Because there are two Dual Gauge maps in each release, I design them in contrasting pairs. For example, in last year's set, we had a very constricted, miserly map (Honshu) and a sprawling "big money" map (Wisconsin). There also needs to be some overlap between the two, something that gives the sense that they "belong" together. In the case of Honshu and Wisconsin, I was trying very consciously to provide much more adventurous (and precarious) experiences than the broader and more stable ones I designed for the base game.
This year's set comprises a Denmark map, and an England & Wales map. The points of overlap between the two are more pronounced than in last year's set, as I think are the contrasts. Both maps encourage aggressive tokening – one through negative reinforcement, the other positive. Both maps also incentivize runs that incorporate a large number of dits, though again they do so by different means.
Of the two, the tokening is probably sexier. A common complaint about the base game maps is that they don't provide much incentive for plonking down a station. (This is certainly true of Portugal – there's a reason why the rulebook goes out of its way to say, "hey, it's probably a bad idea to token on the Portugal map" – and less true I think of Detroit, but that's neither here nor there.
Denmark's major gimmick is the looming threat of Nationalization. This is something that happens at the end of the game, and it devalues your shares' end-game cash-out based on how many stations you have out on the map. If you've only got one station – the one the company starts with – it's going to drop a massive thirteen spaces on the stock track. Two spaces reduces this to a still pretty catastrophic eight, while with three there is no drop at all. And, of course, there aren't enough token slots to go around, which turns the thing into a kind of a race – a race that isn't easy thanks to the expensive and numerous water crossings.
If Denmark threatens the players – "place some tokens or else" – England & Wales dangles easy cash in front of them. The base revenue of every city on the map is $5, but it increases by $5 for each token it holds, which can result in substantial runs.
This is helped by that map's passenger train rule. One train in each route is designated as a passenger train, and while it collects money from dits as usual, it doesn't count them as stops. String enough dits together between two cities and you can hit them all on a single narrow train. Denmark's dits, on the other hand, do count as stops, but the value of each dit is equal to the number of dits in the run. That is, if you hit three dits, each dit is worth $3; four, each dit is worth $4.
And while Denmark has some oddball company powers – maybe my favorite is the one that lets you sell trains to other companies – that's pretty much it for that one. It's a very subdued map – narrow corridors, lots of chokepoints, bothersome terrain, never enough money, tightly designed but not possessing a whole bunch of fancy bells and whistles, very "less is more".
England & Wales by contrast is "more is more". In addition to the increasing city values and passenger trains, there are dividend bonuses for high value shares, personal loans that can be traded in for a free share, a company that doesn't start until later in the game, and a little something called the Railway Mania Track. This track increases every time a dividend is paid, and it advances a number of spaces corresponding to the paying company's stock bump. When it loops around the track, it rusts the lowest numbered train type. So, unlike the other maps, in which the first 4T rusts the 2Ts, and the first 5T the 3Ts, the trains just rust in order whenever a loop is completed. And because company stock bumps increase over the course of the game, this track starts to accelerate. This means, of course, that the "permanent" trains can also be rusted. If a question that pops up on other maps is "will the 5Ts come out", the question this one asks is "will the 5Ts rust?"
Because if they rust early enough in the Operating Round, multiple companies will have no trains at all – which will force them to withhold their "run" of $0, tanking their stock value. Which isn't helped by the fact that in the lead-up to that final rusting, those companies have likely been buying up trains in a desperate bid to stay ahead of that quickly-approaching doom. It's a delightful and hilarious disaster that can be averted it players manage to end the game just one round earlier.
Given that in a very real way it is built to collapse spectacularly, England & Wales is easily the most bonkers map we've released thus far. That's another reason why I paired it with the subtler, stabler Denmark map; a group won't always be in the mood for something that's that gleefully bananas.