Train insertion sort

Day by day the weather improves, encouraging us to hit the road. Because it is always good idea to have a board game by your side, today I will give you my suggestion about what game to place in your backpack – Game of Trains.

Alexey Konnov, Alexey Paltsev and Anatoliy Shklyarov are creators of this game, published in 2015 by Brain Games. Graphic design and illustrations were made by Reinis Pētersons. The game is a reimplementation of earlier published Wonderful Tower, made by same authors.

In a small, fit to components box you will find 4 locomotive cards, 84 wagon cards and 3 multi-language flyers with rules. Cards are standard quality and they should withstand most hardships of playing in the field. You can always sleeve them so they could last longer, but then it will need some alternative tuckbox to carry them. Illustrations are really good, consistent cards look in warm tones with small addition of steampunk feel are dressed up in clear to read icons and cloud shaped numbers.

Beside the wordplay in game title (Game of Trains – Game of Thrones) and Iron Throne under the tarpaulin, we can find many other references to G.R.R. Martin novels and other pop culture icons i.e. Delorean or K.I.T.T. which is very nice gesture toward people loving easter eggs. With this and the nice appearance Game of Trains tries to bring some connection between visuals and theme, where many other filler games are just plain abstract.

The theme itself is abstract, if you relate it strictly to game mechanics, because this game is about selection and placement of railway wagons in a particular order. In essence, group of two to four people need to place their set of cards in ascending order. Each player starts with 7 random cards placed in descending order from left to right. In each turn, players will have opportunity to draw a random card and replace one of their own with it, or to use one of available for everyone cards as an action. When we are placing a drawn card in our collection we are using numbers on that card, card that was pushed out from our set is now placed in action card set. When we are using cards available as an action, we are using only its icon and discard it after use. In range of actions letting us rearrange our set are:

  • swapping two adjacent cards
  • swapping cards that have 1 card between them
  • moving one card two spaces to the right or left
  • removing leftmost, rightmost or middle card from set of each player
  • protecting one of endangered by removal cards

At any time, if there are two cards with the same icon in action cards set, they are immediately discarded.

Game of Trains is simple, light and fun. Even with low level of interaction and significant random factor, it lets to rack one’s brain, but doesn’t force you to do it. You need to watch what you give as an action to other players, sometimes it is better to use action card that isn’t best for us but was vital for someone else, and sometimes it’s good to focus on drawing random cards, counting on your luck for drawing needed numbers.

You can teach it in 3 minutes, game can take from 5 to 20 minutes. In essence it is a filler game, where you can feel slight inspiration from games like Zero or 6 Takes, but it is lighter and faster than them. Game of Trains will work as a fun, time spending game you can use in between classes or lunch break, as well it can land on the pub table or take its place in backpack because you can easily play it while in travel i.e. by train – you only need to have with you a large pizza in a box to feed yourself and to have improvised table for you and your fellow gamers railway. In my opinion this game is rather for sunday gamers, or as an entry point for people who haven’t yet entered the wonderful world of board games. Board gaming old timers can use it as a fast, fun filler while the fifth player sets up Twilight Imperium or Arkham Horror on a side.

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