Trick of the Rails

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Rating Summary (13 Total)


GAMEPLAY The design conceit for Trick of the Rails was to make an 18XX-esque trick-taking game. Not having played an 18XX game, I can’t speak to whether it succeeds, but it does have both track-laying and stock manipulation, much like other train games. In this card game, the winner of each trick is vying for either a share or track. In share tricks, the winner gets the share on offer while the losers get the cards they played as shares. In track tricks, the winner gets to add a valuable city to a track or add an engine, depending on what’s on offer that round, while the losers add the cards they played to the appropriate railroad company tracks. Each card has a track value that increases how much one share is worth at the end of the game. However, engines determine two things. First, they determine how many consecutive track cards get summed for the profits. The three engine once placed, for example, dictates that the profit of that railroad company is the sum of the three highest valued consecutive track cards. Second, the engine has a red number which is the operations cost, and this number is subtracted from the profits to give players the value of one share in that railroad. Play continues until all share and track cards have been won. The player who ends up with the highest value in shares wins the game. THOUGHTS On first blush, Trick of the Rails seems to buck all of the elements of what a trick-taker is supposed to be. New players, and even ones who are old hands at trick-takers, often find the game opaque, struggling to see what constitutes a smart play and what they should value during the game. With repeated plays, I realized that, with each trick, your actions set you down a course that help you craft your strategy. Trick of the Rails is not for everyone but it blossoms into a meaty game if you are willing to stick with it. This game went from one I was considering trading or selling to one of the best card games in my collection. The game is best at three as players have the most control possible; at four, the game is a maybe; and, at five, I would just suggest playing something else. POSITIVES -A trick-taking game that is unlike any other trick-taker I’ve played. -A lot of depth in gameplay, which is something players will typically only arrive at with repeated plays. -Although the game is deep and can be opaque, it plays quickly, around 20 minutes give or take, so it is not difficult to explore strategies. NEUTRALS -Opaque to the point of putting some people off but the game has a lot of a-ha! moments if players stick with it. -Card art is bland but clean and functional. CONS -Card quality is flimsy and there is no linen finish.


Sadly Peter doesn't like it, but I do. It took me a few plays to really get a feel for it, and I still don't have a strategy.


A decent gateway game for your friends or family who love Hearts, Euchre, Spades, or Bridge. Despite the thematic similarities, this is [i]not[/i] a train game. Train gamers who get this game thinking it is will likely be disappointed. Trade Condition Notes: Excellent condition