Friday 29 April 2022



The Game

Cafe is a game about planting, processing and selling coffee, and it is primarily a card game. It is a light medium weight game which works for players new to boardgames. 

Every player gets to build his own little coffee empire. You start with one card, and every round you will add one more to your empire. Every card has six segments, and when you add a card, you must cover 2 to 4 segments. The game is played over 8 rounds, which means by the end of the game you will have 9 cards in your play area. On your turn you always have 3 options to pick from. After picking a card and placing it, you perform actions. In the beginning you only have 1 action on your turn. When you add more coffee cups to your empire, your actions per turn increase accordingly. In the example above, I have four actions per turn. 

Every player has his own warehouse card. The white cube indicates the number of actions you may perform every turn. The smaller coffee cubes at the bottom are your stockpile of coffee. Coffee in your warehouse scores points at game end. The colour with the fewest cubes scores 2 points per cube. The second lowest colour scores 1 point per cube. There is no point having many cubes in just one or two colours. It doesn't help much in scoring. 

4 players is the highest player count. The game does take up some space at the table. When we played, there were a few times we ran out of space and needed to carefully shift our piles of cards to make space without messing up our empires. 

You always have 3 cards to pick from. Once you pick a card, a new one is drawn so that the next player still has three to pick from. Even if you take a card he wants, the new card might be good for him too. 

The cards feature different icons with different abilities. The four types of actions you get to perform represent different stages in the coffee production process. Firstly you get to produce coffee beans. You pick any group of connected coffee beans, and you add a cube to every empty segment in the group. Now that you have produced coffee, you can harvest and dry them. You pick any group of drying spaces, and for each space you can move in one type of bean, e.g. all green beans in the photo above. After drying, you get to make coffee. You pick a group of coffee machines (in this example I only have a single machine), and each machine can take one coffee type from all drying spaces. Finally you deliver coffee to cafes and your warehouse. For this last step the cafes need not be connected. You can deliver from any or all coffee machine spaces to all cafes and your warehouse. 

Cafes and the warehouse score points at game end. Cafes score only if you fulfil their requirements. 

This cafe needs a red and a green coffee cube, and is worth 3 points. 

Coffee cups are generally good. More cups = more actions. However whenever you claim a card with a cup, you must pay a coffee from your warehouse. You start the game with four different coffee cubes in your warehouse. If you take your sweet time processing coffee, you can still claim up to four cards with cups, till your opening stock runs out. If you manage to get two ships in your empire (see above), you no longer need to pay cubes when taking coffee cups. 

The Play

How to pick a card and how to place it is a fun challenge. You must cover at least two segments, so it means sometimes you are forced to cover something that's useful. It's not always easy to decide what to sacrifice. Sometimes when you place a card, you already need to plan for where you want to place the next one. You want to group the plantations together, the drying spaces together, and the coffee machines together, and this is not always easy to do. Cafe has a spatial element. 

By the time you get to performing actions, it is relatively straight-forward. It is not hard to optimise. Still fun, just not very taxing. You want to get the most out of your limited actions. E.g. you probably want to use up all the cubes at the plantations before producing again, so that you maximise the amount your produce. 

There are only two sources of victory points - your cafes and your warehouse. You need to strike a balance between them. You certainly need to fight for cafes so that you don't fall behind. When picking cafes you must consider your production capacity. Don't go for cafes which need colours you are weak in. You also need to keep in mind the situation at your warehouse. You want to keep the colours balanced. If you are particularly lacking in a certain colour, you not only need to boost production in that colour, you also need to avoid taking cafes needing that colour. 

Cafe is a little multiplayer solitairish. You don't directly interfere with the other players' empires. You can at most take the cards they are desperate for. The action phase of your turn is so independent that once you've picked your card, the next player can already start his turn while you place your card and perform your actions. Even Tommy who was new to boardgames commented that we couldn't really attack one another. 

Cafes score between 2 to 5 points. 

Tommy, me, Ivan, Jessyca. All of us were new to the game. This was my first time gaming with them too. 

At the end of the game I had 5 cafes, and I managed to fulfil all their requirements. 

These were the cubes in my warehouse at game end. The lowest colour was red. At 2 points per cube, that means red scored 4 points. The other colours were tied for second lowest so it didn't matter which colour I picked. At 1 point per cube, I scored 4 points for my second lowest colour. So my warehouse scored a total of 8 points. 

