Level 99 Games continue to expand their World of Indines into new gaming genres as players now get to build train railways. Wait, another train game you say? Not so fast! There’s a clever twist here as you play captains of industry bringing the age of steam to a magical world.
In Empyreal: Spells and Steam you build railways to connect magical resources to your network, then supply them to cities around the world. Each magical resource you harvest enables new technological developments which improve your capabilities. Players also need to fulfill contracts which build up your infrastructure and lead to new company-specific powers once completed. You compete for mana mined from the land to enable construction of more train lines.
The game design has been completed and the publisher is currently working on components and graphic design. Artist Fábio Fontes has put together 8 train cars, roughly one inch in length, to represent the 8 playable companies. Each company has their own disposition and powers.
You can view concept sketches of these train cars on the Level 99 Games website.
Roll and write games are starting to gain in popularity it seems, as more and more games with that type of mechanic are released like Dice Stars, La Granja No Siesta, and even OctoDice. So Flatlined Games is trying their hand at it by creating a roll and write, pick up and deliver train game called SteamRollers. Like the mechanic name suggests, the active player will roll dice, and on your turn you draft a die to use the value to mark something on your board. The different options include drawing track, delivering a good from the central board, increasing the power of your engine, or taking an action tile. Where these things can happen and what you can draw are determined by the dice that you roll, the white dice giving you numbers and the black die a track shape. The action tiles you acquire give you different options to further manipulate the dice, mess with your opponents by taking dice from them, or giving you an additional action. Delivering goods gets you points, connecting towns gets you points, upgrading your engine gets you points, and action tiles you have may give or take away points. At the end the person with the most points is the winner.
This game seeks to bring a fresh take on roll and write by bringing it into the pick up and deliver train game genre, and I think they accomplish that. The art, while sparse, looks good and has a clean design to it that makes things easy to read. If you want to know more about the game, or back for your own copy, head on over to their Kickstarter page.
Rio Grande Games is releasing Orient Express by Jeff and Carla Horger, the sequel to the popular 2015 train game 20th Century Limited. In Orient Express, 2-5 players grow and develop train lines, connecting cities during the European railroad boom. The problem is that as you cover more ground, governments will notice your rail lines, and at a certain point will purchase and nationalize them. You will be rewarded, but you will need to start over from scratch. Victory comes to those that can best balance private and public demands.
Orient Express is expected to release in April 2017.
First Class, the popular 2016 European release by Helmut Ohley (Russian Railroads, Trahmbahn), is being brought to the U.S. by Z-Man Games. In First Class, 2-4 players develop a pair of train lines from humble beginnings into true luxury, rivaling even the great Orient Express. Players choose from 18 action cards each turn to grow their train, and use cards to visually represent the cars. Additionally players have a conductor meeple they need to efficiently move through the cars, and players can add destinations and customers to the train line. Additional play modules and depth and theme, with a murder mystery module even adding hidden roles.
For more information, read Z-Man Games’ press release here.
Bezier Games has announced their newest game, Whistle Stop, by designer Scott Caputo (Kachina, Voluspa). In 1869, the driving of the golden spike sparked the start of the great railroad expansion in the U.S. In Whistle Stop, players build train routes west across the U.S., picking up goods and selling to small towns along the way. In exchange for goods, players gain shares in the railroads, or can hold the goods for bigger payoffs when they reach the west coast.
Players will need to optimize their actions, possibly gain new actions, block the other players and lay new tracks while managing their limited coal resources. The Game includes game board, 5 player boards, town tiles, coal, gold and whistle tokens, 60 resource cubes, 25 wooden trains, railroad shares, and upgrade cards. Whistle Stop supports 2-5 players and plays in just over hour, and will be released August 2017 at Gen Con. Pre-orders will be available at Bezier Games.
Days of Wonder has just announced a new entry in the younger kid focused Ticket to Ride series, and that’s Ticket to Ride: First Journey. This may seem like I am repeating old news, but in fact there is a new version of the game with the exact same name, but instead of the USA you are traveling around Europe. Like the original it will feature a simplified board along with large landmarks to mark each of the cities, making destination finding easier. The train cards will feature all new whimsical illustrations as well as similar bonus point possibilities. So if you enjoyed the first entry with your kids, then you might want to pick up this new edition as well.
There is one catch though, this version is meant for the European market, so readers in Europe can find it on store shelves come March/April. But I have no doubt it will eventually make it to the American shores, hopefully with an updated name. You can read more about this new edition on the Days of Wonder website.
Terra Nova Games has just announced their next game, Trick of the Rails, which will be designed by Hisashi Hayashi who is known for games like Trains, Sail to India, Lost Legacy, Rolling Japan, and String Railway. Trick of the Rails will be a mashup of 18XX style portfolio management and trick taking and will be played in alternating rounds of stock and operations. In the stock round players will play the trick taking part and play down stock cards and the ones that you obtain become shares in that company. Then in the operations round those shares allow you to build out the route network of that company, thus making it more valuable. But you have to be careful, while the shares are worth money the trains cost money, so building out your routes carelessly could cost you more than you make. At the end of the game the winner is simply a matter of finding out who has the most value in their portfolio.
