GAME OF TRAINS (Brain Games)
As a fan of the very simple yet very fun classic family game, Racko, Game of Trains immediately appealed to me. If you haven’t played Racko, let me explain it in two sentences. In Racko you’re dealt 10 cards from a shuffled deck of cards numbered from 1 to 60. Lining those cards up in the order in which they were dealt to you, the goal is then to draw and replace a card each turn as you try to be the first to have your cards in order from low to high.
In Game of Trains the goal is the same, but with a few tidied up rules and a few new ones to introduce additional strategy and fuller gameplay. Starting with seven cards, players order them not in dealt order but in reverse numerical order (limiting the benefit of a lucky deal). After everyone’s train is lined up, players draw as many cards as their place in the turn order (one for first, two for second, etc) and replace one card in their train with one of the drawn cards. For everyone but the first player, the additional drawn cards will be discarded face up, making for the starting actions draw pile. With an action on every card, players now have the choice on their turn if they want to draw from the draw pile face down to replace a card in their train (which is then discarded to the action pile) or if they’d like to draw a face up card to play as an action. These action cards allow players to swap or move cards in their own line, discard cards from their’s and other’s lines, or lock in and protect a card in their train.
Having additional rules doesn’t always improve games. I remember being disappointed by Tsuro of the Seas‘s additions, feeling that the original version’s simple gameplay had been cluttered with a thematically fun, but frustratingly random new set of rules. Thankfully that’s not the case for Game of Trains as the new rules it introduces build on Racko‘s simplicity with new ways to hem and haw over what to do with your turn. Also the art is really rad. (Brain Games) by David C. Obenour