FAQ Strategy and Game-play

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Jancsika
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FAQ Strategy and Game-play

Post by Jancsika » Mon Dec 28, 2009 5:32 pm

FAQ Strategy and Game-play
This thread was started to answer the most common questions you might have about Game-play and Strategy. Most of these questions were discussed and debated here and there in this forum.
We have an expert on Strategy among us, and Darthroid graciously has volunteered to host this sections. We all are looking forward to it.
Of course this is an open subject and if you have something to contribute you are more than welcome to do so.
======================================================
1.
LOOPING TRAINS
Is there a way to avoid having trains dabble back and forth on a piece of track in the middle of nowhere (patch, trick, hack) ???

Yes there is. That is with proper track layout.
Let's say that you are sending a train from point A to point X, there are several junction points in between, call them B C etc.
If there is not much traffic the train #1,will have a clear and clean passage and will run true and direct.
The trouble will start when an other train #2 and #3, and #4 comes on the same line and blocks, even temporary, the route that #1 has.
If there is a temporary blockage #1 will stop and recalculate the route. If it can not find an other route it will wait until it clears.
BUT if it locates an other route, no matter how complicated, it will stop and start on that route.
The trouble is that the same thing will happen again, the line will be blocked....... etc.
This can go on and on and the train will end up in the opposite corner of the map.

This is where proper track planning comes in. It is simply there should be only one possible route between A and X. The simplest way is to have a dedicated route for each train. That is of course is only practical to a certain point.

The other way is to have a break if there is more than one way to get from A to X and have just one direct unbroken route.
Look at the enclosed sketches.
There is only one way to get from A to X.
Incorrect[1].jpg
Correct[1].jpg
This is the correct way
=======================================================
2.
The train won't go to a depot. It is grayed out.
Any idea why this is happening?

It is important that the rails are laid continuously. A small almost invisible gap will do it.
Try to zoom in on the line and look for a stop or bumper thingy, (that's the white rectangle with the red diagonal stripe) it will show a stop, but it is not tied to the rest of the rail. Just delete it (You should not have any active train on the line) and relay it.
==========================================================
3.
How to make custom screen shots.
by Warll
If you have viewed my screen shots of Sid Meier’s Railroads you might have noticed that may of them were taken from views which are “impossible” with the in game camera. These images were taken using the special free flying camera mode which was added in the second patch. To get into this camera mode you first of course have to have installed the second patch (1.10) then while in game you must pause then press Ctrl+F. With that you can fly around defying gravity. You can even move the pause window to the very side of the screen when you want to take a screen shot, just click and hold on to window’s top bar and drag. Go ahead and check it out, just make sure your current game has been recently saved, this feature adds a lot more for your computer to render.
http://www.smrsimple.com/2009/06/free-camera/

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darthdroid
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Re: FAQ Strategy and Game-play

Post by darthdroid » Wed Dec 30, 2009 10:43 pm

Question:

When should I buy or sell my stock, which opponent's stock should I purchase first, and what are the overall stock strategies of the game?


These questions have pretty complex answers, but the overall stock strategy needs to be understood to answer them, so I think it is best to have stock summed up in one large post.

Let's discuss stock strategy from the beginning of the game to the end.

Question:

How should I approach stock in the beginning?

Answer:

At the start of the game, if you are on robber baron or tycoon level, there is little question you should sell all your stocks within the first couple minutes of the game. Stock is a liquid asset and it is best to sell it at the beginning to get the needed capital to begin your railroad empire! This is still true on mogul level, but you might not need to sell all your stocks and you may not need to sell them within the first 2 minutes (so perhaps the first 4 minutes instead) and still a bit less true on financier and the least true on investor level. On investor level, you start with more cash in the first place, but personally I still find I sell one or two of these stocks. You pretty much don't need to sell anymore when your business (railroad) is self sustaining, that is when it is creating a profit that can basically keep up with your building needs.

The main point here is that you need to be offensive, or "aggressive" in the early stages. Players who sit on their stocks and thus play "defensively" at the beginning are not utilizing their assets properly. Because you will make more money early on with that money/stock in play, on the board than you will with it invested in a poor company early on.

