Railway Board (Guide)
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The Board of Directors are a bunch of personalities that can make development of the Railway difficult for you. Gameplay-wise, you will be locked into the board meeting until you either win or give up.
Furthermore, if you have accumulated enough Menaces during that meeting, you take the consequences as soon as you step out of the Railway's office. Most importantly, opportunities for board meetings are preciously few; getting stuck because of a stiff Persuasive challenge from a disagreeable board member can be unpleasant.
Therefore, the following guide would help you make preparations.
Opposition from Board Members
Every decision by the board must be approved by every member. Every board member is looking out for certain interests, and earning their vote is harder when your proposal works against those interests. Board members may also be persuaded by different tactics. The table below summarizes the tactics and persuasion techniques for each board member.
Mechanically, earning the vote of most Board members requires a Persuasive check with a base difficulty of 100. This difficulty is increased by the Interest qualities of your proposal, with each board member responding to different Interests. In most cases, the difficulty may also be reduced by raising one of three persuasion qualities. It seems that this Persuasive check can be repeated without penalty.
The data for how different board members respond to each interest is still incomplete. In particular, the voting behavior of Furnace, The Gracious Widow, The Tentacled Entrepreneur, and April are unknown for many Interests, and responses to many board members are still unknown for The Church, The University, Rubbery Interests, Preservation, and The Fingerkings..
It seems that most board members have one interest they care deeply about (raising the difficulty by 40), two to five issues they care moderately about (raising difficulty by 20), and one persuasion technique they respond to. Some board members also have interests that will decrease the difficulty.
If doing the math is difficult for you, the pages for persuading each Board Member also has a table that shows the difficulty ratings for the challenges; this is information that is obtained the hard way, i.e. getting into an agenda for the first time without any info from this wiki. Incidentally, the data in the table above have been interpolated from those tables too.
Statues of Specific Board Members
See Statues at the GHR Stations (Guide) for more details.
Statues can be erected at the Upper River locations to honour specific board members. The statues attract followers/admirers of those board members, and these people happen to be associated with the various factions of London. You can make deals with them. Mechanics-wise, this lets you trade Favours for resources.
A statue can be erected at Ealing Gardens to honour one of several specific Board Members - specifically any of the former mayors or the resident big-name, the Tentacled Entrepreneur. This unlocks a card, which has one option that is specific to the faction that the board member is associated with.
A statue can be erected at Jericho Locks to honour board members of a theological leaning (whether the people of Jericho Locks would appreciate this is another matter). This also unlocks a card, with many of the options providing Parabolan Research; this kind of research generally has to be obtained in the Parabolan reflection of the laboratory, so this is obviously a source that is outside of laboratory endeavours.
You can, of course, eschew honouring any board members and put up statues of your player character instead. Why should they get the glory when you are putting in the most work into the Railway?
Unique Benefits from Board Members
There are some incentives to have certain members aboard (other than what they give when they are brought aboard, if anything). The incentives may manifest outside of the board meeting too.
As the gameplay instructions on him have mentioned already, the Contrarian has no particular opposition to any issue. Just get his vote first and everything is hunky-dory. (He is not so fickle as to dishonour the cast of his vote.)
The Tentacled Entrepreneur unlocks more of the options of the Rubbery Observances card at Ealing Gardens. The card would then give access to an option that uses Persuasive - a statistic that is otherwise useless at Ealing Gardens.
The other benefit of having him on board is his gift when he is brought on board: a considerable reduction in Debt, enough to save more than 30 Action Points or so that would have to be spent to reduce that quality (which prevents certain Agendas from being taken). You can just punt him out afterwards and repeat later. Besides, few people other than the Dean would be sad to see him go.
Like the Tentacled Entrepreneur, the most immediate benefit of having her on board is her gift: a considerable reduction in Debt, also enough to save more than 30 Action Points or so. Of course, she also raises Seeing Banditry, but this might be what you want anyway if you are looking to make use of certain options. You can just punt her out afterwards and repeat later. Next to no other possible member has Board against Criminals as a factor anyway.
Her other benefit is that she enables an option under the Engage in Some Minor Smuggling card. That option is certainly not minor smuggling. However, you need to reach level 60 of Involved in a Railway Venture, i.e. build the station at Jericho Locks.
