Tricks that are inherent for competitive play:
This is a unique game with both multiple and some very tricky interchanges happening as each R.R. connects to a town or mine, or as each building is placed. The astounding rise and sudden fall of companies stock values is often quite extreme and can be unexpectedly impactfull. Because of this, it often seems to take most people more than one play to learn the ropes. Taking advantage of the three aspects that work together; railroads, towns/buildings and mines can be daunting at first. It is almost like learning to juggle three balls, it seems impossible at first, but given a try, you can quickly get the knack of it and it becomes easy. Expect your first game to be somewhat of a tutorial nature and a learning experience. Remember to check the FAQ's where needed or email us for questions.
Note: Each railroad can reach a maximum of 4 mines.
Recognize that there is a delicate balance between wanting to buy plenty of stock before you connect a RR to a mine(s) and making the actual connections to gain quick profits. This tension exists because following the connection, the price as well as the value of the stock goes up, making it harder for you and other players to buy more stock. Further, the race aspect of the game creates the quandary wherein you cannot just buy stock, or it will never go up much. Yet you can't just make RR connections quickly, or you will have very little stock in these valuable companies as you used your actions for building and not buying more stock. You cannot count on the other players connecting R.R.s to "your" mines for you, though what you actually want is for the other players to build towns on or near and connect RRs to "your" mines, while you simply buy stock and get rich. That, while optimal, is simply not going to happen. So it is a puzzle with endless combinations and a race because time will run out before you can do all you would like. If you take your time buying "sufficient" stock and building sufficient infrastructure, the mine might run dry and you built a card house which the first windstorm (the negative "deep dig" mine development tiles) will knock down.
A major and critical issue is to buy 2 stocks in the R.R. you want to control to connect to mines. If you only buy 1, someone else can obtain the other 2 and become president, then build it to another set of mines that you do not own stock in. Or possibly even not build at all.... Even if 2 separate players each buy 1, one can sell to the other at a time when you are cash low, creating a hostile takeover. But the effort of getting those 2 pieces of stock will often take up 2/3 or 1/2 of a complete cycle (unless you are the STOCK BROKER that cycle), leaving little room for building towns, R.R.'s or buying stock in mines, all of which are necessary to raise capitol..... (the R.R. stock itself is only a liability until it is built to a connection with mines and obtains solvency to produce payment of dividends). If you cannot create solvency in the R.R. you control by the end of the game, the stock has no value for your net worth. So what might have been a big effort in money and actions, compensates with little (the help it did for the mines you own) or no return. One further way to pay off bonds is to buy the last piece or 2 of R.R. stock when the price is high, placing more money in the RR coffer to facilitate bond payment. The dilemma here is - if you didn't buy 2 pieces of stock to begin with, you might not be the player making this decision.
It is just this jostling w/ the other players that is the "meat and bones" of the game. It is highly competitive, though there are many stocks, only the "right" ones will increase in value by the highest margins. Which one's are "right" is determined by how and when they are developed to a vastly greater extent than how "lucky" the mine development tiles are. The development must include sufficient buildings, hopefully prior to the first R.R. connection, which costs both capitol and actions. The 2nd and 3rd R.R. connections are where the game includes "gang up on the leader" aspects. The R.R. that is way ahead is a prime target for "dogging". If other players do not dog (make secondary connections) two things happen; 1. the game will likely end soon because the value of the leading RR will be unhindered in exceeding 100, 2. the other players will likely loose because their holdings are going to be less valuable (no solvent stock exceeding 100).
In a 3 player game, if 1 player works an area alone, he will very likely beat the other 2 players who are competing. So this must be avoided resulting in divergent plans for 1 or both of those players (a real mess to decide who does the actual "work" of building the R.R. and how it is done, when is not an issue here as it must be as soon as possible).
In a 4 or 5 player game there can be more incentive for limited teamwork, where 2 or 3 players develop an area together while other players compete over the rest.
The "nerves" of the game however are the buildings - the "fly in the ointment" of Bullfrog Goldfield. It is extremely important and fundamental to have them in place before making the R.R. connections, but where to build them, when to build them and who pays for them is another very tricky set of considerations. Your challenge here is - should you build the building on a town to support a few mines, or on a specific mine to not help other players. Further - do you build it before the R.R. connection and pay more, or after and pay less but get hamstrung on the stock value chart. Building a town at the start area of a R.R. helps get around this, but does not support most mines. (This is exactly how Las Vegas was founded.) The R.R. start towns that do support mines (2 areas away), are in the mountains so they cost more to connect the R.R. to. Additionally, if you build just one train on the start town, then build a building(s), the building(s) costs less because it is connected by rail. This can come in handy if you do your subsequent rail builds with this as "jump start" leading to multiple connections with mines in one bound, with reduced stock chart limitations (especially useful in conjunction with the RAILROAD COMMISSIONER). Often the placing of just one train at the start town as an action, is a good move because while it gives you a jump start on distance and reduces the cost of buildings, it does so without tipping your hand strategically as to exactly which mine(s) and town(s) your R.R. is headed towards.
Often you can utilize turn order positioning to your advantage. This includes a whole further set of dynamic considerations, but with all characters being "good" there is little "last place sucks" syndrome. Try to pick the Character that enhances your play this turn, but if not possible, be prepared to be flexible and to capitalize on new opportunities.
Keep in mind the initial stock purchase price manipulation parameters, by paying close attention to the cash holdings of your competition and their cash requirements. Often it is possible to squeeze out the competition in stock purchasing with a minimal increase above base cost, to secure a majority holding in a lucrative venture of R.R. and mine stock holdings.
This game hinges on timing, as it is a race, in more ways than one:
1. You race to be the first to buy the most or the best stock (facilitated by the STOCK BROKER).
2. You race to connect R.R.s to mines. (facilitated by the RAILROAD COMMISSIONER)
3. You race to accomplish these before the mine ore exhausts.
4. You race to create solvency in the R.R. company before the game ends.
Timing is the key to this game, remember it is a race!
Keep in mind the fact that the mine holdings are a usually a quicker way to obtain necessary working capitol, but R.R.s will usually be worth more and last longer in long the run.
A note on the luck element of the mine development; since each mine becomes volatile as soon as the first "deep dig" tile is showing, you cannot count on any more than 1 more cycle of production. Hence, it is a good idea to diversify as much as possible in your mine holdings, not counting on just one. This also could be your last chance to sell that stock.
In each cycle, as you make decisions, remember also that though there are only a few actions available, there are a myriad of considerations about when to execute each action. Once you get the hang of it, you will see that there are quite a few exploitative combinations to work with.