Recommend
23 
 Thumb up
 Hide
10 Posts

Rails of New England» Forums » Reviews

Subject: Painful business... the game, that is... rss

Your Tags: Add tags
Popular Tags: [View All]
Chris Rudram
Canada
Victoria
flag msg tools
designer
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Rails of new England sounded like an interesting variant of my old stand by favourite, the train game. Instead of building routes, players build industries across New England, and connect them to the existing rail networks by building depots. Excellent idea, and it reads like shades of power grid. The game itself was inspired by the old crayon rail games, and the designers make it clear in the rules that there are random elements and several take that mechanics. I wish they'd made some more of the rules clear though.

Players start with a couple of small businesses and a depot in state capital (Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Connecticut or Rhode Island). Massachusetts is in the middle, and links to New York and Montreal also exist. The turns are pretty simple : Find out the economic conditions (Depression, Normal or Prosperity) then resolve 0, 1 or 2 events based on a die roll. Both of these you get some look ahead. The events can be harsh (knocking out large areas of the board, where a player maybe concentrated) or give some free bonuses. Then draft 1 of 10 cards dealt face up. These are either businesses or actions. They can be used immediately or saved.

Then each player takes two actions, either building more depots or putting business into play. Businesses gain you income (some make a loss during a depression) and get you even more if they have a local depot AND a depot in a market town (Boston, Montreal or New York). Some states will find it easier to build into market towns than others. The cost of the depot depends on how far away the depot is from an existing depot (like power grid links are marked with a cost) and how many people are there already. Players can also take mail contracts (giving a set income) or special routes (which also give a set income and boost to end of game scores). There's also 4 different subsidy's which give in the main a bonus depot or two.

Finally, players collect income, take loans and pay interest on loans. All well and good.

In short, I don't think this game should have been released in it's current form, and I'm rather dismayed that Rio Grande Games have put their name on the cover in the state it is in. First up, there's a bunch of components on the box with no description on how they should be used. It turns out they can be used to mark various pieces of information that'll speed up game play. Secondly, the script on the game cards is very hard to read. Adding in that you need to find one of 100 little towns in New England, means you spend a lot of time trying to find places on the board. Clearer lettering would help.

The rules have differences between the book and the turn order on the player cards (order of the economic and events). There is a insert with more corrections. The special routes are very hard to understand or see intuitively. It's not clear if a hotel business or a hotel location is needed for those that talk about hotels. In one case, one location miles from the White Hills IS considered a hotel in the white hills (which is about the point I despaired of this game), while there's no indication that another location nearby counts (or doesn't). The rules say each player gets two actions, but no indication if they are one at a time, or taken both at once in turn order.

The game is a pretty long, but with a lot of downtime while players try to consider what cards to draft. It's meant to be a public view of the cards, but it's so hard to read we ended up handing the cards around. The take that cards are rather nasty, and no-one used them much as it seemed a rather good way of making a harsh game even harsher for one player. The events are very hard, but I think you can plan around them and diversify. There was some debate if the starting locations are balanced. I think they are in some ways (Maine has a better set of starting industries than New Hampshire for example) but they may not be.

And as a last nit pick, the box is oddly sized, but doesn't seem to need to be the shape it is given the board and components.

I'm trading this away. I don't trade my games as a rule, but while there may be an interesting game in there, I'm not very excited at trying to find it. Some Quality Assurance on the rules and components before going to press were required, and I'll have to be a little more cautious in future when buying Rio Grande... not something I expected to say.
13 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Chris Linneman
Canada
Vancouver
BC
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
You are absolutely right that the rules for this game are terrible, and the production quality (board, box, etc.) worse. However, if you do take the time to learn where the cities are, read the FAQ, and get familiar with the game, it really is a fun "sandbox" type game where you can play around and see the results without too much emphasis on "correct" or really opaque strategies. It's a shame the game was published in its current form as it's bound to turn off many people before they get to know the game well enough to like it.
7 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Dana R.
United States
Claremont
New Hampshire
flag msg tools
badge
Devotium Popcornicus
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
I was so looking forward to this game for many reasons, one being I live in a city mentioned and its a cool factor. But when word first came out about the rulebook specifically I avoided it. I may someday get in a trade - cheap or maybe even if they put out a corrected rulebook. But in its present form, with you again confirming, I will avoid.
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Mike G
United States
Olympia
Washington
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mb
Slabcity wrote:
I was so looking forward to this game for many reasons, one being I live in a city mentioned and its a cool factor. But when word first came out about the rulebook specifically I avoided it. I may someday get in a trade - cheap or maybe even if they put out a corrected rulebook. But in its present form, with you again confirming, I will avoid.

