The income reduction pattern of deliveries through empty cities will change the value and balance of long deliveries significantly. Running a 6 train through 4 empty cities is no better than running a 2 train and in some ways is worse. If track building/network growth opportunities are also larger, then this will afford interesting zero and negative sum decisions. Certainly the current race of Grow-Links-Fast? will no longer be automatic. I expect that this dynamism will require this to be a 3/4 player map.
Map-wise the pattern of cost containment of empty cities suggests one of two forms, either a roughly even distribution of cities and towns (towns having the advantage of never deducting income), or a circular map with the cities looped around the outside with the towns clustered in the centre (or visa-versa). AoS:South East Australia already uses a similar patten to good effect with the empty morass of central Queensland’s towns.
- New South Wales — cities clustered on the coast and back towards Adelaide (ie where the Murray gets fat). Map also tends to be too large for a good 3 player game.
- Portugal — Nicely long-skinny, cities mostly on the coast, can cluster foreign links heading into spain and via sea routes
- Belgium — Overly baroque shape fits poorly within desired hex grid size
- Netherlands — Conflicts with Alban Viard’s and Bohrer’s maps as well as my won Scheveningen
- Turkey — Nice rectangular shape with reasonable city distribution, interesting terrain, but probably builds a larger map than wanted
- Romania — More of a cup-shaped city distribution, may have excessive clustering at the scale I’ll need to use, entertaining mountain patterns
- Polynesian Islands — Map most of the Pacific Islands, everything is a sea route, possible directional routes, link-specific costs, possible very fast start to game.
Winners: Romania and Polynesian Islands. Romania would be more traditional. Polynesian Islands would be more interesting and therefore more difficult to sell.
Conclusion: Do both, pick later.