EB Pronto™ Play FAQ

For those familiar with the board games, this FAQ describes how to get more fun from the EB Pronto™ software. Information applies to the most recent version.

Also see: tech FAQ | board game FAQ | order FAQ | detailed EBP install instructions

Cities and Loads
Q. How can I find a city that's on one of my contracts? A. Mouse over its name on that contract and EBP will blink it on the map.
Q. How can I find where a demanded load is available? A. In the contracts box left of the map, on the left half of the contract mouse over or touch the name of a demanded load to make EBP boldly blink on the map the cities at which that load is supplied. If the blinking is not bold, but rather is a thin line, it means that load is not currently available for pickup, something that can happen if all available loads of that type are already onboard your train and/or those of opponents.
Q. What about finding loads not currently on a contract? A. Use the Show, Find Loads pull-down menu.
Q. How can I remind myself to deliver a particular load? A. On the left half of a contract double click on the load and EBP will display a RR crossing sign left of that load. Double click to toggle the sign off.
Q. How can I see what load demands have yet to be drawn? A. On a contract click once bewteen contract midpoint and the load icon. EBP will blink the remaining cities that demand the load on the contracts yet to be drawn.

In the Loads window you can click on a load multiple times to step through displays of various information about that load, one of which is the remaining cities that demand the load on the contracts yet to be drawn.

Q. Which loads are the more valuable ones? A. Use the Show, Map Details pull-down menu and in the window that opens choose the Load, Value Report pull-down menu.

Contracts and Events
Q. I want to rearrange the display order of my contracts... A. In the Contracts box left of the map, click on the rightmost 25% of a contract, where the demand icons are shown, and drag it up or down to the place you want, dropping it on a different contract. Just as if you were playing a board game, during Web matches opponents can see the rearranged order of your contracts.
Q. How can I quickly see an opponent's contracts? A. In the cash box at the lower-left corner of the game window, click on an opponent's name and EBP will scroll to his contracts.
Q. Can I view all opponent contracts at once? A. Yes, choose the Game, Contracts pull-down menu. This opens the Contracts window that you may drag to a display location of your choice, even to a second monitor if you have such equipment.
Q. How can I adjust the Contracts window display? A. To change the text size, right click on the Contracts window and select a size choice from the popup menu. To change the display arrangement, resize the Contracts window into either portrait or landscape shape, for example, use a wide window to make all contracts display in one row.
Q. How can I learn the current impact of an event at a given milepost? A. Mileposts impacted by an event are colored amber by EBP (note: you can select a different color via File, Display Settings). To learn more about the event, right click on the milepost and choose Information. In the box that opens, refer to the "Event restrictions (if any)" section.
Q. Event display crosshatching is making it tough to see the map. A. Choose the Show, Events pull-down menu to toggle the crosshatching off / on.
Q. Several events are active. How do I know which they are? A. Choose the Show, Event Info pull-down menu to display a list of all Events. Ones labelled "A" are currently active. For a description of an event, click on it to highlight it then click the Details button.
Q. How can I see Special Demand and Open contracts? A. Certain maps, Russia is one, have Special Demand contracts that can be satisfied by any player. These contracts appear at the bottom of the Contracts box, after those of the last player. Scroll the contracts down manually or click the small Information box between the Contracts box and the Cash box.
Q. How can I monitor a Special Demand or Open contract? A. In the Contracts box left of the map, scroll down to a desired Special Demand or Open contract, right click upon it, and from the popup menu choose Watch. That contract will appear adjacent to your regular contracts in the Contracts box. To stop watching such a contract, right click upon it and choose Watch again.
Q. I'd like the Contract box text to be larger. A. Use the File, Display Settings pull-down menu, then in the window that opens choose the "Info Boxes Font and Size" you prefer. Or, click on the contracts box, then press Ctrl++ (Control plus) or Ctrl+- to adjust the font size.
Q. I'd like the Contract box to be wider. A. Immediately outside the lower-left corner of the map display is an arrow. Drag that arrow to the right.
Q. How many contracts have yet to be drawn? A. At the lower-right corner of the map is a small box that depicts the "height" of the remaining contracts. It is green when many contracts remain, amber (event color) when less than 1/3rd remain, red when less than 12 remain. Hover the mouse over the box or click it to learn the exact number.
Q. I was playing the board game recently and want to see if there was a better opening for my initial contracts. A. If you recall which contracts you had, start EBP, load the corresponding map (File, Load Map), next use the Show, Find Best Trip pull-down menu and in the window that opens follow the instructions. EBP will tell you what it thinks was the best way to start.
Q. We don't like events, so when we play the board game, we remove all the Event cards. A. In the Game Setup window, click the More Game Options button. In the Variants / Misc panel uncheck Events.
Q. There's one event I particularly detest. Can I remove it? A. In the Game Setup window, choose the Map, Event Info pull-down menu (EBP version 2.0.33 and later). In the Event Info window that appears, checkmark the event you dislike, then click the Toggle button. EBP will remove that event from play. You will need to do this each time you play, unless you create a custom version of the map via the EBPEdit map editor.
Q. A computer player won with less than $250m cash. What's up with that? A. This can happen if a Tax event comes up after a player has already met victory conditions. Events that occur after a player has met victory conditions at turn end do not cancel the victory. You can avoid the issue entirely by, in Game Options (EBP ver 2.0.33 or later) enabling "Equal events". With Equal events, events that occur while any player meets victory conditions are ignored.

