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North American Railways
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North American Railways

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Ages Play Time Players
12+ 45 minutes 3-5

Designer(s): Peer Sylvester

Publisher(s): Spielworxx

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  • WARNING: Choking Hazard - Small Parts

Product Description

In the card game North American Railways, 3-5 players build railroads in the United States. They become directors of up to five different companies and try to acquire a majority of shares. In the end, the player with the most cash wins.

North American Railways is mechanically simple but very tough to play well.

Product Information

Product Reviews


Average Rating: 3 in 1 review

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by Dale Yu
Review excerpt from the Opinionated Gamers
December 21, 2016

North American Railways is an interesting stripped down version of a traditional railways game – as there is no board or track-laying – all you have is the economic part of the game. The game is all about the shares and the profits.

Though the components seem simple, you’ll need a fair amount of table space for the game. Both the share grid and the track card grid take up a decent amount of space. You’ll also need to reserve some space for the different rail companies and their treasuries – and it’s good to set them apart from each other so that they aren’t mistaken with each other nor with player’s stuff.

Like many 18xx games, there is a certain art for knowing how much to fund a company. You don’t want to put all your money in a single company because then you wouldn’t have any capital to buy later shares. However, if you don’t put enough money into the treasury, you won’t be able to buy the track cards you need, and without those, you’ll never get any return out of the shares in the first place.

This game further complicates matters with the whole first-right-of-refusal bit on the shares. There are times when you want to allow others into the company – as multiple shareholders could trigger multiple stock card buys in a round. However, the current director is at the mercy of the other player as far as the amount of the offer goes. A savvy player might even force a company to be undercapitalized by offering shares at a very low price (or, get into a company at a very low cost).

In both of the games that I’ve played thus far, we had at least one newbie to rail games – and that has led to low share prices which in turn caused low capitalization of companies which in turn caused the companies to run out of money and not be able to buy many shares. To me, that’s part of the game – dealing with the differing amounts of money injected into any given game – but it also highlights some fragility in the overall economic system.

The purchasing system gives you a number of choices on your turn, as there are usually four different cards available for you to choose from. You might also look at the card in the second position because you should also be aware of what you’re making available to your opponents.

Assuming that you are able to buy shares, there is an interesting decision between buying shares which provide income on a turn-by-turn basis versus shares which have the shields giving the end-game payout bonus. Also, depending on how much money you have in the treasury, you might be able to buy multiple small cost shares versus a few more expensive shares.

In a 4p game, I’d expect the game to only go 5 or 6 rounds – as you are forced to offer at least one share per player turn – though you can keep offering up shares if the active player doesn’t win the offered share. So, there isn’t a lot of time to accomplish what you want to get done.

(more details on gameplay can be found in the full review at the Opinionated Gamers)

Other Resources for North American Railways:

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