And I was looking forward to playing it with you, figuring you'd have to get it just for being on the map. Ah well...
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
David Hoffman
United States
Cortlandt Manor
New York
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
My group was really looking forward to this too. When we got it out on the table, though, we were VERY disappointed. I'd like to trade my copy away as well but, honestly, I'd feel badly foisting this upon someone else.

The shame of it is, as we played, and discussed the problems with the game, we couldn't help but lament the missed opportunities. The board IS beautiful (even if you can't read anything thanks to the font) and the CONCEPT for the game seems interesting.

We also found there was almost no NEED for conflict. Why would I want to build into "your" state when I've got a nice little thing going on over in "my" state? More, why would I want to pay the connections costs to get over to mess with you when I can just stay local?

I'm holding onto it and maybe, someday, someone will come up with alternate rules to bring out the game we could almost see peeking out from under the ludicrously overiszed box and the terrible, useless insert.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Kris Moulton
Canada
Halifax
Nova Scotia
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Slabcity wrote:
I was so looking forward to this game for many reasons, one being I live in a city mentioned and its a cool factor. But when word first came out about the rulebook specifically I avoided it. I may someday get in a trade - cheap or maybe even if they put out a corrected rulebook. But in its present form, with you again confirming, I will avoid.


It's still worth playing. The board quality is a little disappointing but I've played 6 times already and I want to play more. The rulebook may be insufficient but the information is all out there. You just need the FAQ. I've played plenty of other games where the FAQ is pretty much a necessity but that doesn't make the game any less fun.

It's a great lesson in New England geography too. After a game or 2 you start to remember where the places are anyway so the text on the board becomes much less of a problem.
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Chris Rudram
Canada
Victoria
flag msg tools
designer
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
ohbalto wrote:
My group was really looking forward to this too. When we got it out on the table, though, we were VERY disappointed. I'd like to trade my copy away as well but, honestly, I'd feel badly foisting this upon someone else.

The shame of it is, as we played, and discussed the problems with the game, we couldn't help but lament the missed opportunities. The board IS beautiful (even if you can't read anything thanks to the font) and the CONCEPT for the game seems interesting.

We also found there was almost no NEED for conflict. Why would I want to build into "your" state when I've got a nice little thing going on over in "my" state? More, why would I want to pay the connections costs to get over to mess with you when I can just stay local?

I'm holding onto it and maybe, someday, someone will come up with alternate rules to bring out the game we could almost see peeking out from under the ludicrously overiszed box and the terrible, useless insert.


Conflict, or at least spreading out helps mitigate against the floods and fires. Plus there just may be good opportunities as you spread out. Not least the special routes.

My biggest disappointment is the Rio Grande Games name slapped on it. I'd probably have taken far more caution in buying this game had it come from a smaller publisher. I expect RGG to be pretty much fully fledged out of the box. I don't expect to be looking for an FAQ or to argue whether Bethel is or isn't in the White Mountains during a game, or to be told that a town mile away IS in the White Mountain by an Errata insert.

The geography thing was annoying but with the idea of marking the towns with white cubes when they get drawn... excellent idea to sped it up. Only if someone had told us that was the idea of the stuff in the box. shake

I don't disagree, there's probably a good game in there. However, there's lots of good games out there that I don't have to dig out, and I can put my effort into playing the games themselves.

3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
john guthrie
United States
silver spring
maryland
flag msg tools
designer
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Odinsday wrote:

... while there may be an interesting game in there, I'm not very excited at trying to find it.


nicely put. my feelings exactly.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Will Mellor
United Kingdom
London
ENGLAND
flag msg tools
designer
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Never mind the rulebook - the game is no good!

We played for 3 or 4 hours. 15 min to the end the leader played a "halve your money" card. What is the point of that!
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Lance G
United States
Knoxville
Tennessee
flag msg tools
...determines everything.
badge
When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Re: Painful business... RANT
Thanks for the synopsis and I have viewed all of the components.
Although the pics are good and they don't seem too hard to read
from experience this is very different from looking at a high res
photo and having it in your hand or in front of you under various
lighting conditions.

It really ticks me off in the fact that the majority of gamers
are over 30 or so and they continue to make cards HARD TO READ!

I do not understand. LISTEN to the people that support your
business!!! If you can't read something easily then change it.

One of my favorite games is Princes of Florence (Rio Grande)
and althought its pretty it is somewhat difficult to introduce
to other "grown" gamers because of the pretty typeface which
is not easy to read.

Here's a tip, stop producing games and let GMT do it for you.
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Front Page | Welcome | Contact | Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Advertise | Support BGG | Feeds RSS
Geekdo, BoardGameGeek, the Geekdo logo, and the BoardGameGeek logo are trademarks of BoardGameGeek, LLC.