Age of Industry – Portugal
Played 8-Feb-17 at Central Michigan University
Cross-posted from Portugal (fan expansion to Age of Industry)
The weekly board game group at Central Michigan University met and three of us broke out an old and often-played favorite, Age of Industry. With the game chosen we had to decide on which map to play and I suggested the PnP Portugal map available on BGG. We had played this one a couple of times before and the last time I got smoked by Scott who utilized a good cotton / Angola strategy to take the win. I wanted a rematch.
Neil, an avid lover of Brass and Age of Industry, joined in to make a threesome. I quickly went through the rules for the base game and then in a bit more detail for the map rules. This map isn’t meant for players new to the game as it has a number of tweaks that make it a tough one to play. First, there’s the geography which, like the Japan map, is long and narrow. Unlike the Japan map, though, there aren’t any sea lanes to get around the inevitable blocking. This makes the “combine your two actions into one” rule very useful. Second, you get $10 for your first loan, but only $9 for the second and $8 for the third and so on. Did I say money was going to be tight, well it is. All loans get paid back at $10. Third, there is a space on the board for one of the two face-up cards and the card occupying that space prohibits you from building either that industry or in that colored region. You can take the card as a Draw Card action, but it will cost you $1 to do so. There are some other rules concerning rails and end game scoring, but let me leave this here. The map is good if you like a tough game.
Scott played blue and he went first opting for putting a port in the northern blue region. I (playing red) went second and saw I had one green card, two blue cards, a ship and a port. I was going to make Scott’s move, but opted to develop away my first “0” ship. Neil went south eyeing to place ships in the brown region and get into Angola early; he also built a port.
I got to build my port and ship on the second round and the other players proceeded as well. I was able to build a cotton mill as well and sent its output to the ship I built (external market). That flipped the ship and gave me some money back. Scott was taking over the blue region and Neil the brown. I branched out to the east trying to get to some cheaper cotton sites. I had a desire for getting into iron, but Scott and Neil beat me to the only two iron sites on the board.
Neil eventually opened up Angola and was the first to ship to it getting the token for a VP. He also decided to get the end game train rail bonus and got heavily into rail building. There were opportunities to make money during the game in coal and iron and Scott and Neil took advantage of them. I continued to build ships and cotton mills. I was able to reach up into Scott’s area and down into Neil’s to eventually unite the map.
The rule about not being able to build an industry or in a region based on one of the face-up cards makes for some tough decisions and can be frustrating, but in a good way. Money was always tight and coal and iron seemed to be in perpetual short supply. We built $8 rail links a few times.
About three-quarters of the way through the game, Scott double developed his “0” level factories (cost him $3) and then got into that industry. He was the only person to do so even though we all considered it. This turned out well for him as a couple of factory tiles showed up in Angola and he was the only person who could ship to them.
The last two rounds of the game were a tight affair looking for any way to make a few points. Scott actually built two level 4 factories for $27 each, a hefty amount. He flipped them, though, making $1 in profit, but the VP’s were more important to him.
I ended the game with a double pass discarding my last two cards. I had all my cotton mills on the board and couldn’t see building my last “4” level ship. We totaled up rails and gave VP’s for the most; Neil got 3VP, Scott 2 and me 1. Neil and Scott both had 2VP from Angola tiles and I had 1. I had more money at the end of the game and Neil had to pay off one loan. When the scoring was done for tiles, the gamed ended with me at 36VP, Scott at 33 and Neil at 29.
As with any board game you play, part of the enjoyment is the game you play and a lot of it is the people you play with. Scott and Neil are great gamers and tough competition. I would like heap some praise on this map, though. It’s clever, tight and closes some of the obvious strategies in the base game. It will make you think a bit differently about how you can get done what you need to get done and the map throws curve balls at you to keep you on your toes. Congratulations to Jack, the designer for coming up with this one. If you like AoI, then take this one out for a spin with your group.
The photo below shows the game board after we have finished scoring.
As I stated in the other thread, you guys really got out of it what I was hoping to achieve. I'm really happy that you enjoyed it!