RB box

Rail Baron
World Boardgaming Championships

What is Rail Baron? - Illustrated Description and History
How to attend the WBC and play in the Rail Baron tournament

2005 Tournament Results

updated 21 October 2005

A first-time RB champion was crowned at the 2005 World Boardgaming Championships.

2005 finalists

The finalists from a field of 52 are pictured above; from left to right: Stephane Dorais, Michael Mullins, Doug Galullo, Ron Secunda (GM), and new champion Bill Duke. Not pictured is finalist Roderick Lee, who had been eliminated from the 6-player final game.

The following detailed writeup comes courtesy Ron Secunda and Paul Van Bloem:

The 2005 Rail Baron championship game was exciting with one bankruptcy, four auctions, and three Declares. There was also a rumor of a partridge in a pear tree, but I haven't been able to confirm that.

The game started with six players, each of whom won a 4-player game in the semi-final. In turn order, the players were Bill Duke, Doug Galullo, Mike Mullins, Ron Secunda (your GM), Roderick Lee, and Stephane Dorais.

None of the players' home cities or first destinations was out of the ordinary. Bill started in Minneapolis and headed for Phoenix, Doug traveled from Seattle to Houston, Mike went from Cleveland to San Diego, Ron from New Orleans to Los Angeles, Roderick from Buffalo to New Orleans, and Stephane from Indianapolis to San Diego (after a home swap).

Roderick had the shortest trip, but did not roll well and so took four turns to make it to New Orleans. Since his payoff was only $13, he could barely have afforded the NYC; in fact, he didn't have to make that tough decision, because Bill and Ron also completed their (longer) trips in the fourth round, and bought the PA and NYC, respectively. Roderick had to settle for the B&O. The other three players arrived in the fifth round, where Doug bought the ATSF, Mike the C&O, and Stephane the L&N.

Bill's next destination was Tampa, and Doug's was Rapid City. Either of these might have turned unfriendly, but both players were able to make it to (respectively) the ACL and the CNW before they were bought. In fact, Bill was able to buy the SAL when he arrived in Tampa. Doug arrived in Rapid City immediately after, and bought the ACL, locking up the coastal cities of the Southeast. This was bad luck for Roderick, who rolled a destination of Tampa later that same round.

Roderick was the first to roll an unfriendly city, but in the 11th round, just as he made his first payment to Doug, three other players rolled unfriendly destinations. Doug and Stephane both had to go to NY, and Mike rolled Boston.

Bill and Ron, who had managed to get the two big NY railroads, also managed to avoid any unfriendly cities for the first half of the game. The other players all had to pay at least twice. Roderick struggled with unfriendly destinations; he bought nothing when he got to Tampa, then bought the NP on his next trip to Pueblo. Then he staggered through three unfriendly cities in a row: Phoenix, Salt Lake City, and Dallas.

Doug also had a few problems. After unfriendly New York, he went to Chicago, then had to pay to visit Tucumcari. He then went to Minneapolis, and earned enough money to buy the GN (one of 4 railroads left). But his next trip to unfriendly Buffalo showed he was too short of cash. His roll was short, so he auctioned off NYNH, which Bill snapped up for $6.

Right after this auction, Mike arrived in Salt Lake City and bought the last railroad, the SOU. At this point, the railroad ownership was as follows (in turn order): Bill had PA, NYNH, UP, SLSF, GM&O, SAL, and N&W; Doug owned GN, CNW, WP, ATSF, ACL, and RFP; Mike had C&O, CBQ, T&P, and SOU; Ron controlled SP, NYC, MP, CMSTP&P, DRGW, and B&M; Roderick had only the B&O and NP; and Stephane had the L&N, CRIP, and IC. Clearly Bill and Ron were in the lead, with Doug not too far behind (though he was handicapped by not connecting to his ACL). The % of cities served by each players' rails were (again in turn order): 64%, 50% (in 2 pieces), 37%, 61%, 27% (in 2 pieces) and 29%.

At this midpoint of the game, not much money had changed hands. Bill had paid nothing for riding unfriendly rails, but had collected $30. Doug had paid $30 but collected $20, Mike paid $25 and received $15. Ron was doing best here, having paid nothing and collected $35. Stephane had managed to break even, paying out $10 but also receiving that amount. Roderick was the big loser, having paid $50 and only received $5.

