Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Game Profile: Railways of Nippon

Publisher:  Eagle-Gryphon, 2018

Players:  2 – 4

Time:  90 – 120 Min.


For those people who love network building games, Railways of Nippon takes the networking of Ticket To Ride and adds some serious economic elements, some auction bidding for player order, and a whole lot of interesting decision making.  The object of the game is to earn the most points by building rail lines across a map of Japan to deliver goods cubes of different colors to the appropriate cities.  Cubes travel across completed lanes from city to city on tracks that can be expensive to build.  Distance is limited by the power of your engine.  For a price, engines can be upgraded.

Each round starts with an auction bid for first player.  There are times when going first will be essential for a player to build before everyone else, or to move a goods before another player takes it a different direction, or to grab a particular railroad operations card that is now available.  A new card is revealed at the start of each round and they can provide some great special abilities.  After the auction, each player gets three actions to build, move, etc., at one action at a time in turn order.  After three actions income is rewarded for how far a player has progressed on the income track.  Moving up the income track is accomplished primarily by delivering cubes on your rail line. 

Money is more than a little tight.  It must all be borrowed from the bank in $5,000 bonds.  Each of these bonds cost a player interest during the income phase and points at the end of the game.  Borrow too much and a player could struggle getting enough income.  Borrow too little and a player could be left behind by more aggressive players.  It is a great balancing act.  Game end is triggered when a certain number of cities have been completely emptied of goods cubes.

Railways of Nippon brings a great deal of replay value.  The goods cubes are placed randomly at the start of the game.  Since cubes must be delivered to a city of the same color, purple cube to purple city, etc. each game will play different from the last.  If you are looking for network building with some serious head scratching economics, Railways of Nippon may fit the bill.





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