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



Loads
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. 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.

Map
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.
  • Use Show, Map Basics to learn the map's author and extra information he/she may have provided via the "view more info from" button.
  • 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. How competent are the AI bots? A. 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 very good 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, 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 exceptionally 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.

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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.