Board game reviews, strategy tips & session reports
No. of players: 2-4
Amount of time to play: 30-60 min
Age requirements: 12+
Set-up time: 5-10 min
Trains is a deck-building game with a board. You must buy cards to lay rails and expand your network to score VPs.
You start Trains with a deck of ten cards. After shuffling you draw five of them. On your turn you may spend income cards to buy more cards from the supply, play action cards or use cards place rails and stations on the board.
The cost to lay rails on the board depends on the terrain of the space you are building on. Some cards will let you place stations on specific board spaces too. Building rails into stations where your opponents have already built costs extra too.
When buying Victory Point cards, laying rails and placing stations you also gain waste. These cards do nothing but clog your deck. You can spend your turn to discard all the waste cards in your hand and some action cards also help you deal with your waste cards. But generally when you do something to gain VPs you gain waste too.
The game ends once four supply piles are empty, a player uses all their rails or all the stations have been placed. Then you add up your VPs on the board and the player with the most wins. The number of VPs you score per city is based on the number of stations there. Zero stations scores zero VPs, one station is two VPs, two stations are worth four VPs and three stations gains eight VPs.
Trains is a unique deck-builder. Your deck powers your area control on the map. It is fun and quick to play and teach.
The components for this game are very nice. The board and art look good and the cards are good quality. The rulebook is pretty good but I wish it had more examples of play. And as I said the board is nice but it would have been nice to have the terrain cost and scoring on the board.
I like that you cannot totally ignore the board. Some people have said you can play Trains like it was Dominion. But I tried that and failed. If you just try to build an efficient deck and then go after Victory Point cards you probably won’t win. It may be possible with the exact right set of cards but even then I doubt you can totally ignore the board.
I like how waste demands that you deal with it. You cannot just get a ton of waste in your deck and not do something about it. There are cards that let you discard waste. But gaining waste and how you manage it are an important part of the game.
I do like how this game adds a twist to the typical deck-building game, but I still would like to see this pushed further. Adding pick-up and delivery mechanics to Train seems like a no-brainer and would also add more depth and fun to the game. As it is right now I am not sure Trains can push Dominion off my table yet. I do see the potential and look forward to what develops in future expansions.
You should pick up Trains if you enjoy deck-builders but want to try one that is different. Of if you really like area control games and want to try one powered by deck-building. And even casual deck-building fans should give it a try. You might find it fits well in your collection.
Score and synopsis: (Click here for an explanation of these review categories.)
Strategy 4 out of 6
Luck 4 out of 6
Player Interaction 4 out of 6
Replay Value 5 out of 6
Complexity 3 out of 6
Fun 4 out of 6
Overall 4 out of 6