Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Et Tu, Choo Choo?

Today I whiled away the time on the running trail by pondering recent comparisons made between Railroad Tycoon and Conquest of the Empire 2. If I had to choose between them, which would it be? Chariots or choo choo trains? Here's my run-down of the head-to-head match-up between the games:
  • Lineage: Tie
    • Both are Martin Wallace / Glenn Drover designs by Eagle Games released in 2005.
  • Boards and Bits: Conquest of the Empire
    • The miniatures in CotE are incredibly richly detailed, including articulating catapults. Grabbing a huge fistful of legionnaires and dumping the bloodthirsty pile into your enemy's homeland: Priceless.
    • The board of CotE is every bit as big and beautiful as the RRT board with none of the warping problems.
    • Full color artwork on the CotE cards gives them the edge
    • Big Roman coins instead of paper dollars... okay, I'll give them a tie on this, but the coins are cool.
  • Elegance: Railroad Tycoon
    • I have admit, the mechanics of RRT are quite sublime and richly evocative of the railroad baron theme. Picking up little blocks and delivering them to needy cities while trying to keep the investors and the other tycoons off your back works ever so smoothly with minimal complexity. What a great game!
    • While I find the gameplay of CotE just a much fun as RRT, the mechanics are just a tad off-putting when you think of how they relate to campaigning with ancient armies. Airlifting your legions around Europe feels just a bit like you're managing a NATO rapid reaction task force rather than the Roman Army.
  • Interaction: Conquest of the Empires
    • RRT is so sublime it reminds me of listening to classical music, sipping tea, and politely negotiating under a lace umbrella on a finely manicured green. There's interaction, but its smooth, indirect, and pretty much everyone gets along.
    • CotE is all about aggressive backstabbing and in-your-face onslaught. You grab the weakest opponent by the throat and kick him in the bollocks, all the while keeping the other members of the pack from jumping on you. The cards are nasty. The alliance mechanic is brutal, and the combat is intensely bloody. The only way to survive long in this game is to attack! I really enjoy it!
  • Luck: Tie
    • If you don't like luck-driven games, then you have to give a slight nod to RRT. The cube and card distribution are really the only luck-based mechanics, and these really just serve to add the spice of variety to the game.
    • If you don't mind luck when its appropriate for the theme, then I'd say its a tie. CotE adds dice-based luck for combat, but to me this not unreasonable when you're depicting ancient battles.
  • Replay Value: Railroad Tycoon
    • By a nose... the tycoon ability mechanic of RRT would transfer so well to CotE 2! I wish Eagle would develop a Caesar ability deck. The cube distribution is a bit more interesting than the influence token distribution of CotE as well...
    • Still, CotE has strong replayability based on the cards, influence tokens, alliance voting, and other aspects of player interaction.
  • Overall Fun: Tie
    • I really couldn't bring myself to choose. I wouldn't want to be without either of them in my gaming closet. RRT is definitely the nicer, gentler, more sophisticated game, but CotE has more high drama, and "Gotcha!" factor. To me it's like choosing between pepperoni and sausage pizza. I really like them both, though some nights one sounds better than the other.


At 9:29 PM, January 25, 2006, Blogger Simon said...

Well, I ended up giving Descent and Doom the same rating (though I plan on bumping Doom up a point once I finish painting...just because something needs to get the credit for all that work). As for Railroad Tycoon and Conquest, there's a good three point spread. Similar games indeed, but very different in practice. To me it's more like choosing between pizza and Foie Gras (both good, one deviously so).

At 9:43 PM, January 25, 2006, Blogger Ben said...

I spent 8 weeks in France last year, and I never could bring myself to touch the foie gras... or any other form of pate for that matter.

The only thing more vile I saw in Europe were the hot dogs and gravy on toast for breakfast in northern England. I called it the British Army version of SOS (*#!& on a shingle, a US military delicacy).

Well, actually, I'd probably eat the hot dogs first...

At 10:40 PM, January 25, 2006, Blogger Simon said...

Are you serious?! Have you tried it? -Because otherwise my mind is reeling in bewilderment.

At 11:02 PM, January 25, 2006, Blogger Simon said...

I'm talking about a cut of the stuff, too. The Paté is ok, but no comparison to the real thing.

At 11:06 PM, January 25, 2006, Blogger Ben said...

In Provence they were practically shoveling the stuff at us, but I just couldn't the picture of the poor little goose out of my mind... I've never actually tried it though...

At 1:08 AM, January 26, 2006, Blogger Rob said...

I'm still laughing with the title...

At 1:09 AM, January 26, 2006, Blogger Rob said...

Perfect pic too for the title.

Oh and very insightful comparison.


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