberal DW Tripp, don't I?) Let's just say that although we're on speaking terms, relationships between train games and I are strained.

That is not to say I'm no good at them. The last time I played Ticket to Ride: Europe, I won. The last time I played Ticket to Ride I played the "ignore tickets buy long routes" strategy and came second. The time I played Union Pacific I won. Then I discovered that I don't mind Metro at all, and after losing my first game I won the second. (But I don't think Metro is really a train game.)

Over the Christmas-New Year period I played a few more train games, mostly as part of the BGG Top 50 project. The first was Railroad Tycoon. Despite advice from generalpf to go northeast, my tycoon card said I should become the rail baron of Chicago. So I did that. Because I wasn't stressed about winning I managed to get by with only one share for the entire game, and my 8 points for routes out of Chicago and my 6 point advantage for having no shares just got me the win.

Later on it was time to play Ticket to Ride: Marklin. I don't know why, but I didn't mind this one so much. I definitely liked the 4+ wilds - they seem to make it a bit easier to get the cards you need for a long route. I didn't mind the passenger mechanic, although I often complain about that sort of thing feeling tacked on. And I did like the proper sized cards. I won this one as well, for no obvious reason.

That same night we played Metro again, and I played nasty and was unstoppable and won easily. Much later that night, we played it again, and several people took it upon themselves to prevent me from winning for a third time in a row. All good things must come to an end.

The big black cloud on the horizon is Age of Steam, which I haven't played yet but is ranked #10 at BoardGameGeek. It looks really serious. And long and boring. I don't much want to play it. I'll probably win.


Kevin S. O'Brien said...

You wrote: "I can hear you screaming 'back up! back up! What was that about Ticket to Ride?! You didn't like it?' No, I didn't like it, much, it's the train thing. But also, it's nowhere near intense enough for me - I like brain burners."

But not, perhaps, Caylus?

You also wrote: "Having seen recent SdJ winners, I think TtR is a deserving member of that sequence, but those are not my sorts of games. Niagara was MUCH worse."

So why are you trying to play them all...?

Not an attack. Just trying to understand your perspective.

Friendless said...

I'm keeping my friends close and my enemies closer.

I found that Caylus wasn't a brain burner because there was too much to think about and I got frustrated. Games like Domaine and Trias hit a sweet spot where there's heaps to think about, the possibility of making great moves, but not so much going on that you can't evaluate your position.

I've played 14 SdJ winners and 8 of them I would seek to play again. That's a quite decent strike rate. Ticket to Ride is at a level of complexity which I often like (Celtica, Tongiaki) and often wins the SdJ, I just don't go for that particular game much. I don't know why I like Celtica but mot Ticket to Ride, maybe it's all theme.

Fraser said...

The first game, assuming you get there, of Age of Steam can be longish. Try and top it out at three or four players and don't play it with anyone who suffers from analysis paralysis. You should be able to keep it to two hours or so. If you are playing with newbies you probably will win, if you are playing with experienced players you probably won't.