Game Buzz: Trains and Stations

Trains have always been a rich theme for games.  They’re good for economics, route building, pick up and deliver, and many more.  Plus, who doesn’t like trains? (Ask me again at 2 am.  Or when I’m in a hurry and waiting for one with a thousand cars to get through the intersection I’m waiting at.)  Here’s a new one coming out at Spiel:

image by BGG user W Eric Martin
image by BGG user W Eric Martin

Trains and Stations was designed by Eric M. Lang, and is being released by WizKids.  It’s a 3-5 player dice game that takes 45 minutes to play  Thematically, it’s a train game – you’re building routes, making deliveries, and building, all in the service of making money.  This one, however, uses lots of custom dice.

image by BGG user W Eric Martin
image by BGG user W Eric Martin

T&S comes with a game board, 50 custom dice, 45 plastic buildings, 25 coin tokens, a conductor’s hat token, and 120 cards.  Each player begins with two power cards (chosen from three), eight dice in their color, three coins, and three 1 VP cards.  One player is chosen as the Conductor (first player) and keeps the hat token for the whole game.

On your turn, you’ll gather dice, roll them, resolve them, perform a delivery if possible, and perform a goods depletion/upgrade step.

GATHER DICE: Take up to five of your dice not on the board.  It’s possible that you will have saved some dice from a previous turn – these count towards your five.  You also may get bonus dice that will take you over five dice.  You may also choose to reclaim your dice from the board and skip the remainder of your turn if you have five or more on the board.

ROLL DICE: Roll all of your gathered dice.  Saved dice may be kept on their current face or rolled with everything else.  After rolling, you may spend one coin to reroll any number of dice (though you can’t reroll locked trains).  You can repeat this as long as you have coins, or until you get three locked trains (a strike).  At this point, you stop rolling and lose 3 VP.

RESOLVE DICE: There are six different sides of the dice, with coins, hotel, mine, ranch, locked, and train symbols.

  • Each train and locked train die are placed on route spaces next to a station or another train/locked die.
  • If you have a set of three or more matching building faces, you place the matching building on an open build space at one of the stations, each of which can only have 2-3 buildings.  You can only build a second building at a station if there is at least one building at every station, and a third when every station has two.
  • The coin symbol gives you two coins per die.  You do have a coin limit of five.

You can choose to save dice that show a building or coin.  Bonus dice cannot be saved.

DELIVERY: If all route spaces between two or more cities are filled, a delivery is triggered.  Each player that has one or more of their color die in the route gains one point per city on the route.  The player with the most dice on the route gets a listed bonus for each city (an extra VP, a card, or a bonus die).  If you have a building on a connected station, you gain a goods card that is provided by that building (or one VP if there are no more of that goods card).  If you have a mission power card showing two cities that are now connected, score it even if you don’t have dice on the route.  Once the delivery is complete, players take their dice back.

GOODS DEPLETION and UPGRADE: If all goods cards are gone from a stack, perform a goods upgrade on the building – take the next level of cards and put it in the building space.  You can trade goods at a 2:1 rate to gain new goods.

Once the VP cards are gone, everyone keeps playing until you get to the Conductor, meaning everyone gets the same number of turns.  Players add their scores from their VP cards and bonuses from missions, as well as bonus points for having the most of each type of good.  The player with the highest score wins.

image by BGG user W Eric Martin
image by BGG user W Eric Martin

From looking at the rules, this game looks like a pretty clean and simple route building game.  It has the roll-reroll mechanism we’re familiar with, but rather than limiting it, you can keep paying to roll (like in Dice Town).  The locks add some uncertainty to it, and a bit of push-your-luck as you try not to lose points.  I like that you can use dice to build routes and buildings, and I like that you can build off of what others have done.  The rules are fairly simple, and turns should move fairly quickly (though I can see AP being a problem the more players you have).

Overall, I think this looks like a good game, probably even something that can be used as a gateway game.  It might be a good game to pair with Ticket to Ride, giving a different perspective to the genre with some similar ideas (missions and route building).  I’m looking forward to giving it a shot sometime.  Thanks for reading!




    • Well, the market is so full of train games that you’re bound to find something out there. I think this game is aiming more for the people who are looking for a lighter game, the people who aren’t as likely to play something like Russian Railroads.

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