The Thoughts

Cafe reminds me of Patchistory, a game from Korea which was quite popular when it came out in 2013. I have not tried it, but I know it has a similar card stacking mechanism. I enjoy this aspect of Cafe. It is satisfying to be able to connect a huge group of plantations and produce a ton of coffee beans with just one action. This is a light strategy game which works for players new to the hobby. If you are not bothered about the low player interaction, give it a go. 

Friday 22 April 2022

Burgle Bros 2

The Game

Burgle Bros 2 is a cooperative game. You are a team of professional thieves. You are going to a casino to break into its safe and to complete a specific mission after that. You win the game by achieving this. As you attempt to do this, the bouncers are constantly looking out for suspicious people like you. If anyone from your team gets 6 heat (a measure of how suspicious-looking you are), he or she is immediately taken away by the security team, and you lose the game. 

The most eye-catching aspect of the game is this playing platform supporting the upper floor of the casino. The casino has two floors. The entrances are on the lower floor. The safe is on the upper floor. To get to the upper floor you need to find the escalator or the monorail. 

Everyone plays a different character and gets 3 unique abilities. 

When setting up the two floors, all the room tiles are shuffled and placed face-down. There are many different rooms in the casino like the restaurant, the pool, the roulette room and the surveillance room. The rooms have various powers, some of which will help you while others will give you trouble. You have to set up walls too - the wooden sticks. Now that I have played the game, this way (photo above) of setting up walls is absolutely terrible. A better way would be to create longer paths for the bouncer. 

During setup you also place chips face-down. These chips are people you will meet as you explore the casino. Some are good and some are bad. Finally you set up one bouncer per floor, who will be patrolling the casino. You also set up their next destinations. Whenever a bouncer reaches his destination, you draw a new patrol card to determine his next destination. Players need to avoid the bouncer because every time you meet him, you get 2 heat. When the patrol card deck runs out, the bouncer starts to actively hunt the players - he keeps moving towards the nearest player instead of the destination marker. 

When the game starts, you will be exploring the casino floor and uncovering the chips. Two of the actions you get to perform in the game are peek and move. If you move onto an unknown tile and an unknown chip, you flip over the chip and resolve it, and then you flip over the tile and resolve it. It's a bit of a gamble since you don't know what they are beforehand. You can choose to peek first, but that takes up an action. Also some of the bad chips are activated when you peek. There are two types of bad chips. One type triggers when being peeked at, and the other type triggers when you move onto it. When you reveal them using the other method, they are discarded without effect. In the early game, there is no easy way to decide whether it's better to peek or to move in directly. 

There are good chips, and they are your moles inside the casino. They provide the tools (dice) for you to crack the safe. You will first place the tools in the office (on the lower floor). You then need to spend actions to move the tools to the safe room (on the upper floor). Finally you have to spend actions at the safe room to crack the safe. In this photo above you can see the office at the bottom right, with one die on it. 

The lounge and the pool are two rooms which force you to draw a card from a deck. The cards are usually bad, but not always. 

One of the things you get to do in the game is to create commotions. The effect of this is to set a new destination for the patrolling bouncer. Naturally when there's sign of trouble the bouncer will rush to the scene. You move the destination marker to the place where the commotion is. Creating commotions lets you distract and misdirect the bouncer. However not all commotions are deliberately planned. Sometimes you make a mess by accidentally knocking over the ice sculpture, causing the bouncer to come in your direction. 

Red and yellow chips are bad. Blue chips are good. The blue ones are the moles who are helping you. The worst type is the saleswoman, who ties you down and won't let you move. You need another player to come rescue you, or you need to use some special ability to get away from her. The drunk causes you to tumble into the next room. The undercover security guy summons the bouncer. The prima donna demands your attention. 

The game can be played almost in a legacy format. There are 9 different missions in the game, and you can play a campaign which is basically the 9 missions played in sequence. Whenever you win a game, the next one is adjusted to be harder, and vice versa. The difficulty is adjusted by tweaking the bouncers' patrol decks. Cards are removed to make the game harder, and added to make the game easier. The sooner the deck runs out, the earlier the bouncers start hunting the players. When playing in campaign mode, after a game ends, a new special ability of one of the characters is introduced, giving the players more options. Once you are done with the campaign, you can still play standalone games. You just pick a random mission. 