Another benefit is the ability to Propose special consideration to certain charitable groups which is a very good source of Bottle of Fourth City Airag: Year of the Tortoise
You can supply Furnace with a Queen Mate (though how this works is unclear) and she will get the other board members to agree to your proposal. This is helpful if you have a huge board for whatever reason, but Queen Mates take a long carousel with no guarantee of acquisition unless your A Player of Chess is higher than 7.
She agrees immediately to improving the train's defences. This might seem useful, but this can complicate getting the fickle Contrarian's vote, especially if you already have a board size at the minimum.
Sinning Jenny allows you to Propose paying a dividend to the poor of the Hinterlands, which can be a decent way to reduce Banditry.
Leverage on Specific Board Members
Some board members have options that can be played to affect only them, and to secure their agreement outright. These options require resources akin to leverage that are 'burnt' when used - hence the header for this section.
You can earn a favour with the Bishop by resolving A Jurisdictional Dispute to his benefit. This can be spent to gain support on any one vote. You can only carry one favour at a time, so this isn't extremely powerful. But it can be used to bypass the Bishop's normally staunch opposition to removing Board members. Without this, you might have to spend a lot on bribes, and more than once for each member-dropping agenda.
Like the Bishop of Saint Fiacre's, you can earn a favour by resolving A Jurisdictional Dispute to his benefit, which will gain his support on a vote of your choosing. There are currently no repeatable votes that oppose Church interests - other than punting Church-affiliated members off the board - thus making this less immediately appealing than the favour of Saint Fiacre's. (The Bishop still has a significant opposition to changing the board's makeup, but that is easily handled with obfuscation.)
While the Contrarian's vote is not difficult to obtain anyways, his vote can also be obtained with a trivial Mithridacy challenge by deploying a Portable Fingerking Moot. The Moot is a HALLOWMAS companion which was available for free with festival participation in 2020, but will almost certainly require FATE in future years.
Players who have purchased The Empress' Shadow (FATE) may earn Credit with the Headmistress in Jenny's Finishing School. Excess Credit may be spent to earn Jenny's vote, bypassing the regular Persuasion action.
Trimming the Board
There must be at least four members on the Board, not including your player character. To make meetings smoother, at least not without resorting to Furnace Ancona's special benefit, it is best to keep the board small. That said, there are some recommendations for whom to remove.
At this time of writing, there does not appear to be any consequences for voting out specific Board Members.
She is likely to be at the top of any player's list of names to cross off.
Other than some cryptic fluff about the lore of Fallen London (which can be obtained elsewhere anyway), the Efficient Commissioner doesn't offer much else when on board. She has factors of opposition that occur rather often for most agendas too, thus making her a perennial obstacle. In fact, bringing her back on board and subsequently tossing her out might be a good way to grind Connected: The Masters of the Bazaar to the stipulated maximum, if you have not reached that already.
At this time of writing, he doesn't offer much of any unique benefit. Moreover, he has a considerable multiplier to his opposition when trying to vote out anyone. This makes jiggering the board for advantages rather difficult, at least before getting access to means of having leverage on him. Furthermore, removing him can be a problem, because the agenda for this has Board against the Interests of Society, which raises opposition from many board members. (Fortunately, spending Favours: Society smoothes this over, and these Favours are relatively easy to get.)
If you lack the Exceptional Story that is associated with her, there is no reason to have her on board because at this time of writing, there are no means of influencing her and her special benefit, as mentioned above, also causes problems.
At this time of writing, there are few reasons to keep her around after mandatorily having her on board . For one, she will be particular bothersome when trying to upgrade Train Defences. (That particular agenda can be easily smoothed over by spending Favours: Hell or bribing her though.)
This board member will be a problem when upgrading the trains; consider not bringing him in until after the trains have been fully upgraded.
She has stiff opposition to either train upgrade agendas from the get-go, and it only gets worse. Again, consider not bringing her in until after the trains have been fully upgraded.
She has similar factors like Furnace, but with one major difference: none of the means of persuasion thus far work on her. There is no reason at this time of writing to even have her on board. Unlike the other things from the completion of Ambition: Bag a Legend!, this is not to your advantage.
He is handy to have around at the beginning, but when the train upgrades become available ( Involved in a Railway Venture 50 and above), he begins to become a problem.