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Backing Age of Steam

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08 Mar 2019 01:32 - 08 Mar 2019 02:00 #293523 by RolandHemisphere
I am new here, so any format/category/stylistic irregularities are on me. Help if you can.

So, I have backed Age of Steam, knowing full well about the controversy and I have waded through some hot (and lukewarm) takes on the issue.

I did it because the game is a classic. I did it because I have spent enough on Martin Wallace games to not feel guilty about him getting shafted - or not. The truth is murky, so be it.

Is it a great game? is it worth wading through the miasma? What am I in for?

My group likes the meatier stuff and I'm always a sucker for a beast of a game. I don't buy them because the time constraints, rules overhead and other logistical headaches keep me from pulling the trigger on a game like this. or, frankly Lisboa, SpaceCorp and on and on.

I'd like to discuss this game specifically and the ins and outs of burly, fiddly, games like this and their place in the hobby. And maybe the industry.

I think games like this are a bridge for folks, myself included, who are unsure how deep the pool gets and the best ways to navigate he hobby in general.

The only thing we are good at is being human, and we suck at that too.

Thanks!

Scott
Last edit: 08 Mar 2019 02:00 by RolandHemisphere.

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08 Mar 2019 03:48 - 08 Mar 2019 04:01 #293524 by Erik Twice
Replied by Erik Twice on topic Backing Age of Steam
I'm not sure I understand the purporse of this thread.

If you want to back Age of Steam in Kickstarter despite the designer of the game not getting credit or payment, I think that's up to you. Note that EGG/Fred, the company running the Kickstarter has also stolen from Martin Wallace in the past, as well as other creators like the designer of Francis Drake.

Personally, even assuming I didn't care about game companies stealing the work of game designers, I would think twice if these people are the best suited to deliver a quality product. The fact that they cheated people on their Through The Ages kickstarter, are known for their terrible customer service and many of their games have quality control issues should also weight into it.

I don't want to call you out, either but I think this stuff about not feeling guilty because the game "is a classic" and of MW games is hogwash. You either care or you don't care, the game being good or not won't justify your decision. And I say this as someone who owns games made and designed by Bohrer, like Chicago Express, and would like to own more.

It also doesn't seem you have, well, actually played the game. And I think you should consider if you want the game or what you are seeking is the idea of it. And it's a good game, mind. It's not actually a beast, or overly complex or anything like that, though. It lasts 90 minutes and is no more difficult than Brass is.

Either way, Steam is superior to Age of Steam. No random die rolls, no fake decisions in the auction, no weird income track that sometimes gives you more money and sometimes gives less. It doesn't have the fiddly needless parts of AoS and is otherwise the same game. In fact, it was originally caled "Age of Steam 3rd edition" before all this nonsense with the rights started.

Sorry for the rough time, bud.
Last edit: 08 Mar 2019 04:01 by Erik Twice.
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08 Mar 2019 07:18 - 08 Mar 2019 07:38 #293526 by RolandHemisphere
Your response was generous, fair and not rough in the least. In fact, it's exactly what I was looking for and why I asked the question.

I couldn't get a read on the quality of the game itself through all the partisan bickering. I’d read so much conflicting information about the game and the quality of the game, that I wasn't sure quite whose opinion was trustworthy. There are folks who insist it the best game ever made.

Thank you. I appreciate this community more every day.
Last edit: 08 Mar 2019 07:38 by RolandHemisphere.

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08 Mar 2019 07:56 #293527 by Legomancer
Replied by Legomancer on topic Backing Age of Steam
I'll second that Steam is the better game. You can play without the bullshit auction (we do, though you can also play with it if you want), there are plenty of interesting expansion maps, and the restocking action is a more interesting decision. In my opinion, all the AoS purists are holdouts from the days when it was seen as the most brutal, nasty game out there and thus only for those of iron fortitude.

It is a great game, and there's really nothing so captivating about the KS version that plain old Steam isn't an improvement in some way.
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08 Mar 2019 08:25 - 08 Mar 2019 08:27 #293528 by Michael Barnes
Replied by Michael Barnes on topic Backing Age of Steam
I liked Age of Steam until Railroad Tycoon/Railways of the World came out, and Steam. Like virtually all Martin Wallace designs, the original released draft was fussy, fiddly, and somewhat unfinished.

