Thursday, July 28, 2011

Railways of the World- Rail Fun

Since moving to rural New Hampshire I've become more aware of railways. This is in part because this area has many scenic rail bridges and lines, and in part because a freight train goes through our back yard every night at 2 AM. So the Train Game which seemed quite esoteric in suburban Boston is much more a part of our lives.

This week I played Railways of the World. This is quite a sizable game and allows you to build and manage a rail line. Railways is different from Ticket to Ride in that it actually simulates a railway business, as opposed to Ticket which is a sort of 3 dimensional Gin Rummy. I personally find Ticket to be terrific fun, so how was a more realistic simulation? Happily it was a great game as well. In Railways you take out loans and then use the money to lengthen rail lines or improve your trains. You can then deliver freight to various cities and make money. Upgraded trains can travel along longer rail routes and players make more money with progressively longer distance deliveries. The game becomes a balancing act between making sure to borrow enough to build your line effectively and not borrowing so much that your debt cripples you for the rest of the game. There are some other elements at play to make each game slightly different but that's the basic premise.

Railways of the World is a fun challenge. You have to manage your funds, make a long term plan, and pay attention to where freight and markets are located. None of the game elements are terribly complicated but an organized player with a vision is going to do well. The map is very pretty and it's quite satisfying to create your rail empire and watch it in action. The game moves quickly and there is minimal waiting time between players.

One caveat I found with the game is that it does take 90-120 minutes to play and once you fall behind it may be difficult or impossible to catch up. I'm sure a skilled player could do it but family members and younger folks may find this frustrating. I think this makes Railways best suited for people who are present to spend time together and also play a game, rather than people who are there to play and win and only by coincidence talk and socialize. This game has a potential to be frustrating if you're a bad or impatient loser.

As with many contemporary games there is also the question of whether this is actually fun. For whatever reason I thought it was fun to manage a rail empire while I found managing a power station empire left me cold. Still, it's worth considering whether this train game is right for Your family. Unlike Ticket, Railways is pretty clearly a rail simulation. For the right people it's a great deal of fun and a nice looking game.

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