Any player may (and usually does, early in the game, often with the first move) declare a home station
. By convention – although conventions, unlike rules, are made to be broken – it is generally a pure station, i.e. one which is not classed as an interchange or terminus.
The benefits of declaring a home station are several: a player without a home can conceivably be forced out of the game completely if he runs out of LV and tokens and has no legal move. This cannot happen to a player with a home, as a retreat there is nearly always possible. (For this reason, homes with restricted service are risky, as when there is no service the player is effectively homeless.) There is usually a toll for landing on it (although even a home can be trumped), lesser for passing through, and a home cannot be permanently bulkheaded or rendered unattainable, only temporarily blocked (although 'temporary' is a relative term: it has been successfully claimed that a 3-month power failure, in a game expected to last only a couple of days of game-time, counted as 'temporary'.)
As against that, token bonuses for creative shunting and straddling are frequently increased for a homeless player. Loops have a greater gravitational pull, player LV is more vulnerable to greater swings up and down, and the effects of knip, knid and spoon are also correspondingly greater when happening either (1) to a homeless player, or (2) when forced on another player by a homeless player. This has led to a recent fashion of deferring the declaration of home for the first few moves, coming out fighting for an early advantage, and only declaring home when the attack breaks down – assuming it is not already too late, which it often is.
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