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Awards

Rating

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

You Might Like

  • A lot of game for a small price / box
  • Good decisions to be made every turn
  • Satisfying to finish two lines at the same time as well as scoring maximum points from the trip cards
  • Terminus cards giving money even when you don’t achieve the requirements means that money starts to flow well from the middle of the game onwards
  • Everyone has equal turns and will finish their tableau

Might Not Like

  • Difficult to get money at the beginning of the game making drafting your ideal card harder
  • Only interaction between players is the drafting
  • No Solo mode
  • Some of the icons can be hard to see
  • Could do with scoring objectives for players to compete for
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Village Rails Review

Village Rails

What happens if you get two of the best game designers and combine them with a publisher who knows how to produce a small, cheap but excellent quality game? The answer is Village Rails.

Osprey Games published Village Green in 2020 by designer Peer Sylvester and it was an instant hit with me due to its clever tableau building and multiple ways of scoring, so I was very excited when I learned they had teamed up with Matthew Dunstan & Brett J Gilbert (two of my favourite designers) for the unofficial sequel.

Stay On Track

This game takes you back to the glory years of steam railways and it is your job to score the most points by completing seven lines in a three by four grid of cards.

You take turns drafting railway cards twelve times in total. When taking a railway card you can take the bottom card for free but if you want any cards higher up the track you have to place a coin on each preceding card. This is fine as the game progresses but can be a little stifling at the beginning as you only start with five coins. You then place the railway card in your tableau either next to the border of your grid or orthogonally next to a previously placed card. Of course if you draft a card with a coin you immediately add that coin to your purse.

In addition to the railway card you can also draft a trip card (the Village Rails points card). To do so you must pay three coins and then you can take the bottom card for free. Once again if you wish to take any cards higher up the track you must place a coin on each preceding card. You then place this trip card at the beginning of one of your seven uncompleted lines around the outside of the border. Each line can hold two trip cards so in theory it could be possible to place fourteen cards, but this is very unlikely as it would be unusual to have enough money.

When drafting either type of card you move the ones above to replace it and then add new cards to the top of the track. This is another game that uses both sides of the cards (one side is the tracks the other is the trips) and I wish more publishers did the same.

Once you complete a line (as soon the line reaches the outside of your three by four grid) you score that lines features, then the trip cards at the start of the line and then you use one of your terminus cards to gain income. Completing a line early with only a few points is a good way of generating income which will in turn help you to buy more trip cards.

Scores are tallied on scoring dials which are well produced and add to the overall charm of the game.

All Aboard

When playing Village Rails, each railway card has two lines crossing either from left to right & top to bottom or from the top to the right & left to the bottom. They come in five different environments (field, forest, lake, pasture, village) and they will include at least one of these features on one of the lines (Barns, Farm, Halt, Signals, Sidings). As you complete a line you will firstly score for features on the line such as a barn with the village icon in it (this scores for each card on the line that is the village terrain type as well as the border space if this was also a village). The halts provide a one time points bonus, the farms score for each type of terrain on a line and signals score depending on how many were on the line. Sidings are scored at the end of the game. To keep track of all of these scoring opportunities the game includes a double sided player aid.

Then if the line had any trip cards associated to it you would score them. They offer scoring opportunities for having other lines already completed, the types of terrain on the line, the types of features on the line, scoring farms etc a second time and lots of other interesting ways. These cards also have lovely illustrations of steam locomotives and will give train enthusiasts a real joy to look at them.

Which Terminus Do I Need

After scoring your line you choose one of your three terminus cards and place this at the start of the line (removing any scored trip cards and placing them on the bottom of the deck). You then gain money based on how well you achieved the requirements. The big bonus with these cards is they are always worth at least three coins even if you didn’t meet any of the requirements. You then take a new terminus card into hand so that you always have three.

These cards combined with the ever growing tableau give a feeling of engine buildings as the game progresses which really helps with your drafting choices towards the end of the game.

Once all Village Rails players have placed their twelfth railway card final scoring can commence with the sidings and one point per three coins. The player with the most points wins and in the event of a tie the player with the most money wins.

Final Destination

I normally love collaborations between Matthew Dunstan & Brett J Gilbert and this is no exception. Together they have created a very clever, thinky but at the same time simple tableau game which has a lovely theme and lots of replayability. Osprey Games have made the cards small and the components fairly basic but that has kept the costs lower and it all fits into a compact box.

I would have liked some objective scoring to aim for as the only real player interaction comes from the drafting. In addition a Solo Mode would have been nice as it feels like it would be easy to integrate.

The artwork by Joanna Rosa (also the artist on Village Green) is very pleasant and takes you back to a time when life was simpler. Due to the card size some players struggled to see the icons for the terrain and got confused when scoring a line about which line a feature is on but with closer inspection it all got worked out.

Village Rails fits really well in my collection alongside Village Green and will probably be added to my double header games night when we play games that are on the same ‘line’.

Zatu Score

Rating

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

You might like

  • A lot of game for a small price / box
  • Good decisions to be made every turn
  • Satisfying to finish two lines at the same time as well as scoring maximum points from the trip cards
  • Terminus cards giving money even when you dont achieve the requirements means that money starts to flow well from the middle of the game onwards
  • Everyone has equal turns and will finish their tableau

Might not like

  • Difficult to get money at the beginning of the game making drafting your ideal card harder
  • Only interaction between players is the drafting
  • No Solo mode
  • Some of the icons can be hard to see
  • Could do with scoring objectives for players to compete for

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