Out of Steam >> Why I'm Not A Fan of AoS
That's when I took a closer look at the game and tried to define my dislike for the game. Note that I'm not a "hater" of the game, but simply not that interested in playing again. I currently rank it 5.5 out of 10 on BoardGameGeek.com.
First, I do not like games which become a foregone conclusion during gameplay. This holds true for usually longer games, where after a few bad turns or plays, you're pretty much out of the game and reduced to the role of a spectator. This happened to me early on in Age of Steam, as well as games like Advanced Civ and the various new Risk incarnations. That may not kill a game for me completely, if the other aspects of the game are engaging (or if it has a short playing time) but it certainly detracts from the experience.
I also think I simply dislike the types of decisions required in Age of Steam -- I can see that they are important, strategic/tactical decisions, but of a kind I don't enjoy (such as action selection among various abilities which all seem to pale in comparison to my first choice) or am not good at (the 2+ turns in advance to plan out where you want to build track based on foreseeable shipping paths developing).
I far prefer games with a sharper focus on the here and now, where I feel that optimizing my current turn can have a strong bearing on the final outcome, rather than requiring my current turn to plant the seeds for optimizing a turn later in the game. That's not to say I dismiss games where you need to keep an eye on the future -- I just think Age of Steam requires more of that than I enjoy... or failing to plan ahead far enough in advance can put you in an unrecoverably bad position.
With so many other games I truly enjoy that take about the same amount of time, I can't see what another session of Age of Steam would reveal that would dramatically alter my opinion -- especially after playing Stephenson's Rocket, which I felt was a superior train game all the way around.
By comparison, I rank Stephenson's Rocket a 7.5 out of 10 and would far prefer playing that to Age of Steam. Here's what I had to say about Stephenson's Rocket on the 'Geek: Felt a bit like RK's take on Acquire, with a bit of Age of Steam thrown in. Unfortunately, we had two copies of the german rules translation, which had some significant differences, so the first game was a wash -- but I saw enough to know the game deserves another play.