A game that flew under my radar at Essen, but is getting a well-publicized American release in a few months:
Trains was designed by Hisashi Hayashi, and originally published by OKAZU Brand, out of Japan. AEG will be releasing this game domestically during the summer. Trains is 2-4 player, 45-minute game that is all about…well…trains. Originally, the game was set in 19th and 20th century Japan, but the AEG version updates it to modern times. The game takes the deck-building mechanism of games like Dominion, and adds a board and a train theme. I’ve been hearing some pretty excited buzz about it, so I thought I’d take a look at the rules.
The game comes with a double-sided board, one side for Tokyo and one for Osaka. You also get 80 rail tokens in 4 colors – originally, these were going to be sticks, but the outcry from fans forced a change to discs. There are also 4 scoring tokens, 30 white station tokens, and 500 cards. AEG is very good at box organization, so the game also comes with 40 card dividers and 31 randomizer cards. Each player begins with a deck consisting of 7 Normal Train, 2 Lay Rails, and 1 Station Expansion card. The supply is created with Express Train, Limited Express Train, Lay Rails, Station Expansion, Apartment, Tower, Skyscraper, Waste, and eight decks chosen with the randomizer cards. Each player draws a hand of five cards, and places a marker on their starting point.
On your turn, you can play cards and/or buy cards. You can do these in any order and as many times as you want/can, though you can’t do one in the middle of doing another. To play a card, just put it face up in front of you. This can give you virtual money that is only valid for the current turn, and can also give you an action. Actions must be resolved immediately, and cannot be saved for later, though you can choose not to resolve it at all. Actions can include taking victory points, lay rails (which costs money), build stations, gain waste, draw cards, or remove cards from the game.
To buy a card, you simply apply the cash you have built up through playing cards to the purchase of a card from the supply. You can buy multiple cards if you have the money.
At the end of your turn, you clean up by discarding all played, gained, and in hand cards into the discard pile, then draw a new hand of five.
You can also choose to pass your entire turn, taking no actions and buying no cards, to get rid of all waste in your hand. Waste is essentially the deck clogging agent for this game, like Curses in Dominion or Wounds in Nightfall.
The game is over when any four stacks (excluding Waste) are depleted, or when a player has used all of his rail tokens, or all station tokens are on the board. You then score points for the cards in your deck, plus bonus points for cities with stations and remote locations where you have a rail token. The player with the most points wins.
My first impression of this just from hearing the description was that it was Dominion meets Age of Steam. After going through the rules, I can see that it’s mostly Dominion, and hardly any Age of Steam – the laying track portion is probably the only similarity. You’re not delivering goods, you’re not trying to make money, you’re just trying to effectively build a network and score points. The game looks very simple to understand, and probably pretty fun. Of course, not knowing all the actions of the cards, I can’t say for sure. Still, it looks like a solid game, and one I’d like to try if given the opportunity. Thanks for reading!