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2016 edition

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Product Awards:  

Ages Play Time Players
8+ 30 minutes 2-6

Designer(s): Franz-Benno Delonge

Publisher(s): Rio Grande Games

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Product Description

Build the rails from sea to sea.

America in the 19th century: railroads are booming! Pioneer spirit and vision are everywhere.

Everyone wants to be the first to build a railroad network across the country. Each player has five cities and tries to connect them with a shared network of tracks. As soon as a player has done this, the round ends. The other players lose points and the next round begins. At the end of the game, the player with the most points left wins!

Product Awards

Major FUN
Award Winner, 2007
Mensa Best Mind Game Award
Best Mind Game, 2003
Deutscher Spiele Preis
2nd place, 2002
Spiel des Jahres
Finalist, 2002

Product Information


  • game board
  • 85 wooden rails
  • 35 city cards
  • 6 wooden start markers
  • 6 wooden locomotive tokens
  • starting map
  • rules

Product Reviews


Average Rating: 4.1 in 30 reviews

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Simply not fun
July 07, 2009

I got this game for my birthday about 6 months ago but it had not been the first time I played it. In my family, we have a tendancy to all pick up the same game at any given time and for some reason, trans america was that game. For the life of me, I don't know why. Each player randomly picks cities that they have to connect with rail roads. OK, sounds fine. You get to place two every turn, unless you are going over a river. OK, again, a little strategic. You can build into other people's tracks and use them. OK... connect your cities. Done. What this game ends up being is a stand off to who can play the longest without getting bored, and the loser finally says "Fine! I'll build my track close to you because I have to get to one of my cities." Then everyone else hops on his track and the game is usually over in two turns. Flatly, the game is just not that fun. It's a trial in patience and if you have children, it may be a good learning tool. But like candy land, as soon as your children are able to play a different, more complicated game, they probably should. Anyway, trans america isn't all that expensive so if you must try it out by all means, I hope you can enjoy it.

by J K.
Simple, fast, enjoy, repeat...
November 11, 2007

After some time away, I felt compelled to give some review love to several games that we have found keep coming out of the game closet over and over again, all for different reasons. Sometimes, a few hours are available with deep strategists who enjoy the intricacies of multi-phase, hybrid-optioned intertwining. Other times, folks are in the mood for beating one another competitively under the burden of points scores in various card or tile games for nightly bragging rights.

At times, a portable, easy to learn/setup, and fast playing simple game with a touch of strategy and luck fits the bill. One of these games (but arguably much more abstract) that I'd recommend for reinvigoration is Pyramidis. Another that is equally playable amongst various ages and gamer backgrounds is Trans America.

I'll oversight the play-rules courtesy of the many other related reviews (essentially: pick 5 cards designating cities to link to, set a start point, play 2 rails each turn until all 5 are connected) except to point out that you've now basically learned the game. The luck involved is in two dimensions: the initial pull of your 5 cities, and in the laydown of rails from the other players. While there's not a huge amount of variance available given the size of board/# of cities/#of players, it's suitable for a new-feeling game each time you play.

The strategy is arguably minimal but overlooked (I believe) in the depth of options available when one places their 2 rails each turn. This (combined with choice of start spot) helps inject newness to each round and offers sufficient top-level strategies to emerge (Go straight? Hop onto someone else's rails remora-like and share the benefit? Divert myself away from the actual places to confuse fellow travelers but take time doing it?). Some other opportunities get missed by the casual player (when to touch others rails is a key decision, what negatives may occur if one routes through cities you don't need but others might, etc.), taking what might seem a touch rote and senseless-placement based into more of a fun, socially-affected tactic space.

Some expectation do's and don'ts: Do expect this to be a short (15-20min per round) enjoyable game best with 4 that holds up for the several rounds needed to complete the game. Don't expect this to be cutthroat me-against-all-of-you type play that appeals to the "stick it to the other player" type (at best you can annoy by connecting rails to another player early or by building your rails in lines not terribly helpful to the others). Do expect this to be around for several years of play and a nice augment to other rail games such as Ticket to Ride (for those wanting their connecting from A-B Jones handled but also with more risk and "block me" options), Rail Baron (oldie but a goodie with more of an economic/Monopoly angle to building your routes), and others (Express, anyone?). Do not expect a richly detailed backstory, Black Forest/handcrafted game piecery (simple black rails are however complemented by a pretty board), deep strategic option play-based (I can't stop a player's progress? Blow up their train? Slyly divert their rail building in another direction? - oh, wait - can do that one...) type of game.

The only minus for play I'd offer is the inevitable crashing of one's train off the status bridge that notes the loser's inability to connect cities faster than the opponents - an odd points-tracking metaphor at best (You were first! You get to...keep your train in the station, while the their way towards certain doom!?) and personally better if replaced by a "whose train traveled the farthest" approach. Perhaps it's more of an incentive to play well knowing your train may be sent tragically to its end...? Oh well.

Enough verbiage, quick summary: Very playable, flexible, simple game, fun (and winnable) with all ages/experience players. With the exception of constantly losing the many rail pieces amongst the silverware, one could consider it a restaurant/travel game (better for motel bed /floor play). Go-get-play-enjoy-repeat.

J. K.

Note: this review refers to a different release of this product.
This is a great game!
January 02, 2006
My son got this as a birthday present from my sister, and we've played it everyday since. It is a definite favorite in our household. We've shared it with others and it is on our shopping list whenever we need to buy for a birthday - it is the best game we've played in a long while.
Note: this review refers to a different release of this product.

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