Date: July 17, 2003

Games: Coloretto, Age of Steam

Attendees: Doug, Ed, Helen, Jeff F., Mark, Marty, Rick, Susan

Reporter: Susan Rozmiarek

Coloretto Mark, Doug, Susan and Ed warm up with Colortto.
Coloretto: Ed, Doug, Mark, Susan

This remains a popular starter/closer for our sessions. We've all played it enough so that some of the decisions are automatic, but I still enjoy it.

We only played one round since more people showed up. Doug hogged all the bonus cards but some of them got canceled out by negative points. I was helped a lot by getting wild cards. We play by the official rule that doesn't require you to commit the wild card to a certain color when you get it.

Results: Mark 38, Susan 37, Ed 32, Doug 29

Age of Steam Susan determines her best course of action during Age of Steam while Jon, Jeff Ford and Marty Hoff look on.
Age of Steam: Ed, Jeff F., Marty, Susan

We ordered this one as soon as it became available. Volldampf, its predecessor, is probably in my top ten favorite games so I knew I had to have this one. We hadn't pulled it out yet though, because of its long playing time and intimidating rules. Fortunately, tonight we had Jeff and Marty, both experienced AoS players, to teach us the game. Knowing that this is a tough one for new players, I approached it as a learning game and promised myself that I would not get frustrated. Good thing, too, because I did pretty poorly!

One of the easiest things to do in this game is go bankrupt. Money is TIGHT, especially at the start. It takes several turns to get the feel for how much money you have to spend on the auction and on track. In Volldampf, taking out more than a few shares is excessive. In this game you seem to be constantly having to take shares. Since you will owe money at the end of your turn for shares and train upgrades, you really have to think ahead to make sure you have this income left over.

Age of Steam Age of Steam after two turns.

The next challenge for me was the planning on the board. You must carefully plan out where to build your track in order to move the goods over it to the correct cities to raise your income. This requires managing your money carefully, upgrading your train, managing your money carefully, getting the critical roles needed for the execution of your plans via an auction, and oh, did I mention you must manage your money carefully during all this? Of course even then, other players are constantly screwing up your plans.

Age of Steam The final Age of Steam board.

In this game, Ed built a nice chain on the western edge of the board. It was pretty isolated and hence nobody was using his track at first, keeping him at the bottom, but he was able to hook in to the rest of the network in the latter half of the game to make a pretty big comeback. Jeff made a pretty sweet chain through the southern and eastern parts of the board with Marty in strong competition with him the whole way. Jon managed to control a lot of the central part of the map. As for me, my strategy was stuck back in Volldampf. I was trying to build segments of tracks in key locations that people would be certain to use. While this works well with the fixed tracks in Volldampf, in this game people can build their own segments around you and ignore you completely. And they did. Even though I tried to join them up, my segments remained too scattered to give me big payoffs for deliveries like those that had nice chains. After a strong start, I steadily declined throughout the game. Marty warned us about Jeff's prowess with this game and he proved to be correct.

Results: Jeff 74, Jon 72, Marty 60, Ed 57, Susan 38 (blush)

I got to play this again a few days later and am happy to say I did much better (2nd place!), taking and applying what I learned from this game. I am really eager to try it again. I'm not sure if I like it better than Volldampf. There is much more to think about and plan ahead in Age of Steam, while Volldampf has more tactical decisions, which I do enjoy. I'll have to play Volldampf soon for a good comparison.

Other games played: Bean Trader, Exxtra, Trendy

Jeff, Rick, Marty and Helen loosen up their fingers with Crokinole.
Bean Trader
Roxana, Mark, Doug, Helen and Rick go trading with Bean Trader.
Bean Trader
Bean Trader board.
Finishing off the evening with Trendy.

For more pictures from this gaming sessions and others, see our Gaming Picture Gallery.

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Copyright © 2003, Ed Rozmiarek