Q. What's a map? A. The map box is the large area in which the "board" is displayed. The term "map" can also refer to a group of computer files that contain the content of a particular game title, such as Eurorails. By purchasing more EBP maps you gain access to and can play additional crayon rails game titles.
Q. It's my first time playing this map. How do I get an overview? A. Sometimes it's easier just to begin play and learn as you go, but if you want a overview, do any/all of the following:
  • Use the Show, Find City pull-down menu, and in the window that appears click on each city. EBP will blink that city on the map, and above the map list the loads (if any) it supplies.
  • Use the Show, Rail Corridors pull-down menu to get an idea of the best/busiest track building areas.
  • If a milepost's shape is unfamiliar, right click on it and from the popup menu choose Information. In the box that appears, see the "Dot has following attributes" section to learn the name of the terrain as well as its build-to cost.
  • Use Show, Map Details and in the window that opens click on each Load listed to see information about it as well as the icon that represents it.
  • Use Show, Map Details and in the window that opens click the various pull-down meni items. You can learn which loads have lesser quanitites available (if any), and which pay the most, and lots more.
Q. How do I zoom/move the map view? A. Many people point to an area then rotate the mouse wheel to zoom into it. The same can be done on the thumbnail map. Repositioning can be done by left-clicking, holding then dragging the map. In situations during which clicking could move or build, click between the map edge and dashed rectangle and then drag. Touch screen users can double tap to zoom/unzoom; pinch and spread gestures also work.
Q. What's the quickest way to refresh the map display to full size? A. Click the Zoom text above the OK (done) button, or press the center 5 on the numeric keypad.
Q. I'd like to use a different text font. A. Use the File, Display Settings pull-down menu, then in the window that opens choose the "Map Font and Size" you prefer.
Q. I prefer a single color background, white, like the board games. A. Toggle the background off / on via the Show, Bgnd Image pull-down menu.
Q. I'd like the main map window to be as large as possible. A. First maximize the size of EBP's window by clicking the "maximize" icon near the window's upper right corner. Next, immediately outside the lower-left corner of the map display box is an arrow. Drag that arrow down and to the left.
Q. When I play British Rails the map of the UK appears too wide. A. Adjust the size of EBP's game window to be more tall than wide, aka portrait orientation. When you do EBP will adjust the map to match that shape, thus reducing the apparent width of the island.
Q. What's the hexagon around Australia's Darwin about? A. It means you can start building track there, even though Darwin is not a big city.
Q. What's are those numbers like ha70? A. That's a milepost identifier, each dot has a unique one. Mouse over a dot and look in the box outside the lower-left corner of the map... the dot's identifier is found there.
Q. How can I find a dot ID on the map? A. If you know a dot's identifier and want to find it on the map, use the Show, Find pull-down menu and enter the identifier... EBP will center the map upon that dot.
Q. How can I find a city? A. Use the Show, Find pull-down menu and enter the city name... EBP will center the map upon it. Or, use the Show, Find City pull-down menu and choose the city from the list.
Q. When I play Australia Rails the computer bots win without connecting Perth. A. Somehow within EBP's customizable settings Perth has been removed from the winning criteria. To fix it, use Game, Start, then in the Game Setup window click the More Game Options button, and in the "Money, Building, Etc." center panel looks for "WinMust=". If it does not read "WinMust=Perth" you can double click on it then enter Perth; or to restore all the settings the map came with, at the bottom of the center area find the "Revert to map's settings" panel and click its "money" and "variants" buttons.