The game will be launched on Kickstarter in the near future, although no hard date is given, and if you are attending any of the following events you can see the folks at Terra Nova Games for a demo.
- ACD Games Day
- Denver Comic Con
- Origins Game Fair
- Gen Con
See below for the full press release.
Terra Nova Games Announces “TRICK OF THE RAILS” by Hisashi Hayashi
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Denver, CO – April 26, 2016
Terra Nova Games is proud to announce their fourth game release, Trick of the Rails, designed by Hisashi Hayashi. Trick of the Rails, based on the rise of the American railway period, is a unique card game combining 18XX-like portfolio management and trick-taking. Some of Hisashi’s other notable designs are Trains, Sail to India, Lost Legacy, Rolling Japan, and String Railway.
In Trick of the Rails, players collect stock certificates and make the companies more valuable by laying the rail network. The game alternates between stock rounds and operating rounds. In stock rounds, the cards played become shares for the players. In operating rounds, the cards played become track for the companies. The companies get trains, which determine how many track cards they can count for their profit (the trains have costs as well, which may lead to companies not making any profit at all) and in the end, players simply count the value of their shares and highest value wins.
Terra Nova Games is extremely excited to work with Okazu and Japon Brand, and they plan to overhaul the art and graphic design when they bring the English version of this license to the American market.
Trick of the Rails will be launching on Kickstarter soon and will be available for demonstration at these upcoming events:
- ACD Games Day
- Denver Comic Con
- Origins Game Fair
- Gen Con
About Terra Nova Games:
Based in Austin, TX and Denver, CO, Terra Nova Games is a boardgame design and publishing company that was established in February of 2013 as an outlet to share their passion for the hobby with others. Terra Nova Games strives to bring people together in person, to use games as a means of socializing and strategizing around a table of friends. They’ve had three successful Kickstarter campaigns for their previous releases, “Far Space Foundry”, “Ophir”, and “Guile”.
Justin Schaffer, President
Days of Wonder announced that their incredibly popular digital version of Ticket to Ride has been overhauled from the ground up to accommodate a mess of features. The new version is a free update to everyone who has bought the digital game before, or available on IOS, Android, and Steam.
“In addition to the exciting cross-platform asynchronous multiplayer mode, players will enjoy an intuitive user interface, new social media capabilities to share exciting moments, and fresh content such as the Indian map, the first vertical map to be available on Ticket to Ride digital.”
As a fan of Ticket to Ride and it’s digital installment, this is very good news – It is evidence that refinement of the game has not been neglected. With asynchronous multiplayer, sharing a game with friends from incredible distances or varying degrees of involvement is much more pleasant and reinforces casual play. The user interface now adapts to orientation and personal preference better, which is essential nowadays with how fast we juggle mobile devices. Plus, there’s more maps, and anyone who loves Ticket to Ride, physical or digital, always welcomes more maps. Overall, good stuff!
So if you don’t already own the game, I do recommend it if you’re a fan of the franchise, and it’s available on pretty much everything and even better than before.
In The Last Spike, a new game from Tom Dalgliesh of Columbia Games, players cooperate to build a continuous railroad from St. Louis to Sacramento while competing to accumulate the most money from land speculation. The game is actually based on a game they published in Canada in 1975, with updates for faster and more skillful play.
The game is fast paced. You must act quickly to grab the best land, but you also need to give your competitors a helping hand now and then so the railway gets built where you want it to go. Quick to learn, the game is great fun for both kids and adults.
The game consists of the railway track and property deeds. Each player has railway tiles that correspond to a unique space on the map. Each turn, players must play a tile by paying its cost. There are nine towns on the map that the railway can pass through, each with five property deeds. When a player builds the first track on a route between two towns, he receives a free deed (the other deeds cost money). When two towns are connected by a railway, all property owners get paid. Once St. Louis and Sacramento are connected, the game ends and whoever has the most cash wins!
The game, scheduled to release in September 2015, will ship anywhere in the world, and it is EU friendly – there will be no extra customs charges for shipping in the EU.
If you’re interested in this fast-paced railway game, check out the Kickstarter for The Last Spike.
Trambahn (from designer Helmut Ohley and publisher Lookout Games), a 2-player route building game set in 19th century Munich, is coming out this summer.
In Trambahn, two players are expanding the new tramway with new routes, stations, and trains. The game contains cards with historical images that can be used for multiple functions – players can play them as passengers, routes, or use them for money. In the end, there can only be one successful tramway company.
This will be a quick, easy two player game. If you like the idea of a railroad game without the complication of an 18XX train game, then keep a lookout for Trambahn this summer!
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