With all the RRs sold, the price of riding another player’s RR went up, and things quickly got bleak for Roderick. He arrived in Dallas in round 26, just after the last RR was sold. His next destination was Miami, and the end was in sight for him. He first auctioned off NP in round 27, just to pay to leave Dallas. Ron paid $25 for it, and added it to his CMSTP&P. In round 29, Roderick auctioned off the B&O, and Stephane got it for the bargain price of $20. In round 30, Roderick limped into Miami. In round 31 he rolled a destination of Portland OR; in round 32 he went bankrupt, and dropped out of the game. (GM Ron had thoughtfully picked up the RBN plaques, so he was able to award Roderick the Sixth Place plaque on the spot.)

All was not roses for the other players. Doug found himself a little short of cash, and sold the RF&P back to the bank in round 28. (Mike bought it in round 30.) Stephane had to auction his IC in round 38 to cover a long expensive trip to Oakland. Ron bought the RR for $30.

Since we were playing regular AH rules rather than the free Superchief we use for most tournament games, no one bought a Superchief until all the RRs were sold. Doug was the first, buying his in round 32, followed by Ron in round 36, Bill in round 40, and Mike in round 41. Stephane couldn't come up with enough cash until round 54 (by which time two other players had Announced cash totals over $150).

Things started heating up in round 49, when Doug Announced he had over $150. He had just arrived in Portland OR, and Seattle was his home city. A quick trip to the East Coast, and back to the Northwest would win the game. However, the farthest east Doug could get without paying was Chicago. This hurt him seriously now, as he rolled the following cities: Knoxville, New York, Detroit, Philadelphia, Chicago, New York, and Columbus. Only Chicago was friendly, and that did Doug no good when he came from Philly and then left for NY. Not only were they unfriendly, but the payoffs were small (the largest of the series was $9). In turn 62, Doug arrived in Columbus and finally rolled a friendly city, namely Oakland.

Doug wasn't the only one having problems, of course (though you might have thought so, to hear him tell it!). Mike did a series of Nashville, Philly, Omaha, back to Nashville, Pittsburgh, and San Diego; only Omaha was friendly for him. And Stephane struggled with the curse of being at the end of the turn order in a six-player game: a network so limited that even the owner can't ride it much. He survived the second half of the game skillfully, but all his cities were unfriendly. His first destination after all the RRs were sold was Richmond, followed by Oakland, Miami, Sacramento, Buffalo, Fargo, Butte, and then Dallas. (He was on his way to friendly Chicago when the game ended.)

Meanwhile, Bill Announced in turn 53, and Ron in turn 57. Bill was in Miami when he reached $150; he then traveled to Denver, then Boston, then Atlanta, slowly building up cash. Ron Announced in Salt Lake City, then rolled unfriendly Washington DC. In turn 61, Ron arrived in DC and rolled Louisville as his next destination. Here his expensive IC could help out; Louisville is 11 from Ron's home of New Orleans, and the trip would be free on the IC. Meanwhile, Bill was heading from Boston to Atlanta, and Doug was traveling from New York to Columbus, so neither was in a position to Declare themselves.

In turn 64, Ron did Declare, with $210, in Louisville. His alternate destination was St. Louis. He needed an 11… and he rolled a 10! To avoid being Rovered, Ron quickly rode the PA and the CBQ to St. Louis; his total cash dropped below $200, and he became unDeclared. St. Louis is only 10 dots from New Orleans, but Ron only had $192.5 (his $210 less two payments, plus the $2.5 payoff for the Louisville to St. Louis trip). So he rolled for a normal destination and found himself stuck going to Los Angeles.

Meanwhile, Bill had lots of money, but needed to be closer to his home of Minneapolis. He got some luck in round 64 when he arrived in Atlanta and rolled a destination of Detroit. (Detroit is 10 from Minneapolis.) At the same time, Doug was headed to Oakland, where he would earn enough to break the $200 barrier. Since everyone else was in the eastern half of the map, he could probably make the trip up to Seattle unRovered. Bill paid to take the L&N north rather than go around on his GMO, worrying about Doug.

In round 66, Doug reached Oakland, and Declared with $219.5. His alternate destination was Boston. He took his 4 bonus die and headed north. Since he couldn't afford to pay two railroad fees, he stayed on his own tracks, which potentially made the trip form Oakland to Seattle 15 rather than 10. However, a roll of 8 or more in round 67 would let him take the NP and arrive home with the win.