Game Play
Q. How do I learn how to play? A. One way is to jump in and start a game; EBP will guide you and can give hints upon your request. EBP's AI computer opponents provide tireless practice. Until you can beat these bots regularly, set their skill levels lower in the Game Setup window. Also, be sure to review the rules of Empire Builder®.
Q. Which rules are implemented in EBP? A. As an authorized product, EBP employs the standard game ruleset per the wishes of Mayfair, publisher of Empire Builder board games. EBP's user base is the largest group playing crayon rails in a particular manner. Many popular rules variants are implemented in EBP as well, but not all "house rules". Most of EBP's rules have been adopted by the Train Gamers Association (TGA) and other game groups.
Q. I have trouble figuring out good pickup / delivery trips. Help! A. Use the Turn, Suggest Plan pull-down menu to have EBP's Artificial Intelligence (AI) bots study your position and suggest a possible list of steps to do. As you become more experienced you will be able to find alternatives just as good or even better than the AI. Remember that if you never play any way other than what the Suggest Plan feature describes, you'll never play better than the AI.
Q. I changed something in Game Options and now the game plays oddly. A. Maybe one of the options does not operate as you thought. Reset them back to their original as follows: use the Game, Start pull down menu, click the More Game Options button, look for the "Revert to map's settings" panel, and there click on both the "money" and "variants" buttons. That restores the default settings for the map. Click OK, and proceed with starting a game. If the problem persists, it's due to something else.
Q. How competent are the AI bots? A. No one can beat EBP's AI all the time. The AI has won games in fewer than half the number of rounds that human experts do on average. In the Game Setup window, you can choose the skill level of EBP's computer opponents. At the maximum skill setting, the AI competes like an advanced human player. Only expert human players can beat a group of max skill AI bots with some regularity.
Q. Do I have enough cash to build to a distant city at the start? A. Your cash supply limits how far you can build. To estimate the cost to build to a distant city, before you have built any track, right click on that city and choose Information. EBP will display the approximate cost to build to that city from each big city at which track building may commence. Note that the values are estimates: costs can rise if an opponent builds via the less expensive, preferred routes before you can.
Q. I struggle with building. A. Use EBP's Autobuild. If you already have some track, right click on the desired destination of your build and choose Build to. EBP will survey a route all the way there and display the cost. You can accept the surveyed route or erase it before actually building it.

If you have not yet built any track, first click once on a big city edge milepost at which to start the build, then follow the directions of the prior paragraph.

If the cost of an Autobuild exceeds your cash supply, or the per-turn spending limit, trim it back by pressing Backspace repeatedly or by swiping to the right on the color bar above the upper-right corner of the map box.

In some cases EBP will not be able to find a good route all the way to the destination you pick. This can happen if events limit building, a big city is along the path, etc. If no route at all can be found, EBP will report so. Sometimes a solution is to retry Autobuild to a closer milepost.

Q. What's the easiest way to move my train? A. During the move phase of your turn EBP displays ovals at the most distant mileposts to which you can move. Click on one to move your train all the way there nonstop.

When riding your own track typically you need not click separately on each milepost through which to move, instead you can click somewhere down your line and EBP will display a possible route there. You can also click on your train, hold down the mouse button and trace along the mileposts of the route you want.

To change your mind about a route, Backspace or Swipe to undo before you click "OK (done)".

Q. I'm learning... how can I make the game easier? A. Try any/all of the following: When starting a match, set the skill level of the bots to Min, and Type/Style to IA Newby. Set your own Skill level to Max. Reduce the number of opponents. In the Game Options window, turn off Events. During the match, use the Turn, Suggest Plan pull-down menu for hints about what to do. During the build phase of your turn after you have some track on the map, right-click on the distant milepost to which you want to build, and select Autobuild (trim back the suggested route to something affordable by pressing Backspace).
Q. I'm skilled... how can I make the game more challenging? A. Increase the number of opponents to maximum. Set the AI bot Type/Style to James Hill and skill level to Max. Play on a map unfamiliar to you. Try a Blitz mode match: the bots can play far faster than a human; see the Blitz Play topic in the in-game help for information. Randomizing the contracts and/or city locations can be a fresh challenge: in the Game Setup Window, use the Map, Randomize pull down menu. Allow the AI bots to cheat: the Game Options, Computer Play section has various cheat levels.
Q. How can I train myself to win tournaments? A. The way to become an expert at most anything is practice, practice, practice. EBP's bots are tireless, perfect practice opponents who win enough to keep you on your toes. A key skill is to know the contracts: learn which loads are demanded by which cities. During play you can then mentally note when important (high value) contracts are played, and know which remain in the deck. The best way to learn the deck is to repeatedly play the Sudden Death variant (enable it in EBP's Game Options).
Q. How fast can the AI bots play? A. At the max skill setting, EBP's bots usually need less than 1 second per turn. You can also tell the AI to play vs. itself to collect stats; in such operation EBP can complete over 100,000 player-matches per day, an effective rate of less than one second per player-match (2.4 Gz quad core computer).
Q. How many big cities must I connect to win? A. The number, which varies by map, is shown with the winning conditions described at the beginning of play. To remind yourself of the value, choose the Game, Victory Conditions menu. If you have an older version of EBP that lacks that feature, instead choose the Game, Status pull-down menu, then the Display, Summary pull-down menu. Look down the left column for "Connected of X" ... X is the number of big cities you must connect with track to meet victory conditions.
Q. A friend says he got balloons at the end of his match... A. If you play very well in EBP's opinion, the program floats colored ballons over the map at match end. Keep playing and you'll see them too eventually.
Q. A friend says he got a Game of Life sandbox at the end of his match... A. If you play exceptionally well in EBP's opinion, you'll see it too.

