Released back in 2005 as ‘Railroad Tycoon’ this train game had a huge impact in my life. Most of us got into modern gaming through classics like Catan, Carcassonne or Ticket to Ride, this was my first game. Its pretty epic in every way, not just the 2+ hour game time, but the GIANT board and feeling of growing a railroad empire.
Its kind of odd that train games are so popular, there are hundreds of games about them, from the simple like Transamerica to behemoths of complexity like the 18XX series. Railways of the World lies nicely in the middle somewhere.
If you are looking to step up from Ticket to Ride to really grasp that feeling of building a Rail Network then this may be the game for you.
In RotW you are trying to make points by delivering goods around the board from city to city using, ideally, your own rail network. To do that you need to get some cash together to make said network and buy better trains that can move the good further. To do that you will need money, which you get through shares!
Shares are the bread and butter of many Rail games and can intimidate the crap out of a lot of newbies. In this case its done in a pretty user friendly manner. You take a share and get some money to spend, but every round you must pay some money back for the share. So you have a choice, take loads of shares and build a huge network and be on the hook for some serious interest payments or go lean and mean, taking just a few and building a tight, efficient network.
The game lasts until a certain number of cities have been emptied of their goods. Moving the goods is how you score points to win the game and also how you earn an income. The further you move the goods the more points you earn. The more points you have the more income you earn.
A round last 3 turns and on each turn you can do one of the following:
1. Deliver a good
2. Build track
3. Upgrade your train
4. Take a card from the tableau
5. Upgrade a city to put new good on it
The heart of your game will be deciding where you build your track. Competition for some spots will be fierce and blocking people is part of the game. Goods of a certain color have to be delivered to a city that demands them. You need to be able to make short deliveries to get your income going, but you need to plan for the longer ones to make the big deliveries to win you the game.
Upgrading engines and cities is necessary but painfully expensive, forcing players into taking more yucky shares. The cards can give you important bonuses and drive a part if your strategy.
At the end of the game you lose a point for every share you have, gain some possible points for a secret objective, most points wins.
I find games that allow you to build something immensely satisfying. Even if you lose, there is something fantastic about having created a great network of rails from a blank board.
Its a pretty thinky game, no doubt about that, but so much fun. Its one of those games you spend half the game standing up looking over the map trying to figure out where you will go next. A classic that needs more love…come down store and let us teach you it!