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Subject: Will it Play?:Russian Railroads rss

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Josh
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Intent of this Review:To provide a context for the game, using comparisons to hopefully known games in the industry, helping people who allready understand how games work and if the game works decide if they will LIKE how the game works, while remaining a short and sweet review.

What it is:Russian Railroads is a Euro-style worker placement game about building three key Russian rail lines and helping with the industrialization of the nation. No wait come back! It's not as bad as it sounds!

How it feels to play the game:Tense. This is a game where every step matters and early actions have long lasting consequences. Yet for all that tension there is a muted sense of relaxation in the background. I'm not exactly sure what it is, perhaps the high scores, or the aesthetics of design. This game doesn't leave me drained after the fact, just mellow. I will lay this one down as a warning though, it feels Math.

Will it Play?
This is the part where I attempt to enumerate what to expect, and what not to expect from a game, hoping to help you decide if your money is well spent here.

*Are you here for the theme? If so, then you may have trouble. In all honesty there are only two misleading things thematically in the game. The Word 'Russian' in the title and the word 'Railroads' there too. Yes Kiev is in Russia, Yes there are pictures of trains, yes they call the little gold coin a 'ruble' and no, none of this matters one fig. You could re-theme this to just about anything, or be honest and call it 'Point tracks the board game!' and it wouldn't change one bit. This is about the points, first, last, and always.

*Does visual appeal matter to you in games? Russian Railroads has it in spades. From the feel of the coins(good stock) to the color palettes used on the boards, to the little I-beam 'rails' the game emits a very polished atmosphere. There's no box-shock when opening this beauty, your money feels well spent.

*How important is time to you? Russian rails is a very long short game. By this I mean it can play quickly. The actions are clear, the goals are clear. There are only 6/7 rounds in the game. A casual game of RR can fly by. But then you have. the.. A.... P.... This is a game at it's core about math, and points, and exactly what can I do to get the MOST points. If someone is prone to calculating their options this game gives them plenty to calculate every time they put down a worker. This can make a very short game a very *long* game indeed.

*How angry of a gamer are you? Hand in hand with the above mentioned spoints math comes the fact that in any game(and especially at max count) someone will take the spot you want. Of course you can take another one, RR gives you plenty of options, but you needed *THAT* one, to do the thing, then that other one for the other thing, and then that third one for your awesome combo, and now he's totally messed everything up and Argle bargle! Yeah. Don't play this with angry gamers. There's little incentive to directly hurt others in the game, but there's more stepped on toes in a game of RR than a clown shoe conference.


*Do you like rewards? RR hands them out in dribbles at first, but by the end it's force-feeding you points with both hands. There's a sense of satisfaction even the most non competitive gamer can derive from watching your score marker spin round and round the track for the third or fourth time. Play this game after a low scoring/High pain game like Agricola for maximum gratification.

Summary:Russian Railroads is a pointsfest, it is a well thought out very satisfying points fest. However a thought I must share about the game, yet will hide behind a spoiler tag because it could damage some potentially very good playing experiences for some people with this game.
Spoiler (click to reveal)


I wanted this game, I borrowed the game, I played it a handful of times and am quite done with it. Why? Because even though it does what it does very well, the scoring is 'all in' style in its rewards. You need to reach thresholds, and pushing along tracks farther gives more rewards. Because the thresholds never change and no *new* ways to score significant points are introduced into the game it becomes less about 'what should I do?' and more about 'Will I be able to do what I already know I have to do' very quickly, and I don't really enjoy that. It becomes about second guessing other players who may or may not make smart, or even rational, moves rather than about the game. Some folks may like this, but I think it is something to seriously challenge the shelf life of the game, which is a shame because it IS so well made and fun until this part sinks in.

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Enon Sci
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So it is a point-festy worker placement game. What makes it stand out in that crowd?

 
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Josh
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Anarchosyn wrote:
So it is a point-festy worker placement game. What makes it stand out in that crowd?



A good sense of accomplishment through visual representation. A very strong snowball effect leading to huge scores that are gratifying to the ego in a fun way.

It isn't super stand out in any one way, it is just well executed and enjoyable all around.
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