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GAME of TRAINS
Brain Games Publishing. Authored by Trehgrannik aka: Anatoly Shklyarov, Alexey Paltsev & Alexey Konnov
2-4 Players aged 8+ Game Time: 20 minutes
GAME of TRAINS, not to be confused with Game of Thrones (there is absolutely nothing similar between them, heck, the Game of Thrones isn't even a Game!), uses the Train theme expertly to give substance to an abstract numbers entertainment. The box and cards are notably illustrated by Reinis Petersons and feature 84 Numbered Rail Carriages all of which are somewhat different - maybe by design, maybe just by colouring but all different, plus each has a special ability.
The idea of the game is to collect a train with 7 carriages arranged in ascending order (the Rules at first say "descending" but then go on to describe "ascending") from the Engine back. The numbers do not have to follow in exact numerical order (as in 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 etc) but they must follow each other with the next card being higher in value than the previous one (as in 1, 3, 32, 45 etc).
The 4 Train Engines/Locomotives are separate cards and each player is dealt one at the beginning of the game, which they position in front of themselves to their left so that the following carriages can flow across the centre of their space heading towards the right. Then everyone is dealt 7 cards which they arrange in ascending order from the Locomotive. Then just to randomise it a little more the players take a number of cards, drawing a card or cards according to the determined turn order, and from these they select one and exchange it with a carriage from their train. The cards removed from your train, and subsequently from other player's trains, are placed face up next to the draw pile so that their abilities are then available for use by anyone.
A player's turn consists of one of two actions, drawing a card or using a card's ability. The abilities are shown as pictograms on the top centre of each card, with explanations on the rules sheet, though to be fair the pictograms are some of the clearest picture definitions I have seen. The game is mostly about managing the carriages on your train, and the rules about placing cards on your train or the discard stack are very easy to grasp. The card you draw has to (as in "must") replace one of the carriage cards in your train, you cannot just draw and discard it. If you get two cards with exactly the same ability in the face up discard row then all the cards in the row are discarded to the discard pile. So the way that you manipulate the cards in the action row is by your choice of card to discard from your train, even if this is to the detriment of your train; in other words there are times when it is prudent to bite off your nose to spite your face (or whatever your simile choice of phrase is).
In my opinion, GAME of TRAINS is in the 6NIMMT! genre of games, card games that you can unobtrusively carry in your pocket, take to conventions, games clubs, friends houses, and play it on card table sized tables (or flat areas) and teach to others in seconds. They are also cleverly disguised gamer games hiding behind the facade of being family games. On the face of it GAME of TRAINS looks to be a simple game for happy families but there are some really good gamer-style moves to be made if you play the abilities to their best effect.
For us here at GGO, GAME of TRAINS has joined the elite ranks of pocket-sized card games that are ready to be packed for travel whenever we are going away for more than a day.
Thanks for the review! I hadn't even heard of it until this, and I am sold by your review.