Review – Trains

A deck building game.

Title: Trains

Year Published: 2012

Designer: Hisashi Hayashi

Publisher: AEG

Players: 2-4

Game Time: 45+ Mins

Set-up Time: >5 Mins

Ages: 10+

Theme: Trains

Mechanic: Deck Building, Route Building

How to win: Score the most points.

Game Description

In the 19th century, shortly after the industrial revolution, railways quickly spread over the world. Japan, importing Western culture and eager to become one of the Grand Nations, saw the birth of many private railway companies and entered the Golden Age of railways. Eventually, as a result of the actions of powerful people and capitalists, many of these smaller companies gradually merged into larger ones. In Trains, the players are such capitalists, managing private railways companies and striving to become bigger and better than the competition.

Set Up

Put out the board, either side really. Both are slightly different but they do the same job. Each player takes the cubes of their colour and places one on 0 spot on the point track. Each players starting deck is made up of 7 Normal Train, 2 Lay Rails and 1 Station Expansion.

Trains Starting Hand

Building up the piles of stuff to buy from is the same as most deck builders. The stacks that are in every game are Express Train, Limited Express Train, Lay Rails, Station Expansion, Apartment, Tower, Skyscraper and of course the annoying pile of Waste.

Trains Standard Cards

Use 8 randomiser cards for the other 8 piles and put them out.

Each player shuffles and draws 5 cards then in turn order, players place one rail token on a city where no other player has been to give them a start.

Game Play

This is a straight forward deck builder where you can activate cards from your hand 1 at a time, and buy cards in any order.

Money (the number in the top left corner of a card) lets you buy cards from the stacks which has a cost in the top right.

As well as buying cards you’ll be laying rails. This means putting a cube (rail) on the board adjacent to your existing rail and only one rail per space per person. Depending on the terrain type and if the players are in that space, you may have to pay extra.

The Mizonokuchi is empty so a Lay Rails and a Normal train lets me extend into the city.

The Mizonokuchi is empty so a Lay Rails and a Normal train lets me extend into the city.

You might also want to play a station expansion on a city, a city can only have so many stations so the limits for each city are shown on the board.

Trains Building in a Full Space

This time the city has 2 stations and another player so it will cost me 4 to extend into the city, luckily I have a Limited Express Train

Some of these actions may need you to gain Waste which clogs up your deck. You can, if you want, skip your turn to remove all the waste you have in your hand from the game.

Put all cards you played and gained into your discard pile and draw 5 cards at the end of your turn. If you don’t have enough cards to draw in your deck yadda yadda deck building.

Game End

If 4 stacks empty (not including the waste pile) or all stations are placed or if a player uses of of their rail tokens, the game ends at the end of that turn.

Scoring involves counting points for each rail token in a city (depending on number of stations) or a remote location location. You get points for VP’s printed on cards you own.

Whoever has the most points wins. In the case of a tie, the player who has used the most rail tokens wins.

Round Up

One great thing about these simple deck builders is that turns are lightening quick. We play this with 4 players mostly and quite often you’ll still be shuffling your deck around form last turn  when it’s your turn again.

Deck builders we enjoy as a group that have these simple building mechanics include the DC Deck Building Game and Penny Arcade. There are other but these are the ones that come to mind that don’t have a more complex system like Marvel Legendary and Heroes of Metro City.

Trains is really no different in mechanics except for the board. In these games you’re going for points but in Trains you’re looking at maximising points too but also while watching your opponents, looking where they are going, seeing which city they build in and planning your route with that in mind.

It’s just simple, fun, fast and has plenty more options in comparison to other deck builders.


With so many Deck Building games, this is the one that has seen off the competition to be the one that lives in my collection*

I give this 7/10

*My friend has Marvel Legendary or I probably would have that instead of this.

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