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Trambahn

October 10th, 2015 Leave a comment Go to comments

If you’ve ever played the two player “Lost Cities” card game, then you’ll know that the game is almost as simple as laying down cards in ascending order in order to score points. “Trambahn” takes this idea and pumps it full of steroids. While still being a two-player game, “Trambahn” tasks players with building stations and passenger demand, all the while managing a bank account in order create the best tramway company.  So don your conductor hats and start shoveling that coal, because we’re about to chuga-chuga choo choo right into the review.  (Yes, I wrote that and yes, I rolled my eyes and snickered too.)

 

Trambahn

Trambahn: 2 Players, Ages 8+, Average Play Time = 30-40 Minutes

 

Components

The game includes 112 Station Cards (4 colors, valued 1-10), 8 Conductor Cards, 16 Tramway Cards (Horse, Steam, & Electric), 4 Terminal Station Cards, 2 Overview Cards, 1 Scoring Pad, and a Rule Book.  It’s worth noting that the Station Cards are double-sided in that they can be used as money (face-down side) or as stations/passengers (face-up side).

Setup & Gameplay

The Station and Conductor cards are shuffled to form a face-down draw deck (money side-up). The Tramway cards are sorted by value so that the 4’s (electric) are on the bottom, 3’s (steam) are in the middle, and 2’s (horse) are on top.  The deck is placed face-up so players can see what’s coming and three are drawn next to it to form the pool from which players can purchase. The person who most recently used a tram goes first and receives twelve cards from the deck to be used as money.  The other player gets fifteen cards from the deck to be used as money.  Each player then draws six cards to form their starting hand.  The four Terminal Stations are laid out vertically in a row with space being left to the right of each.

On a player’s turn, they’ll perform the following actions, in this order:

1. Place Passengers (Mandatory) – The active player must play one or two cards from their hand to add to any of the four Terminal Stations as passengers.  The value does not matter, but the colors should match.  As soon as a fourth passenger is added to a Terminal Station, the cards are discarded and that color is scored immediately.  The process of scoring a color is called a “tour”.  Both players add up the victory point values of the cards (separate from the card’s value) in that color column and multiply the total by the value on the attached Tramway card.

2. Place Stations (Optional) – The active player can play any number of cards from their hand in front of them.  The cards are split into columns by color and laid down in ascending order (you can skip values).  A column is complete when you add a Station card of value 10 to it. The player can add Conductor cards to any column that is not complete.  While not worth victory points, they facilitate extra tours.  As soon as you add an eighth card to a column, you immediately trigger an extra tour (a bonus scoring).  Each color can only have one extra tour/scoring bonus (there’s a spot on the score pad for this bonus score).

3. Income (Optional) – The active player may place any number of their cards from their hand into their money pile (money side-up) to add to their bank.

4. Purchase Trains (Optional) – The active player may purchase one or more Tramway cards and assign them to their colored columns (one per column).  The money must come from the bank and not from a player’s hand.  Players may not reassign a Tramway card to a different column once it is assigned.

5. Purchase New Cards (Mandatory) – If the player has any cards in front of them that don’t have a Tramway card assigned to them, then they are discarded to that player’s bank.  The player draws back up to six cards.  If the draw pile is empty, players must discard half their money piles and shuffle the discard pile to form a new draw deck.

Players continue taking turns until the tenth regular scoring occurs, in which case the game ends immediately.  Extra tours do not count as regular scoring.  Tours are totaled and whoever has the most points, wins the game!

Editor’s Note: The above doesn’t cover all of the rules found in the manual, but should give you an idea as to how the game is played.

 

Trambahn

 

The Review

“Trambahn” has a lot of kick for a two-player game and is indeed “Lost Cities” (the card game) on steroids.  Don’t get me wrong…I’m a HUGE fan of “Lost Cities”.  It’s just so easy to jump into and play, not to mention that the artwork is fantastic and colorful.  “Trambahn” takes everything a step further and adds more depth, specifically in the form of decisions that players need to make with the cards in their hand.  After all, cards have a total of three uses…money, passengers, or stations.  Players can only use a card for one of those three things, forcing the player to make some pretty difficult choices.

For example, let’s say that you have three high valued blues, two low valued reds, and one high value yellow in your hand.  Right off the bat, you have to decide which one or two will be assigned as passengers, increasing the demand for that color and bringing it closer to four cards to score.  Before you even begin to think about what cards you want to lay out in front of you, you’ll need to pay attention to what colors your opponent is going after.  If your opponent had a column full of red cards and you had none, for example, you may want to consider using those reds as money or starting your own column as using them as passengers would only benefit your opponent.  Giving up a high valued blue or yellow might work, but again, it all depends on what columns both you and your opponent have.

“Trambahn” is pretty easy to pick up and play, despite it being more complex than the aforementioned “Lost Cities”.  In short, I think it’s a fantastic game and incredibly easy to recommend to gamers who want something moderately casual yet engaging.  It’s still a “thinking” game and probably wouldn’t be for players who want to shut their brain off for a while (I’d recommend “Lost Cities” for that).  The game retails on Amazon for about $20-$25, which is fair for the content and resulting replayability that you’re getting here.  While I consider this a must-buy, I recognize that not everyone has the same taste in games that I do. At the very least though, you’ll want to add this one to your watch list!

Final Verdict: 10/10

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