Has anyone played or have an opinion about...?

I feel like Lancashire is the less forgiving version of Brass. There are fewer options than Birmingham, and it’s easier to get into a pickle.

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I refer you to my childhood favourite, Galactic War

Could I extrapolate this to say that Lanc has more hand planning while Birm is more about immediate board opportunities?

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IMO, it’s not about planning per se. Both require you to think ahead if you want to do well.

But Lanc is unforgiving. If you have an opponent that outmaneuvers you once, that’s almost certainly it. You will never financially recover from this.

Birm has a chance. There is a suboptimal choice which is rarely great but is almost always good. With clever play you can claw your way back.

I think that makes Birm straight better. It feels more clever, and it encourages me to outmaneuver my opponents because it isn’t as cruel as Lanc.

YMMV.

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I think I like Lancashire better because it’s less forgiving. But then, I like Antiquity which is a game that actively tries to grind your face into the dirt.

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That sounds like B’ham is the Hollywood version of a European/Asian movie in Lancs?

That would explain the better ratings, in a way…

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Is Brass Birmingham the version where Mark Wahlberg turns up at the end and undermines the themes of the original?

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Deus Ex MarkyMark?

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Brum is more of a modern Euro in feel - you can get away with just doing your own thing, to some extent, and you don’t need to make use of other players’ developments in the same way as you have to in Lanc. This makes Brum more popular with the Euro crowd, and less appealing to me.

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It’s been a while since I’ve played Steam. I remember being unimpressed compare to Age of. But I remember all 3 games are pretty much snowball games where the first few rounds are crucial and it snowballs from there

My past self is rather unhelpful on pointing out precisely what I didn’t like about it

The standard rules is amazingly inferior to both Age of Steam (unsurprising) and Railways of the World (surprising). Lacks the tense auction and money management of AoS and lacks the tight route buildings of ROTW.

Still it’s a good game in itself.

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Sounds like the “basic” rules. Standard rules have the auction for turn order, required to take all loans before the round starts, and pay upkeep for locomotives.

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Circling back here:
I think @marx has captured what I feel about Birm/Lanc. The difference feels most like Star Realms/Colony Wars (though obviously the pair exist on a different plane…). The games really are similar. But Birm, something goes wrong, and you think, “now what?” Lanc, something goes wrong, and you think “well, s***.” Birm gives you more flexibility and alternatives.

Because of this, winning may feel similar between the two, but losing can feel very different (Birm you are trying and shifting to the end, while Lanc you just know you’re done.) I think there’s also a secondary symptom of Lanc you are much more in tune with what others are doing as what they do has an outsized effect on you. In Birm, you’d BEST pay attention to other people, especially if you want to win, but if you don’t you won’t necessarily get your hand slapped. You’ll just quietly lose to someone more dialed in than you.

Base comparison to Star Realms and Colony Wars - either allows you to play well. But Star Realms leaves room for mistakes and wandering and suboptimal plays on your way to victory. Colony Wars requires discipline from turn 1 or you’ll be blown out of space.


I’ve also played Steam again and re-read the material on Age Of Steam and gotten a better handle on this. These games are more different.

One thing: In Steam, the round bonus actions have been “balanced.” This is, in theory, good. But as a result, there’s no “good” option and no “bad” option. Some are still better, but not victory-defining better. And you may need something different from your neighbors at any given time, so there’s no fight. All to say, the balancing of bonuses makes the auction less important. (expansion 5 has replacement bonuses which may change this, haven’t tried).

Second, biggest thing: I’m not 100% clear but AoS may have all additional cubes laid out at the start of game - what they are and where they are going. WHEN they are added to the board is a roll of the die, but you know what’s coming and where it is going. So you have to plan intensively to have connections in place, etc. etc. Steam lays out all the cubes at the start of the game but players get to grab new cubes (as a bonus action) and add them wherever they want on the board.

Still competitive, but you don’t have to PLAN as intensely. If you get halfway through the game and realize that you’re out of goods, or that all your goods are blocked by colored cities two links away, you can take an action at that point to get yourself out of the hole. In AoS, you’re just screwed, try again.

I now understand this difference and I think have a good handle on what it means for the game. I’d like to play the AoS rules here.

Last thing is the money management. This one is sort of six of one, half a dozen of the other. AoS is meager on money, you can only take so many loans without auto-losing. So you are constantly counting dollars and holding onto them. Steam lets you take loans any time and make them up later with deliveries. Steam therefore feels looser but I don’t think it really is. More debt takes away the opportunity to score. If you play loose, you won’t go bankrupt but you also won’t get points.

The game doesn’t overtly slap you for bad money management, as AoS does, but a player managing their money will more subtly slap you just the same.

The availability of loans also adds another question of how much do you take to accelerate your engine now? Sort of like a Waterdeep corruption thing. It seems like AoS may dictate more how much you can and can’t take at any one time, making a tighter puzzle but also closing off a branch of tactics.

So I think I’m clear?

Everyone always said “the cubes come out differently” but I didn’t yet understand what that meant for the game. I think the cubes are a better/worse situation, while the money is a two flavors situation.

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I think thats a good summary?? I often see Age of Steam to be those snowball Euros with all the faff trimmed off. There’s always a full round of big decisions with the issuing of shares, auctions, action selection, and track laying.

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