The Play

Younger daughter Chen Rui and I tried one game. The first half of the game was all about exploring and discovering the lay of the land. We had to reveal all the chips and the tiles. We had to find the moles so that we could collect the tools (dice) for cracking the safe. We needed to find both the office and the safe room. We also needed to find the means to move to the upper floor. We had many chips and tiles to process. The discovering stage was about surviving surprises while doing recon on terrain, so that we could then plan how exactly we were going to complete our mission. We had to pay attention to the patrolling bouncers and avoid them as much as possible. We had to watch how quickly the patrol decks were running out because once they ran out, the bouncers would be actively hunting us down. 

The first game felt tedious. We had to look up the rulebook frequently to see how the different personalities on the chips worked, and how the tiles worked. There was text on the tiles, but sometimes we needed a more detailed explanation. It got better once we were more familiar with the chips and the titles. The exploration stage was mostly about surviving bad luck and occasionally utilising good luck. When most of the chips were not revealed yet, we had little basis to decide whether to peek or to move in. Our main consideration was how far the bouncer was. If he was far we could probably afford taking some risk. 

The game switched to become more strategic once most of the chips and tiles were revealed. We moved to the problem-solving stage. Burgle Bros 2 is a race against time. The patrol decks of the bouncers are the countdown mechanism. Things will get tough when the bouncers start actively hunting you. We found that having more than one player on a floor was difficult. When both Chen Rui and I were on the same floor, after I took my turn, the bouncer would patrol twice before my turn came around again. It would be easy for him to catch me. 

We didn't last very long. We did manage to explore most of both of the floors, i.e. we were just getting into the problem-solving stage. However I took more than 6 heat then and I was detained. One of the tiles was a surveillance room, and every time a bouncer entered, a counter was added. Once there were four counters, every player on the same floor as the room received 2 heat. That was how we lost the game. An unexpected incident brought the bouncer to the room and we were not prepared for it. 

Players can remove counters at the surveillance room. You just have to be there and spend an action. Usually you don't remove counters too soon, because it would be a waste. Ideally you do so only when there are three counters. However it's risky because some commotion or incident may bring the bouncer to the room unexpectedly. 

Once you use a tool, you flip it over. At the back there is one more ability you can use. Only after this is used then you discard the tool. The seven red cubes represent heat, which means game over for me. 

The game comes with many components. Every character you can play has its own pawn. You can see a car here, a tiger (?), a boot and an American football. These are probably related to the unique abilities of various characters. I haven't checked them out in detail. 

The Thoughts

Burgle Bros 2 didn't work for me. I got impatient when playing. We had to handle every chip and every tile we turned over. Some tiles required drawing cards from a deck and resolving them. Every character has its own special abilities. I get the feeling the game wants to have more stuff for the sake of having more stuff. In this case more does not translate to more fun. It felt like more work to me. The premise is actually interesting. It's a heist movie thing. I just didn't like the execution. 

The two floors are eye-catching. I find it just a gimmick and not practical. I can understand it's good for making the game stand out. I don't like it because the platform for the upper floor blocks my view. It's less convenient for me to look at other players' play areas and also to look at the lower floor. Maybe my dining room is not bright enough. It takes some effort to read the text on the tiles on the lower floor. 

I may be a little unfair to the game, since I've only played about half a game. I didn't even get to start cracking the safe. So don't just take my word. Decide for yourself whether this is something you might enjoy. 

Friday 15 April 2022


The Game

I want to call Klask a sports game, but that will likely cause misunderstanding. When I say sports game people think of sports themed games. I classify it as a dexterity game, but I know that is problematic too, because people think Jenga and Toc Toc Woodman when we say dexterity game. Or Animal Upon Animal. Technically it is a real-time game too. I'm probably making things worse by throwing all these descriptions about. Klask is a game of skill for two players. I find it best to describe it based on football (soccer). 

The field is surrounded by walls, which means the ball will bounce off these walls. The two players each control just one pawn. You can only move your pawn within your half of the field. You have a goal - the round indent in light blue. Your objective is to score a goal - getting the ball into your opponent's goal. Whoever scores 6 points first wins the game. 

You control your pawn using this rod beneath the board. Both this rod and the pawn have magnets. That's how they are attached to each other. 

The magnets are strong, so when you move the rod below the board, the pawn on the field follows suit quickly. It gives you good control. The pawn is very responsive. However if you move too fast, you can still lose control of your pawn. If this happens your opponent scores 1 point. 

You also give your opponent a point if your pawn falls into your own goal. 

The standard way of scoring points is to score a goal, but there are many fouls which will award points to your opponent. New players will often commit these fouls. When players are new, you will likely score more points from your opponent's mistakes than from actual goals. 

