Isle of Trains: All Aboard

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Welcome to the Isle of Trains, where you are the conductor, and constructor of one of the island’s locomotives. You’ll build trains and load a range of goods to complete contracts across the island, and also deliver passengers to their destinations. Isle of Trains: All Aboard is a card-based engine building game where cards have multiple uses: You can use cards as locomotives, f…
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Category Tag SKU ZBG-DRNIT001 Availability 3+ in stock
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  • Artwork
  • Complexity
  • Replayability
  • Player Interaction
  • Component Quality

You Might Like

  • Artwork is a standout
  • High quality components, well designed down to every last detail
  • Scales up well for more players
  • Small easy to transport box, perfect size for sleeved cards

Might Not Like

  • Very in-depth rulebook can take a while to get through
  • Cards don’t have descriptions on them so you will need to look to the reference section of the rule book for the first few games at least
  • A long game time for simple mechanic
  • Most rewarding when you load onto an opponents train, feels a bit odd
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Welcome to the Isle of Trains, where you are the conductor, and constructor of one of the island’s locomotives. You’ll build trains and load a range of goods to complete contracts across the island, and also deliver passengers to their destinations.

Isle of Trains: All Aboard is a card-based engine building game where cards have multiple uses: You can use cards as locomotives, freight cars, passenger cars, or buildings to improve the effectiveness and abilities of your train. Cards can also be spent to pay for the construction of your new train cars and buildings, or you can use your cards as cargo and load them onto available freight cars.

You will also have a range of passengers who want to be taken to different destinations. You will draw these passengers at random from a bag when you build passenger cars and certain locomotives. You can then load passengers into any available passenger car. When passengers are delivered to their destinations, they will give you an instant powerful bonus!

Loading cargo and passengers into opponents’ trains is important on the Isle of Trains as it’ll also gain you extra bonuses that turn! But this will help the other train conductors get a little closer to completing their goals, by giving them the cargo or passengers, which they can then use for deliveries and big end game points!

The game ends when a certain number of contracts have been completed, or a certain number of passengers are delivered. You win by scoring the most points, which you earn by building up your train, completing contracts, and delivering passengers.

Isle of Trains: All Aboard is all about balancing the need to upgrade your train, with loading cargo or passengers onto opponent’s train for big bonuses, and delivering cargo and passengers to their destinations before anyone else. Build your engine effectively enough to be remembered as the greatest train conductor on the Isle of Trains!

Isle of trains: All aboard deluxe is our first Dandra game that we backed on Kickstarter, it certainly won’t be the last. Right from the off the artwork and quality of the box and components stands out and shouts high quality. Every surface of the box has artwork on it and the components have been considered thoroughly with eye catching detail. Its one of those games that wows people when it comes out at game night!

Our Initial Thoughts

In Isle of trains: All aboard you want to upgrade your train and all of the elements that make up a train. In this game as well as the engine itself you will find Cabooses, Hoppers, Tankers, Boxcars and Carriages, upgrading each of these will increase your carrying capacity. The more capacity you gain the more cargo you can load up allowing you to complete the contracts. Dropping off passengers gives you much needed bonuses like extra actions or victory points. The end of the game comes when the progress train chugs into the station for the number of players, then the person with the most victory points wins the game.

In the deluxe edition you get wooden meeples, a printed logo on the passenger bag, a time engine promo card and new ticket tiles to increase the replayability. We also purchased the printed card sleeves which are fantastic with the card printed backs and foil inners, this means you don’t lose any of the card artwork but that they will last a whole lot longer. Especially as this game will be played over and over and over again.

Game Set Up

Isle of trains: All aboard has a very specific set up, first you will start with the island cards, for 2 to 3 player games you will use 6 island cards excluding the research station which is only included when you have 4 or more players. Once you have your map laid out you will then put the corresponding station names next to the map location, then randomly select a ticket tile to put beneath the station name. The train progress track will be placed above the map with the meeple bag and victory points close by. Each player will start with a level one engine and five random train cards and two randomly dealt passengers. Once you have shuffled and dealt the train cards you will then draw three cards and place them face up above the train progress track to create a face up draw pile, with the rest of the deck beside them to create the draw pile.

Game Play

During the game play each players turn will consist of two actions of which you can Take, Build, Load or Deliver.

In Isle of Trains, when you take, this means you can take one card or one passenger.

When building you may use one card from your hand and place it in the play area after paying the charge, the charge will be paid using cards from your hand.

When loading you can load cards from your hand into your train or an opponent’s making the cards cargo or you can put one of your unloaded passengers onto the train. However, when loading, be sure to check the capacity and cargo types as to what you can load into each train car.

When delivering you can either deliver passengers of the same colour to the train station they match, achieving the bonuses on the ticket tiles or you can complete a contract on a map location by delivering the matching requirements. This will then become your card and you will then try to complete the second contract on the card.

