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Switch & Signal

RRP: £34.99
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RRP £34.99
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All Aboard! — The Cooperative Train GamePlayers begin this cooperative, family-friendly train game controlling just a few trains on the tracks. As more trains arrive, you must plan and coordinate your train schedules. Only by working together to schedule and move your trains efficiently, will you and your team of conductors be able to win the game. The two different gameboards, Ce…
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Category Tags , , SKU Z-THKO-694265 Availability 3+ in stock
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Awards

Dice Tower

Rating

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

You Might Like

  • Starts off easy but soon descends into chaos if you don’t prepare
  • Clean graphical design means it is always easy to read the board from any angle
  • Clever time mechanism
  • Two maps with slightly different rules straight out of the box
  • The trains are adorable and even more so when they are carrying cargo

Might Not Like

  • When you cause trains to collide head on
  • Forgetting to set switches and signals before revealing a departure card
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Description

All Aboard! — The Cooperative Train Game
Players begin this cooperative, family-friendly train game controlling just a few trains on the tracks. As more trains arrive, you must plan and coordinate your train schedules.
Only by working together to schedule and move your trains efficiently, will you and your team of conductors be able to win the game. The two different gameboards, Central Europe and North America, each bring fun challenges to overcome.

Switch & Signal is a cooperative, family-friendly strategy train game where you must work with your teammates to build a network of trains that run at different speeds to transport goods as efficiently as possible.
Simple rules are easy to learn and allow you to jump right into the action.

Features double-sided game board, city tile variants, and customizable difficulty levels

Player Count: 2-4
Time: 45 Minutes
Age: 10+

Everyone has played at least one train game and it is more than likely to be Ticket to Ride. There are also a series of train games under the banner of ’18XX’ which are incredibly popular. Most of these train games are based on building new tracks or owning shares in train companies but very few of them deal with the actual day to day running of a train network.

Switch & Signal from Kosmos (designed by David Thompson) is a cooperative game all about moving trains through a network of switches (points for British train enthusiasts) and signals with the aim of delivering all of the goods to the port city before you run out of time.

Chugga, Chugga, Chugga, Chugga, Choo Choo

I work in the rail industry but am not a massive fan of train games especially the games which are all about stock manipulation and profits. However this game has appealed to me for a while because it gives you the opportunity to work as a signaller controlling all of the movements of an ever increasing busy network.

Set up of the game is fairly easy and is detailed well in the rule book. There is also a Kosmos helper App which provides a rules explanation should you not be inclined to read the rule book.

One immediate rule book oversight was the fact that it says the game is for two to four players. I can see no reason why this game does not recommend it is suitable for solo play as it would not require any rule changes. All of the information used by players in the game is open so there is no reason why you shouldn’t play it solo. In fact I tried it solo and I had a great time.

Do The Locomotion

Once you have set up the board you will see a series of cities, switches, signals, tracks and starting locations together with 9 trains tucked up in bed in their depot. Each coloured city has two goods which need to be loaded onto a train and delivered to the port city before you run out of time.

During a players turn they will reveal the next destination card and have to follow the cards instructions. This could be to deploy a train or several trains, or to move all trains of a certain colour or move all trains of multiple colours.

When you deploy a train you roll the two deployment dice and place the train from the depot onto the corresponding numbers (from 2 to 12) starting space. If you cannot deploy a train because either there are no more trains of that colour in the depot or there is already a train at this starting space you will take a time penalty.

When a departure card shows a movement of a train you must move all trains of that colour that are on the board. First you decide which train you will move and then you roll the corresponding movement dice (black dice for the black trains etc) and move the train the number shown on the dice. You roll the die for each train so they could all move different amounts. Any train that doesn’t move the required number of spaces, accidentally goes back into a starting space or that crashes head on into another train will incur more time penalties.

There are three different trains in this game. Black is the fast express train and its die has a number range of 2 to 5. Brown is the medium speed train and its die has a range of 1 to 4. Grey is the slow train and its die has a range of 1 to 3.