I would strongly recommend avoiding this KS and just picking up one of the descendant titles. Don’t let the cries that Railways is the World is “dumbed down” fool you- it’s also been massively funned up. Steam is much closer to the original game. There is an excellent IOS/Android version you can check out. Chicago Express is another readily available alternative.

AOS is not a complex or excessively long game- it sounds like you think it is, but it’s pretty straightforward and maybe 2 hours at the most. It is notoriously unforgiving, thus it has a kind of Dark Souls like cachet among “hardcore” fans.

When these issues surrounding Wallace come up, I always think that either he is a terrible businessman or he is easy to take advantage of. Or both.
Last edit: 08 Mar 2019 08:27 by Michael Barnes.
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08 Mar 2019 09:01 #293529 by Vysetron
Replied by Vysetron on topic Backing Age of Steam
I don't buy stuff from thieves.
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08 Mar 2019 09:36 #293532 by Sevej
Replied by Sevej on topic Backing Age of Steam
A copy of Steam could be hard to find though, the game's kind of in limbo.

As Barnes said, the game's pretty simple & straightforward. I also enjoy Steam, but I've never tried Age of Steam (can't stand it's "functional" graphic design).
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08 Mar 2019 10:00 - 08 Mar 2019 10:01 #293533 by RobertB
Replied by RobertB on topic Backing Age of Steam
I seem to recall a pissing contest between John Bohrer and Martin Wallace over Age of Steam way back when. I also seem to recall people bitching about Age of Steam 2nd Edition coming out, because at the time Winsome (I think that's who printed it) swore on a stack of bibles that they weren't going to do a 2e. People were buying 1e at that time thinking it was The Gateway to Boardgame Riches.

Age of Steam has the rep of being brutal because it is brutal. You can easily lose on the first turn and spent the next two hours sitting on your thumb, with no way to come back. If being the Hardest of the Hardcore Hard is your thing, then you'll like it.

IMO Steam, Railroad Tycoon, and Railways of the World aren't much better in that regard, except in those games, especially the latter two, you don't realize you're dead until later on. Which is fine I guess, since you had fun playing with the little trains until you realize how badly you screwed up on your first track build. (No sarcasm intended - I like playing with the little trains,)
Last edit: 08 Mar 2019 10:01 by RobertB.
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08 Mar 2019 10:09 #293534 by Erik Twice
Replied by Erik Twice on topic Backing Age of Steam

RolandHemisphere wrote: Your response was generous, fair and not rough in the least. In fact, it's exactly what I was looking for and why I asked the question.

I couldn't get a read on the quality of the game itself through all the partisan bickering. I’d read so much conflicting information about the game and the quality of the game, that I wasn't sure quite whose opinion was trustworthy. There are folks who insist it the best game ever made.

Thank you. I appreciate this community more every day.

Steam was actually my first "hobby boardgame" so I understand being lost.

Let's be frank: The Age of Steam fans that you find on BGG and other big sites are all John Boher's friends or fans. All the guys that pop up in these discussion threads and say Steam is awful or that it has no depth or that it's "overly tactical" or that they are completely different are shills you shouldn't pay attention to. Bad behaviour aside, they are the typical "train game elitists" and I would take their comments with a grain of salt.

Ultimately, AoS and Steam are the same game. Steam is just that, it's the third edition of the game and there are not large differences between the two. In fact, the important differences are as follows:

- AoS uses dice rolls to add cubes to the board. In Steam, cubes enter the game through the auction. The Steam solution is markedly better because a single cube appearing or not has a large effect on the game and makes it more tactical. Player control is better than a dice roll.

- in AoS income and points use the same track. This leads to all sorts of problems so the game has "income reduction", spaces of the track where the money you earn is less even though you moved more cubes. This is an ugly, fiddly solution that is greatly open to abuse. In Steam income and points are separate and all these issues are gone.

Steam also has other differences like track being technically limitless so you can't run out of straight track. It's also "easier" in the sense that the included maps are easier, but I find it no lacking in challenge and there are enough "hard" maps to make such concern irrelevant. I've also played most of the available expansions for both (they are mostly compatible) and the Steam set has a much higher average quality with a couple exceptions.

