Trains. Either the steady backbone, or persistent scourge, of modern board gaming.
But where do you start when you’re worried about dealing with complex mechanics and, potentially, demanding, and meticulous gameplay?
Defined by route building, pick-up and drop-off mechanics, and economic simulation – almost every collection has a train game in it.
And, if not, here are some fantastic options for the uninitiated. Starting with-
Arguably the mother of them all, Alan R. Moon’s iconic series is a fantastic entry point for players looking to enjoy the fun of train games without worrying about the minutiae of more demanding games. Expanding the range of options from the base game to include sea and air travel, the game adds enough complexity to create an interesting decision space as well as tactical options for your play. This gives additional flexibility with your route claiming, allowing you to join tracks through ports and prevent the ‘boxing in’ that is commonplace in the base game in the series. Coming complete with a double-sided board and a wealth of expansion maps, this is a game that’s perfect for veterans and newbies alike.
Being a train fan; what else is it except a chance to play with wee, tiny models. And Colt Express is a game that has this in spades. Released in 2014 and a Spiel De Jahres winner, the game lets you assemble a gorgeous cardboard train and play as the bandits and rogues trying to rob it blind. A game of programming and deck management, each turn sees players select cards from their hand that allow their characters to perform actions. These range from shooting, moving, clambering up or down on the carriage, thievery, and more. Once each player has submitted their actions, they are played out in front of the table – resulting in roguish larceny, complete embarrassment, and everything in between. And with a range of amazing expansions that include a playable sheriff and additional stagecoach and horses, the game has legs as well as wheels.
For many, the box that should push Ticket to Ride off player’s shelves, RotW is an exceptional example of what adding just enough complexity can do for a game. Players are tasked with building networks, managing their resources, and using auction and bidding mechanics to keep their company ticking over. A medium-weight masterpiece, players focus on delivering (you guessed it) wooden cubes across the map and makes every decision count without becoming overtaxing. The game even makes choosing a first player for each turn fun thanks to a nail biting auction mechanic that can change the balance of every round. Accessible, gorgeous looking, and perfect for novices – Railways is the perfect pick for train lovers of all ages. We won’t say to choo-choose this masterpiece…but give it some serious thought ????