Home  Board Game News  It’s full steam ahead with Train Games!

It’s full steam ahead with Train Games!

Posted Wednesday, 14-Jan-2015

Ready to conduct your next Railroad themed board game night?  Avoid chugging on the wrong track with our review of all-things Train Games.


Contributed by Bruce Linsey


Train Games:  A great appeal for game designers

Train and railroad games have always been one of the most appealing themes for game designers…and why not?  Who among us can deny the storied role of railroads in the history of our nation, or their importance in our development of tourism and commerce?  What little boy or girl hasn’t sat watching a train go by without wondering where it came from, where it is bound, or who or what is inside all those brightly colored cars?

The broad appeal of trains is not lost on game designers or publishers.  Not only are there hundreds of games using this railroad theme, there are in fact several whole series of train games out there!

Empire Builder is the prototype of what are often referred to as the “crayon rail” games, so-called because the trains run on track drawn on the board with erasable crayons.  This best-selling train game is one of the most popular board games of the late twentieth century, and is played on a map of the U.S., southern Canada and (in later versions) Mexico.  Other games in the series include British Rails, Eurorails, and India Rails.


Empire BuilderBritish RailsIndia Rails

Alan R. Moon’s Ticket to Ride

Ticket to Ride is a very accessible and popular railroad game designed by Alan R. Moon.  In this game, players collect train cards, build track and complete routes for points.  This game has several popular variants and spinoffs taking place in such distant lands as Scandinavia, Switzerland and Africa. Indeed, Mr. Moon has devoted much of his highly successful career to designing train games.  Earlier examples include Union Pacific and Santa Fe.


Short on time? Try TransAmerica!

Still another popular train game is TransAmerica, a fast and easy game in which players simply need to complete a track network across the U.S., without actually running trains anywhere.


Winsome Games has published a whole series of train-based games, including Union vs. Central, Tracks to Titicaca and Prairie Railroads.

A whole sub-genre of train games called the 18xx series has railroad companies issuing stock and rewarding shareholders (the players). Examples of this series include 1829 and 1830.  Most of these games tend to be quite involved, for experienced gamers only.


1829 game       1830 train game

What are some of your favorite train games?

There are many terrific rail games not mentioned above.  Some other popular examples include Rail Baron, Age of Steam, Railway Rivals and (most recently) Russian Railroads.

Train games are an easy genre of games to love!  What are some of your favorites?


Photo Credit: Sam Wakeling

Published by BoardGamePrices.com

Newsletter Sign-Up

Widget is loading comments...