It is 1942 and the 19:05 to Paris is armed with a bomb and hurtling towards its destination. Your mission is to identify the saboteur, throw them off and Stop the Train before it crashes.
Now the reason I set the scene before talking about Stop the Train! is because this game attempts to create an immersive experience. The creator is Brendan Mills and this experiential quality stems from his background as an escape room designer. Stop the Train! is a semi-co-operative tabletop game of social deduction, hidden roles and bluffing for 3-6 players. Intrigued? Let the journey commence…
Every player will be allocated a role with two secret missions to complete to win the game. The first is to Stop the Train! The second is character specific and reflects the unique skillset of one of the ten characters in the game. However, as mentioned, there is a saboteur in your midst who will be doing their best to not stop the train and see it crash at the end of its journey in the most spectacular fashion. Other players need to work out who they are and eject them from the carriage.
The game is played along a superb looking train track board that winds around the French countryside. The train chuffs along through tunnels and down hills before splitting in three and the game ramps up a bit more. Next is a bridge where, if the train stops on it, you can hold an emergency meeting. During this meeting you all chat about who the saboteur could possibly be. After a democratic vote eject them off the train in a very uncivilised fashion. You will then still be hurtling towards Paris and will still need to stop the train by exhausting the card deck.
Beside the ten character cards and player aids, each player will get three Interference cards at the start of the game - they get to choose two to keep. These will range from locking yourself in the toilet (to avoid being thrown off) to blocking a route for the train to travel along. These cards add safety nets and unpredictable chaos to the game.
The play is relatively straight forward. Each player will take it in turns to draw three cards, they will discard one and pass two on to the next player. The recipient will also discard one of these but then play the other. These cards will mostly dictate the speed of the train which is displayed on a speedometer. The cards you are passed and what cards are played is the only real way of establishing who the saboteur could be, thus the necessity to be semi-cooperative.
How it plays
You are possibly thinking it must be easy to work out who the saboteur is. They will be the only one trying to make the train speed up and crash. This is where the character cards are clever. For example, there is a Speedster who want the train to go fast to accomplish one of their objectives. There is a stuntman who wants to be thrown off the train and there is a MI6 agent who wants to keep the saboteur alive. All these different roles fog the vision and spreads doubt quicker than saying “I’m a villager” in One Night Ultimate Werewolf!
All players will be analysing every move. If you hold an emergency meeting to throw someone off the train, suddenly the tone changes. All players will be pleading innocence and trying to prove someone else might be the Saboteur. You might be letting other players know you have only been handed speed up cards all game from the player beside you. Alternatively, you might announce that you have been offered a variety of cards in defence of the player next to you. Then again, you could be lying! Either way, after that decision you still have to actually Stop the Train!
In terms of pick up and play, none of the gameplay will feel particularly alien to you. Passing the cards will be familiar to those who have played Sushi Go Party or 7 Wonders for example. While the mechanics have all been used before, they have been tinkered with. They all come together in a really comfortable way in Stop the Train!
Whether this game will be the immersive experience the game’s designer envisages will be largely down to you and your gaming group. Regardless of that, Stop the Train! delivers an excellent social deduction experience with superlative subterfuge, quick gameplay and high interaction. You will be pulling this game out of the cupboard to play after dinner with non-gamers and gamers alike and will be entertained from beginning to end.
Many British trains have inexcusable delays, but the departure of Stop the Train! onto Kickstarter had a more valid temporary delayed due to the uncertainty of the Covid-19 pandemic. It is now back on track and full steam ahead for its Kickstarter campaign on 19th May. If you back the project in the first three days you can also secure your early bird copy for a discounted price.
Still looking for more? Nick has also done a Q&A with the creators. Click here to check it out.