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Subject: Review After Several Plays rss

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Joseph Tomassi
United States
Melvindale
Michigan
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My wife and I played this game with another couple, so we used the set-up for 4 players. The complete set of rules are posted on this site.

Each Railroad has a (St)=Starting Card and 10 additional playing cards.
Each Starting card goes on the table, the fifty playing cards are
shuffled, 11 cards are dealt to each player and the remaining 6 cards go onto the table as the beginning railroad connections.

In Pinochle, someone leads a card - everyone follows suit if they can - if players cannot follow suit, they throw off - winner takes all the cards played - winner leads new card. In "TotR" everything is identical except the winner does not take all the cards played. In "TotR" a Trick Lane is laid out prior to play. In a 4 player game that is 11 tricks. The Trick Lane alternates between stock exchange cards( one for each railroad ) and, either a bonus city card or a railroad equipment card. The Trick Lane determines what you are fighting over and what the players get to do.

If the next card is Exchange Stock, the winner takes it, puts it aside in his kitty, and discards the one he played. The other players take their card back and put it aside in their kitty. These cards are now their "one" share of that Railroads stock.

If the next card is a Bonus City or Railroad Equipment, the winner assigns that card to any railroad on the board (see rules for proper placement) and then every player puts their card on the board. These cards are now expansions of that particular railroad and become available to all players for end game scoring.

The first challenge is obvious right away. Of the 11 cards in my hand, 5 will always end up on the table as railroad expansion - but which 5; 6 cards will always end up in my kitty as stock cards - but which 6. All of the cards show a city with a value 10-20-30-40. If played to the table, that value adds to railroad stock profit, if played to my kitty, the value means nothing as it now becomes just one share of stock. If I only have the one card in the suit that was lead I have no choice. But if I have more than one, which one do I play.

The second challenge - When you play a card to the table, you can play it to the left or right of the Start city for that railroad - but which side. If you have some of that railroad stock in your kitty, you will try to group all the low value cities to one side of the start city and all the high value cities to other. This makes it possible for that railroad to roll up a higher score value at the end. But if you have no shares of that railroad in your kitty, you want to mix high and low value cities together in effect watering down the stock value for the other players.

The third challenge - each Engine card has one of these values 3-4-5-6-All. The value tells you how many "adjacent" cities that railroad can count for its end-game revenue, just like in 1830 and Railroad Tycoon. Only one engine can be assigned to a railroad. So if I get to assign an engine - who gets it. For example, in one of our games, the "All" engine got assigned to a railroad with only 3 cities on the board. Each engine also has an operating cost marked on it. At the end of the game, each railroad totals the value of the best group of adjacent cities it can reach (3-4-5-6-All), then subtracts the cost of its railroad equipment, that net value is the per share value of each share of stock. In the above example from our game, the value of the three adjacent cities equaled $70, the cost of the "All" engine equaled $80.
That's a value of -$10. So there was no profit in the railroad. The player who had cornered 5 shares of its stock, hadn't gotten enough of its cards to the table, so the 5 shares were worthless.

Like another contributer said on the site, the card play is very tight. You only have five tricks to affect what is happening on the table and only six tricks to get the right cards into your kitty. And depending on the initial card distribution, all four players can drastically affect every trick played.

Did we have a great time? Oh yes!!! My friends called me earlier to get together, and told me specifically to make sure I bring back "Trick of the Rails" for another go. Always a good sign.

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Stephen Smith
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Jackson
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Casca183 wrote:
In Pinochle, someone leads a card - everyone follows suit if they can - if players cannot follow suit, they throw off - winner takes all the cards played - winner leads new card.

This is the second post on BGG where I have seen Trick of the Rails in some way compared to Pinochle. This baffles me as other than being a trick-taking game (which is quite superficial), there is no similarity to Pinochle -- no bidding, no melding, no trump, no partnerships. In addition, you are not obligated to overplay as you are in (partnership) Pinochle.
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Joseph Tomassi
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Melvindale
Michigan
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Seppo21 is correct. Trick of the Rails is no more the mirror image of Pinochle than it is of 18XX; yet to me, it does have aspects of both games in it. It also was the best way I could think of to describe the game to people who have never seen it actually played.

A copy of the rules is available on this site. I don't know if Seppo21 has read them, but if he has, I would be interested in his opinion of what games would make a better comparison for Trick of the Rails. I love the game and would appreciate any help that would give a clearer picture of the strengths and weaknesses of this game to perspective players.
 
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Dennis Rendall
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I just backed this game on Kickstarter. I have read the rules. I might compare it more to Hearts, as there is no bidding, only trick taking, where you can try to win tricks advantageously, and let the other ones go, when you can make a better play by losing the trick. But of course, it is its own game. You could also compare it to Diamonds, where winning a trick can be helpful, but so can losing a trick, if done at the right time.

dennis
 
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