One important element are the three white obstacles in the game. When a round starts (i.e. at the start of the game, or after a player scores and the board is reset) the three obstacles are lined up at specific positions in the middle of the field. These obstacles contain metal. If your pawn gets close, it will attract the obstacle. If you ever get two obstacles attached to your pawn, you concede a point to your opponent. The obstacles can get in your way and also blocks the ball. 

When a pawn catches two obstacles, we call it Mickey Mouse. It looks like it has two huge ears. 

Whenever any player scores a point, the field has to be reset. The obstacles are repositioned. The player who conceded a point gets to serve, and must start the ball in one of his corners. Whoever reaches 6 points first wins. 

The Play

Your first game of Klask will be exciting and funny. Since you are unfamiliar with it, you will be clumsy and you will likely commit many fouls. Scoring a goal will be challenging, but when you manage it, you'll stand up and cheer. Klask is this kind of game. The rules are simple. Any observer standing next to you will be able to pick up the game immediately and be able to play the next game. Learning the game is mostly about getting familiar with controlling the pawn. If you are new and you play against an experienced player, you will be at a disadvantage. There is skill in this game. As you get better at the game, it becomes more challenging and rewarding. Maybe less funny, but more intense. 

The three obstacles are a clever and important element of the game. You can intentionally knock them to your opponent's half and thus hinder his movement. He will need to carefully avoid the obstacles. Although the obstacles contain metal and can be attracted by your pawn when you get too close, if you are fast and hit them hard, you can actually use your pawn to knock them to your opponent's side. It's a little risky, but it's doable. 

If you can get all three obstacles into your opponent's half, you will give him a big headache.

The Thoughts

Klask is a game of wide appeal. It is a mass market game. It is easy to learn and fast to play (probably 5-10 minutes). Once you get better at it, it becomes more and more a game of skill, and that can be satisfying. This is the kind of game which startup companies put at their pantries, so that employees taking a break can play a couple of rounds. It's much smaller and more portable than foosball. 

Friday 8 April 2022

boardgaming in photos: Agricola, Ra, Puerto Rico

Previously I complained about losing some of the boardgames I had bought on the Apple AppStore. I wanted to download some of them again to play, but they had been removed from the AppStore. A reader suggested another way to search for them. It worked! I looked up my purchase history instead of the main listings in the AppStore. Of the games I have purchased in the past, many can still be downloaded. I assume those which cannot be downloaded are not compatible with my current hardware or software. 

One game I have been wanting to download and play was Agricola. I am happy it can still be downloaded. I own the physical game, and in the first few years that the game came out, I played it a lot. That was why I felt nostalgic about it and wanted to download the digital version. I remembered that the AI players were not strong, so when I booted it up to play, I picked the strongest AI's available. 

That was the right choice. Even the supposedly strongest AI did stupid stuff. Look at this farm built by the AI. There is still so much unused space! This is horrible. Granted it does have a nice grand stone house, but it hasn't done any plowing or sowing, and it has so few animals. Does this even qualify as a farm? It's more a holiday home. 

This interface lets you see how poorly this particular AI managed its farm. Darker green is unused land. I wonder whether it's because of the player count. Possibly the AI is bad at handling 3-player games. I later tried a 4-player game and the AI's seem to be a bit more normal. In fact I lost that game to one of the AI's. This interface allows you to see cards everyone has played. The occupation cards, major improvements and minor improvements are on the right. 

This is the detailed scoring interface. I have forgotten to take a screenshot of the main interface. That is done well too. The physical Agricola has a large footprint, taking up much space at the table. The digital version is done well enough that it is not hard to use. It is no easy feat to create something practical and not unwieldy. My digital copy of Agricola has just the basic cards. Medium and advanced cards are sold in separate bundles. I am a little tempted to buy them, even though I only intend to play against the AI's. Perhaps I should bring out the physical game again. I already own physical versions of the medium and advanced cards. In fact I have bought some expansions too. 

Puerto Rico is another game I downloaded recently and played. This used to be the #1 game on The world's highest ranked game! It was one of the earliest games I bought when I got into the boardgame hobby. At the time I was not yet familiar with German games. After reading the rules, I thought they seemed too simple and I wondered how this could be fun. It was only later that I learned to appreciate the strategies behind the simple rules of German games. 