But there was no round 67 for anyone except Bill. He Declared in Detroit with $271.5, and rolled an alternate of San Diego. He needed a 10, and rolled 6,1,3 to win!

The final results, in order of finish, were: Bill (PA, NYNH, UP, SLSF, GM&O, SAL, N&W), $261.5 cash, $131 in RRs; Ron (SP, NYC, MP, CMSTP&P, NP, IC, DRGW, B&M), $212.5 cash, $147 in RRs; Doug (GN, CNW, WP, ATSF, ACL), $219.5 cash, $91 in RRs; Mike (C&O, CBQ, RFP, T&P, SOU), $126.5 cash, $74 in RRs; and Stephane (B&O, L&N, CRIP), $108 cash, $71 in RRs.

I (your Gamemaster, Ron Secunda) and your assistant GM's, Paul Van Bloem and Chester Lanham, hope you all had fun playing RB this year in Lancaster. We are looking forward to seeing all of you again (as well as those of you who couldn't make it in 2005) in 2006.

If you have any questions or comments, you may email me at secundstar@erols.com. Also, feel free to contact Paul at pjvanbloem@aol.com especially if you have any questions about the Final.

2005 Tournament News

updated 10 July 2005

About 65 people are expected to compete in the 15th Annual Rail Baron tournament at the 2005 World Boardgaming Championships (WBC) this coming summer near Baltimore. You don't need to be an expert player; if you simply know how to play, you can join the fun.

Some special items will be carried over from last year:

  • Riding your own RRs is free. Do not pay the customary $1000 if you ride your own RRs, but not the bank's.
  • Alternates for the semi finals will be the top 2nd place finishers (net worth) in the first round heats.
  • Computers are allowed to assist with the game's table lookups.
  • The tournament is listed as an Advanced event, rather than a Beginner's event. The basic difference is there is no demo and you must simply know how to play Rail Baron to participate. As before, you do NOT need to be an expert Rail Baron player.
Rail Baron Tournament Format

There are three first-round heats; you can play in as many as you like. If you win you are virtually guaranteed advancement to the next round. Specifically, the top 20 to 30 first-round winners (that's usually everyone who wins in the first round) advance to the semi-finals. The top six semi-finalists advance to the final.

The ideal number of players at each table will vary with the round. For the first-round heats, our target is 4 players, for the semis 5, and for the final 6. With this arrangement, to be crowned champion, you will need to win a 4- and a 5-player match, as well as the slugfest 6-player final.

The table matchups (player groups) for the semi-final matches will be based on AREA rank prior to the WBC. The highest AREA rated players will be grouped with the lowest.

Another way to advance to the semi-finals is by finishing well in the first round heats. Net worth will determine the alternate players who will be eligible to round out the semi-final tables.

Please note the GM may be forced to make changes to this plan should the number of participants vary substantially from that anticipated.

Computer Assist

The BPA is allowing us to use laptop/notebook computers to assist with the game's chart lookups (destination and payoff). Use is optional, and must be agreed to by all players at that table. The computer's screen must be large enough for the text to be visible to all the players.

To do the chart lookups for you, you must employ the Boardgame Conductor in the RB Player computer program, version 2.9 (or newer). You may not use any other portion of the program or any other Rail Baron related program during the tournament match.

Even an old laptop will do since the RB Player program operates on almost any computer running Windows 3.1 through XP. In advance of the tournament, please download, install and try a shareware copy of the RBP. Use of the program's Boardgame Conductor remains free (even after the shareware's 30-day trial period).


The following is the Rail Baron (RBN) schedule for 2004:

Round 1, Heat 1 Wednesday Aug 3rd 17:00 to 21:00 Marietta
Round 1, Heat 2 Thursday Aug 4th 18:00 to 22:00 Marietta
Round 1, Heat 3 Friday Aug 5th 09:00 to 13:00 Marietta
Awards / Prizes Friday Aug 5th 15:45 to 16:00 Marietta
Semi-finals Friday Aug 5th 16:00 to 21:00 Marietta
Final Saturday Aug 6th 16:00 to 22:00 Marietta

The exact schedule is determined by the BPA; the durations are estimates.

Tournament Officials

Ron Secunda is GM.

Feel free to write to Ron with any questions about the RBN tournament. Ron's email is secundstar@erols.com.