Take: take a card from the face up display or from the train deck. If you take from the face up deck, make sure to replenish it at the end of your turn. If you need to take cards from the train deck built is empty reshuffle the discarded cards to recreate the draw deck.

Take: take one random passenger from the bag and place it next to your engine. If you ever need to take a passenger from the bag but it is empty take one VP token instead.

Build: step 1 Extend or upgrade, to extend add a new train car to the right of the existing train. To upgrade take the eligible card and replace it with the upgraded card of the same category.

Build: step 2 Check your engine capacity, your train capacity is shown on the engine card as a green gauge, the capacity that is taken up by the train cars is shown as a red gauge make sure that the train weight is never more than the engine capacity.

Build: step 3 Check the cost of the build action, the cost is shown in the bottom left corner of the card in a gold circle, the cost is the amount of cards you will pay to complete the action. If you do not have enough cards, you cannot complete this action. If, however you are upgrading you will pay the difference for instance if the car you are upgrading cost 4 to begin with and the new car cost 6 you will only have to discard 2 cards to complete the build.

Build: step 4 Take passengers, when building or upgrading your train you will see on some cards, they give you extra passenger. To take the passengers reach into the bag and select them at random, these are then out next to your train ready to load on your next action if you choose to. Remember if the passenger bag is empty, you get a VP token instead.

Load: When loading you take a card from your hand or a passenger and place it on a train car. The train cards must have the matching symbol to show you the type of cargo you can load onto it. Loading relates to both cargo and passenger; they can be loaded into either your train or an opponent’s. If you choose to load into your opponent’s train you will also get the bonus action shown on the top of the card. You cannot load more cargo onto a train car than it states as you will end up over capacity. Some cards will show multiple cargo types but once you have chosen to load cargo onto the card it’ll only count as that type from then on.

Deliver: Delivering Cargo or passengers will fulfil contracts or ticket tiles. To make a delivery you will need to choose a delivery destination, there are then four types of delivery that can be made. You can choose to complete a primary contract where you will deliver the cargo needed to your chosen island card which will then make that card yours to work on to deliver your secondary Contract. To complete your secondary contract, you will need to again collect the cargo needed once these are both completed flip the card and begin to work on another if possible. The next delivery you could choose is to load passengers onto your train and deliver them to the matching-coloured station destination completing the ticket tile as you go but be aware of which tickets you choose to fulfil as they don’t all go up in bonuses. The final delivery you can make is a special delivery…You can make multiple delivers on one action but they must all be carried out at the same destination.

Moving the progress train in Isle of Trains happens whenever a player takes an island card or the last passenger is delivered to a ticket tile.

Once you have completed your two actions you will need to discard your hand down to five cards, replenish the face up deck if you took cards from there and check to see if the end of game has been triggered. This can happen in two ways either when the progress train reaches its destination or when there are no more cards to be taken from the train deck or discard pile.

If the progress train reaches its destination (4 for 2 players/5 for 3 players/6 for 4 players) the player who triggered then end of play takes the train however, if there are no more cards the progress train isn’t taken unless it reaches its destination in the final play. All players will then take one final turn after the end of play is triggered before scoring the game. Count up all the victory points collected from completing contracts, bonuses and delivering passengers. The player with the highest score will be crowned the winner.

For those who prefer the single track there is a solo mode with 10 unique scenarios to get stuck into. Each has a different rule set and end game conditions, tackle each and watch yourself improve from trainee to the island conductor.

Final Thoughts

The biggest stand out for us after opening the delivery box was the quality and the continuation of that high standard throughout whole the game. Isle of trains: All aboard has certainly earned its place on our games shelf (not that it currently fits 😂), the game play is simple and with short downtime allowing for all players to keep engaged which makes it a great family game. The small box size makes it easier to transport wherever you choose to game. We will certainly be looking to back/ buy more Dandra games in the future (update: We knew we would, 1 backed through Kickstarter, Solar Storm bought 😉)

I Love Trains

Isle of Trains – if you say it out loud it sounds like “I love Trains!” which I do so that’s alright – sees you compete with other loco operators to deliver freight and passengers to six different locations on the eponymous Isle. Alternatively you can ply your trade solo to achieve objectives in one of ten different scenarios. This is all done via a large, 71 deck of cards that provide your rolling stock, their cargoes and the means of paying for them!

Isle of Trains – All Aboard is on the one hand quite literally an engine-building game yet is probably more realistically categorised as a worker placement vehicle. The setting is a fictitious island comprising of 6 different regions – plus a 7th if you are playing with 4 players – that have various requirements for freight and offer different rewards for the delivery of passengers. To achieve these goals you collect cards to build a train of an Engine and Cars that can carry such freight and people and deliver them. The setting, I would say, from the style of dress of the passengers and train stock depicted, is 1880’s USA.

