Game of Trains, designed by Alexey Konnov, Alexey Paltsev, and Anatoliy Shklyarov and produced by Brain Games (Om Nom Nom, Voila!), is a deceptively simple game. Within this small box is naught by a deck of cards, numbered 1 – 88, and starting cards for each of the four players. Your goal in Game of Trains is to arrange your train cars in ascending numerical order, which is complicated by the fact that your 7-card train will always start with its cars in descending numerical order.
Andrew: …Because…you…Uh…Because that’s not how…trains…do?
Anyway, merciless applications of logic aside, Game of Trains is a sublimely simple game. On your turn, you will either draw a card from the deck, adding it anywhere into your train by replacing one car (and discarding the replaced car face-up into the center area), or you will claim one of the face-up cards in the center, not for its value, but for its special icon.
Andrew: See, each card in Game of Trains has one of six icons, each of which helps you manipulate the cards in your train.
The symbols are:
- Swap 2 adjacent cards
- Swap 2 cards exactly one card apart (leaving the center card as-is)
- Move a card exactly 2 spaces left
- Move a card exactly 2 spaces right
- Lock a card from being removed
- Cause everyone to remove the first, middle, or last card in their train, replaced with a card drawn from the deck (this card can’t affect any card that has been locked by the previous one)
Andrew: And that’s it. Each turn, you will either activate an ability or draw a card and swap it into your train, turning the card you discard into a symbol that can be activated on any subsequent turn. First player who gets their train in order wins.
Andrew: Absolutely. It’s totally abstract, of course, just a card-manipulation race, but the art by Reinis Petersons is just fantastic, and there are about a dozen subtle cameos and references, ranging from the A-Team to Game of Thrones hidden amidst the cards.
We think Game of Trains is fantastic. If you’ve got room in your collection for an abstract little filler with absolutely awesome art, then you should totally check it out!
(Thanks to Brain Games for providing us with a review copy. Their generosity didn’t influence our review)