I took some time off from Rail-Nation because I felt the game was getting stale. I came back to re-join some friends and help win an End Game. It was good because I had to re-learn some things and a few of the trains seemed to change.
Now on my second round back, it is the worst, most boring round I have ever played. We are in first place and have unlocked 40 goods. We are done. We have decided to not unlock any more goods until End Game. All other cities in the top 10 have also stopped. The next closest city behind us is at 34. They know, due to handicapping, that they want to stay in second (only a half hour start behind us), but they want to keep as much distance from us as possible. This way they haul way less goods then us.
Something needs to change to promote cities to want to compete for top spot again. I will be running money or developing other cities for prestige for the entire 14 days. BORING!
Here are a couple ideas I came up with...
1. How about rewarding prestige to the first place city in each of the Eras. Maybe stager the Prestige down through the top 10. Lets say 1000 prestige for top City at end of Era 1. Maybe second gets like 700 and so on down. Era 2 = 2000 prestige, 3=3000 prestige, and so on.
2. Up the winning prestige from 10k to like 30k. 10k is just not enough to excite some to show up and play. Give them a real treat to go after.
3. Give city builders more credit. Players have figured out that it is more lucrative to build tracks and move from city to city just helping city builder "finish". They do their own thing and when you get close, the move and and finish it off. They say they benefit you by getting done what you couldnt on your own. Really, what is going on, is that they let you do all the grunt work while they move around getting rewards, then they swoop in, finish the city, get on the new good until it loses its value, and then move back out.
4. You should have to declare your home city by the end of Era 4 instead of waiting until End Game. You should also get Prestige for every Era that you run goods in you Home City. Again have it accelerate through the Eras. You would have to haul "x" amount of goods in each Era to qualify (a quota). Maybe you start with 500 prestige bonus in the first Era. Second Era you receive 600, and so on. This would make folks either Haul for themselves, or they need to decide where they are going to be and run goods in that location. Making teams choose their city by Era 5 would also be good, as it would ground people. Maybe it would even things out between the top 10. If folks know they cant compete, they will pack up and move to another city.
Part of that strategy would be that once you declare for a new city you no longer receive the Prestige rewards for the end of the Era. Players would be losing 5th and 6th Era Prestige, banking on the idea the they are going to win it all.
This might even be considered to start at the end of Era 3 instead of Era 4.
Ultimately the game should be based on cities. If there are 10 cities in the End Game, it would be nice to see them all competitive. Just because you finish in 10 shouldn't mean you have no chance at winning.