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David G. Cox Esq.
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Veld Spoorweg


A Railway Game Set In South Africa Circa. 1900
3-5 Players and 2 Hours
Designed by Martin Wallace & John Bohrer
Published by Winsome Games (1999)


I was lucky enough to play Veld Spoorweg for the first time a couple of weeks ago while visiting a friend in Sydney.

Visually VS is an unimposing game and playing it was a surprisingly delightful experience.

As I don’t own the game and have played it only once I ask for your forebearance if the review is not up to the high standards that you have come to expect from my writings. As the game does not yet have a review I felt it appropriate, even if a little impertinent, on my part to provide one.

VS apparently is one of a series of railroad games known as the Prairie Railroads series. They appear to have been produced on a shoestring budget and actually come in a plastic tube rather than a box.

The map is laminated but lacking in colour. The share certificates are very basic from a graphic design perspective. The game comes with plastic chips and you cut out stickers to place on the chips (I think that they could have done away with the stickers and just provided three different coloured chips). I think that there might be money in the game but we used poker chips when we played. The game also comes with six different coloured crayons but don’t worry if you don’t like crayon games – we used wooden cubes instead and they worked fine.

So much for the components! Let’s get down to how the game is played.

Naturally the object of the game is to make more money than anyone else and you do that by investing in the most profitable railways.

There are six different railways and each one has five shares that may be purchased during the game. When payouts are made they are divided amongst the current shareholders. Naturally you want to have the majority of the most valuable companies to maximise income.

Anyway, at the start of the game everyone is given the same amount of money and the starting share for each company is auctioned. Some railways have better earning potential than others and this will be discovered very quickly in your first game.

You are ready to start. There are a whole pile of chips in a cup and during each player turn the active player will draw a chip from the cup. The majority of chips allow Track Construction. Some allow a share certificate to be auctioned. Eight chips allow a Pay Day to occur.

Track Construction is one really interesting aspect of the game. It uses a mechanism I have never seen in other games and that is ‘Consortium’ bidding. To go into detail would make the process seem much more complicated than it really is and so I will just give a brief summary. If it is my turn and I draw a Track Construction chip I can propose two segments of track be built. Another player can make an alternative suggestion. Bidding takes place until one consortium drops out. The implications from a game point of view are interesting. Firstly only two pieces of track will be built. If I make a suggestion that only benefits my railroad I can expect a lot of opposition. If I want to gain support from other players then I really need to make my proposal something that gives something to others. Also, it is good policy to make counter proposals even if it is just to increase the cost for the other players should the proposal be something not to your advantage. The construction mechanism lends it self to a lot of wheeling, dealing and negotiating. The winning consortium does have to pay for the construction of the new track segments.

If a Share Certificate chip is drawn the active player selects a single share from one company and offers it up for auction.

If a Pay Day chip is drawn then each railway works out its earnings based upon the length of its route and the value of the towns it goes through and then splits this income amongst shareholders.

After the third Pay Day the Boer War will occur. It will stop with the drawing of the fourth Pay Day chip. During the war no tracks may be constructed and everytime a Track Construction chip is drawn the active player actually has to pay for repairs to existing tracks. For this reason it is important to have sufficient cash reserves to last the duration of the war.

After the eighth Pay Day the game is over and the value of assets is assessed.

As a minor comment, players also receive 'ticket' cards. These allow the collection of bonus dollars and sometimes lead to some unexpected levels of cooperation at players.

Veld Spoorweg is different from many other railway games because of the way that players will find sometimes when they are cooperation with others and other times they are really looking after themselves first.

The game is a lot of fun, easy to learn and it moves along at a quick rate. In many ways it feels very similar to Chicago Express – the main difference being that in Chicago Express there is no drawing of chips, players select actions and after a certain number of selections a Pay Day will occur.

I hope to pick up a copy some time in the future.


arrrh 'The Game Is Afoot!'


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Bill Eldard
United States
Burke
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Excellent review. VS is a fine railroad game. I have a copy, but it's been a while since our group has played it. I need to reintroduce it.
 
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Wendell
United States
Yellow Springs
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Si non potes reperire Berolini in tabula, ludens essetis non WIF.
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I'm not generally a fan of rail games... but I played this one last year and I really enjoyed it.
 
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General Norris
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Hey, thanks for the review,I really appreciate when people review an obscure game.

I'm thinking about printing it and perhaps give the graphics a bit more personality. Would you say it's worth playing over Chicago Express? It looks kind of similar in practise but with a more blunt cooperative/competitive mechanic.
 
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David G. Cox Esq.
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General_Norris wrote:
Hey, thanks for the review,I really appreciate when people review an obscure game.

I'm thinking about printing it and perhaps give the graphics a bit more personality. Would you say it's worth playing over Chicago Express? It looks kind of similar in practise but with a more blunt cooperative/competitive mechanic.


The consortium bidding mechanism makes this game quite different to Chicago Express, and I feel a more interesting game.
 
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