This also means that the worst thing you can do at the beginning is purchase an opponent's stock. Why? Because you only increased the value of their stock, so when they sell their next stock, they make $50k of the raised price and the stock you purchased is now worth less (about $50k perhaps). So buying their stock was not only a poor investment but you really just handed that player $50k or thereabouts. This of course is assuming they know what they are doing and therefore naturally sell most of their stock at the beginning. The other reason this is true was outlined above: It is not beneficial at the beginning of the game to tie up your capital (the money you will use to make other money) in stock. This is true no matter who the stock belongs to.

Question:


So when SHOULD I begin buying stock both offensively and/or defensively?



Answer:

You should really only buy stock once you are ahead of the other players. If you are behind, you need to catch up. To catch up, you need to spend money on new routes, engines, etc. This is not 100% true but it is generally true. There are exceptions to this such as... if someone is making a big stock move and buying you up, clearly you should try to buy a few stocks of your own company to buy yourself time, raise the price of the remaining stocks for opponent to purchase and to simply defend yourself. However, you still need to get ahead so you should still be building while the stock war is happening where possible.

If you are ahead, I would be purely offensive until attacked; buy only the opponent's stock, not your own. Odds are he/she is going to use his/her money defensively at this point, not offensively anyway.

Question:

So who should I buy?

Answer:

Buy the biggest threat. It is foolish to buy the worst company in the game-they are not a threat to you, you will be able to buy them at the end-easily. The one to focus on is the leader or if you are the leader, the 2nd best player. You must take out the biggest threat first. Then the next biggest threat, and then player #4.

Question:

Should I buy the computer to, you know, make myself more expensive and own TWO companies?


Answer:

No. This is a terrible strategy. This is why: First, again, the computer is not a threat (not compared to a human at least) and thus should be ignored until the end. Second, if you spend say $5 Million buying up a computer company it will likely make YOUR company about $1.5 Million more expensive to buy and the extra profits you are getting are likely about $200k-$400k per year. So the basic math tells us that you have taken a $3 Million dollar loss. And that is a cheap example, I've seen much worse in real game play.
It also means that you now have $3 Million LESS to buy up the actual threat ( a human player ).

If you are ahead, continue buying up the biggest threat until you own all his/her available stocks. Hopefully you own 70% or more of them. It is okay to buy a few of your own to create some defense but frankly, if there is no threat to you (someone beginning to buy your stock) I see no reason to buy even ONE of your own stocks until you become threatened by someone buying it.

Once you own as much as you can of the biggest threat player, begin building again or improving profits however you can until you have the cash to buy him/her out. Then repeat the process with the next player and the next until you emerge victorious. Keep in mind, buying your stock is NOT the only defense strategy. The best defense strategy is building a proper railroad, with efficient engines and routes so that you cannot easily be stolen from. It is also important to bleed profits off the opponent by duplicating his/her routes with more efficient building tactics-if you are really good, you'll drive his engines into the negative-now THAT is "defense"!

Question:

What is the best way to make a stock move?


Answer:

The best way to make stock move is to wait until you are ahead of the other player (this part presumes you are in first place) and save up $2 Million or more. This is also quite effective if you are behind, IF and only if you have a lot of cash and the leading player does not. (Which tends to be unlikely since he/she is making more $ than you are). But either way, the best way to make a move is to make a BIG ONE. That is, buy as many of his/her stocks at once as you can. Hopefully 6 or more. Thus the $2 Million savings first. It is also particularly good if you can buy 3 or more stocks before they know what is going on!

Question:


So how can I buy their stock without them knowing?


Answer:


My favorite trick is to scour their empire for a good industry that is $250k or less that they are utilizing and preferably, one that they have personally built up. See, players get very sentimental about their industries, they see them as their children or something similar. They get EMOTIONAL about industries (they shouldn't) and so use this fact AGAINST THEM!! Start the auction for that industry. Odds are, they will take it personally and get very interested in this auction and begin bidding. Of course, you don't want to win the auction, you want to minimize it and begin buying their stock behind the auction window. It is likely they will be so distracted by the auction window and the bidding that they won't notice all those messages on the left side of the screen about you purchasing their stock. Many players don't take notice until the screen is half full with such messages... Believe me, it's a very good tactic. Use auctions for distractions not just in THIS case but anytime you want to slow a player down. Frankly, many folks don't multi-task well so you can also slow down building this way as well. Try it out, you'll be surprised how well it works (naturally this is a human only tactic-the computer is of course an excellent multi-tasker).

