My favorite game. Simple rules, but highly strategic and tactical, brutal. The game is won and lost in the auction.
Clearclaw describes it best: "Let's get the basics down: First, this game doesn't like you. It doesn't like anybody else either, but it particularly doesn't like you. If you ever have a question on the rules or how the rules apply to a particular situation then pick the answer that hurts the most. You'll almost certainly be right."
Pampas Railroads is the very interesting older brother of Wabash Cannonball / Chicago Express. There's less emphasis on alliances and the economics are a little different with all 5 shares accounted for on dividends, whether sold or not.
Wabash Cannonball / Chicago Express is a quick-playing, auction game of railroad expansion and shareholding.
There is no luck and the game is about acting/reacting to what others are doing. Through clever manipulation of available actions and auctioning of shares, you can influence other players into working together to a common end, if only temporarily. While a major feature of the game is the auction, there are also many other things you can do to mess with other players' plans (try taking the B&O or even the PRR southwest to block the C&O - when done properly, it's a thing of beauty!).
The game comes down to influencing when the game will end (if I can end it next turn, I will win, but one turn too early or too late and I don't have a chance). Sometimes the game will end after 4 dividends, sometimes more, and rarely the full 8. Sometimes railroads will make it to Chicago and Detroit; often no one does. If you believe the game always plays out the same and get stale, you don't understand the game and haven't played it enough.
The rules are simple and the depth is subtle at first. Give it a few plays - this is an amazing game!