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Dawn on the moon. The brilliant blue Earth rises above the crater's edge. Amid the lunar dust in the cold emptiness that is the lunar atmosphere, you can feel the strength and power of the train rushing by, but you can not hear it... One can't help but wonder at the willfulness of the human race, shaping the universe one rock at a time. From dome to dome, installation to mine to city, all the settlements on the moon must be connected by rail. There are no roads for cars, no atmosphere for airplanes. The only economical solution is rail. High speed, high capacity, reliable, efficient.
Are you up to the challenge? Can you drive the rail lines from Sinus Iridum to Mare Nectarus? Or from the Ice Mines at Scott to the Far Side metropolis in Mare Ingenii? Will your route bring you fortune and success, or will your competitors drive the development on the Moon? Will you invest in better trains: faster? Stronger? Or perhaps both?
Welcome to the Moon! Face the challenges of building a rail empire on this barren and airless world. Plot your network of steel to earn fortune and glory. Your rails, and those of your competitors, will span the surface of the moon, transporting goods from supplier to demand. While no political boundaries stand in your way, mountains, craters, and the destructive forces of nature may. Spend your money wisely, make every mile marker count, and the wealth of the Moon will be yours to command. Based on the award-winning Empire Builder Game System, Lunar Rails uses erasable crayons to draw track between Lunar cities. The specially-coated gameboard lets you wipe it clean after each game, so every time you play the experience will be different! You get to decide on the best way to lay track to take advantage of the options before you!
Lunar Rails works if you are a moon freak and a railroad geek. Unfortunately, I plead guilty to at least a railroad geek.
Lunar Rails does not disappoint you from the standpoint of graphics for the far and near sides of the moon. I particularly liked the craters and the extra cost to cross.
If you like Empire Rails and all the accompanying rail games, you will find the rules easy to digest. Naturally, the names were not easy to digest, and one of my gaming colleagues suggested remembering the far side of the Moon with Russians and physicists. That worked for most of the locations. With four of us playing we were constantly asking each other where Lowell, Wells, Clavius, and Copernicus were. The Peary/Scott feature works well where a railroad built into this southern location can be transferred from the near side to the far side and back again. One has to remember the only place to find the Water is the Scott city. The Peary/Scott feature speeds up some of the deliveries unless one carries a '10' train with two loads for most of the game.
Now, let's talk about some of the drawbacks after the four of us played for three hours:
1. The player who had the most money acquired only $50 million; one needs $250 million for victory conditions.
2. Most of us still had only a '10' train with two loads or maybe three loads in one case.
3. One player had acquired at least five cities; one needs seven of the eight major cities to win.
All these drawbacks suggest the game has a 'slow' feature. Therefore, our group suggested we double each load delivered for the money. That would allow us to acquire the $250 million much sooner in spite of slow trains and difficult terrain.
Would I play the game again? Absolutely. I enjoyed finding all those strange sounding names, and the deliveries would make more sense after two or three more plays with 'speeded up' rules. The rules are well organized, and Mayfair has learned a great deal about presenting the information in a coherent manner. Still, our group wondered why the cities and the loads were printed back to back instead of four different sheets for multiple players. I liked the setup of loads on the back of each Von Braun '10' train.
My mistake occurred when trying to build to Daedalus from Scott on the Moon's far side and almost running out of money. Therefore, strategy always plays an important part in railroad games, especially Lunar Rails. One cannot build too fast; the terrain is so expensive with obvious Highland mountains and Highland Alpine everywhere.