JunaCon (“TrainCon”) in Turku was an efficient little con. I had booked a group of players willing to try anything, and we blazed through a pile of Winsome clamshells.
Robber Barons is a family game with serious user interface issues, but if you can live with them, it’s actually pretty neat. I quite liked it. There’s a tension between building to high-scoring locations to score points with route cards and developing your network. Five players is probably too much for this, I’d love to try this with just three or four. Suggest
Texas & Pacific I had played before. It’s a clean little version of the Wabash Cannonball hex-cubes-and-shares railroad game. It plays fast, but offers relatively little extra, I think. Nice, but… Suggest
New York Central is a quick but confusing card game. After the first game it’ll click. I’ll have to play this one more, as it was quite interesting. Players collect shares to gain majorities in railroads in order to score passenger runs. Accepting a passenger run to score points means a loss of shares, though, and there’s an end game scoring based on share majorities. It’s pleasantly complicated. Suggest
Australian Railways is one of the Age of Steam predecessors I hadn’t yet tried. It was fun. I like these relatives of Volldampf, as the need to use rails owned by your opponents spices up the game. The Australian variant has an interesting government railroad and nice organic track growth, which means the tracks will be usable from the get go. I liked this enough to print out the Peter Mumford redraw of the map. Suggest
South African Railroads is an old, familiar game, but one I always like to play. It’s definitely one of the better Winsome train games. It plays reasonably fast, yet offers lots of drama and punch. The end game scoring is interesting. Suggest
Rolling Freight was not a Winsome. It’s a train game from APE Games. I considered Kickstarting it, but didn’t, because it was too expensive and too long. Now that I tried it, I’m glad I didn’t, because it is too long for what it is. It has some good ideas, but somehow the whole thing didn’t quite click for me. The game also doesn’t look particularly good (which is kind of funny thing to say after playing a bunch of Winsome titles, but anyway). Indifferent
The Thursday before JunaCon we played Kings of Air and Steam, a Kickstarter project that finally arrived. It’s a pickup-and-delivery game, where you program your airship to pickup goods from factories to unload them to railroad depots, then you deliver from depots to cities with demand. There’s plenty of timing involved, and with the programming element it gets deliciously tricky, especially if you wish to have a plan B in case plan A falls through. Squeezing in a plan C is probably impossible… Not bad, not bad at all. The game scales from 2–7, which is interesting. Suggest