Michael Barnes wrote: When these issues surrounding Wallace come up, I always think that either he is a terrible businessman or he is easy to take advantage of. Or both.

It's tempting to think that, but the more I learn about the industry, the more I know he's far from the only one.

After all, the Francis Drake guy was also affected. So was the designer of Wings of War, whose design for X-Wing was rejected only for FFG to publish a design that was pretty much the same. The EON designers were not paid most of their share by Mayfair when they published Cosmic Encounter and CMON is partnering up with a company mostly known for making bootlegs and knock-offs. And that's on top of CD Projekt taking Condottiere wholesale and not paying the designer a cent. Or simply not paying artists for their work, as it's often common.

The truth of the matter is that, like all other fields, the gaming industry exploits, cheats and steal from creatives, who are often powerless to defend themselves. And as time goes on, we'll see them getting screwed more and more.
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08 Mar 2019 10:10 #293535 by RobertB
Replied by RobertB on topic Backing Age of Steam

Sevej wrote: A copy of Steam could be hard to find though, the game's kind of in limbo.

As Barnes said, the game's pretty simple & straightforward. I also enjoy Steam, but I've never tried Age of Steam (can't stand it's "functional" graphic design).


Yeah, 'functional' is how they sold it, but 'butt-ugly' might be a better description. Some folks like that sort of thing, though.

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08 Mar 2019 10:32 #293540 by RobertB
Replied by RobertB on topic Backing Age of Steam

Erik Twice wrote: After all, the Francis Drake guy was also affected. So was the designer of Wings of War, whose design for X-Wing was rejected only for FFG to publish a design that was pretty much the same. The EON designers were not paid most of their share by Mayfair when they published Cosmic Encounter and CMON is partnering up with a company mostly known for making bootlegs and knock-offs. And that's on top of CD Projekt taking Condottiere wholesale and not paying the designer a cent. Or simply not paying artists for their work, as it's often common.

The truth of the matter is that, like all other fields, the gaming industry exploits, cheats and steal from creatives, who are often powerless to defend themselves. And as time goes on, we'll see them getting screwed more and more.


I'm not sure what European copyright law looks like, but I know that in the US, you can't copyright the game rules themselves. You can copyright the implementation (expression) of the rules, i.e. the rulebook itself, the artwork, etc. So if I go to the University of Cincinnati bookstore I'll probably see a copy of UCopoly, and it will play exactly like Monopoly. Parker Brothers doesn't get a dime from this. There won't be any PB trademarks, etc, on the game itself, unless the UCopoly publisher wants to get their ass sued off.

Is that the way the world should work? Maybe that's a topic for another discussion.

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08 Mar 2019 10:50 #293542 by barrowdown
Replied by barrowdown on topic Backing Age of Steam
I think EGG is generally pretty shady and think scrubbing Wallace of this box is not the greatest look.

Umm... but... I do think Age of Steam is noticeably better than Steam. I prefer the dice roll to the auction for cube placements because cube location is much more important than cube timing. I think the turn order auction is relevant at the beginning of the game, largely superfluous in the middle, and again relevant near the end. I never minded the income reduction though it is obviously a game design crutch.

It is like most of Wallace’s designs a little rough around the edges and could have probably had some more development.

I have enjoyed some of each of Wallace’s and Bohrer’s designs games that came after AoS, so I do not feel I am biased one way or the other.
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08 Mar 2019 12:07 #293547 by Legomancer
Replied by Legomancer on topic Backing Age of Steam
I'd also add that while Wallace seems to be naive and a poor businessman, Boehrer has never, ever, not once, passed up an opportunity to be an asshole, so fuck him in every way.
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08 Mar 2019 12:17 #293549 by Gary Sax
Replied by Gary Sax on topic Backing Age of Steam
Yeah, I have always had a brutally bad impression of Bohrer online. So Very Wrong About Games was laughing on a recent podcast because they said they contacted him a long time ago to buy a game and he gave the dude 20 questions about whether he would be able to enjoy the game or not.

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08 Mar 2019 12:40 #293550 by Michael Barnes
Replied by Michael Barnes on topic Backing Age of Steam
Oh no doubt, Bohrer is the bad guy pretty much always. A rapacious scoundrel.

I’ve been playing the IOS Steam today since this conversation broke out, it’s realy very good.
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