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Railways of the World: The Card Game from Eagle Games

By Carl Swanson, editor of Classic Toy Trains
Published: December 13, 2010
Railways of the World: The Card Game
Railways of the World: The Card Game contents

Product: Build a mighty rail empire, upgrade your trains, and keep the cargo flowing in this fun and fast-paced new game from Eagle Games. With rules for both standard and simplified play included, even young rail barons can join in the fun.

Railways of the World: The Card Game is an adaptation of the highly regarded Railways of the World board game series. Designers James Eastham and Steve Ellis captured the essence of the classic network-building and pick-up-and-deliver board game in this colorful and engrossing new take on the old theme. The card version is less complex than the board game and kids as young as eight should do fine. Two to four people can play and a game will take between 30 and 60 minutes.

The small and attractive box is chock-full of visually appealing and high quality components, including include 112 cards, a folding board that serves as a scoring track, 48 plastic locomotives, 60 cargo cubes, a heavy card stock city center piece, four handy player quick reference cards, and a cloth drawstring bag.
The cards include track segments and cities that will be played to the table to build the rail networks. The cards are colorful, but quite small (about as wide as a standard business card but not quite as long). At first glance the little cards seem an underwhelming choice, but bigger cards might have made the network of track too large for most gaming surfaces. As it is, this is more of a dining room table game than a kitchen table game.

The full-color rulebook is nicely illustrated and includes helpful examples of common game scenarios.

Gameplay: Players select a set of engines. One engine from each player set is placed on the scoring track. Each player is dealt one engine/wild card, one random two-point city card, and two additional cards from the deck. The remaining cards constitute the draw pile and the top three cards are flipped over. On their turn players can take one of five actions (build a city link by laying down a set of color-matched cards, play an engine card, deliver goods, discard a card to draw a replacement card, or they can elect to pass). After taking their action, the player can then draw one or two cards, either from the face-up cards or blind from the draw pile. Their turn is now over.

Players collect sets of like-colored cards to build track links to cities of the same color. Each card has a point value, and the links scored as they are completed. To show ownership of that segment, the player places one of his engines on the new city link.

Hint: Engine cards are wild, but it’s unwise to use too many of them to build track as you will also need engine cards to move goods between the cities, and the more, the better.

The basic game rules are merely an exercise in collecting cards, playing them on the board, and scoring points. It’s simple enough for young players, but also fairly dry and lifeless. This is a good family game, but you’ll want to make sure your children are able to handle the regular version of the game. That’s where the real action, and much of this game’s considerable depth of play is found. Players put their new networks to use moving goods (represented by color cubes) between cities that produce the goods and cities that consume those same goods. This is where the engine cards come into play — the more you have played in front of you, the more links you can leapfrog across to move the merchandise and rake in points.

The turns go fast, which keeps downtime to a bare minimum, yet there are choices to be made on every turn and success will smile on those players who formulated a plan and are lucky enough to find the cards that make it happen.

Railroad games are a hot category and Railways of the World: The Card Game has its roots in one of the giants of the genre. This is a strong recommendation for customers with a little gaming experience under their belts looking for a quick game (an hour or less) yet one that rewards a clever player.

I would be cautious about recommending this one to a gaming newcomer or a customer looking for something to play with antsy youngsters. Although it’s really not a hard game to learn, it can seem a little overwhelming to the uninitiated.

The MSRP of this small box game is edging toward board game territory and frugal customers might think the price steep for a card game. Let the wide array of uniformly excellent components do the selling for you by having an open box out where customers can see the quality and variety of the pieces and flip through the well-illustrated rulebook. This little box contains a lot of fun and will fill a unique spot in your range of railroad games.

Product: Railways of the World: The Card Game
Maker: Eagle Games
Stock No.: EGL1100
MSRP: $37.99
Availability: FRED Distribution

Fairly easy to learn; not simple
Lots of strategy; very replayable
Quality components

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