Friday, June 20, 2014

Dominate 19th Century Commerce with Iron Horses

Iron Horses by Chris Rossetti takes you back into the 19th century when Railroads dominated commerce. Climb aboard any one of Lydon Rail Company’s four railways and race to be the first train to successfully deliver $1,000,000 in resources! Be wary of what lies ahead, as setbacks are bound to happen! Tariffs will slow our delivery, maintenance will stop you in your tracks and hijackers are eager to steal your payload! Fix what you can, deliver the goods and chug along to victory! 

In Iron Horses your goal is to be the first player to deliver $1,000,000 of goods that range in value from $25,000 to $250,000, while avoiding setbacks, sabotage, and bandits. Setbacks can bring you to a halt, remedy them quickly to keep moving. Iron Horses moves quickly as players choose from these 4 available actions, Draw, Transport, Remedy, and Sabotage, each of which will either bring them closer to victory or slow down their opponents.

(1) Custom Tuck box
(1) 8 page Instruction Manual
(4) Railways ( North East Line, Western Ridge, Central 15, Continental 89)
(31) Resource Cards ( 8-$25,000, 8-$50,000, 6-$75,000, 4-$100,000, 3-$200,000, 2-$250,000)
(18) Remedy Cards ( 6 Repair, 6 Refuel, 6 Departure)
(15) Setback Cards ( 3 Unscheduled Stop, 3 Broken Coupling, 3 Out of Coal, 3 Tariff, 3 Hijacker)
(4) Master Cards ( Marshal, Coal Reserve, Express, Engineer)

The set up for this game is straightforward: 
1. Remove the four railway cards from the deck. 
2. Shuffle all of the remaining cards. Place them face down into the center of the table. 
3. Choose one railway card per player. Each railway offers a unique perk to the player that controls it. 
4. Deal 5 face down cards to each player from the deck. 
5. Choose a starting player.Play progresses clockwise.

Each player is allowed a total of 3 actions. Actions can be repeated up to the action limit of 3 per turn. The available actions are as follows.
Draw - Draw a card from the deck and add it to your hand. Your hand limit is 8 cards, You may draw cards past the hand limit, but you must discard to the hand limit at the end of your turn
Transport - Play a resource card from your hand.
Remedy - You cannot Transport until all your setbacks are remedied. Use a remedy card or pay $100,00 to remove a Setback card that has been played against you.
Sabotage - Play a Setback card against another player. A player cannot have more than 3 setbacks at a time. You also cannot play two of the same setbacks on a player.

The first person to successfully transport at $1 million in resources is the winner.

Action 1: Sabotage, Action 2: Sabotage, Action 3: Sabotage. This is my brother’s play style and strategy. It’s hilarious, its frustrating, its the dawn of the era of Iron Horses. I love this game, and I love the sabotage mechanic in any game. Being able to reach in and mess up someone’s plan is the greatest source of joy from board games for me. Thats what I like about Talisman, Twilight Imperium, Ticket to Ride, and Munchkin. It's just good fun, when you're chugging along, you've got the next three turns all planned out then whammy, completely derailed. Yes thats a pun, but this is a game about trains after all. 

Let me tell you about the art work. The card backs are fully-colored and the card faces are engaging, with a floating icon in the center that is easily understood. Is it cargo? Is it a setback? Cards are labeled so there is no guessing. The color scheme matches across all the cards, and as a result the game looks really complete and clean. 

I really enjoyed playing Iron Horses. The game is equal parts strategy, and luck of the draw. I wish there were enough cards to make it a 4 player game. I feel its handicapped by being limited to 3 players. But Iron Horses is quick, so I see it filling the gap when you're having a game night and someone is running late. You can quickly set up, teach, and play Iron Horses while you wait, then pack it away and move on to a bigger game like Ticket to Ride or Settlers of America to round out a train-themed evening.

You can get Iron Horses exclusively at The Game Crafter. It's currently $11.99 and a worthy purchase. I fully recommend it.

I like to link to video reviews so you can see the game in action here are two of my favorite.

To The Table Reviews

Bower's Game Corner

Matthew Ryan Robinson is an indie game designer and runs Broken Prism Games. He posts on three other blogs,, and You can meet him at Dallas Gaming Marathon on DFWNerd Nights or Open Stage most Mondays {Youtube Search: Open Stage Penguin}.

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