Santa Fe Rails
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Be a western rail and real estate baron. Unleash the engines of progress in 19th century America, where the rail ruled the west, creating fortunes and fueling economic growth.
In this game about the westward expansion of the railroads, players steer the development of five major railroads and four short lines so as to enhance the values of the city and boomtown properties they conrtol while also earning bonuses for completion of connections.
In Santa Fe Rails, players build the Union Pacific, Santa Fe, Great Northern, Kansas City and Southern Pacific railroads from their bases in Chicago, New Orleans, Kansas City and Milwaukee. The short lines Texas Pacific, Denver & Rio Grande Western, Western Pacific and Rock Island make their appearance in the middle of the game.
Players play City cards to lay claim to end-game victory points for the number of railroads connected to their cities. They lay track pieces to create the connections of the major railroads to those cities. Special cards allow railroads to establish branch lines. Players may opt to grab special cards that allow the laying of extra tracks on a turn. Boomtowns can be created out of small-value cities. Short line railroads can be used to connect out-of-the-way places. The game ends when all the track pieces for the major railroads have been used. The Cities with the higher values and most railroad connections will score the most.
My group played Santa Fe for the first time this weekend and really enjoyed it - once we got the hang of it. We found the learning curve fairly steep, not so much because the game is complex, but because it is unusual. We found ourselves going back to the instructions frequently, but we eventually got it right. The board and bits are wonderful, but they are even more impressive at the end of the game when the rail lines are all complete - it looks fantastic. The game also has the flavor of railroading, so the theme is not just tacked on. This is the second Alan Moon game that we've played, the other being Capitol, and both are outstanding.
Santa Fe is a simple, yet strategic game of building. It is a bit more cuthroat and much easier to grasp than the 18XX series or even Moon's Union Pacific. Some railroad fans will be lost without stocks or crayons to draw on a slippery board. GMT is producing some good non-wargames and producing them well.
Santa Fe is a fun game. decent components, but the play is the thing. In a cut throat game you might see all the scores under 100, but if your with a less viscous group the scores can more than double. And it plays well and fun both ways. just a great game allaround, good job by GMT.
Each railroad has from 17 to 32 tracks in its color. Cities, valued from two to seven, are represented by cards. Line segments, where tracks are placed, connect the map's cities. Only one color may connect two cities. Each round, you either: (a) play a City Card faceup to score at the end, and lay two tracks; or (b) play a Special card that lets you place more tracks or increase a city's value. You earn income, modified by Special Cards that have been played, for placing the first track to reach a city. Play ends after all tracks are laid. Each of your faceup City Cards earns its value multiplied by the number of railways connected to it. Add a point for each dollar earned. The perfect "training" game for future real-world strategists!