All Aboard

Once you have finished all instructions on the Switch & Signal departure card the current player can now play as many actions cards as they want from their hand. The rules state that you can tell other people what cards you have so we found the best way to play was to lay the cards face up in front of us so that we could discuss tactics as we played.

You start the game with five action cards which are either signal cards, switch setting cards or movement cards. The signal cards allow you to move any green signal to cover any red signal with the only rule you need to adhere to being that each city must have at least one green signal at all times.

Playing a switch setting card allows you to manipulate the switches at a junction so that the route is set differently. A single card allows you to move both switches at a four way junction.

The train movement cards allow you to move one train. This is once again controlled by the corresponding movement dice.

You can discard any two cards to carry out any of these three actions. In addition you must discard one card to load a train with goods if it is in a city. Once you have finished playing your cards you draw five more cards with a total hand limit of ten cards and then the next player will turn over the next departure card.

The Next Train To Arrive At Platform 3 Is Delayed

The majority of the games rules are in relation to the movement of trains and the penalty for not adhering to the movement dice. Trains must always move in the direction they are facing except when they are in a city when they can turn and depart the city in the direction of any green signal. Talking of cities, when a train arrives in a city they immediately stop without a time penalty. Time Penalties are represented as clock faces.

Each section of track and city counts as one movement point whilst signals and junctions do not. A train must always stop before a red signal, if a switch blocks their movement or on the track if a train is in the section ahead. For each movement point not taken one clock must be removed from the board. If two trains collide head on two clocks are removed for each unused movement point. In addition the train that was moving is placed back in the depot and any goods it was carrying are put back in the corresponding city. If you ever accidentally direct a train into a starting location there is a time penalty of two clocks and that train is placed into the depot. The other time penalty is if you cannot deploy a train during the departure card section for which there is a two clock penalty.

Cancelled Service

Once the last clock face is removed from the board you have to remove the next departure card from the deck. You then place the clock faces back on the board. If a penalty causes more clock faces to be removed than there are currently sitting on the board this penalty

carries over so you place less back on the board. If ever the departure deck is depleted the game ends immediately and you lose.

Each side of the board includes three helpers that can provide a powerful one off bonus such as a re-roll of a die, turning all signals to green around a city to allow you to move into and straight out of the city and other very helpful rule modifiers. Using these helpers at the right time can be the difference between winning and losing.

You win Switch & Signal immediately if during a turn the final goods are delivered to the port city.

Train Replacement Service

The game includes two maps, Europe and the USA, which have unique rules and helpers. In addition the game includes rules to make it an easier or harder experience and you can also play with several variants. The game feels primed for expansions such as new maps, helpers or even a different type of train and the rule book even makes reference to the fact that it includes more switch discs than needed as these are spares and may be used in later expansions.

Final Destination

This is a special game. The designer has somehow managed to bring fun and laughter to what can sometimes be a very dry subject of train movement. Every game I have played of this has had both stand up and laugh out loud moments and then almost immediately after a head scratching puzzle solving moment.

Once you understand the mechanisms in play it is an easy teach and it doesn’t really suffer with an Alpha Gamer problem that other cooperatives do. I have won some of my games and lost others (more losses than wins) but every game has been a great experience.

As the game progresses more and more trains are deployed and it can become quite chaotic but in a good way. Difficult decisions have to be made and although everyone discusses what they think should be done it is always the current active player that has the final say.

I’m not 100% sure why the game isn’t also considered a solo game as I could play this on my own without any changes to the rules and still have a great time trying to solve the ever increasing puzzle.

I can’t wait to show Switch & Signal to more people so they can ‘get on board’.

Zatu Score

Rating

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

You might like

  • Starts off easy but soon descends into chaos if you dont prepare
  • Clean graphical design means it is always easy to read the board from any angle
  • Clever time mechanism
  • Two maps with slightly different rules straight out of the box
  • The trains are adorable and even more so when they are carrying cargo

Might not like

  • When you cause trains to collide head on
  • Forgetting to set switches and signals before revealing a departure card