Question:

So what if I am player #2 or it's a close race between me and the 1st or 2nd player?


Answer:


Now we are getting into advanced tactics of stock. A good stock strategist may frequently win the game even though he is in 2nd place or even 3rd place... so stock is very important to winning the game! If you are the 2nd player (by this I mean the person in 2nd place, or doing 2nd best), you should really employ the same tactics as the first player and ultimately try to buy up some of your own stocks to be defensive and also buy as many of player #1's stocks as possible. Once both companies have no more stock for sale... it becomes a "stock race". That is, you are both waiting to buy the other one out.

Question:

So how do I win a stock race then?


Answer:


The way to win a stock race is pretty much the same for either player... you just want to get the cash first. This indicates that the player making less money (player 2 or YOU) needs to kick it up a notch, add or fix some routes, preferably steal some money from player #1 (by ruining his/her routes) etc... ie shrink the gap.

However, there is a huge timing issue here which means it's not just about profits but also about stock strategy. You will notice (or perhaps already you do this) that players begin to sell their own shares to get the extra money they need to buy you out or you do it to buy them out. The trick on this issue is to sell your first stock before they do (note you can use the auction distraction trick here again to create additional delay before they notice you sold one of YOUR stocks to buy them or get closer to buying them).

Question:

So why do I need to sell my stock before they sell their stock in a stock race? Why is it important?


Answer:


It is important because of the TIMING. What happens after you sell a stock? A DELAY where you cannot sell another one of your stocks for 5 seconds or whatever. This delay means the first seller has an advantage. The second seller is always 5 seconds behind until you run out of your stocks to sell. More importantly, it means every time he/she buys one of your stocks (from the empty slot you created when you sold one of your stocks) you are 5 seconds ahead, so you just sold another one.... this means that even though they have the cash... they have to keep waiting and never get to that last stock.... because of the delay... this buys you the time to get the money YOU need to buy him/her out. This means that they might have the money to buy you but yet they cannot because of the delay-they are a stock behind... meanwhile you're getting closer and closer to having the money to buy them. This is an important strategy but a complex one.... many variables. To use it, you better have enough of your stocks owned compared to how many of their stocks they own to stay ahead long enough to make it work. Otherwise, ultimately you run out of stocks to sell, they catch up and win. But if you stay ahead... you should win. Granted, they are likely to be selling their stocks also (but are at a disadvantage if they began doing so AFTER you began doing it) which means it boils down to a race. So if you get to the amount of cash you need by the time you sold your last stock, you should win, regardless of how much more money they have.... you won by timing, not by profits or money. This one is complex and I'll try to clean it up and simplify it a bit as time goes on.

Question:

So what the heck do I do if I'm in third place? I can't win right?


Answer:


Wrong. You can still win. This is not really an advanced tactic... yet I rarely see a 3rd player use this trick so perhaps it is at least an intermediate tactic.

If you are in 3rd (this whole thing also applies to 4th place as well) then odds are that you will not be targeted by player 1 or 2 who should be buying each other if they have a clue. So what you should do is wait until player 1 or 2 begins a stock move. So say player 1 begins to buy player #2. You should now get in on the action. You should try to buy as many as 3 of player #2's stocks, the cheapest ones you can of course... do it all at once (with 5 second delays of course... so this means, player 1 buys the first available stock of #2. You buy the 2nd available stock. Likely player 1 buys the 3rd available stock, you buy the 4th, player 1 buys the 5th, you buy the 6th and then stop. Why? Because when player 1 buys out player #2, you will get paid double for the top 3 stocks here. This means you'll get about $3 Million or perhaps more when player 1 buys player 2. At that time, player 1 just spent all his/her money.... and you now have maybe $3 Million dollars. That's a pretty nice head start for you to get back in the game. Plus, even though that last stock you bought in this example was stock #6.... you'll get paid double the price of stock #10 for it. And #4 that you bought, you'll get paid double the price of stock #9. And for #2 that you bought (perhaps cost you $200k) you'll get paid for DOUBLE the value of stock #8 (likely about $1 Million or more)....

This trick is also true if a stupid computer is making a stock move on someone.


