Age of Steam is Warfrog's first foray into railway games. It is developed from the well received Lancashire Railways, published by Winsome Games. The game combines the cube movement system from LR with a track tile placement system that gives you greater freedom over where you build your routes. The core of the game involves trying to move coloured cubes to destinations of the same colour, so red cubes want to move to red cities, blue cubes to blue cities, and so on. By moving a cube along your own track you increase your income level, (note that this is a permanent increase). You can also move goods along other players' track but that means they will gain the increase in income.
Age of Steam also includes a number of other interesting features, namely the action selection phase. An auction determines the order of play, following which players select one action each. Actions allow players to convert a town to a city, making a new destination for goods, to increase the distance their trains can travel, and to build additional track. However, each action can only be selected once, and some are more powerful than others. Another important feature of the game is the fact that money is in short supply and players have to issue shares to raise more. You have to be careful not to issue too many shares, as you have to pay a dividend on them each turn and they count as negative victory points at the end of the game. As the game progresses players should be aiming to move goods along longer routes and opening up new sources of goods. Eventually the supply of goods cubes will run low, which could severely hamper a player, even if his network so far has been very successful.
The game will end after a set number of turns, depending on the number of players. At the end of the game players score victory points, which are calculated by subtracting the number of shares you issued from the amount of income you attained. Constructed track also contributes towards your victory point total.
The map covers the heart of industrial America, centering on the Great Lakes and stretching out to incorporate Wheeling, Kansas City, and Minneapolis. Warfrog intends to publish new maps each year which will add to the designs longevity.
Rulebook (in English and German)
Full colour mounted map
257 wooden playing pieces
6 full colour counter sheets
2 game displays
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