Monday, April 13, 2015

New Train Titles - pt 1

So, a few new games were acquired late last year.  Some of these were discussed in the posting about Thanksgiving gaming, and some were mentioned in the post about the Christmas break gaming.  But, a few of the titles were train related, and as train related gaming is something of a high interest theme here at Gaming with Chuck, it felt right to do a short blog post about it.

First, a word about Train games.  These are not all what purists would call Railroad games.  To some, that includes the 18xx series.  To others, that includes the Martin Wallace masterpieces, Steam, Age of Steam, and the various derivative titles (Railroad Tycoon and Railways of the World).  Still others include railroad themed route building games (which tend to be lighter, such as Ticket to Ride, or TransAmerica).  To some it is the family of crayon based games, such as Empire Builder (and Dampfross, and many others).  It might include railroad theme games such as Russian Railroads.  And strange combinations of these, like Chicago Express.  Finally, to some it even includes games that have mechanics that are typically Railroad game mechanics, but for non-railroad themes like Elfenland, or Poseidon.

To me, all of those are Train games.  It can be a train related mechanic (pick up and deliver, stock manipulation, network building, travel), or it can be theme (Russian Railroads, Express).

So, what were some of the train titles acquired last year here at GwC headquarters?
  • Boxcars
  • Isle of Trains
  • Continental Express
  • Paris Connection
  • Russian Railroads
  • Ticket to Ride 10 Year Anniversary Set
  • Trains: Rising Sun
  • Yardmaster
  • Yardmaster Express
A few words about these . . .

Boxcars, of course, is the Rio Grande Games re-issue of the Avalon Hill classic, Rail Baron.  But wait!  Rail Baron was a reissue of the game Boxcars.  So we are now back to the original.  Except, it has a new board (the UK) and some adjusted rules.  This is a game of pick up and delivery.  The routes are all developed.  What players can do, other than receiving a constant stream of pickup and delivery points, is to purchase railroads, which are cheaper for them to run on, but more expensive for the competition. The game is a simple race to develop a pile of money ($200K) and then return to home base (starting position).  Very fun, and now made even better because the one tedious part of the game was using the charts to roll up cities for delivery.  This can be done, now, with a very nice App for iPad and iPhone - available for free from iTunes.  What a great thing!

Isle of Trains is a great little card game, from the Dice Hate Me games series of 54 card games called the Rabbits.  This was the result of a kickstarter, the ended up with six published titles.  The series includes:
Yep - Seth Jaffee of Eminent Domain fame is the (co) designer of this great little card game.  The game is one of building your train (using mechanisms familiar to deck builder game players - cars have costs, and you pay that cost with other cards from your hand), and then loading cargo on your own, and others', trains.  Why load on another player's train?  Well, because you are rewarded with special actions - and they make all the difference.  Once you have a train, and some cargo, you can complete contracts - of which there are six, each corresponding to one of the main cities on the Island of Sodor Isle that is the namesake of the game.  We have played this a few times, and the decision making and action planning is great - especially for a small format game.  It takes about an hour to play, and it is an hour well spent.  One of the best things about the game, is that the great card art (by Daniel Guidera and Christopher Kirkman) is fantastic, and very reminiscent of a Little Golden Book (especially The Train to Timbuctoo and The Little Red Caboose).

Continental Express is also a small format card game. This one is from Asmodee, and is packed in a really nice tin box, similar to another of their titles, The Builders: Middle Ages.  They have several other titles in this same format of small tin box (Noah, Souk, Cardline: Animals, Cardline Dinosaurs, and Cardline: Globetrotter), however The Builders and Continental Express seem to be the most mature of these.  In this game, as in Isle of Trains, you are constructing a train.  However, that is the goal of this one - building the train.  You collect sets of cards, drawn from a pool of available cards each turn, and then turn them in for new cars on your train.  Each new car card has a train line symbol, and there are bonus point categories for those symbols.  Not a bad little game, and set collection is always a good mechanism.  The artwork is gorgeous, although closer to the Ticket to Ride artwork, than it is to other styles.

More coming on other titles, but this is enough for now. . . .

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