One thing I like about the digital version of Puerto Rico is how you can see almost all the information in the game at one glance. With the physical game, every player has his own player board so you need to examine them one by one. I also like the artwork of the buildings in the digital version. I like how the number of doorways lit up represent the number of workers in a building. Recognising and remembering the buildings is a challenge though. Some buildings have an icon which makes it easier to know what they are. Quite often I have to turn on the reference menu (screenshot above) to check which building does what. 

The AI's in Puerto Rico are just so-so. Initially I didn't dare to play against the hard AI's. I started off with the medium ones. One thing which the AI's do well is to save money to buy the large buildings. Large buildings usually help you score many points, so it is indeed important to have a large building strategy. I was a little rusty and didn't plan for this very well. In this particular game I didn't have any large building. I managed to win, but just barely. 

Playing Puerto Rico again reminded me of how nice a game it is. There were quite a few good games released around the same time (2000 - 2005). Many are classics. Maybe that's nostalgia speaking, since that was the time I first got into the hobby. 

The digital version of Ra looks a little dated now. This was one of the earlier boardgames released on the AppStore. The artwork, animation, music and sound effects all feel amateurish by today's standards. 

The AI's are not strong. Sometimes they make weird choices. One thing I have noticed is they sometimes spend a god tile to take a civilisation tile, when they already have a civilisation tile. It does make sense to do so if you don't have any civilisation tile, because not having any costs 5VP, and a god tile is only worth 2VP. However if you already have a civilisation tile, taking a second civilisation doesn't gain you any points. You need at least three different civilisation tiles. Is the AI just being optimistic? 

The AI's also seem to be poor in collecting monuments. In this screenshot you can see that I (first row) have scored 35VP for monuments. The AI's scored at most 5VP for this category. 

I collected all five of the 6th monument (Abu Simbel). That was satisfying. Once I also managed to collect all 8 types of monuments. That felt good. 

Race for the Galaxy is still the boardgame I play the most on the iPad. It's quick and I often play a few matches back-to-back. The AI's are decent and I often lose. Sometimes I feel I want to play Agricola or Le Havre, but the thought of committing to a longish game holds me back. Race for the Galaxy feels bite-sized to me. 

Lately I have been playing a lot of 2048 too, but that's a mobile game and not a boardgame. It's a fun puzzle and even after learning the strategies, it's not easy to win. 

Friday 1 April 2022

Shinkansen: Zero Kei

The Game

Shinkansen: Zero Kei is a game set in the period of 1959 - 1964, when the shinkansen or bullet train was first built. Players build this high-speed train line between Osaka and Tokyo together. In history, the project was completed just in time for the Tokyo Olympic Games in 1964. However in this game you may not complete the whole project. The game is played over 5 rounds. Whoever scores the most points wins. 

During setup you lay out five event cards semi-randomly based on the number of players (those along the top edge). Every round the corresponding event card determines some rules to follow for that specific round. There are 12 cities on the board and these are where the shinkansen passes through. 

Every city starts with an Under Construction sign. The first thing you need to do at a city is to prepare the grounds, represented by removing the Under Construction sign. After that there are two more things to do, and they can be done in either order. You have to lay tracks, and you have to build a station. Once all three tasks are completed at a city, the shinkansen is online for this city. When you perform these tasks, you earn points.   

The most important and interesting mechanism in the game is picking train carriages. Everyone starts the game with a tiny train in front of him, just an engine card and an end carriage card. Every round you will claim a train carriage to be inserted just before your end carriage, growing your train. Each carriage has either an action space or a special power. You make use of the action spaces on your train cards to perform actions. You start with only two actions (your engine card and your end carriage card), and as the game progresses you increase your options. 

Everyone starts with a different engine with different action types. On your turn you may use your opponents' engines, but you must pay a fee to do so. 

You pick new carriages based on turn order. Once everyone has made his choice, you claim your respective cards from left to right. After you claim your carriage, you move your player marker onto the player order board to claim a spot. Depending on which turn order you pick, you receive a different benefit. What all this means is when you choose a carriage, depending on how far left it is positioned, you influence your turn order for the next round. 

Your private train looks like this, with your engine card on the left and your end carriage card on the right. Every round players will perform at most 5 actions. You use these crosses to mark actions you take. If you run out of action spaces to use or decide not to perform any more actions, you forfeit your remaining actions for $1 each. 

Carriage cards have one or two city names. This is a big part of the game-end scoring. You will score points based on the cities. If construction is completed at the city, you score the value of the station, which can range from 1VP to 6VP. If the city appears twice in your private train, you score double, and so on and so forth. If the city doesn't have any track laid, you are going to lose points. Similarly if that city appears twice in your train, you will suffer double the penalty. 

