Railway Board (Guide)
The Board of Directors are a bunch of personalities that can assist you in various ways, but also make development of the Railway difficult for you. Before any major action in the Railway, you need to hold a board meeting and have approval from all current board members.
Gameplay-wise, you will be locked into the board meeting until you either win everyone over or give up. If you have accumulated high 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 limited to two a week when you're beginning the railway, and one a week after you've made sufficient progress. Getting stuck because of a stiff Persuasive challenge from a disagreeable board member can be unpleasant.
The following guide is meant to help keep your meetings, and the trains, running as smooth as possible.
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.
The pages for persuading each Board Member also have a table that shows the difficulty ratings for the challenges.
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 at Ealing Gardens may honour 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 at Jericho Locks honours board members of a theological leaning. (Whether the people of Jericho Locks would appreciate this is another matter). This also unlocks a card, with each option trading in Church favours for various rewards.
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 having certain members aboard, which may have some impact outside of board meetings 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 gives access to an option that uses Persuasive - a statistic that is otherwise useless at Ealing Gardens.
The other benefit of having him on the Board is his initial sign-up gift: a considerable reduction in Debt (which prevents certain Agendas from being taken if too high), enough to save 30 Action Points or so. If desired, you can then vote the Entrepreneur off the board, and re-appoint him, to gain his gift again. And potentially again.
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. Notably, almost no other possible board member has Board against Criminals as a factor in their voting.
Her other significant benefit is that she enables an option under the Engage in Some Minor Smuggling card. That option is certainly not minor smuggling. However, to access this card you need to reach level 60 of Involved in a Railway Venture, i.e. build the station at Jericho Locks.
A third 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 use the "remove and re-appoint" tactic with her as well, if you wish.
If you have convinced Furnace on a vote, you can supply her with a Queen Mate and she will assist in getting the other board members to agree to your proposal. This is helpful if you have a huge board for whatever reason. Note, however, that Queen Mates take a long carousel to get, 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 is useful, but 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.
She agrees immediately to many options regarding Parabolan warfare. As previously, this can complicate getting the Contrarian's vote.
Leverage on Specific Board Members
Some board members have leverage options that can be played to affect only them, and to secure their agreement outright. These options use up the resources they cost.
You can earn a favour with the Bishop by resolving A Jurisdictional Dispute in the Upper River 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 more than once for each member-dropping agenda.
Like the Bishop of Saint Fiacre's, if you resolve A Jurisdictional Dispute to his benefit you will gain his support on one vote of your choosing. There are currently no repeatable votes that oppose Church interests - other than voting Church-affiliated members off the board - making this less immediately appealing than a favour of Saint Fiacre's. (The Bishop of Southwark still has a significant opposition to changing the board's makeup, but that can be handled with obfuscation.)
While the Contrarian's vote is not difficult to obtain anyway, he can also be convinced (guaranteed, despite the small 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 required FATE in subsequent 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 go more smoothly (and quickly), at least without resorting to Furnace or Cornelius' special benefit, keeping the board small is recommended. Below are some notes on the benefits and drawbacks of removing each listed member, should you wish to.
At this time of writing, there does not appear to be any consequences for voting out specific Board Members.
Since she opposes most agendas rather often, the Commissioner is likely to be at the top of any player's list of names to cross off. Removing her requires 5 (or higher) Board Status.
He is handy to have around at the beginning of the Railway, but when the train upgrades become available ( Involved in a Railway Venture 50 and above), he can begin to become difficult to convince. With a high enough Respectable, however, he's easily swayed.
Having the Bishop on the board makes removing any other member more difficult, at least before you have leverage on him. However, voting to remove him can be a problem by itself since it adds Board against the Interests of Society which raises opposition from many board members. (Spending Favours: Society smoothes this over.)
If you lack the FATE story that is associated with her (The Empress' Shadow), there are no means of influencing her. Her special benefit, as mentioned above, also causes problems. However, she has an easy Persuasive 100 check on most issues (notably the payout of dividends if you have a Worker charter), and is a good choice for weekly routine votes.
At this time of writing, she is required to be on the Board to get the railway running. After that, however, she can be removed if desired. She'll be particular difficult to convince when trying to upgrade Train Defences. (That can be 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.
The Widow has stiff opposition to upgrading either the train defences or luxuries from the get-go, and it only gets worse. Again, consider not bringing her in until after the trains have been fully upgraded.
April has similar voting factors to Furnace, with one major difference: none of the means of persuasion thus far work on her.