First impressions of Steam

Steam box

Steam is an interesting variant of Age of Steam. It won’t make AoS obsolete, but it seems to stand quite well in comparison.

Things I like about Steam: the new income system where income can be changed into cash creates a whole new financial environment in the game. It’s not quite as strict as in AoS, but interesting, definitely. New maps are always a new challenge. I’ve tried the US map, and the terrain there is quite challenging. It’s good to have two different ways to play; I haven’t tried the Basic game, but I think it’s interesting.

Things I don’t like: the graphic design is occasionally quite ugly. The game looks nice, but I prefer the clarity of Age of Steam. With three players the game seems a tad too loose.

So, overall a positive experience. I rated the game as 9 in Geek: not quite as good as Age of Steam (which I rate a full 10), but very good. They haven’t ruined the solid foundation.

We played a three-player game yesterday and as I said, it feels a bit too loose. SInce they’ve made Urbanization and City Growth (used to be Production) better, there are more good actions. Of course, nothing beats Locomotive, but still. I think the first expansion should include a map for six players and a map and perhaps some changes to rules for three players.

In our game, I dominated the early game. By the time the other two were running two-link engines, I was already at five with a network that can use such an engine. At that point a first-time player expressed his frustration and I offered to swap places with him. That we did, and I proceeded to win the game from his hopeless position…

Well, not quite. We had to quit two turns early (having played for two hours at that point), at which point he won 45-35 or something like that. I’m not sure if I could’ve won, since while we all had six-link engines at that point and I had built a very good network, he had perhaps slightly more cubes to run. Hard to say what would’ve happened, I didn’t count how many six-link runs I had left. With enough of those I might’ve won.

In any case it was an interesting experience and it made the game much more interesting, as I would’ve won the game quite easily without the swap, I think. Incidentally Petri didn’t complain as much, but his position was much worse and I’m not sure if I could’ve done much if I had swapped with him.

It seems to me that it’s slightly easier to succeed in Steam, as the financial system is more merciful. I was behind when we swapped, but I took plenty of money out, worked hard, paid back the debts and was fighting for the win by the end of our game, I’m not sure if it would’ve worked out that well in Age of Steam.

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