Last year, I reviewed Brain Games' big hit, Ice Cool. This time I'm looking at another great game of theirs called Game of Trains. They sent me a complimentary copy of Game of Trains in exchange for an honest review. This review will go over The Basics, How To Play, What We Think, and the Bottom Line.
The Basics Each player is managing a line of seven numbered train cars connected to their locomotive engine. When the game starts, the train cars are arranged by number in descending order. Throughout the game, players must draw cards or use card abilities in order to rearrange their train cars into ascending order. The first player with a line of train cars in ascending order wins!
How To Play Brain Games has posted a copy of the rule sheet, as well as provided this tutorial video:
SETUP: Each player receives one locomotive card. Then, the railcar cards are shuffled and seven railcar cards are dealt to each player.Railcars feature, from bottom to top, the railcar art, a numerical value, and a card ability. Players arrange their railcar cards from left to right in descending, numerical order. The locomotive card is placed to the left of the line of railcar cards. The first player is randomly decided.
ROUND ONE: Clockwise, starting with the first player, each player will draw a number of cards equal to their turn order (1st player draws one; second player draws two; etc.) and then they will replace one card in their line of railcars with one of the drawn cards. The replaced card is put in the center of the table, face up - cards in this area will be available for players to use as an ability. Remaining drawn cards are discarded, facedown.
At this point, the table should look something like this:
ALL REMAINING ROUNDS: Starting with the first player and continuing clockwise, each player must take one of two actions. When the action is completed, play moves to the next player. Play continues in this fashion until a player's line of railcars in in ascending order. When this happens, play immediately stops and this player is the winner.
DRAW A CARD: Draw the top card from the draw pile - this card must replace one of the cards in your line of railcar cards. Put the replaced card in the center, face up - its ability will now be available to any player.
USE A CARD'S ABILITY: Choose any one card from the face up replaced cards area. Use the ability on the chosen card and then discard it. (Abilities listed below.)
If, at any time, there are two cards with identical abilities in the face up REPLACED CARDS area, both cards are immediately discarded. If the DRAW PILE is depleted, then shuffle the DISCARD PILE to form a new draw pile. CARD ABILITIES (indicated by the ability icon at the top of the card):
1) Swap and two adjacent cards in your line. 2) Swap two cards in your line, which have exactly one card between them. 3) Move one of your cards exactly two spaces to the right. 4) Move one of your cards exactly two spaces to the left. 5) Every player must remove the leftmost card in their line and, in clockwise order starting with the player who used the ability, replace it with a card from the draw pile. 6) Every player must remove the very center card in their line and, in clockwise order starting with the player who used the ability, replace it with a card from the draw pile. 7) Every player must remove the rightmost card in their line and, in clockwise order starting with the player who used the ability, replace it with a card from the draw pile. 8) Choose a card to protect. Place the lock underneath it. This card cannot be removed by abilities that remove cards. If you change the position of the protected card by using other card abilities, then the protected card loses its protection.
What We Think I played this game with my weeknight legacy group. We played it before one of our Gloomhaven sessions.
The very first thing that stood out when picking up this game was the amazing art. Everyone at the table fell in love with the art style. There are also several pop culture Easter Eggs hidden throughout the railcars and we had a lot of fun inspecting cards to find them.
The rules were quick and easy to understand. The rule sheet has an illustration for each card ability, which makes the intention very clear. Nothing felt complicated.
Game play was fluid. I loved the puzzle of trying to figure out how to rearrange my railcars with the card abilities. At times it can feel limiting because if you do not want to use an ability from the replaced cards area, then you are left taking a blind draw from the draw pile, but I think that adds to the fun of the game. If you like 'take that' games, there are some decisions you can make about what abilities you put into the center because sometimes you can kick an ability out all together and stop another player from taking an action they really need (and they can do the same to you). There is definitely a luck component to the game because your choices are based on what cards are available, so it isn't a PURE strategy puzzle.
I found the game to be a lot of fun. It will be great as a filler game on game days when we are waiting on people to arrive or looking for something quick while another table finishes their game.
This game is GREAT for kids, too. It will engage critical thinking and pattern building skills. Plus, they'll have a lot of fun.
All of the head locomotive cards look the same. No fighting over who gets what color or character... just setup and go!
A few thoughts from the people I played with:
I like the pop culture art. It's a neat little time filler with a nice bit of thought and strategy in it.
I like the art, geeky references, and player interaction (train car removal/locks to counter, pairs removed from offer). Options are limited when the replaced cards area is empty, though. It's a fun filler game.
Hands down, my favorite aspect of the game was the artwork. There was nothing I disliked about the game mechanics. I think it would be an incredibly neat feature if there was a blank "create your own style" card where you could either make up your own number/ability and/or draw your own train car.
Bottom Line If you enjoy quick puzzle games with a luck component, then buy this game.