Railroad Dice - Die ersten Schienen

General Information:
Manufacturer: Wassertal
Author: Jens Kappe
Number of Players: 2-4
Age: 12 years plus
Time: 60-90 mins.
Year: 2003


Deutsche Spielerezension

Game Components:
1 gameboard -  5 company cards - 1 starting player tile - 50 shares - 8 large terrain tiles - 35 small terrain tiles - 4 area marking pawns - 40 railroad dice - 44 station-dice - 20 black plastic discs - 40 orange plastic discs - 4 screens - 1 rulebook (English/German)

There is no need to know any German to play this game. There are no language-specific cards or anything like that. An English-language rulebook is already in the box.

Once more a game about building railways: The players have to invest money (here: dice) and buy shares in order to become director of any railway company. But that is not all: Players should invest in their companies and expand in order to be able to transport as many passengers as possible.

Before the game each player gets a screen and four dice. Turn each dice so that each dice has the questionmark on top. Then take one of the large grassland tiles and place it in the centre of the table and a corresponding small tile as well. That small tile is the first part of the overall map. Put one marking pawn of the same colour on each - the small and the large tile.  Put a single dice showing a straight rail into the central square of the large tile. The player who owns the most railroad games becomes starting player.

The game is played in rounds - called years. In each year each player performs one turn in clockwise playing order and then it is the next player's turn. In his/her turn a player may choose one or more of the options below:
After a player can not or does not want to perform any further actions, his/her turn is finished. He/She now has to reduce the number of dice in front of his/her screen to five.

After all players have taken their turn the year ends. Now the things below have to be done:
  1. Income: For each longest connected row of its stations each company now transports 1.000 passengers per tile in that row. The brown plastic disks symbolize 5.000 and the orange plastic disks 1.000 passengers. Only the director of a company gets the discs. Shareholders do not receive anything.
  2. Directors: If a player owns the most shares of a company he/she now becomes the new director or remains director. If a player has as much shares as the current director the current director stays. If there is a tie between players having all more shares than the current director the player next to the left of the old director becomes the new director.
  3. Starting player changes: The player on the left of the current starting player gets the corresponding tile.
The game ends when a company has built its last station or no more small terrain tiles are available or if the ends on each side of the railway can not be continued or if the bank runs out of dice. When one of the first three of the four requirements is met the year still can be finished. If the bank runs out of dice the game ends immediatley. The winner is the player who was able to transport the most passengers.

(Troudi 04.08.05)

Further Information:
- Homepage of Wassertal

Troudi says 7 out of 10 points:
The look and the mechanism of "Railroad Dice" were sufficiently interesting to make me getting interested in the game. The game is a business game without any money. The overall map is a interesting component as well. Every time you play the game the gameboard is going to be completely different because you can even change the position of each large tile. You always have to plan want you are going to do in your next turn because will not be sufficient if you just "react". For example: Sometimes it is difficult to decide whether to roll any dice or not. And if you decide to do so how many dice should be used? The buying of shares is interesting as well because you have got to be the director to get any income and - unlike in many other games - shareholders get nothing. After players started buying shares from directors the game is even getting more interesting: A director has to have planned well to stay director for more than one year. Inspite of that: The dice still are a factor dependent entirely on luck. You can not really plan what to do - even if the game itself makes that necessary - and the dice are enormously powerful. If you have got a lot of questionmarks you can do nearly everything. If you roll just shares or track your options are very limited. The duration is a bit too long as well - there are no really interactive or communicative components in the game. All in all: The general idea is most interesting and innovative but the dice make the game too dependent on luck. So that's just 7 out of 10 points. Players who are interested should try the game before buying it. Across Europe the game is about 35 Euros - the US price is app. 48 Dollars.

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