Cal’s Thoughts: Sprint and Marathon Players


There is no singular ‘right way’ to have a great game in Rail Nation; for many rounds now I have watched players employ a variety of differing play-styles with similar degrees of success (or failure).

What does stand out to me are the “sprinters” and the “marathon” players. Each round I see a lot of the same players names start out in the top 20 and each round I see a lot of the same players names finish in the top 20 – they are rarely the same people. The difference between those who remain there and those who drop out as the game progresses has much to do with the makeup of what I’ll call their ‘prestige portfolio’ (more on this in another post).

I am of the view that unless you have endless time and resources to dedicate to the game, you should remind yourself that you are competing in a marathon here. Pace yourself and invest time and resources where they will make a real difference.

An example of wasted resources would be the players who use up their instant dispatches to win a comp for 40 prestige in era 1. That might seem like a nice win in era 1, but in the grand scheme of things, 40 prestige is pretty insignificant. Gee, you might have used those same instant dispatch vouchers in era 6 and won yourself 300 prestige. Or better yet, saved them for the end game and net an addition 1,000 prestige for deliveries of a particular good than you would otherwise.

Upgrading the station concourse is another pointless exercise, accomplishing nothing except an early prestige boost. I see top 10 players right now in era 2 with level 15 concourses, yet low level labs, etc. To a marathon player, that makes no sense at all. I can think of zero benefit to investing significant funds into the concourse at this stage (I can, however, think of several detriments).

I can see some sprinting being beneficial if you can capitalise on it; for instance, getting the track production up to make several early city connections for delivery opportunities, bumping the restaurant for a cashflow boost, fast lab upgrades for a speedier path to better engines (with greater delivery potential), etc but relying on ‘sprint’ tactics alone will often see you burn out before the halfway mark.

Sprinter Profile

Let’s look at one sprinters profile at the end of the first era (this screen grab was taken Day 2 of Era 2). They are ranked 3rd on the server at the time and have made some impressive station upgrades due in part to a substantial investment in gold (if they play smart, they could have a real advantage in this game).

Player A

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The first thing that concerns me here is that almost 72% of their prestige is from the train station and medals. For long-term sustainability, this player needs to start generating prestige elsewhere or be left behind.

The reality is that a great number of players will max out their train station and attain a bunch of medals… everyone will catch up there soon enough… getting there first on it’s own gives no advantage. Unless you are using that headstart to generate prestige in ways which can’t otherwise be made up, it is a wasted opportunity (and a heck of a lot of wasted money).

I’ll be honest; I took one look at this players profile and said they would be out of the top 10 by the end of era 4 (probably sooner) if they don’t start planning for a ‘long game’. That is only my opinion, of course, and in many ways I hope I am wrong. I would like to see them do well.

Marathon Profile

And here we have the profile of someone I know to be a steady player (and a darned annoying one to try and stay ahead of in my current game). This screen grab was also taken on day 2 of era 2.

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We can see our player here is ranked 20 on the server. A couple of things stand out about this. Firstly, he has yet to redeem any medals (more on that in another post).

Prestige from Transports, Comps and Investments – all prime ‘you snooze, you lose’ prestige opportunities – make up over 57% of his prestige portfolio. That is a nice spot to be in at this stage. He has the rest of the game to build train station and redeem medal prestige, but you can’t turn back time on the deliveries, comps and investments missed.  I think this player is putting the time and resources where it will make a difference in the long run.

Calamity’s Profile

I don’t think I got off to the best start this round, so I’m reluctant to share my own stats, but it seems only fair as I’m critiquing other players styles. Here they are at the same time as those shown above – day 2 of era 2.


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 So at the time, I was ranked 19 on the server and, thanks to recent surgery and ongoing health issues, have had the luxury of enjoying more comps than usual. I normally don’t bother much with comps or investments until later eras.

81-medalsI did redeem 10 medals early in the game after obtaining the Starter Package in order to get my Lotto Office to level 2 immediately for a shot at the Red Kite. I had 81 unredeemed medals, with a prestige value over 5,000 points and  I can only assume my “marathon profile” player above has even more than I do hoarded away. He’s one to watch out for, for sure 🙂

Transports, Comps and Investments make up over 67%, I have a nice stash of prestige in medals to cash in when I’m ready and I’d only just bought my first package of gold (though I did start with some from the previous round) so I was feeling okay about my position at this stage.

If you’d like updates on how these players progress through the current round, let me know.

Are you a sprinter in a mad dash to complete all the goals or are you a marathon player, pacing yourself until the end?

Which style of play do you think will win out in the end?

What do you consider areas that make a real difference?

Share your thoughts!

About Calamity

Calamity is the current Chair of Iron Horse; a multiple Top 3 finishes corporation on the Golden Gate US 101 server. She's a big fan of Rail Nation and wastes more time than she should playing it. :)

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