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Iron Dragon
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Store:  Strategy Games
Series:  Empire Builder
Theme:  Train, Fantasy
Genre:  Rail & Network
Format:  Board Games

Iron Dragon

List Price: $38.00
Your Price: $30.50
(20% savings!)
(Worth 3,050 Funagain Points!)

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Ages Play Time Players
12+ 240 minutes 2-6

Designer(s): Darwin Bromley, Tom Wham

Manufacturer(s): Mayfair Games

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Product Description

Iron Dragon takes railroading games where they have never gone before -- to a land filled with elves, cat-people, trolls and magic. Genetically engineered dragons pull trains across dangerous and unexplored territory. Connect cities, fight off forest creatures, and explore the underground to build a railroad empire.

Based on the Empire Builder system, this fantasy game puts classic building strategy and money management tools in a new venue. Players use erasable crayons on a special board and operate a rail empire. Perfect for an evening of fun and adventure with family and friends.

Product Information


  • Playing Board
  • Card Deck including:
    • Action & Event Cards
    • Foremen
    • Ships
    • Locomotives
  • Money
  • Load Chips & Stickers
  • Crayons
  • Rule Book

Product Reviews


Average Rating: 3.8 in 5 reviews

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The best from Mayfair!
October 16, 1999

Players take turns spending cash building railroad lines between cities in this fantasy world by drawing directly on the specially-coated board with special crayons (though I prefer dry-erase markers). The spots on the board (mileposts) can be of several types including desert, forest, jungle, mountain, and alpine, all of which have a different cost to build through depending on the race of your foreman. This is another nice feature over the other crayon games. Now players must decide whether to spend their money either building track, replacing their foreman, or upgrading to faster trains or ones with more carrying capacity. Players then move their trains on their tracks (or their opponents', for a price) to pick up cargo at one city and deliver it to another for the payoff on one of three demand cards. Interspersed with the deck of demand cards are some devilish random event cards such as floods that can wipe out portions of your track or cause you to lose the cargo on your train. The first player to connect to seven of the eight major cities and accumulate $250 wins.

Whether or not you are familiar with Mayfair's other RR crayon games (Empire Builder/Eurorails), this is the one to get, except maybe for younger players. The abundant terrain types, foremen, and special modes of transportation such as the underground, ship movement, and magical connections between cities greatly enhance the strategy of the system and set this game apart from the others.

Iron Dragon and you. Worth your time?
December 15, 2002

I enjoy Iron dragon. it is a fun game ment for several players. You try to deliver the most cargo in the shortest route, while upgrading you locomotive and beating everyone else. this is a game that requires a lot of thought, but will pay off if done right. A good game night game.

Fantasy theme adds spice to the crayon-rails genre.
August 24, 2002

I have to admit that I was a bit skeptical about a 'fantasy' rail game, being one who usually keeps fantasy games at arms length.

However, I have found Iron Dragon to be a very chellenging crayon-rail game, with several more options, and hence, more decisions and a little more player interaction than other crayon-rails. The reviews below have captured these additions well, so I won't repeat them here.

But I do recommend Iron Dragon to all gamers who don't mind devoting 3-4 hours to game play, and especially railroading fans. Don't let the fantasy theme scare you off; this game is an excellent railroad game.

If you're a railroading fan, this game is 5-stars.

Ignore the Bells & Whistles
January 05, 2000

Adds a few things to the typical [page scan/se=0197/sf=category/fi=stockall.asc/ml=20]Empire Builder type crayon game. The ships are OK, but we found it plays better if you simply ignore the foremen and treat jungles and forests as $2 per build, just like a mountain.

There's an event card which magically connects two major cities which otherwise are very expensive to build between. If you leave this card in play, the balance of the game is thrown way off--you can get huge payoffs in half a turn and the players who didn't waste money building a route will be that much farther ahead. Simply discard the event a turn later (like a flood) instead of leaving in in play (like the dry rivers becoming wet in Aussie Rails).

The heavily terrained map makes for some very preferential routes for the first person to build that way. We found the game is a little more balanced if you force people to connect all major cities instead of all-but-one.

I only give it 3 stars since it is my least favorite of Empire Builder family.

Rail building in a fantasy land
November 22, 1999

Iron Dragon is one of the many games in Mayfair's [page scan/se=0197/sf=category/fi=stockall.asc/ml=20]Empire Builder series of 'crayon' rail games. However, this version contains a number of bells and whistles compared with others in the series.

The game plays in essentially the same way; with your small starting capital, you build rail by drawing on the map (the special crayons rub off easily with a tissue), then you move your train along your railway line picking up and delivering goods to make money. Fans of the other Empire Builder games will be able to jump right in, once they have figured out where all the place names are in the fantasy land the game takes place in.

Iron Dragon embellishes most of the elements from the original game. There is still open terrain and mountains, but new are forest, jungle, desert, alpine and underground terrains, each costing different amounts to build track to. You may also now build over short hops of sea, enabling you to reach islands and cross narrow fjords. The costs of building over these terrains can be modified by use of a foreman - essentially a railway engineer under your employ who has a special power befitting his or her race. For instance, cat-people foremen allow you to build through jungle for $1M per milepost rather than $3M. Each player begins with one foreman and can trade it in during the game for a price. The underground part of the map is shown on an inset, and can be reached through one of four tunnel entrances. Building in the underground empire is troublesome because it costs in bribes to build track and run trains there.

Another embellishment is the trains. In the original Empire Builder, there were four different kinds of trains to be had - slow or fast, small or large capacity. Iron Dragon has no fewer than eight different kinds of trains, with many more gradations of speed. There are only three of most of the trains too, so in a game with many players (up to six can play), your upgrade route might be blocked until someone else upgrades and relinquishes the train that you want.

The major new element in Iron Dragon is ships. There are several ships available, from slow to fast, costing different amounts to hire. These ships can take your train between any two ports on the huge mapboard, which is a great way of delivering loads towards the beginning of the game when you don't have much track laid down.

As usual, the game ends when someone has accumulated $250M and has connected all but one of the eight major cities on the map (two are already connected at the beginning of the game by a magical portal). This seems to take longer to achieve than in Empire Builder, possibly because the map is 30% larger than most of the other games in the series, possibly because all of the major cities are well-spaced around the board rather than bunched up (as in, say, Eurorails). In any case, Iron Dragon is just as rewarding to play as its simpler progenitors (and the full-colour board is prettier, too). This is probably not the best first choice of a Mayfair crayon game to buy, but it is certainly one of the more novel ones.

Other Resources for Iron Dragon:

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