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RECEIVED: 2018 (Present 2nd Hand) GAMEPLAY Usually I start with, “In this game, players are…” to set the scene a bit, but Mini Rails doesn’t have time for your prurient thematic curiosities. This is a train game distilled down its simplest possible form imaginable. On the track board, one line is filled with discs representing either shares or rail and the other line is filled with player pawns, two for each player. Going from left to right, players take their pawns and choose one disc to either bring on to their personal share board or to lay track of that color. When a player lays track, they either put the track disc on a location with red dots, meaning everyone who has shares in that train moves their share disc down the same number as dots, or with white dots, meaning that those share discs move up. Each round players must make one share action and one track action. At the end of the round, one disc will be left over and this disc color indicates that this rail has paid its taxes. (As my friend quipped, “Who made this game?! The ‘Merican government?”) After six rounds, any rail that has paid its taxes will score its positive points and discard its negative points, and vice versa for any rail that has not paid its taxes. THOUGHTS Mini Rails has sooo much to recommend it! First off, it’s a Euro game that actually comes in an appropriately sized box. (I suppose there wasn’t much choice as it is called Mini Rails.) You could even find a way to fit into something smaller if you wanted even greater portability. Second, it’s easy to teach: the only places where I’ve come up against even a little confusion is how the taxation works and that’s only because I was teaching it to non-gamers. Third, the design, while minimal is lovely to look at. They could have made the tiles abstracted colors but, instead, the artistic direction includes fields, lakes, and buildings all done in miniature so as not to distract from gameplay but rather enhance it. Finally, this game is all about player interaction built on the two actions of taking shares and laying rail. It provides a very enjoyable puzzle of timing, shared incentives, and kicking your opponent in the shins by laying track and not letting their rails get taxed. PROS -Plays quickly yet a lot to chew on. -Great player interaction through the shared incentives of holding stock in a rail and through knocking down opponents’ stocks through laying track and removing the ability for their rail to get taxed. -Lovely art direction helps enhance on otherwise dry game. CONS -The discs are a bit smaller than I would have preferred. Shelling multiple discs onto the round track is a bit of a pain but not a deal breaker. -The puzzle pieces are thin and fragile. Would have been nice if the cardboard had been a bit thicker.