List Price: $38.00
Your Price: $34.20
(Worth 3,420 Funagain Points!)
from 3 customer reviews
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Rail fans can experience the thrills of owning, building, and operating railroads in the land down under!
Explore the outback, build your rail empire across mountains and deserts to build a fortune. But beware dangerous sandstorms and flooding rivers as you stretch your rails across this vast continent! Australia Rails is part of the award-winning Empire Builder series of games, but is a complete stand-alone adventure in the world of railroading. Using a specially designed board, you will use crayons to draw your rail lines.
Since you decide which cities to connect and where your routes will go, you alone decide the course of railroading history.
Demand cards will help guide your decisions, showing you what resources and goods are in demand in various cities. Since there are more than 100 cards and 45 different cities, you will never see the same game twice!
Rail fans have enjoyed building railroad empires for years. Now it's your turn to master the land down under as you gather a railroad fortune, all in a single afternoon!
If you're looking for an excellent crayon-rail game, the strategic and tactical challenges in AR are significantly different from Empire Builder to warrant your consideration.
As a devotee of rail games, especially the Mayfair games, I was eagerly anticipating this update of the game. The original was a tube game with flimsy pieces and cards. It was also skewed towards the Gold Coast and Tasmania with too few demand cards elsewhere. Mayfair got it right this time. There appear to more demand cards to the Outback and Western Australia and the rules now allow Darwin as a starting point, giving it a Major City status, sort of. The board is now in keeping with puzzle boards from the other rail games as are the cards and product tokens. The other changes now allows for three building turns and 60 million to start; both changes speed up the game.
Australian Rails now is a fast game, especially for two people. The large contracts and the jump start allows players to build more easily and upgrade faster. Increasing the contracts to and from places in the west and north also helps. No longer is it a kiss of death to start from Perth.
Australian Rails (AR) wasn't as interesting to me as Russian Rails - simply because the "Fall of Communism" made the latter game so fascinating. However, I did enjoy the map quite a bit. All of my comments from my Russian Rails review apply to AR, with the following comments added...
1.) Australia: Perhaps not so exotic for native Australians, but to the rest of the world, or perhaps just Tom Vasel - Australia is a pretty neat place. The map is quite interesting, with the majority of the cities scattered around the edges, and players will compete to build routes that run from one side to the other. I confess to knowing little to none about the Australian map before playing this game - now I can tell you where most of the main cities are. That's education for ya!
2.) Desert: The middle of Australia is filled with large deserts. It's quite possible for a Sand Storm cards to be drawn from the event deck, which wipes out all tracks in a certain desert. All players should be notified about this possibility before the game begins, so that they aren't surprised. If a player's tracks are destroyed in the desert, it should be because they took a knowing risk, and it didn't end well. Building in the desert isn't THAT expensive, but a player still thinks twice about it!
3.) Demand Cards: I think I'll follow Shannon Appelcline's advice in one of his blog columns and write the coordinate numbers on each demand card. Because of my initial unfamiliarity with the Australian terrain, a lot of time in my first couple games was in staring at the board, searching for each city. On the other hand, I didn't think it was overly difficult to deliver goods - it seemed more obvious what to deliver to where. In Russia, there were often several choices for each good. In Australia, the choices are a little more obvious.
4.) Players: AR plays quite well as a "Honeymoon" game - or one in which there is only two players. The rules include a way to make this a little more challenging, but for some reason it just really worked well with two players. Three and four also were great, because there's a bit of jockeying for position to get to many of the critical cities on the coast. (I don't know about five; I won't play a crayon rails game with more than four - it takes too long).
5.) Dry Rivers: There are many "dry" lakes and rivers scattered around the board; all of which can be built over for no additional cost. A "Rainy Season" card will fill all of them with water for the remainder of the game. So often AR is a race as players struggle to get tracks over these areas before they fill up with water and double in price.
I'm not sure how many games of the "Empire Builder" series one needs. Some fanatics will need every one, while others may be satisfied with just one. For me, one is not interesting enough, as I like the variety of maps. Australian Rails really was an enjoyable game for me; and although it's only my second game of the series, I look forward with interest to playing more.
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