Question:

So why should I only buy 2 or 3 stocks of the threatened player? Why shouldn't I buy more?

Answer:

You should stop at 2 or 3 because at around 4 stocks... player #1 will take notice of you and maybe just buy you out first... if he/she buys you out, he/she takes possession of all your assets, including your stock in player #2... So don't be too aggressive or you may make the big player turn around and attack you. Stop at 2 or 3, trust me.




I think this about covers stock strategy and I will clean it up and make it prettier as time goes on, but if you can think of a question I have not answered, please PM me with it and I'll add it to this Q & A list on stock strategy.
-Bob the Lunatic

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darthdroid
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Re: FAQ Strategy and Game-play

Post by darthdroid » Thu Dec 31, 2009 12:48 am

Question:

Sometimes I notice that in a village/town/city/metropolis with a steel mill AND a powerplant they make the same money... yet at other times the power plant makes MORE money, what is happening to cause this??


Answer:

There is no question that when a town, city, etc. have TWO industries that share the same resource (such as coal or oil) any of said resource shipped to that city is split 50/50 between the 2 demanding industries.

For example:
If you have a steel mill and a power plant in a city, and you ship a train of coal into that city. 50% of the coal goes to the power plant, and the other 50% goes to the steel mill.

So this is why they make the same exact money sometimes. The only reason they do not make the same money is when one of the 2 industries is a larger than the other. So for example... at the beginning, each of them is a small industry (likely) and so they both get 20% profits of the value of the 50% shipment of coal shipped to them. So let's say the entire train shipment of coal is worth $200 (for simplicity). $100 worth went to the steel mill and $100 worth went to the power plant. This means that the owner of the train of course made $200 for shipping the coal into the town and dropping it off. But it also means that the owner of the power plant made $20 (20% of $100) and the owner of the steel mill made $20 (20% of $100).

However, let's say the power plant has now (at year X) grown to medium size, while the steel mill has remained a small size industry. Well... a medium size plant gets 35% of the value of the good shipped, where a small size as stated above only gets 20% of the value.

So in the same example, now again the owner of the train makes $200 for shipping the coal into the city and dropping it off. And the owner of the steel mill STILL makes $20 (20% of $100) but the owner of the power plant makes $35 (35% of 100). Thus, once the 2 industries are differently sized it may APPEAR that the power plant is getting MORE coal because it makes more money but really it is because the industry is larger. The reason it tends to grow quicker and thus begin to make more money than the steel mill is because the power plant also accepts oil and the steel mill does not. This means that if someone starts shipping oil into said city, the power plant not only makes more money (from oil) but also gets additional delivery credits for the oil shipped and thus achieves "medium status" sooner than the steel mill and thus makes more money off each carload than the steel mill (15% more).

The opposite is also true: This credit (of shipments) also applies to EXPORTS from that industry. The power plant does NOT export anything, but a steel mill exports STEEL... and it gets credit for those shipments OUT when they are DELIVERED (not picked up)... meaning if you are shipping steel out, and the power plant is not getting oil in, it makes fewer shipments than the steel mill and thus the steel mill achieves medium status first.

These differences in shipments which lead to industry size increases are what account for differentials in profits from the same good shipped to a city with 2 industries that accept it. On a single industry, growth occurs like this:

redknight wrote: * Industries (number of carloads dropped off or picked up)
o 51: Goes from Small to Medium
o 244: Goes from Medium to Large
o 193: Delta for Medium to Large (244-51)

(for those of you who don't like math, "delta" is the greek D and indicates "change" or "difference" in mathematics)

But these numbers are for industries that don't share. So for a town with the steel mill and power plant, you would need to double these numbers. Thus the power plant would only get credit for HALF the carloads of coal while the steel mill gets credit for the other half... so if all you are shipping is coal in (and nothing out and nothing else in) both industries would double when the 101st carload of coal was dropped off. This however is unlikely, it is more likely that the power plant is also getting some oil (for which it would get 100% credit for each carload.... unless of course it is ALSO sharing all the oil with a manufacturing plant lol (same deal, just a shared resource accepted by 2 industries in the same town)) and/or the steel mill is also shipping steel.... If this more common situation is at bay, your industry will really grow at some number between 51 and 101... why? Well, it gets only half credit for the coal... so let's say that 80 car loads of coal were shipped into the city... your steel mill gets credit for half of that (the other half going to power plant) and thus has received FORTY (40) carloads.... so it would grow if it shipped OUT 11 carloads of steel (only the steel mill gets credit for steel so it gets credit of "11" for 11 carloads of steel)..... because this totals 51 (40 carloads credit for coal and 11 for steel).