In addition to the point values of the cities, you also score the longest connected route your private train serves. You count the longest ascending sequence of cities within your train which are connected. Because of this scoring, you will try to collect carriages in ascending order, or you may need to perform actions which let you move carriages around. 

The event cards decide: (1) the price of laying tracks, (2) the number of actions players may perform for the round, (3) the extra action space or special rule for the round. 

During setup three of the cities will be designated as Olympic venues. You may place cauldrons here to make use of their special abilities. When the game ends, you lose points for unused cauldrons. Olympic venues are scored slightly differently. Only players with the most cauldrons may score these cities. 

The first table above shows three columns of train stations. The earlier you build a station, the more points you score for this build action. The first station in each colour scores 6VP for the build action. The last one being built will only be worth 1VP. When the game ends, the stations will be worth 1VP, 3VP or 6VP. This is a separate thing from the build action. During the game you manipulate the values of the three station colours in order to maximise your score. 

The second table is the price chart for laying tracks. It shows the action cost and the victory point reward (sakura flower icon). Which row to use is determined by the event card of the round. 

The Play

I did a 2-player game with younger daughter Chen Rui. I realised that the adjustment of the event cards based on player count was mainly to ensure the total number of actions performed throughout the game did not vary too much. At a lower player count, everyone performs more actions so that decent progress can be made. At a higher player count, individual players perform fewer actions so that the shinkansen project doesn't finish too easily. 

In the early game there wasn't a lot to do, since we didn't have much money or carriages. It felt like we must fully utilised all the action spaces we had access to. It didn't make sense to forfeit actions for money. Picking carriages was the important decision. It decided what we could do in future rounds, and also how we would score points at game end. I feel the best strategy is to focus on just a few cities and then concentrate your efforts on maximising the values of just these cities. I wouldn't want to commit to too many cities because I wouldn't be able to develop all of them well. It is much more efficient to focus on just a few. 

Manipulating the station value is a big part of the game. You want to increase the values of cities you have a vested interest in. You try to screw over your opponents. If your opponents have developed certain cities well, you should try to grab carriages with these cities. You would be leeching off their hard work. Claiming carriages is supposed to be a tricky decision. You might be caught between two conflicting needs. The city on the carriage card may have good potential, but the action space on it may not be very useful to you. Or it can be the other way round. However I find that in the early game, the action space is probably more important because you will be using it many times for the rest of the game. The city is less critical since nobody has a clear idea which one will be more valuable yet. In the late game, the action space is less important because you won't be using it that many more times. The city is probably the bigger consideration because you have a good idea which ones will be more valuable. 

There are some tactical plays, quick wins that you want to exploit. Whoever builds the first station in a particular colour scores 6VP, which is a lot. You probably want to go for it, even if the station becomes a lousy 1VP station at game end. If you know that station will be low-valued, you can build it at your opponent's city. That's a low blow, but all's fair in love and war. 

At this point, city #3 (Maibara) and city #5 (Nagoya) were online - both station and tracks built. 

When our game ended, cities #9 to #12 still had zero development. Our three Olympic venues were #10 (Odawara), #11 (Yokohama) and #12 (Tokyo). No one bothered with them because neither of us had carriages with these cities. 

On the board every city is represented by a landmark, which is nice.

The Thoughts

If I break down the structure and the mechanisms, it seems Shinkansen: Zero Kei should be an interesting mid-weight strategy game. There are tactical wins to make. You choose carriages to augment the action spaces available to you, while the same choices decide how you will score at game end. You compete in manipulating the station values so that you maximise your end-game scoring. However when I play the game, it feels a little dull and simplistic. There are only 5 rounds, so I collect around 5 new carriages. There is not much manoeuvring to do. I just focus on creating a small stretch with some duplicate cities and maximising the station values of my cities. I can't see the benefit of spreading myself to many cities. Yes, I'd earn a few more points for having more connected cities in my longest route, but it would be so much more work, and I might not be able to maximise my station values for all these cities. 

Possibly I didn't enjoy my play because it was a 2-player game. On most think 3 players is the ideal count. Some specifically recommended against 2 players. With more players, the distribution of cities in the players' private trains may indeed be wider. Creating a connected stretch might be more challenging. The complexity in player interaction will likely be higher and more interesting. They need to work together to build the line and yet they are actually competing.