The Jaded Gamer

Opinions, not always positive, on the gaming world.
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Crayon Rails (And how not to build them)

Alec Chapman
United Kingdom
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Anyway, how's your sex life?
"She said the same thing about waffles."
Microbadge: Offline from The Geek for a while
Retrospective 3: Crayon Rails (Empire Builder, Eurorails, Iron Dragon)
How Obtained: Cash, Birthday, as a thank you for running the semi co-operative pub quiz

So my plan from here is to talk about virtually every game I've ever owned. I'm not going to slap the word "review" on those posts, because it'll be a completely subjective recollection of my experiences with each game, rather than a judgement on its merits or qualities from anything other than a personal history perspective.
Board Game: Empire Builder
Board Game: Eurorails
Board Game: Iron Dragon

Opening note: For anyone stuck in Spain with the one copy of your crayon rails game that you did not put your dry wipe crayons in, I can say with authority that in order to get replacements, the word is "Plastidecor". You're welcome.

Spoiler (click to reveal)
This is going to be really helpful in that most unlikely of scenarios where you're in the situation above and yet still recall an obscure blog post from 2014...

for anyone who doesn’t know Empire Builder. It’s the one where you draw with crayon onto the board. Yes, directly onto the board. It’s the wanton pseudo-destructiveness of this that got Mrs C to try it the first time. Once you have your track you can run your very abstract pawn from town to town, picking up the goods they produce there and delivering them where your demand cards tell you, balancing the cost of building the required track against the income you will get from this and future deliveries. Repeat until rich.

I do have some caveats.

1. I like this game mainly because my wife does.
It’s a gentle, semi serious experience and not hardcore game fare by today’s standards until you reach the extremely experienced level of knowing the decks and best connections etc. I do not intend to reach there and the pickup gamer would not either as UI find the game is simply too long and repetitive for, for example, one hundred plays to be viable.

2. Whoever put six players on the box is insane.
With two players we’re talking two to three hours and with more players you can probably add on another hour for each. I’ve played it, in Eurorails form, with three and four with fun results, but by the end of the four player game I was flagging like a hitchhiker in a hailstorm.

3. Black and Yellow are poor choices for a player colour.
The yellow crayon only shows up in direct sunlight and given the potential playtime and time of commencement involved you will not stay in such light for the duration. At several points yesterday it felt like Mrs C was chugging along on invisible track! The black crayon causes problems of obscuring and looking like part of the board art. I used purple with the black counter. A much better choice.

4. Older versions just aren’t as nice as recent editions.
I have an older copy of iron dragon and its component limitations render it even less attractive – all white counters with pictures only and no words (fail!), poor cardstock and the old style card art is less user friendly and discourages me from even trying it at this point. I hate to be a snob about such things, but since I’m going to be looking at this functional board art for a long time the rest of the pieces being a bit more polished makes the latest editions of Eurorails and Empire Builder a lot more enjoyable – I would only purchase versions of this quality in future.

5. I bought great big washable crayons
This was for two reasons – first, trade value stays up if the original crayons are intact (this point is now moot since I dropped the games and they both sport major dings); second, they draw thicker lines and you can see them that much more easily. I recommend this approach wholeheartedly.

Board Game: Eurorails

This scrumptious image is by user "msaari"

Note - the above caveats are stolen, literally just copied and pasted, from an article I wrote a couple of years ago - and things haven't changed for me. I still like the game more than I thought I would; Mrs C has stopped taking back two or three builds at a time (GRRR...) as much as she did when we started playing; and the whole process is, for the most part, still fun.

I do think that we're into the stage now where the last few turns are a tedious race of counting mileposts to see who makes that crucial delivery first, which is pretty dull and anticlimactic - especially when I know she's won already (for which I suppose the opposite also holds true for her).

Like a lot of the games I own or have owned these are an acquired taste - I doubt the sort of gamer who loves worker placement or auction games will suddenly morph into a crayon rails fan, obviously.

However, for what they are I do not hesitate to commend them to your attention again - but only the newer editions. I would never even have touched this game in its earlier, ugly as sin editions - which I guess is shallow of me, but there you go.
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