Likewise, let's say the power plant received 40 of the 80 carloads, so it is at 40 carloads of credit... if it receives 11 carloads of oil (assuming no manufacturing plant) then it too would grow to medium.... and so on.
-Bob the Lunatic

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darthdroid
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Re: FAQ Strategy and Game-play

Post by darthdroid » Thu Dec 31, 2009 1:13 am

Question:

What is better: To BUY an industry or to BUILD an industry?


Answer:

It depends. :D

There are really no set rules on pricing issues... way too many variables go into the equation of how much do I pay. For example, it is not a rule that you should never pay more than $500k for an industry since that is the cost to build it. It might be okay to pay $700k for the right industry... it just depends on how much money you think it will make, how late in the game is it (enough time to recover your purchase cost and make a profit??) etc.

What does really matter is efficiency as always. Let's say that a city ("City A") has a steel mill in it, and there is coal nearby... yet there is a city ("City B") even CLOSER to the coal. Well, if someone BUILDS a steel mill in City B, City A will get much less coal (less than before there was a 2nd steel mill and less than City B since it is closer). This indicates I would much rather BUILD the steel mill in City B (and thus own it) than BUY the steel mill in City A. City A will likely not recover anything close to 500k. But if you can get it cheaply ($100k or less) you might want to own that one too. However, if your opponent owns that route, he/she may very well just delete the route (wise decision) and set up a competing route to your new steel mill in City B (smartest move in this scenario)... which means your profits from buying the steel mill in City A depend on your opponent's behavior (very risky, thus the $100k or less remark).

I would point out however, that the most likely case situation is this: I see both City A and City B, and the opponent sets up shop in City A and thus has motivation to begin the auction on the existing steel mill in City A... I don't want the thing, but I haven't built a steel mill in City B yet, so he/she (the opponent) sees no threat and likely thinks this steel mill is worth quite a bit more than I do, perhaps even $500k or more)... so I bid against him, even though I don't want it! The point? To eat up his/her cash; make him/her waste money. So in this example, I don't want to buy, I want to build, but I also want to make the unsuspecting player pay way too much for anything and everything, so I still bid even though I do not wish to buy.

This example is VERY common... people buy the wrong industries all the time, with most cost benefit analyses on BUILD vs. BUY, build almost always wins. The only exception is when the BUY industry IS in the closest city to the resource. This is a bit oversimplified but it is true most of the time. An example of an exception: Enough variables go against it, like: The BUY city isn't that much further away, there is only one resource and it is small... and it is late in the game. But frankly, if I remove even ONE of those variables (say it's early in the game or the resource is medium or large size...) I quickly revert back to "BUILD, BUILD, BUILD!"

Ultimately this is also an offensive strategy also. The best strategies are those that not only make you money but also make the opponent take a LOSS. Thus, to do the build thing (particularly when opponent BOUGHT) not only makes it likely his/her industry will never (or much later) recover its purchase price, but that industry will make him/her LESS money with every shipment (since you are stealing most of the resource with a shorter route).

This is still true even when he/she doesn't own the industry. They still lose a lot of money. Suddenly that train is making less profit (remember, he/she still needs to recover both the cost of the engine AND the cost of the track laid to that resource) and it's even possible that the train will go negative because of your BUILD city route (which of course is shorter, sometimes MUCH shorter).


So the real answer here is: "Do what is required to get the city most near to the resource". Pretty simple rule eh? If another city is right next to resource/s X, then THAT is the correct city to ship to (assuming it has room to build an industry and doesn't have all 3 industry slots filled!)

This is still true when the closest city is a village that already has an industry. Because your job is to enter that city, make it GROW by utilizing that industry until it is a town at which point the #2 industry slot opens up and allows you to BUILD the industry you need.... slow maybe but very effective. STILL true when your village has TWO industry slots already filled, your job now is to make it a CITY so the 3rd industry slot opens allowing you to build your needed industry.

