Monday, December 30, 2013

Settlers of America: Trails to Rails

Not a picture from our game
Right before Christmas, we visited my wife's cousins for a couple days, and we played Settlers of America: Trails to Rails, and shockingly I won!  We played with the maximum of four players on the default map, and all players were seasoned Catan veterans.

Trails to Rails is an interesting variant of the regular Settlers of Catan, wherein you have a fixed USA map, and have to spread across it and build a rail network to win. It introduces gold, settlers, trains, resource depletion, and a few other changes to the basic game to make it more thematic (and challenging).  Aside from changing the victory requirements from abstract points gained in a few different ways to delivery of fixed numbers of goods, the game also removes victory points gained from cards, which reduces the number of ways to win the game; you must deliver the correct number of goods.

The reduction in victory routes is somewhat of a drawback, and another is that the game is somewhat slower (partly due to being a larger map) particularly in the middle section of the game where every turn is "more of the same".  It took over 3 hours to play our first game, and we figured that it would not have been much faster for a second run though.  Coupled with the 3-4 game players, it may mean that this games does not get at much rotation as it might otherwise.  It was fun though, and felt more "strategic" as the rail race aspect meant that we were looking across the map to see which western territories would be key.

We also got a game and a half of 7 Wonders in, one where I was trounced, and one where we had to pick the game up after the first round.  Still an interesting game, and we gave it to the cousins for Christmas, so I am sure to never win again...

No comments: