Our latest game session (actually on Tuesday) got a good start with Die Dolmengötter. It’s a favourite of me and Hannu, and the others were happy to play the game as well. Mika was the only newbie around. Petri had devised a rather clever strategy: avoid Mikko. I certainly did fairly well, pretty much thanks to Mika. Others did, too: Petri had lots of dolmens on top of (mostly rather short) stacks. Hannu goofed around on the sides, but seemed to progress as well.
Indeed. Hannu was first one to complete his score in the final count: 72. Petri was getting close, but his progress stopped at 70. Close call, but it got even closer, when I finished my count and ended up at 71. Nice! Mika had just 49, but still I’d say the total score for all of us was fairly high, and the result was unusually close (Dolmengötter is often won with a small margin, but this small I’ve never seen before). Excellent game, too — if the game worked as well with other player counts, it’d be awfully close to a 10. With four, this is close to perfection.
I got our Pampas Railroads order on Tuesday, so it was an obvious choice — anyhow I had to take a copy with me, because I was delivering Hannu’s game to him. Despite Mika’s resistance (he doesn’t like train games), it was the best option we had so we plunged in.
Pampas Railroads is a longer and more complicated relative of Wabash Cannonball. The game has a longer fixed length (which is the same as the max length of Wabash, I think), our game took about two hours. The time taken depends a lot on the auction speed of the players, but I’d say 90 minutes to three hours is a fairly realistic range.
The basic idea is simple: buy shares in railroads, build track and develop cities to increase the value of those railroads and try to make most money by buying the right shares at the right price. Simple in theory, very complicated in practise…
There are some differences to Wabash. Mostly, stock doesn’t dilute (dividends are always based on total amount of shares; only end game value depends on amount of shares sold), development is more powerful (income is based on links, not cities, and link value is value of both ends summed together, so increasing city value with one will increase railroad income with two or more) and the fixed game length removes the game end speculation.
Our game was very experimental, a real training game, as we didn’t have any clue of proper share values (hint: much higher than in Wabash, $30 isn’t too much). Mika — who doesn’t like these train games, you know — dominated the scene by running the Pacifico very profitably and very much alone. In the end, the scores were 472-290-269-225. Yours truly was dead last. My shares were actually worth more than Petri’s or Hannu’s, but I had less cash. Mika, of course, had both most cash and the most valuable shares (four shares of Pacifico, each worth $45, thank you very much!).
Well, we’ll show him the next time. I enjoyed the game a lot, and indeed might join the group that prefers this one over Wabash: the extra length and scope for building and developing pleases me. There’s more building in this, that’s the thing, a better feel of creating something. Dunno, but this is a top-notch game worth more exploration, that’s for sure.
The components are typical Winsome quality: decent, not pretty, some usability issues. The action cards I don’t like, and replacing them with a Wabash-style action track is a very good idea. JC Lawrence (tons of gratitude to him for organizing the P100 project!) included a player aid with the tracks and a better income/value chart, but I don’t like that part… I do have an idea what the perfect Pampas Railroads income/value track should look like, expect one to appear in Geek as soon as I get it done. Which might take months, considering my current workload, or might happen in few days. We’ll see.