Exception to this rule: Let's say that closest "city" is a village, and the village has a hospital in it.... and there are no pills anywhere near this village? Well... it's going to be ridiculously expensive to ship pills all the way across the map to this village so you should pick another city (next closest to the resource in question). The point here is that as long as you can make a village or town grow to allow you to BUILD and thus undermine the same industry in the further town, DO IT. This explanation is again oversimplified but it is true 95% of the time. The other 5% accounts for the late stage of the game, the opportunity cost of the $500k you are about to spend on building, etc. For the other 5%, use your best and logical judgement on what to do.

Lastly: Most players do not seem to agree with this thinking ("almost always build over buy") but trust this strategy and you'll see that most players are wrong, the proof will be when you click on the opponent's train and find it is making a negative profit due to your build decision.... and there is nothing more satisfying in the game (IMO) than using your opponent's trains AGAINST HIM/HER. :lol:
-Bob the Lunatic

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darthdroid
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Re: FAQ Strategy and Game-play

Post by darthdroid » Thu Dec 31, 2009 8:27 pm

Question:

Are there any rules in online game play? Like, is it legal to steal goods from other players?


Answer:

The game is clearly designed for "stealing", so unless otherwise agreed, "stealing" is not only legal - it is a huge component of the game! The thing to understand here is what you actually own and what you do not own:

You can own:

1/ Tracks.
2/ Trains.
3/ Industries.
4/ Depots/Stations/Terminals.
5/ Annexes.

You cannot own:

1/ Villages/Towns/Cities/Metroplises.
2/ Resources (like textiles or coal).
3/ Goods (including both intermediate and finished goods).
4/ People/Mail.

This is confirmed by the fact that people cannot take away the things you can own (unless they buy your company) and they CAN compete with you for the list of things you cannot own. It should be noted that the computer agrees with this behavior as well.

So it is foolish to complain when another player takes away goods that you were hoping to ship-the early bird gets the worm. Do not let goods pile up in cities you are utilizing as you are simply begging another player to enter this market and compete with you. The game is a business simulation and competition is the nature of this beast-so embrace it, learn it, master it.

There is also really no way to avoid a player (assuming they know how to play) competing with you... you cannot really block them or stop them in any way-so efforts to do so are really a waste of time and money. Instead it is best to learn how become efficient so that when someone DOES compete with you, the worst they can do is take half of the profits away. Building efficiently will also allow you to enter new cities that are already occupied and compete successfully.

Lastly, again, there are outlined rule systems but if no rules are mentioned-the assumption is that pretty much anything goes (including "stealing"/competing). So if you wish to avoid competition you need to state it clearly in the beginning of the game and have an agreement on the rules.

There are 4 Rule Systems:
1/ Base Rules (everything except cheating is allowed and this is the rule system that applies if no rules are discussed)
2/ King City Rules
3/ Ownership Rules
4/ Mickey Mouse Rules

You can find these rules here:
http://www.hookedgamers.com/forums/view ... 774#p40774
-Bob the Lunatic

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darthdroid
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Re: FAQ Strategy and Game-play

Post by darthdroid » Sat Jan 02, 2010 8:08 pm

Question:

I am having trouble with routing; my trains are getting stuck! How can I avoid routing problems?



Answer:

There are really two answers to this and which one to use depends on your motivation for playing this game. If you are using SMR as a train table, and just want to see pretty, realistic tracks across the landscape... you will need lots of crossovers and still probably take a few points from the other answer if you wish to use hard routing. Otherwise, due to inherent problems in the game, you will find a multitude of problems with routing.

If you simply want to be efficient and thus win, there is a much better answer. This answer of course is the best one to run with for multiplayer games. The answer is basically to restrict yourself to one train per track. Tracksharing is a bit tricky in this game and it does not work well for long periods of track. However, there is really no reason to have 2 (or more) trains sharing long lengths of track.

This also indicates that you need to understand the overall efficiency necessities of the game in the first place. The most efficient way to route in this game is to really be as unrealistic as possible :lol:

I don't want to overcomplicate this issue so I will not venture out into the larger strategies involved at this point. The issue of this post is to avoid trains getting deadlocked. There is again, no reason to have 2 trains on the same track, it is inefficient (regardless of how realistic it may be) and doesn't work well in this game.

