2nd May 2024 - Great Western Trail

by RobinSun, 5 May (Updated at Sun, 5 May)

I don't think I've done a write-up of Great Western Trail before, which is surprising given that it's one of my favourite games. But it's been a while since I've played it at the club. For my first time back after a long and painful absence, I posted it on the board and found a fellow group of GWT fans.

For anyone who's not come across it before, Great Western Trail is about trudging round Texas with a bunch of cows, and putting them on a train in Kansas City to be sold in some faraway town. It's mostly about cows: as I have written here before, the best strategy for GWT is always buying cows. There are other strategies - the thematically unrelated options of building buildings or driving trains. Or, according to Steve, just selling crap cows in Kansas City and pocketing the cash, which allegedly leads on to greatness by some way that he didn't manage to discover yet. Anyway, I was convinced it was all about cows, so I was determined to buy them all whatever happened.

What happened was that the "buy cows" building was the last stop before Kansas City, which is generally the point in the trail where you are poorest and desperate to sort your hand out in time to sell your cows. And Steve and Jon hired all the cowboys in the job market. Then Steve built a private building for him to buy cows in a more useful location, so it looked like he was going to buy all the cows and win the game, while I was stuck driving trains.

It didn't quite turn out that way, partly because his selling-in-Kansas-City strategy distracted from the cow-buying. And after driving the trains for a while, I found I had made enough money to buy some fancy cows after all. So in the end we all had about the same number of points from cows, so the axiom of "best cows wins the game" held once more.

Late in the game, Elsa looked in and observed that she preferred the original version, which we were playing, because it was a bit more difficult than the second edition. I would definitely agree with that. I am also a big fan of the Rails To The North expansion, which has a more punitive scoring system in general.

But it seems that nowadays most of the GWT talk is about the new locations - Argentina and New Zealand - which have largely passed me by so far. I should probably try them. New Zealand, apparently, has boats instead of trains, and sheep instead of (or as well as??) cows; whereas Argentina just has better cows. I mean, can you really get a better cow than the Texas Longhorn? It's got a value of 5. But if you can get amps that go up to 11, I guess you can get cows that go up to 6.

Elsewhere, Dan had brought in a lesser-known Alexander Pfister game, Blackout Hong Kong. I'd be interested to know what that one's like. It looked fairly black. We also had New Frontiers, plus the old favourites Castles Of Burgundy and Brass Birmingham. And another old favourite, getting another pre-tournament airing, was Age Of Steam.