My Age of Steam withdrawals were getting nasty, so I had to get the game on table this week. I got a selection of maps with me (Poland, Madagascar, Holland, Europe and America), and with three players Holland seemed like a good option. We did get a fourth player too, but in a way ended up playing a three-player game in the end.
It’s a hard map in the beginning: the city colours are clustered badly and the map has tight corridors. In the end three of use started in the middle (with three red cities, all with two production numbers), while Tapani started in the bottom.
That was a bit of a mistake, because he lost the game because of that. Oops. He ended up bankrupt couple of turns later, when we effectively blocked him from gaining an entry to the center. I suppose Tapani could’ve fought the bankruptcy, but he was definitely out of winning, so he pretty much drove himself to bankruptcy, quitting the game.
We did have a good time, three of us, and it probably made things slightly easier for the newbies (Michael Webb suggests 4-player Holland only for experienced players, and I understand why). With the only other experienced player out of game, winning the game wasn’t much of an achievement, but the newbies did play a good game and I didn’t crush them, the final scores were something like 99-84-80.
I like the Holland map, and would definitely like to play it again. The rules are fairly simple, the trick is in the polders (the turquoise hexes in the picture below). For the most of the game, they are impassable. Late in the game, they open, giving players a bit more space and access to new cities, including all yellow cities. The three-player game removes one of urbanization and engineering each round.
Before Age of Steam, we sneaked in a quick match of Marrakech. Now there’s a fun filler. It works with three, as well, we found out, but I think it’s slightly better with four… In our game, Petri won, thanks to one unfortunate step from me. Petri didn’t pay anybody and only got one big payment from me, but that was enough. Well, this is certainly not a serious game in any sense.