Yesterday I went to the Board game club with a mission: I want to play Age of Steam! It took some trying, but I got a group of four together to play 1830’s Pennsylvania. It immediately leaped to the top of the ranking: it’s one of my favourite AoS maps.
The trick of the map is the coal: coal mines dominate the western side of the map. Coal pays well: you can either move the coal double distance or normal distance with double income. That means moving coal (black cube) six links earns you 12 income. Amazing.
Moving coal is tricky, as all black cities are on the eastern side and there’s a huge mountain ($5 per track) between them. Still, after some initial links on the first turn, I started a push to the coal and guess what, I won the game. My only competition was from another coal miner, who didn’t do coal quite as effectively. The two players who got stuck on the eastern side lost.
So, coal is good. However, reaching it is expensive. While the coal dominates, I’m quite sure that once all players realize just how powerful it is, the competition will be fierce. A basic strategy is to steal the coal: with a engine of four or five, you can move the coal eight or ten steps. So, give few income to the coal miner, sure, but keep five or six to yourself! First move should be very valuable to the coal miner who wants to keep her super moves to herself… Things should be very, very fierce.
The expansion was bit on the expensive side, but this map alone is worth it.