Age of Steam

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. Check out Expansion #1 for more information.
Components

Age of Steam contains the following:

* Rulebook (in English, French and German)
* Full colour mounted map
* 257 wooden playing pieces
* 6 full colour counter sheets
* 2 game displays
* Plastic counters
* 6 dice

Age of Steam was designed by Martin Wallace and developed by Winsome Games, with artwork by Peter Dennis, and is published by Warfrog Games.

The Age of Steam title artwork is copyright Martin Wallace. Please click here to see a copyright certificate.

Age of Steam Frequently Asked Questions
Being lazy I have lifted this FAQ from Boardgamegeek, (with a few alterations by myself), as it covers every query raised that I am aware of. If I’m wrong then email me to complain and ask your query.

Q: Do new city tiles have to go on a particular half of the board according to whether they are grey or white?
A: The new city tiles can be placed anywhere on the board, their colour and lettering just remind you of which dice rolls are used to indicate the production of goods cubes.

Q: The number of available engine upgrades seems to be low. After turn two, two players were able to monopolize the upgrade, causing two players to be able to move over multiple lines, and the other three got stuck with a one engine until near the end.
A: If you forgo the movement of a goods cube, you get a free engine upgrade. It’s the last sentence in the paragraph that explains the movement of goods rule.

Q: Is it allowed to start a new track next to a city without being already connected to that city?
A: Yes, your track is not required to form a single network.

Q: Income reduction: do you have to pay the income reduction in cash(for example 2$) or do you have to move the income marker back two places?
A: Income reduction reduces your income, which is where your marker is on the income track, so move your marker two places back.

Q: Linking and towns: if you place a simple track and a grey town counter on a town hex, does that mean that this splits my railroad into two new links? Or is this only valid when you use a Dedicated Town Track?
A: Yes, putting a simple track on a town creates two links. The dead-end dedicated town tile is used when you want to go into a town but you don’t want anyone going out of it without paying for a track upgrade. (Remember, that second link leading out of the town is an uncompleted rail link, and if you don’t extend it on your next turn someone else can. Usually this doesn’t happen because you extend the track or the town gets urbanized.) Grey town counters were adopted as a way of avoiding having lots of extra track tiles for straights and curves going through towns.

Q: Moving goods: do I understand correctly that goods can move between cities/towns as many times as you have Engine links and can end in any city colour. They only stop moving if you enter a city with the same colour as the goods?
A: When you move a goods token, you MUST deliver it to a city of the right color. You cannot move it over a city of that colour to deliver it to another city further away. Finally, you’re not allowed to move goods over the same city twice, (so no loops). You’re not obliged to take the shortest route, though.

Q: Moving goods (continued): you get two opportunities to move goods during the moving goods phase. How many goods may you move each time?
A: You may move one goods cube each time. And remember, you may forgo one opportunity to move a goods cube and instead advance your locomotive marker. You also may do this as your first “goods movement” and then move one goods cube using your new locomotive as your second.

Q: Income Reduction. How is it done? As an example; if I get to 11 do I pay myself $11.00 income THEN drop back 2 (Two) spaces to 9 OR do I just stay at the 11 space but pay myself only $9.00 income?
A: You get 11, pay expenses and then drop 2 steps to 9. These are separate steps.

Q: When you take a cube from the production chart, do you slide the others in the column up to take its spot or do you leave the empty spaces at the top of the column?
A: No you don’t push the cube up. Note that this allows you to front load cubes in the cities selected during the “production” action.

Q: Two players have track leading into the same empty hex. I’m quite sure that either player may place a tile into that empty hex and thus cut off the other player. However, may a player do this even if the newly placed tile that cuts off the other player *cannot* be replaced by an appropriate complex tile (because it doesn’t exist or all are used)?
A: Yes you may. A player can redirect the last tile in a line by replacing it with a different tile, e.g. he might replace a straight with a curve. However, it is possible that a player cannot continue or redirect a line, in which case it becomes dead track. Tough luck really, the player should not have put himself in a position where he could get baulked in this manner.

Q: If you run a good across a link in the first run, can you run a second good across the same link in the next run?
A: Yes, you can run a cube along the same link in your second run.

Q: Does track building go: each player builds one hex, then each builds a second, etc., or does the first player build all three hexes, then the next player builds 3, etc.
A: Each player completes building ALL of his track sections before the next player begins.

Q: During a game last night my income was positioned at 20 (right on the edge of moving up to the -4 income reduction range). A player then moved a good one link over my track to bump me into the -4 reduction range. He didn’t cross any tracks of his own. Is this a legal tactic?
A: Perfectly legal — quite nasty and effective, too!

Q: Can you move a commodity to a different city, even though it is not getting delivered?
A: NO. The Good must by moved so that it ends its movement in a City of the same color. So, if you’re not ending in a City of the correct color, then you can’t move the good. If it helps, don’t think of it as actually moving a single good. If that were the case, then you’d get paid cash instead of gaining income (another thing people seem to be confused about). Think of it more as setting up a route that will run continuously for the rest of the game. The goods are “factory production”, that will be produced for transport… but they must be moved to the destination promptly or they won’t be produced at all (a faster train can make side stops for additional passenger fares). Each turn you have the resources (planning people and such) to set up two new routes (or by pulling some resources upgrade your train). Changing routes at a later time is impossible, because even if you did build an alternate route later, you’re still committed to whistle-stops along the old line.

Q: It says “the most expensive Town tile would be a complex track with a Town counter placed on it. This costs $5.” But you can never build a complex Track from scratch (i.e., you can only put a complex Track on the board by replacing a simple Track), right? And when replacing track in a Town, the costs is always $3. So wither $5? I could see paying as much as $4 (by placing a Dedicated Town tile with three exits, which would cost one per exit + one for the Town = $4), but as no Dedicated Town tiles have four exits I can’t see how a $5 expenditure could ever come about.
A: When you build track into a town you can place either a dedicated town tile or a normal town tile plus a gray block. When you build into a town you can place a tile with anything between one and four exits at a cost of $2 to $5 depending on the number. The person placing the town tile owns all of the exits to the town and must extend any uncompleted links next turn or loose them as per the normal rules.

Q: We were riding an engine with one link capability around the whole board. The reasoning was that the engine could go from link to link as long as the next link was one. It would have to stop if the next 2 links were the same color. Some of us thought it could go only one no matter what.
A: No, this is a misreading of the rules. Only one city to city delivery is allowed with engine level 1. Remember that for a 2 link delivery like city – town – city (or city-city-city) you’ll need a engine with level 2 and so on.

Many thanks to BoardgameGeek for compiling the original FAQ.