That being said, let's say I DO want to trains going from City A to City B, then I set up 2 parallel tracks with their own dedicated trains to run goods back and forth. These tracks are not connected anywhere which means the game won't have a choice and theoretically (glitches aside) they will never come face to face.

This method allows for infinite trains into one station with minimal waiting and NEVER any actual deadlocks (where they come to a standstill and require you to start "fixing" things).

This now means you need to understand proper tracksharing. The only time you should have 2 trains using the same track is when that shared track is 2 things:

1/ At the depot/station/terminal.
2/ A TINY piece of track.

This tiny piece of shared track is what allows you to add more than 4 "entry points" at a station or depot. You can see in the attached picture that I have 2 dedicated "city routes" or "export routes". That is, these 2 parallel lines ship goods, passengers, and mail back and forth between City A and City B. You also see that each City (A and B) have 4 additional "resource routes" or "import routes". These are the trains pulling raw goods into the cities. You will see that it is at these resource routes that we have shared track. The shared piece is at the station/terminal and it is very small (millimeters).

So each of these stations/terminals has 6 trains coming and going with very little waiting.

Because the piece of shared track is so small, the odds of the trains waiting on each other have been reduced drastically and really shouldn't rise above 5% on any given train, and most of them should be at 0% waiting.

This picture is a simple example; this concept can be taken to infinity. I can add additional import routes and add more import routes to my 2 export routes if I like. I can also have 3 export routes and use the remaining entry track (#4) at each station/terminal, just for imports.... perhaps 4 or more all sharing that tiny piece of entry track at the station/terminal.

Please study the picture to fully understand this concept as it will help your routing immensely in 2 ways:

1/ You now have really dedicated one train to each piece of track and thus cut any gridlock to zero.

2/ You have also learned how you can route as many trains as you want into a station WITHOUT sharing much track, and again without ANY gridlock.

Lastly: It should be noted that on the shared pieces of track.... the trains on those shared pieces never come into the station from different directions, rather they always come from the SAME direction. This is because if you ARE going to share track, the trains cannot come face to face. If they do come face to face, you are back to a potential gridlock problem-it WILL happen and you WILL have to fix things (by creating crossovers, deleting trains, whatever). Note that with this method here, you NEVER HAVE CROSSOVERS, EVER.

Crossovers and rail spurs may be "realistic", but they are just plain BAD for this game. This again assumes you are aimed at efficience and profits, there is nothing good a crossover can do for profit.

So to simplify, here are some basic routing rules if you wish to be efficient and avoid any trains in gridlock:

1/ Dedicate one train per track.

2/ If you are tracksharing, do it for a tiny piece at the entry point at the station, no where else.

3/ Never use crossovers.

4/ On any shared tracks, make the trains go out the same direction at station, never in the opposite direction. All shared tracks should look like a "Y" or an upside down "Y" at the depot/station/terminal. Having them go in the opposite direction would look more like a "I" (where depot is in the middle of the "I" or perhaps a "C" or maybe an "S", all these are bad, think "Y".
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Routing Picture.jpg
-Bob the Lunatic

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Jancsika
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Re: FAQ Strategy and Game-play

Post by Jancsika » Mon Feb 01, 2010 6:53 am

RedKnight's research in the Engine Maintenance cost question.

Basics

* There are 4.8 maintenance instances a year (25/5.2). Since this doesn't precisely divide into 12 months, you will see maintenances occurring on various months; it won't be a repeating pattern of months, except over long time scales.

* The "Last Year" (LY) Maintenance value (seen in F4) is actually the last 5.2 years worth of maintenance, a.k.a. the total for the last 25 maintenances. These 5.2-year periods are important to how maintenance works, so I'll call them the Maintenance Period (MP).

* Thus, the Lifetime (LT) maintenance cost (F4) is a better estimate of, well, lifetime costs - IF you haven't upgraded your engine. The LT cost shows you maintenance for the route, not the train. You have to start a new route if you want it to be just for that engine.

* As of exactly 5 years, you will have incurred 24 times the Maintenance Cost (MC). Then the next MP kicks in with the 25th maintenance (at 5.2 years). If you have the Lube Patent, $275 is added to your Maintenance cost through that period; if you don't, $550 is added. So a Grasshopper's MC (initially $550) is increased to $1,100 for the second MP, $1,650 for the third, etc.

