I have been talking to a number of people about this game recently and it was suggested that I give it a review as there doesn’t seem to be much out there in the way of reviews. So why not?
No reason not to, so I’ll get on with it.
I came across this by chance at Essen while on an errand and ended up picking up a copy. I knew nothing about it, it didn’t register on my radar during my pre-Essen checks and there was certainly no buzz about it.
It was a limited print run of 200 copies in a basic brown cardboard box with stickers on. Sometimes these games can be the hidden gems of Essen. Was it? Read on.
In short it is Steam the dice game. It is quite easy to learn and there is a decent amount of depth to the game.
You start off with a sheet of paper depicting a generic hex grid which is your map. There is a central board that replicates the map on the paper you have in your hand. This board will have cubes on the cities of various colours and the cubes want to be delivered to the cities of the same colour as the cube.
The central board after the dice roll. The black die dictates which types of track you can build and the white ones dictate where you can do the action you wish to do.
The start player rolls all the white dice and the single back die and then will pick one of the white dice and do one action relating to the number of display. There are only 4 actions: upgrade locomotive, deliver goods, build track or take special action card.
You need to upgrade your loco to be able to deliver goods. The better the loco the further you can move goods. The further you move goods, the more points you get. Oh, yes, it is a game where the person with the most victory points wins.
However the big thing in this game is building the track, as you build it by drawing on your paper map that you have. Only you can draw on your map, so each player will have a different network of railways on their own map. This you have to keep a sharp eye on as someone may pinch the cube you was about to shift.
There are only 3 different types of railway track you can build, straight on, slight curve and tight curve and the black die that was rolled at the start of the turn dictates which 2 of the 3 types of rail can be built, so when you are after a slight curve to link up the track you have already built, you can guarantee that the black dice will be displaying a number that does not allow you to build said bit of track. Typical!
My map about 2/3 way through the game. I have a nice little network going on.
You can deliver goods by using the number displayed on the die which dictates which city is the source of the cube (so if you take a die with a 4 displayed you will use city number 4 as the source of the cube) that is presuming that you have built the track to get the cube to the city it wants to get to and have the power of the locomotive to get it there.
There are 6 special cards that give you extra abilities, each numbered 1-6. The die you take is the card you take (unless someone has just taken it, then you can’t take it).
What is in the box? This.
Did the game outshine the under produced unglamourous exterior of the game? Yes.
How? It is one of the growing collection of games that have fairly simple rules but the decisions to be made are very difficult. I like these a lot – as you can tell – you only get one action which is dictated by the numbers on the dice that have been rolled. There are only 4 actions to pick from, some of which might not even be available to you.
We have played this comfortably under an hour and that was with a rules explanation.
The understated game box
There are no plans as far as I am aware to reprint this but if you fancy this you could pretty much make your own copy. The rules tell you the bits that you need which can either be sourced from bit suppliers or ‘borrowed’ from other games in your collection. The one thing you will need is the map block but the nice people at Flatlined have put a link to a file on their webpage to print copies of the map out. The special cards can be made yourself easily enough. I have only used 5 copies of the map from my set as I have laminated 5 of them and have some dry wipe markers in the box, so I’ll never use them all. If you print your own copies off, I would suggest this.
Laminated player maps