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British Rails
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Store:  Strategy Games
Series:  Empire Builder
Theme:  Train
Genre:  Rail & Network
Format:  Board Games

British Rails

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Ages Play Time Players
12+ 120 minutes 2-6

Manufacturer(s): Mayfair Games

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Product Description

Visit the enchanted misty island of Britain with this Empire Builder series game. British Rails features the exotic and interesting landscape of the island nation. Build tracks across the island through city and village, and cross the country running rails from London to York through the forest of Sherwood. Pick-up and deliver goods, tourists, raw materials. British Rails will Not be a tube game, but will be a bookcase game with puzzle cut map. Revisions of the map will correct errors of previous editions, and loads and production will be revisited to create better game balance.

Product Information

  • Manufacturer(s): Mayfair Games

  • Year: 2002

  • Players: 2 - 6

  • Time: 120 minutes

  • Ages: 12 and up

  • Weight: 1,106 grams

Product Reviews


Average Rating: 3.7 in 3 reviews

by PJ
All Aboard!
April 24, 2003

Welcome to the British Isles, your gateway to gaming joy and happiness. Grab your crayons and come with me.

I am not a train person. Granted, they are lovely things to watch when they carve through mountains or clip through the desert with the sun and wind at their backs. But for many of us in the States, trains stop the flow of traffic and have the ability to wake you up at 2:00 in the morning.

British Isles doesnt have any negative affect at all- though it may keep you up at 2:00 a.m.

This is a very addicting game, akin to eating corn chips.

You have a four part map of the British Isles, filled dots and triangles that represent topography and mileposts. You connect the dots and triangles between the 49 cities on the map. Almost all of the cities have at least one commodity (a.k.a. load). The other cities desire these loads and will pay you handsomely for you to deliver them.

You play with three cards. Each card indicates three cities that want certain goods and how much they will pay you if you can deliver it. With your earnings, you build tracks that connect to the cities and you gradually build an empire. As the game progresses, it is almost like Monopoly on rails.

There are ample cards for the cities and their desired loads. There are also a few insidious Event cards. You plot and plan, make money and expand, place tracks to cut off you opponent and/or collect rent from the use of your tracks; the game is full of strategic gems. You can play with either the goal to connect to the four major cities or my personal favorite, economic ceiling (300 million anyone?)

Now, the game offers a number of variants and is easily adaptable to house rules. For example, we play with a variant that allows the last discarded card to be played as if by contract. The destination that was just served is void- only the two remaining cities on the card can be served. However, the contracted city must be played immediately- you can not hold the card for future use. Sometimes this opens up the game, allows for some surprise twists and makes some runs very profitable.

Ive also come up with ideas for delivering perishable goods, adding trains when all cities are connected, and adding shipping to Ireland. We also allow cooperative deliveries and profits. If you can create it, you can apply it to the game.

This is a brilliant game, well worth your time. Its one of those games that is social, interactive and rewarding. Besides, you will also master the geography of the U.K.

You have nothing to loose with this game. Well, perhaps a bit of sleep...

A step up from Empire Builder.
July 29, 2003

I can't put my finger on it, but British Rails is a better game than Empire Builder, the original crayon-railroad game. I find Empire Builder to be about 2, maybe 3 stars, it is tedious, poorly designed, has little player interaction, and is not at all fun with 2 players. For some reason British Rails holds my attention much better, plays well with 2 players, but still has the same problem of no player interaction.

My wife and I play often, she likes it better than Empire Builder also. We are both native born Americans, so nationality doesn't explain it. The main cities in British Rails that you need to link run north and south. This leads to players having a 'main line' running north and south with branch lines east and west. In Empire Builder railroads tend to run all over the place with players building hap-hazardly. In British Rails here are only four large cities to link, instead of 6. There are fewer cheap loads, so the game tends to be shorter than Empire Builder, and mistakes (i.e. long railroads to a city you only use once) will kill you faster in British Rails.

Yes, these are small differences. They wouldn't seem to add up to a significantly better game. Trust me, they do.

by Roy L.
Tedious and Boring
July 25, 2004

The bottom of the rail game barrel! This game, and the entire series of which it is a part, serves as the unfortunate introduction to 'rail games' for far too many. And as a result, far too many equate rail games with tedium, poor components, and lack of sophistication. This is too bad, because the rail game genre includes some of the deepest and richest games (like the 18XX series) some of the most imaginative (Railroad Dice is a recent example) and some of the best games of any kind (Stephensons Rocket stands out). Even the so called 'crayon rail' genre includes some games that are elegant and challenging (many games from Winsome). But the 'Rails' series is nothing more than a tedious connect the dots game; there's really not much more here.

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