Online Play
Q. How do I play online? A. There are three ways to play other people online: local, web, and play-by-email. For each of those, one person serves as GameMaster, or game initiator, while all other participants are considered opponents. The GameMaster gets things going as described below.

Local means playing others live at your house or location where participants connect to the same router (the device that permits many residents to share the same internet connection). To do this, in EBP

  • choose Game, Start to open the Game Setup window
  • in Game Setup, enter your name and color in player slot #1
  • then choose Web, Make Me GameMaster a window will open with "Your local Web Dot Address is: xxx.xxx.xxx.xxx" where the Xs are digits that might resemble
  • tell that dot address to your opponent(s) each of whom on their separate device(s) starts EBP, and chooses Game, Start to open the Game Setup window
  • next, each opponent enters their name and color in player slot #1, then chooses Web, Make Me a Player
  • a window will open in which they should enter the GameMaster's dot address, upon which the player and GM copies of EBP will connect, as EBP will report via various messages
  • when all opponents have connected, in the Web GM window the GM should choose Match, Begin / Resume.

Web play refers to live games between non-local online opponents. This is the same as local play, except

  • the GameMaster tells opponents his External Web Dot Address (as displayed by the game)
  • also, the GameMaster usually must configure his Web equipment to permit the remote players to connect
  • typically this means telling firewalls (if any) to permit incoming connection requests, and opening ports on a router
  • the tech FAQ has details and examples
  • the GameMaster task is probably best handled by the most computer-savvy of the match participants
  • error 10060 is generated from outside the game; it usually means the GM has not properly set his firewall(s) and/or router ports
  • to get around firewall and router issues, some users favor employing a virtual network such as LogMeIn Hamachi.

More information can be found in the in-game help via the displayed Help buttons, menu items, and links.

For all online play options, each participant needs a copy of EBP plus to have paid for a copy of the map in use (if not one of the free maps).

For all online play options, the built-in AI bots can fill as many player slots as the GM/initiator wishes. For example, the most common play-by-email arrangement is for two humans to play along with two bots, making for four total in the match, but keep in mind one of the bots might win!

For technical issues, see the tech FAQ.

If you have trouble getting your router and/or firewalls to let EBP through, try Play-by-email instead, as described next. Email is not as restricted by firewalls, so can be easier to use.

Q. What about playing by email? A. Play-by-email (Pbem) means playing others in a turn-by-turn fashion in which EBP emails the match to the next person so that person can take their turn. Participants can be anywhere with a copy of EBP and a working email address. Pbem does not require all participants to be online concurrently.
  • Before starting the first match, each participant should in EBP choose File, Display Settings, and enter his/her email information in the Play by Email / Web section
  • use the Help button there to get details about what to enter
  • after entering the info, each person should test that their settings are proper and working: close the Display Settings window, and choose Game, Play by Email, then Options, Self-mail test.
  • if your self-mailing gets sent, then arrives in your own email inbox, you are ready to play by email.
  • to begin a Play-by-email match, one person, the "initiator," should begin the match via Game, Start
  • then in the Game Setup window enter player info (name, color, etc.) of all participants.
  • if desired, the initiator can place one or more AI bots in player slots below those of the human players.
  • the initiator also chooses/configures the map and match settings to those agreed in advance by the participants
  • after all info and settings are as desired, in the Game Setup window the initiator chooses Web, Play by email
  • in the Pbem Control Window that opens, the name of each player will be shown, along with their email address (may be missing or blank)
  • if any person's email address is missing or not proper, double click on it and enter the correct address
  • after having set/confirmed email addresses, the initiaor should click on the Game Setup window and click the OK button there to begin the match
  • when a player completes their turn, EBP will email it to the next player
  • the match will arrive as an email attachment that can be double-clicked to open, or saved to disk, then opened manually from EBP via File, Open Game
  • later, when you want to play a new match, the initiator should perform the same steps as before, except when they reach the Pbem Control Window choose Match, Copy setup and EBP will reuse your prior settings.
  • if desired, the initiator can tweak those settings before starting the match via the Game Setup window's OK button
  • there's more about Pbem in the tech FAQ.

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Empire Builder is a registered trademark of Mayfair Games, and used here under license. EB Pronto is a trademark of Intersystem Concepts, Inc. EB Pronto and the alternate maps are not products of Mayfair Games.