Special Tournament Rules

Several special game rules will be employed to help reduce the average game duration:

#1 - Ride your own RRs for free:. Do NOT pay the customary $1000 if you use your own RRs but not the bank's. Riding the bank's RRs for any portion of a trip costs the usual $1000. Tests indicate this speeds up the game by almost 10%.

#2 - Free SuperChief: Once you have an express, you can upgrade to a Superchief for free. Note that you still need to consume a purchase opportunity to perform the upgrade. Jumping directly to a Superchief (without an Express) costs $40,000. This rule will be used for the first round only. For subsequent rounds, the Superchief cost will be reduced per Optional Rule 2 in the RBN rules.

#3 - Roll 3 with a SuperChief: If you do not have a Superchief, and are entitled to a bonus die, the bonus die must be rolled after you have completed movement for the normal roll. Once you have a Superchief, you must roll all three dice at once, and then use them all for movement.

#4 - "Roll-and-move-immediately" rule not enforced: This courtesy rule stipulates that once you roll the dice, you must start moving your pawn immediately. We will not enforce it.

#5 - Home Swapping: Is your first destination a bad one? Before you roll the dice to move for the first time, simply say you are Home Swapping: your first destination becomes your home city and your home city becomes your first destination. Freely teleport your engine to your new home city, and continue play. This rule helps give everyone a fair start. For use fee purposes, assume you are established on whatever RRs serve your new home city. For victory purposes, return to your new home city. Note that this variant makes it possible for two or more players to have the same home city. More details.

All these special rules are supported by the RB Player computer shareware. And, yes, the computer version makes a good enough opponent to help prepare you for the tournament, even if you've never played the board game itself.

Common Rules Issues

Review the boardgame rules summary.

If you arrive at your destination on the normal dice, and the bonus die is pending, you get to roll for your next destination and "get the bonus bounce out" (use the bonus die to begin the next trip). Note that with a Superchief engine, you roll the normal and bonus dice together and therefore, if you "bounce out" you use that die to start your next trip; you do NOT re-roll the bonus die.

Per BPA rules, no "cheat sheets" or electronic aids except as described above may be used during tournament play. The replacement destination and payoff chart distributed free by ICI is approved for use.

Any dice that roll on the floor must be rerolled on the table. Any dice that are leaning on the edge of the board game must be rerolled. Reroll only those dice that did not sit properly. Consider rolling within the box top to help avoid these problems.

Cash may not be kept hidden from view of opponents, but may be placed in a single stack in front of the player.

You do not need to tell opponents how much cash you have, unless you have $150,000 or more and an opponent asks. Upon reaching $150,000, you should announce this to the other players.

For more rules interpretations that will be employed, see the Rail Baron FAQ.
Late Arrivals, Long Games and Byes

Please be on time. Late arrivals may lose their right to participate in that heat or round, and will be accommodated only to facilitate the filling of a table to the desired number of players. A player is considered late if he has not submitted his badge to the GM for the round signup when the GM has finished badge processing for all the players already present and waiting to start.

If a match is running longer than the expected duration, the GM will adjudicate it (declare the match ended, and pick a winner) upon request if more than half the remaining players in that match wish so. At his discretion, the GM may also adjudicate a match that is running longer than expected. The GM's decision is final.

Due to time conflicts with other games, it is likely one or more semi-final and final slots will be unclaimed. For example, in a prior year, two of the six final slots were unclaimed and were filled by others. Thus, even if you did not win during the prior round, but have a high net worth, you should check in because you might advance. If, after 10 minutes past the scheduled start time of a round, there still remain open table seats, these seats will be offered per BPA guidelines for byes (byes into the semi-final will be in order of most recent champion, byes into the final will be in order of AREA rank).

Prior Champions

2004 Doug Galullo, full 2004 tournament story
2003 Mike Zorrer, full 2003 tournament story
2002 Ed Wrobel, full 2002 tournament story
2001 Steve Okonski, full 2001 tournament story
2000 Steve Okonski full 2000 tournament story
1999 Heikki Thoen full 1999 tournament story
1998 Eyal Mozes full 1998 tournament story
1997 Kimberly Lemmons full 1997 tournament story
1996 Heikki Thoen
1995 Heikki Thoen
1994 Bill Fellin
1993 Kevin Quirk
1992 Kevin Quirk
1991 Chuck Foster


WBC and BPA Web site - See the event schedule
Rail Baron Fanatics - Get RB Player software and practice

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