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Settlers of America: Trails to Rails from Mayfair Games

By Rebecca Kaufeld
Published: January 5, 2011
Settlers of America box
Settlers of America contents

Product: Settlers of America: Trails to Rails contains a board, 12 wooden number tokens, money coins, four building cost charts, a total of 56 playing pieces for each person (including rails, cities, trains, settlers and goods), 24 development cards and 95 resource cards.

Gameplay: Anyone who fell in love with Settlers of Catan won’t be disappointed with this release. The main characteristics of a Catan game remain — exploration, adventure, resources and nice wooden pieces. Gameplay is similar to the original Catan, but with a few twists.

Each player’s goal is to deliver bundles of goods to other cities. Build and send out settlers beforehand to create new cities — this will free more goods to be transported across America from the East to the West Coast. Gather resources and pool them together to purchase rails and trains, since progress won’t make itself and you have other business to attend to. Cards like Cattle Drive, Cavalry or Scouts help you get gold and sneak ahead of the other players. Watch out for the bandit, though; he’ll take over your territory, prevent your resources from producing and generally throw a wrench into your well-laid plans for taking over the West.

Something that I kept running into, however — the trains will not balance on the rails. During our playtest, all the players had trouble keeping their trains on the track. There isn’t much size difference between the rails and trains, so watch out for falling locomotives. Since an enormous part of the game is supposed to be moving your trains around the board, how exactly does one do that when the trains won’t run on the tracks?

Marketing: Like all of the other Catan games, the art and style of the game are beautiful. The detail is eye-catching and vibrant, and the playing pieces aren’t anything to be scoffed at either. Nice wooden trains, rails, settlers and goods keep in the tradition of Mayfair’s excellence in gaming. The box says the game is for ages 12 and up, and will take approximately two hours to play. Both of these predictions are pretty accurate, although it would take a patient or very interested 12-year-old to sit still for two hours playing one game.


One of the overall reactions of my testing crew was that they LOVED the geographical and historical aspect to the game. Not only are the players building the east-west railroad, but they need to build over mountains, hills and plains that actually dot the landscape of America. In addition to pulling in train gamers, Settlers of America should also speak to teachers. It’s educational and engaging — two words that will immediately grab the ear of any instructor.

Normal gamers might remark on how nice the board looks, but that could be the main selling point to women gamers. As cliché as it sounds, women like pretty things. Settlers of America is certainly pretty. Along with this, the historical aspect will also appeal to women gamers. It gives them knowledge that they can impress guy gamers with and explain that yes, they do in fact know what they’re talking about and have even played that game.


Product: Settlers of America: Trails to Rails 

Maker: Mayfair Games

Stock No.: MSG 3203

MSRP: $55

Availability: All major game distributors; Keep an eye out for a White Glove Demo!


Settlers of America is a solid addition to the Catan line

Educational gameplay and a beautiful presentation make this an easy sale

Your Catan shelf will love you for it

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