It’s week three of my solo series and this time I am going to be twisting things up!
Twisty Tracks is designed by Jeffrey D Allers and published by Rio Grande Games. I must confess to being a bit of a train game fan-girl. I don’t know why. I’m not a train spotter. I don’t go on the train that much anymore (goodbye horrendous London Underground commute!). But there’s something systematically satisfying about them. Well, most of them……..
Twisty Tracks says it all in the title. It’s a tile laying, puzzle game which, in multiplayer mode, focuses a lot on the race. It’s a dash to get trains to stations before anyone else for maximum points. Why? Why? Because each player has their own set of tiles in which to build their network, but stations are common goals. And they have diminishing values, so the first player to park their train at a given station will score more than those arriving later. In fact, some may not score at all if they take too long! But, in TWISTY TRACKS MP mode, shooting for the stations has to be balanced out. The destination, you see, is is almost as important as the journey to get there. Each tile one of your trains pass over on its way to a station will score a VP too! Once a train is parked up (or if it collides with another train on a track!), it's out of the game, so you want to simultaneously loop those lines but also reach those stations!
Solo mode plays slightly differently. I’m randomly drawing a tile from my stack of chunky cardboard squares and placing it in my grid. But there’s no race. All the stations are available to me in my game because there is no AI or automa messing with my board or tiles. But targeting the highest point ones becomes the challenge. It is the definition of an anti-efficiency puzzle! By that I mean the key to maximising my BYOS score is to delay reaching the stations with my four trains until the last few tiles go down so that on the last tile placement each one makes the twistiest, most convoluted (collision free!) path to get to its point-tastic finishing position! There’s also the same risk of collision which would eliminate a train from my tracks.
The components are nice chunky cardboard – the tiles, the frames, and the score board/stations board. And the four sets each have a different colour scheme/theme (and playing solo I always get to choose blue!). I do enjoy the solo puzzle in Twisty Tracks. It’s light, it’s puzzly, and I like how my score is effectively decided by the last few tiles going down. Until then, it’s a case of my addled brain trying to keep track of where all these twists and turns could lead my four little engines-that-wanted-to-and-probably-could-if-I-wasn’t-in-charge! haha Overall, however, I think I prefer the multiplayer mode, and play this more with 2 or 3 than just on my own. The race to be first to the stations is a fun and engaging trade-off against doing loop de loops on the tracks, and those decision dilemmas keep the game tense in a great way.