Gameday First Play – Trans America

Posted on by Jesta

“The United States as we know it today is largely the result of mechanical inventions, and in particular of agricultural machinery and the railroad.”

~ John Moody

Trans America is a very simple railway game. Each player has a set of 5 cities strung across the US that need to be connected by rail. Players place either 1 or 2 rails each turn. The game ends when the first player completes a connected route between his 5 cities. The player who can make the best use of the other players’ networks is generally victorious.

Well, that’s the game, my work is done 🙂

The board is set up with the different cities with the North, South, East, West and Central areas in a different colour for each. Each of these sets of cities has a deck of cards and each player will end up with one of each city, secret from the other players.

Trans America Cards

How this happens was a point of great controversy around the table 🙂 Random draw or draft? We drafted, so we could try and craft a ‘better’ route, maybe this is less random than just dealing them out. Where the difference of 1 ‘stick’ is the difference between winning and losing it should really be up to you to make that happen…

So this is a very simple game, starting with the first player you take turns placing a station (at least I think it’s a station) of your colour. Then you go around the table placing 1 or 2 tracks anywhere on the board as long as a ‘legal’ route can be tracked back to your station at all times.

Trans America Playing Pieces

As players play tracks you’ll end up connecting to other players routes. You can piggy-back off them and add onto their track, but again you need to be able to track a route back to your station.

As you can see, some tracks over mountains, water etc have double lines so these count as using 2 pieces, or one turn…

A good part of the game is from the ‘Vexation’ expansion where you have track pieces in your colour…

Trans America Board

You have 3 at the start of the game and you can place these instead of a generic black piece. Only you can can use these bits when building a route so you can try and place them to cut people off.

Once a player has finish their route the game ends. You lose/gain points (can’t remember which way it is) for each track piece you are short of finishing your route… After 3 rounds, most/least points (depending if you gain or lose them) wins.

Firstly, ending the game when one player finishes their route is pretty poor. The player that won was second in turn order but 3rd and 4th would also have finished if we there were even turns.

But, as simple as the game is it’s pretty fun. It’s like Ticket to Ride without the scoring and card drafting. The addition of that little expansion seems quite important and for 3 little wooden bits it adds a lot.

I only had time to play one round before having to get my bus but still, good fun and I’m looking forward to trying a full game one day.

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