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Atlantic, Chicago and Pacific Rails
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Gandy Dancer Games
Players: 2 - 6
Ages: 13 and up
Weight: 612 grams
Average Rating: 4.7 in 3 reviews
Gandy Dancer's games definitely deserve more attention than they have received. Atlantic, Chicago, and Pacific is very playable, well-balanced, refreshing, and is a very welcome addition to the selection of rail games on the market. The game includes movement around the board and rail lines by choice of dice or movement cards, development of rail lines and stock valuations, two or more players co-owning rail lines, and planning your strategies carefully. You can run trains and collect money, spend money to develop your rail lines, make a big pile, or go broke. Watch out for the stock values going up and down. It can be unpredictable, but it's always fun to play.
I have Pacific Northwest Rails, and it is one of those games which I feel deserves much more press and attention. In my opinion it puts the [page scan/se=0197/sf=category/fi=stockall.asc/ml=20]Empire Builder and similar systems to complete shame. Gandy Dancer's new title Atlantic, Chicago & Pacific is also well done. The games I played were shorter than PNR, but I am not sure if that is due to how the game was designed or if the rail game addicts I played with were simply able to make decisions in a quicker manner.
Upon first glance at this game, one is reminded of _Pacific Northwest Rails_. Then, the differences become apparent. Atlantic, Chicago adds a terrific dimension of shareholders' meetings and keeping track of railroads, stock prices, and dividends.
The rules took a little while to master with our group of five. Some of us opted for throwing the die, and others used the movement cards for the number of city rectangles. It soon became apparent that everyone wanted to own one of the major railroads. You constantly have to initially sell one of your movement cards (also a railroad) to one of the Big Five to run the tracks at all. Also, the first person to land on a particular railroad may buy two shares of the company.
Then, the fun and the strategy begin. One has to constantly remember whether the money goes to the railroad or the bank. When the shares are purchased by the player and the money given to the railroad corporate holdings box, that money can then be returned once the player sells a railroad to one of the Big Five (Union Pacific, for example). One strategy immediately confronted all of us: If we do not place the starting price high enough on the stock counter, the railroad may eventually go broke because of the lack of working capital.
Another major consideration is the purchase of tokens. Tokens act as stations if one is thinking of 18xx games. The first token price is usually $25 within the first inner set of rectangles, such as Mobile, Rapid City, Denver, and so forth. Players in our group discovered quickly that the second token for another major railroad cost more money, and the tokens had to run the railroad a particular way.
The most fun of the game involved the stockholders' meeting. Once a share or shares of stock are purchased, a stockholders' meeting can be called. I will never forget the player who purchased two shares of the Great Northern was followed by another player who purchased one share of the same line. A stockholders' meeting was held, and the second purchasing player proposed expanding the railroad to a 'three' train or movement card. The majority stockholder mentioned the railroad could not afford a loan. A loan gives the railroad $100, but the repayment is $120. Finally, the second stockholder relinquished and suggested the two of them should try purchasing another token for a city rectangle not currently running that particular railroad. That involved the railroad and the stockholders kicking in enough money. Further, the question was raised: When buying a second token, does the money come exclusively from the company (railroad), or can the shareholders supply the difference?
As you can see, this railroad game is intricate with possibilities. As one player commented, it is a simple game with a lot of strategy.