What is ’30 rails’?

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Every little boy wants a train set. That is as much a fact as every little girl wanting a dolly and pram. By which I mean it is not a fact at all. Though lets pretend it is, they’re expensive, take up too much space and you end up having to go into one of those weird hobby stores for old men that don’t sell magic cards but just wooden gliders and build yourself motor boats not even big enough for the action man you invariable have sat at home. Well never fear for now there’s an alternative six pages long and free online, that’s …………………………………..

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Designed by Julian Anstey 30 rails is a game surprisingly about laying down 30 bits of track and hoping to get it to work as a functioning whole. You won’t end up with the isle of Sodor but hopefully you will end up with at least forty points to class you as a “okay” controller. It’s at least sixty plus to be classed as a phat controller. Those who know me will probably realise that I’m not one for a point chasing solitaire game but before we get into that let’s get stuck a little bit more into the game shall we?

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You will need; a copy of the rules; free online, a game sheet for each game or a a handy dandy wipe clean copy, two dice that you no doubt have lying around somewhere and a pencil that now that you are looking for it you won’t be able to find even though you know you have thousands around the house and you saw one only yesterday you’re sure of it. You role one dice for each row on the “board” to place your five mountains as you can ignore one as you go. You then stick in a mine somewhere, to draw in the immigrant dwarf population to boost your economy, and a bonus square because other wise the game will be just too hard. Once this is done you will roll your two dice each turn to place a track. The white one will control where on the board it goes giving you the choice of anywhere on the row or column and the black controls what kind of track piece you get, whether a bend or straight with you only going to get to choose which way round it goes.

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You have two overrides, one for each dice, so use them wisely and there’s a rule about tracks crossing over and rejoining themselves which I won’t get into here though I assure you it’s really easy to grasp. Other than that it’s away you go as you try to link up the four stations you’ve stuck around the edge and bonus points going to any line that crosses the bonus square or would serve the dwarves better than a trip for Moria in terms of getting to the mine.

Now I call this a solitaire game and it is though you can in truth play it with up to seven other people according the boardgamegeek page where coincidentally the game itself can be found for download. The idea being that you all work off the same dice results and see who gets the best score using said dice results at the end. Now this isn’t bad, it works and it gives the game a bit longer life to work with but it leaves the game feeling more and more like ‘Dice City‘ and to clarify for those who worry I’m maybe being a bit too mean that’s not a good thing for ‘Dice City’. The Solo game is a point chasing affair that you will struggle to truly loose and the multiplayer affair is one that has everyone with their heads down doing their own thing on their own boards, the only change being who gets to role the little plastic cubes.

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It’s the kind of game that as soon as you’ve payed it once you want go again for round two confident you can do better and that it was all the dices fault last time but now you have a plan and if you are the kind of solo gamer who likes point chasing affairs I would definitely recommend this one. If you’re not I’d still say to give it a look at only six pages of A4 and the appropriate amount of ink.

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