Thursday, February 10, 2011

Steam - An excellent session at Williamsburg Muster

Williamsburg Muster (our next convention will be Guns of August, Aug 12-14) was last weekend, in Williamsburg, Virginia.  It was an excellent time!  We had over 200 gamers come to the convention, in addition to the 70 staff and vendor bodies that were there (but hey - we all get to play at the Muster)!

One of the things I got to do (more later some of the other stuff I was part of) was play a great game of Steam on Friday night with some old friends and some new friends.  Steam is a relatively new re-implementation of Age of Steam, from the genius of Martin Wallace.  Great game, with turns (in the basic game) consisting of (1) choosing roles (which grant special privileges through the turn; (2) building tracks and city improvements; (3) moving cargoes; and (4) adjusting income.  In the advance game, rather than choose roles, they are auctioned off.  It adds a good deal more strategy, but with the addition of an auction and also a money sink.

Around the table were Jeremy C (Black), Bob W (Natural), Byron C (White), Jake DT (Green) and myself (Orange).  We played (since I only had the base set, and we had 5 players) the Germany map.
{Not actually our game}
The game was great.  The thing I love about Steam (other than role selection, building, and TRAINS!!!) is that there are several paths to victory.  We played the basic version, which allows for money borrowing at any time, and also allows for role selection in order (vs. bidding for it each turn, which makes the game economy harder by creating a resource sink, but I digress into game theory).
{Actually our game}

Anyway, at the end of the game, the four of us other than Jake were pretty closely grouped together.  Jake, on the other hand, had over 10 points more than any of us.  Fun, but disgruntling.  I definitely want to play more!

When I got Steam, I was definitely interested in a tile based train game.  The other options open to me would be to find a used copy of Railroad Tycoon, a copy of Age of Steam, Railways of the World or some other tile based railroad game (less popular than those).  Age of Steam has a zillion supplements available for it, many of which seem to be compatible with Steam.  But between those two Steam wins, because it is (1) more casual gamer friendly, and (2) has more attractive components.  Railroad Tycoon is based on one of my favorite computer game franchises, is ALSO a Martin Wallace design (albeit with development by Glenn Drover of Eagle Games), and has AWESOME plastic bits for the towns.  However . . . the board is HUGE (3 feet by almost 4 feet), and won't fit on most tables.  It has been replaced by Railways of the World - which was the serious contender against Steam.  In the end, I think I chose Steam because of all the Age of Steam variants that could be accessed.  However, there are already several nice new boards, etc out for Railways of the world. From talking with some TAGS guys (Jake, who played, and David) it appears as if there are enough differences to possibly warrant also getting Railways of the World, one day when I'm rich and famous.
The Good Fellows playing at Williamsburg Muster

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