20th October 2020
Tuesday evening in Woking at 'The Sovereigns'.
Time for a boardgame with the Woking Gaming Club.
Tonight's game was 'Ride the Rails'.
Now Ride the Rails looks like a traditional railroad building game set in North America, but it has a few wrinkles that make it play a bit differently.
What's in a game?
Some of the components will seem familiar to any that's played a railroad building game
You may have noticed that I mentioned shares, but there are no components for shares and no money either. Well, more on that below...
How's it play?
Ride the Rails is played over 6 rounds.
It's important to know that there are only 2 train companies (Red & blue.) available from round 1. The orange becomes available from round 2, yellow from round 3, purple from round 4 and black from round 5. No new companies appear in the 6th and final round.
Additionally, each company has it's own rules for the placement of train meeples.
A round consists of 3 actions, which all players will carry out.
Play continues until the 6th round has been completed. Final scores are tallied, highest score wins.
As you can see, Ride the Rails is pretty straightforward and simple to understand, it also plays quite quickly.
Don't let the simplicity fool you though, there is a fair a amount of depth here.
Firstly; Ride the Rails has the classic dichotomy in which competing players may need to cooperate. If more than one player has spent a turn investing in a certain company, it's to both their benefits to expand that company efficiently.
Being able to gauge which shares will generate the most points is vital to winning, if a player manages to get 2 or 3 shares (Out of their 6) in a rail line that will see a lot of use, they can potentially rake in a lot of points. If a player however invests too quickly in a single company, it can scare off players who might perceive they are helping another player too much. Remember, 2 players can build up a network much quicker than a single player.
Secondly, building rail networks. In the first round, red and blue train meeples can only start in east coast cities and must more or less head west.
Should a player create a meandering network that maximises connections?
Or should they race towards the west coast? No single rail company can cross the entire map, it will probably take the efforts of 3 companies to do that and this will involve crossing the mountains.
This means it's unlikely that more than 2 companies will connect the east and the west. Making this connection first can be very lucrative, it forces other players to either use the rail network you've got shares in, or waste time building a separate network and just like with shares, each player will only have 6 opportunities to build their network.
I think that Ride the Rails is a good game, that has a lot of elements that will be familiar to experienced gamers but actually plays a bit differently.
You buy shares, you just take them and you don't pay to expand a rail network, it just happens. There is no money in the game in fact, money immediately translates into points.
I definitely want to try Ride the Rails again.
I play, I paint.