* If you slow down the game and watch the Profit for a train more than 5 years old, you will see an odd thing. The Profit will appear to go up briefly (even though the train has not made a delivery) and then go back down. What's happening is the maintenance cost incurred 25 instances ago is being dropped, then the new MC being imposed. It's a "first in, first out" function. By noting the prices before (initial value), during, and after (final value) this event, you can see what I mean. The value that got dropped will always be $275 less than the current maintenance cost if you have the Lube Patent, or $550 if you don't. Across this little price jag, an MC that's $275 or $550 less than the current MC got dropped and one that's $275 or $550 more than that previous one got added (the current MC), so the net difference (final value-initial value) is always $1,100 (without Patent) or $550 (with Patent) across the little jag.

* If you have upgraded an old train (with high MCs), those previous, high MCs will be dropping out, until the train is 5 years old (at which point the "proper" ones for the current train make it to the end of that queue). So it can look weird if you don't know what's going on.

* Example: When a Grasshopper is a little over 10 years old, it's LY will say ~$27500 (25*1100), but it's LT will say ~$41,250 (25*550 + 25*1100). LY is showing the last 5.2 years, where the MC is $1,100, but LY covers both MPs.

* The Lube Patent not only reduces the initial MC fee, but also the increase imposed each MP. MC is increased by $550 (w/o Patent) or $275 (w/Patent) each new MP for all engines, regardless of the train's initial MC.

* Trade-In Values use a hyperbolic function. For the percent of original engine cost remaining, use: 1 - (25/(Mo#+25)), where Mo# is the number of months transpired. It falls quickly, then slows; you've lost 50% of value at the two-year point (actually 25 months), but very old trains will retain a few percent of their original cost.

Practical Usage

In order to best utilize this info, the basic question is, "when should I upgrade my trains?"

I re-did the finances another way which I'm sure is better. Train replacement times are a lot more reasonable now ...

As a straw man, the point where they should be upgraded is when the total maintenance cost (the LT value, if you haven't upgraded) equals the cost of a new engine, minus the trade-in value (TIV). This is then averaged across time by dividing by the number of years that have passed. The minimum (across a wide span of years) is the point where you spend the least money per year, given all three costs. It's a very smooth curve; generally any time within 10 years of the stated minimum is fine, except for the very earliest engines.

On to the good stuff...

Without the Lube Patent, optimum replacement times are 10.2 years (GH, Norris), 15.3 years (American to Consolidation), 20.6 years (Pacific to F-Series), and 25.8 years (GS and GP-Series). With the Lube Patent, the GH is 10.2, Norris 15.4 ... anyway, get the attached spreadsheet.

While the optimum times might look disquietingly similar (given differing engine and maintenance costs), what does differ for the trains above, is the average cost per year ((New engine - TIV + LT MC) / Years). As stated above, it's a smooth curve around the minimum, and with the later trains, it doesn't make a huge difference if you wait 10, 20, or even 30 years past the optimum. The GP-Series (plus Lube) has an optimum average yearly cost of $22,388 at 36.2 years, but at 72 years, the average yearly cost has only risen to $24,450.

Attached, find an Excel spreadsheet with engine stats, including recommended replacement time. I will post an equation for figuring LT cost at any point in time, when the wiki is up.
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RR Engine Stats.xls
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BandOFan
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Re: FAQ Strategy and Game-play

Post by BandOFan » Mon Aug 30, 2010 5:55 am

Thanks for your tips darthdroid. They have made all my games at 'Robber Baron' now a cake walk. :)
Especially your stock tips and industry buying advice. You've made me much less reluctant to go ahead and just build an industry close to a resource rather than delivering to one farther away.

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darthdroid
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Re: FAQ Strategy and Game-play

Post by darthdroid » Wed Dec 22, 2010 4:40 pm

BandOFan wrote:Thanks for your tips darthdroid. They have made all my games at 'Robber Baron' now a cake walk. :)
Especially your stock tips and industry buying advice. You've made me much less reluctant to go ahead and just build an industry close to a resource rather than delivering to one farther away.
Glad I could help! The best players learn from each other and continue improving, adding any tricks they learn to their tactic basket. The more you know, the more fun it is I think. And the more good players there are, the more intense gameplay becomes.
-Bob the Lunatic

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