Kim & I are on a bit of a Roads and Boats tear with the new expansion out; we played two scenarios this weekend.
Archipelago features lots of small islands and planes. The plane rules seem incredibly fiddly on first inspection, but all the little details are needed for the to work out right, and when combined with a board like this one that really encourages their use, they are a very nice addition to the system. They are tricky and require planning to really use right, but they helped me a lot in getting lots of goods from a central repository to multiple destinations easily (they can “paradrop” goods – between the planes and the donkeys, it almost feels like you’re playing Burma). This was a cool scenario, with all the small islands there are real transport bottlenecks and the planes make life interesting. There was enough space in general, however, to make the bombs kind of useless – enough space to build all your own buildings, and too hard to get to your opponent’s (planes are a very poor bomb-delivery vehicle).
We were less sold on the River Madness scenario. This is a very rich board, and the rivers and cities make building an efficient transport network very easy (rivers are by far the easiest way to move goods around). Each of us managed to produce not only 4 stock certificates, but a huge number of wonder bricks – there were very few resource or transport pressures. The cities were neat, and in a more aggressive game it might have been interesting to see how heavily fortified the cities would become (I had my Mint & Stock Exchange on my city, which means there was a lot of money lying around at times – it was thoroughly walled in of course, but with the river access and more or less unlimited boards available, a determined assault might have been worth it). Due to these issues, none of the expansion elements much came into play – there was no need for planes (in fact, I never built anything more advanced than Donkeys and Rafts, and I won), fundamental research was a bit questionable (I only researched 3 things – oil rigs, specialized, and renewable mine shafts). Not the best scenario we’ve ever played, much less interesting than the Archipelago and Holland for Two scenarios.