Session Report - 5 Dec - Steam Over Holland
- December 05:
STEAM OVER HOLLAND (3 Player) - Dave ($2564) / Rich ($2449) / Jeff ($1092)
Recently I have been intrigued by the 18xx genre of game. Having read the
rules to several games, they never seemed that complex mechanistically, but
the devil was always in the details of how the various mechanisms meshed
together. Furthermore, 18xx tend to run a bit longer so would make a
difficult game to get to the table as part of our group.
Bart van Dijk's goal (as paraphrased in the rules) for STEAM OVER HOLLAND
was to create a short 18xx game suitable for newcomers to the 18xx system.
So when it was up for order from Essen, I had a copy added to my box of
Essen games. With only 3 for games as Jeff and Dave joined Rich, I felt it
was time to see if the TriValley BoardGamers could get an 18xx game under
their collective belts.
STEAM OVER HOLLAND (SoH) looks very much like an 18xx game. The game is one
where players try to maximize their net worth over the course of the game.
They do this by buying and selling stock in any number of railroad companies
available in the game. The player owning the most shares in a company is
that company's president and "runs" the company - spending the company's
treasury to lay track, buy trains, and generate income running trains over
the rail network. The income so generated can be paid out as dividends to
the shareholders or withheld to increase the company's treasury for further
As it was our first game of SoH, we opted to randomly deal out the minor
companys rather than auction them off. As it turned out, we dealt out the
three smallest and in player order. Jeff had Minor #1, Dave had Minor #2,
and Rich had Minor #3.
The game then started with Jeff decided what company to invest in. He went
for NSM, setting its initial price at $75. With Rich wanting to capitalize
on the Zuiderzee ferry, Dave was trying to decide that whether to start the
HYSM or the OSM lines, figuring Rich would take the other. Dave opted for
OSM ($80), so Rich (as expected) started HYSM ($90). When it was Rich's
turn again, he decided to also start the other Amsterdam company (NRS) to
that NRS could build in a way to cooperate with HYSM.
And then it was onto the operating rounds where the just started companies
would try to make money either for themselves or for their shareholders.
One difference in SoH compared to other 18xx games - there are exactly 5
sets of 1 stock round followed by 2 operating rounds for a total of 15
rounds in the game. So even with the abbreviated first round (as every
company is forced to buy a train), the companies could still run in the
second operating round. As with the ability to place 2 track tiles per
operating round, the track was expanding pretty quickly to start generating
In general, things happen at a faster clip in this game compared to other
18xx games. Companies are floated immediately (partial capitilization) so a
single purchase of the necessary shares is all that is needed (instead of
the 1 share per turn). Track is placed fairly quickly (2 tiles per
operating round). And the train rush while not fierce still brings about
decisions for the players. In fact, it was during the second operating
round that the game entered Phase 3...so that also is a bit quicker.
Of course, Rich sold his minor to HYSM so that HYSM could realize the ferry
benefit, but HYSM had only $4 in its treasury....so Rich lost out on that
sale, but hoped to make up for it in increased dividends over the course of
the next operating rounds. Rich's combination of HYSM/NRS were building
along the coastal regions with the NRS blocking access to the HYSM lines.
The other end of HYSM spanned the North of Holland after the ferry. But
Dave was building up from the OSM to try to block the tracks at Leeuwarden.
Dave was also building into the center of Holland which in turn was starting
to severely block Jeff's NSM line. Jeff also started AR but was getting
hemmed in by the lines. Eventually, the NSM found itself without a train as
its only trains rusted and didn't have enough capital to purchase the train.
Jeff as president didn't have enough personal cash to help buy the train and
couldn't sell any of his shares either. The NSM went bankrupt and was out
of the game.
As the brown tiles (Phase 5) came into the game, Amsterdam became connected
to a lot of other track, but with Rich's two stations there, the routes
through Amsterdam were blocked. Rich also had two stations in Rotterdam
which blocked those routes also, but let Rich have a nice mutually
supporting network of rail between the both that could be used by two sets
As we hit the last operating round and the end of the game, Rich operated a
5 and a 6 train for HYSM to generate some $560 in revenue increasing the
stock price of HYSM to $270. Dave operated OSM for $510 in revenue. Jeff
(stung by the loss of his one company and blocked from some key station
placements in Eindhoven) ran his trains. Rich operated NRS one last time,
not bad for a company that at one point Rich considered trashing as it was
about to rust out its trains without adequate finances in the treasure. But
a good track build and witholding dividends allowed it to purchase a 5 train
to actually survive to game's end.
Then it was time to calculate net worth.
Dave: $854 cash in hand + $1710 in shares = $2564
Rich: $599 cash in hand + $1850 in shares = $2449
Jeff: $372 cash in hand + $ 720 in shares = $1072
And we can now chalk up one game in the 18xx genre. Even though it is a
lighter 18xx game, it still clocked in for us at 3 hours after rules
summary. As Dave and Jeff had never played 18xx before (and Rich only a few
games), part of the delay was in thinking about optimal track builds and
whether or not a company needed to raise funds by issuing more shares. But
for me at least, it didn't feel like a 3 hour game as something was always
happening. (Of course, being banker, I was busy quite a bit handling the
cash also.) I suspect that another playing of the game would be a bit
shorter as we know what to expect and can plan accordingly.
I am glad we got this to the table. The game certainly appears to be a good
introduction to the 18xx system for newcomers. And with the nice
components, one worth seeking out if possible. However, it is a limited
production game, available primarily in Europe, so might be a bit harder to
- --- In firstname.lastname@example.org, "Richard Pardoe" <RPardoe@...>
>I'll be there.
> Late and rushed to send this out...but games will be same time, same