The Island is laid out, using the 6 (or 7) island cards, in the same way each time. Whilst these are attractive and have neatly laid out rail routes connecting them, the track layout has no effect on game play, which is a bit of a shame. The island cards each have their own colour coded destination tiles and have a randomly picked Ticket tile associated with them. The Ticket tile shows the rewards for delivering up to 3 passengers there. Each player is given one Level 1 Engine to start with and dealt 5 of the ubiquitous train cards with a further 3 being dealt face up alongside the deck and also 2 random passengers from the draw bag.

Deliver The Goods – And Passengers

Trains can consist of an Engine and a number of Cars. The Cars can be: Hoppers that carry Coal, Tankers that carry Oil, Box Cars that carry Boxes(duh!) and Passenger carrying Coaches. There are also Cabooses that give various special abilities and bonuses. You only have 1 engine but you can have any number of the different cars in your train. However, each car has a weight and you can only have up to the maximum your engine can haul. To overcome this and build bigger trains you must upgrade your engine. Each engine and train car has 3 levels of increasing capacity. Each train card has a value that will count to your total at the game end.

The other type of card you can get is a Building card. You may only have 1 Building (normally) in play though you can change it. These Buildings give various end of game scoring VPs.

Each turn you take 2 Actions from: Take; Build; Load; Deliver.

Take – take 1 card, face-up or from the deck or 1 passenger from the bag Build – add a Car to your train or upgrade an existing one Load – a passenger on to an engine or Coach or cargo on a freight car Deliver – Freight or Passengers to their destination for the appropriate reward

Now there’s a lot going on with these Train Cards because not only do they provide the vehicles of your rolling stock but they are also the currency with which you pay for them. So if you want to build say a Level 1 Boxcar with a cost of 3 you have to discard 3 other Train cards to pay for it. Considering at the end of your turn you can only have a maximum of 5 cards in your hand you need to do some clever hand manipulation to get some of the higher value cards out. Upgrades are a bit easier as you only pay the difference in value between the two levels.

Tickets Please!

The third use of the Train Cards is to provide freight cargoes. Passengers have their own, coloured tokens that can be delivered straight from your train to the appropriate destination until the 3 spaces on the ticket are full. Freight is loaded onto a Car by having a Train Card with the matching symbol: Coal, Oil, Boxes on it and putting it under the car up to its capacity. Once you have a Train loaded with the demand of a particular Island Card you can deliver that and take the Island card. This will give you VPs at the end and the opportunity to deliver further cargo for big points.

The interesting thing about Loading is that you can Load onto your own Train or any of your opponents trains! If you load onto their Trains you get an immediate bonus but they, of course, will be able to later make the delivery. This makes for some interesting decisions as you will need to do this at times in the game, particularly to keep getting Train cards.

Each time an Island Card is taken or a Ticket is filled with 3 passengers the Progress Train is moved along the Progress Track and when it reaches space 4-6 for players 2-4 it’s the end game. After 1 more turn the vPs are all added up and the one with the most is the Top Conductor.

Final Destination

Isle of Trains – All Aboard is a pleasing game with a lot of variation. Every turn you have interesting little decisions to make as you try to duck and dive to get enough together to do the things you want to. There’s a whole marshalling yard of options for your train cards with 15 different cars to make your deliveries and 11 different Cabooses for in-play bonuses. Add to that the 10 different Buildings you can have for end-of-game scoring and there’s a lot of ways to win.

One slight drawback is, despite the descriptive iconography on the cards themselves, you can find yourself having to constantly check out the detailed descriptions in the 8 page reference section in the back of the manual but as this has a lovely cloth feel to it is not necessarily a hardship.

It took me a while to get my head around the fact that whilst you have to have the right cargo aboard to Deliver at a particular location and this takes a fair bit of organising, passengers can just be loaded in one Action and Delivered to their matching colour destination in the next. This is a quick way to generate more cards and early VPs. Also as a die-hard despatcher I found it odd that you don’t have to physically make your train travel from one location to the next you just say it’s going to X or Y and it’s there! Still, it all makes for a faster game.

One final note about the Solo side. This is essentially the same as the main game and you are offered a full campaign of 10 scenarios to work through. Your final tally of VPs gives you a rank moving up through Engineer and Head Conductor to Island Conductor at over 80 points. My sub 50 point scores leave me firmly as a Freeloader. I’m thinking Stoker but I’ll keep at it, pass me that shovel!

Toot! Toot!

Zatu Score


  • Artwork
  • Complexity
  • Replayability
  • Player Interaction
  • Component Quality

You might like

  • Artwork is a standout
  • High quality components, well designed down to every last detail
  • Scales up well for more players
  • Small easy to transport box, perfect size for sleeved cards

Might not like

  • Very in-depth rulebook can take a while to get through
  • Cards dont have descriptions on them so you will need to look to the reference section of the rule book for the first few games at least
  • A long game time for simple mechanic
  • Most rewarding when you load onto an opponents train, feels a bit odd