I’ve finally (ha!) gotten around to preparing three of the maps I put together for commercial publication for free print-and-play:
Age of Steam: Wales
Age of Steam: Wales features a lot of terrain, multiple track gauges, and different Links for narrow and standard gauge track. The result is a remarkably smooth game which rewards track and expense planning more than most maps.
Playtester feedback (which stretched over a year) consistently rated this game highly with couples (which surprised me).
Age of Steam: SE Australia
The changes in Age of Steam: SE Australia are large, sweeping and easy to under-estimate. More work went into this map and the analysis behind it than any other two maps I’ve designed put together (other than Denmark). There’s a lot of months spent with spreadsheets in there. But that’s what happens when you rework the a game’s economic system from scratch.
Age of Steam: SE Australia introduces an entirely new economic system, more dynamic and player responsive than Age of Steam’s default system, and one which bears surface similarities to Steam’s system (but was developed long before Steam’s release), but puts much heavier focus on accurate long-term planning and precise execution than Steam’s system – most especially end-game planning starting in the very early game.
And yet it seems so simple and fluid on the surface. No more income reduction until the very late game, simpler expenses calculation, several limits relaxed…so nice and easy…and then it isn’t. If anything the game is tougher and crunchier than classic Age of Steam…but it is easy to miss that until the late mid-game when you’re suddenly painfully haunted and crippled by your early game.
Age of Steam: Denmark
Age of Steam: Denmark is the culmination of the changes started in Age of Steam: SE Australia; taking the new economic system introduced there and carrying it all the way forward to also rewrite how Links are handled with an entirely new and somewhat ground-breaking definition of the Locomotive action.
Yep, you can upgrade from 2 Links all the way to 9 Links…in one upgrade action…but not with Locomotive…
Without reservation, I recommend three players here. Try dominating the Locomotive action every single turn until the early late game…and then upgrading all the way to your end-game Links in one step (and a lot of income). There’s a fundamental opportunity for a fully viable (but not dominant) hail mary approach to the game here that’s simply not seen in other maps. That, and auction price management becomes an even bigger deal than usual.
Age of Steam: Denmark marks the zenith of my explorations into Age of Steam.