Australian Rails

Australian Rails

From:  Mayfair Games

Reviewed by:  Ron McClung

Australian Rails is a new crayon-based rail road board game from Mayfair Games.

I will tell you up front – I have not played rail road games.  I probably have not given them their fair chance, but they just do not appeal to me.  I took the opportunity of reviewing Australian Rails to really see what the allure of these games is.

Australian Rails is a stand-alone game from the Empire Builder line of games. It contains:

  • 1 puzzle-cut gameboard
  • 100 load chips
  • 1 sheet of load labels
  • 2 decks of cards which include – 138 demand cards, 18 event cards and 12 locomotive cards
  • 6 wipe-off crayons
  • 6 pawns
  • 1 pack of money
  • 1 rulebook

The cards and the board are well made and very sturdy.  It is a high quality game.

From the web site:

“Rail fans can experience the thrills of owning, building, and operating railroads in the land down under!”

The game involves drawing with wipe-off crayon rail routes between mile posts on a very detailed and realistic map of Australia.  Based on terrain, building a rail costs a certain amount of money. You have Demand cards that tell you what is in demand and where, and a chart in the rulebook for where these items can be picked up. You start out with a fixed amount of money, spend 3 turns making railroads, and after that, you make money by fulfilling the Demand cards and taking in the payoff.  There are more than 100 cards and 45 different cities, so the replayability factor of this game is fairly high.

The “spice of life” in this game is the Event cards, primarily.  They can turn up at any time and cause all kinds of problems to people.  These include dangerous sandstorms and flooding dry-river-beds.  The cities are fairly spread out and the Major Cities are all along the coast, making start up a little tough.  Unless you have the right combination of cards, starting your rail can be a challenge at first.  But there are several high payoff cards in the stack that once you get them, you gradually get out of the red and into the black of profit for your railroad.

Having not played any type of game like this, my wife and I struggled at first to really get a feel for the strategy.  Also, not knowing the layout of Australia tends to slow the game down a little in the beginning.  You spend a lot of time searching for the city names and the products you need to pick up.  However, that is to be expected, I suppose.

Play was fairly fast for a two player basic game.  The rule book even supplies other rules for even faster play and “Honeymoon” games (games of 2 players), which we did not take advantage of.  Play proceeds in two basic phases – Operation and Build.  In the Build phase you can build your rails or upgrade your engine.  There are four levels of upgrades.  There are two differentiating stats of a train engine – load capacity and speed.

From the website:

“Explore the outback, build your rail empire across mountains and deserts to build a fortune.”

In conclusion, although still not a fan of these type of games, I truly do see the allure of them.  I also see why it is a separate breed of gamer that plays them.  It challenges your thinking and your mathematic skills as well as your problem solving skills differently.  Not being all that familiar with the other Empire Builder games of this line, all I can say is that this was a good rail game from my perspective. It probably is a good starter for someone to get into the railroad gaming genre because it is not too complicated, does not have too many special rules, and is fairly fast in play.

For more details on Mayfair Games and their new rail road board game “Australian Rails,” check them out at their website and at all of your local game stores.

Australian Rails

From:Mayfair Games

Type of Game:rail road board game

Rules Written by:Larry Roznai, William Niebling

Game Design by:Larry Roznai

Cover Art by:Drew Perkett

Number of Pages:12

Game Components Included: 1 puzzle-cut gameboard, 100 load chips, 1 sheet of load labels, 138 demand cards, 18 event cards, 12 locomotive cards, 6 wipe-off crayons, 6 pawns, 1 pack of money, 1 rulebook

Retail Price:$ 38.00 (US)

Number of Players:2-6

Player Ages:12+

Play Time:45 to 60 minutes

Item Number:4502

Reviewed by: Ron McClung