The Railways of the World Series: Introducing the family members of the ideal medium-weight train game
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So you're looking for a train game that's a step up from Ticket to Ride, without being too hardcore or complicated. Look no further: Railways of the World is your game. It is one of the best games I've ever played, and one of my all-time favourite medium-weight games. Nobody paid me or asked me to write this, by the way - I just love the game!

Don't make the mistake of thinking (as I first did after seeing photos of a massive board and incredible components) that this is just for middle-aged men who drive trains for a living and play with miniature railroads as a hobby, or that this is just for hardcore gamers who like complicated and heavy games, and that this game is not for you. Despite the glamorous and epic appearances, this is just another medium-weight game - only way better than most.

So if you're beyond gateway games, then you really owe it to yourself to consider making this one of your next steps into the world of gaming!



In this GeekList, I'll introduce you to the base game and its expansions, to help you get oriented with this great series. I've also reviewed every single expansion and game in the series, so I'll also include links to my reviews under each item.

If you've played the game, let us know which expansions are your favourites, and feel free to share your thoughts and impressions about the different family members of the Railways of the World series by commenting on the individual items on this list.
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1. Board Game: Railways of the World [Average Rating:7.72 Overall Rank:54]
Ender Wiggins
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This particular series really began in 2005 with Railroad Tycoon. Already in 2002, after the involvement of developer John Bohrer, Martin Wallace had put out Age of Steam, an immensely successful train game that offers a tense and tight experience for hardcore gamers. Eagle Games' Glenn Drover simplified and streamlined the mechanics and game-play of Age of Steam, and attractive over-produced components were added.

The result was a game more appealing to less hardcore gamers and more accessible to a wider audience. In Wallace’s words: “What I attempted to do is strip Age of Steam down to a more basic, faster moving version. The emphasis is firmly on track building. The auctions and special actions have gone, shares are easier - you get to take them out as you need them. It is designed for a wider audience than the original Age of Steam was.

The basic concept of the game is that players are railway executives, who borrow money to finance the building of their personal network of train tracks across a sprawling map, which they use to deliver goods to various cities, and thus increase their income and earn points. In the process, there are all kinds of short term and long term objectives, as well as steady interaction and competition to keep things interesting.

And it worked - Railroad Tycoon proved to be a big and popular hit, and still enjoys a very respectable ranking of #33 on BGG today. Shortly before going out of print it was distributed in an International edition, which was essentially the same game. But even better things were yet to come!

Want to learn more? See my pictorial overview:
mb So you're wondering whether to get the International Edition
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2. Board Game: Railways of the World [Average Rating:7.72 Overall Rank:54]
Ender Wiggins
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With the Railroad Tycoon name no longer available due to licensing issues, and the game itself quickly going out of print, it was time for Eagle Games to give the proven and popular title a face-lift under a new name: Railways of the World. This re-implemented Railroad Tycoon, with the benefit of some tweaks and minor improvements already seen in the two expansions already released for Railroad Tycoon, namely Railways of Europe and Railways of England and Wales.

Railways of the World almost certainly represents the medium-weight railroad game at its best, being at the end of the process of evolutionary curve of development that began already before Age of Steam. It can be considered as the new-and-improved Railroad Tycoon Mark II, and effectively renders the original Railroad Tycoon game obsolete. It's already in the BGG Top 100, and will certainly rise above Railroad Tycoon in the rankings when it gets the same number of ratings, since its average rating is considerably higher.

The first edition of Railways of the World appeared in 2009, and contained the expansion map for the Eastern US (the same as the one from Railroad Tycoon), and a new expansion map for Mexico. At the very end of 2010, a reprint of the game appeared, which featured a number of further cosmetic improvements and small additions to the components. The 2010 edition is best edition of the game yet, and the one to get. Further expansion maps available separately usually only include a map and cards, so you will need the components of the base game to play them.

The typical eurogamer will find much to love about Railways of the World, not least that it is more thematic than many eurogames, and comes with gorgeous over-produced components. Don't be put off by the lavish production or the size and weight of the box. This is a train game for regular gamers - it's a step up from gateway games like Ticket to Ride, and yet not as intense or challenging as heavier games like Age of Steam - and really has the potential to please a wide variety of gamers. It can truly be considered the typical gamer's ultimate and definitive train game!

Want to learn more? See my pictorial reviews:
mb So you're wondering about the new reimplementation of Railroad Tycoon, and how it compares with the original
mb The quintessential train game for the average modern gamer
mb So you're wondering about the reprint of Railways of the World
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3. Board Game: Railways of Mexico [Average Rating:7.82 Unranked] [Average Rating:7.82 Unranked]
Ender Wiggins
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The original Railroad Tycoon only included a map of the Eastern US, but when this was implemented as Railways of the World in 2009, the publishers included a map of Mexico in the base game, with the name Railways of Mexico. A further reprint of the game in 2010 added Railroad Operations cards for this map, to make it even better still.

It's a great addition to the series, and especially makes the game ideal for 2-3 players. The amount of mountainous territory to build tracks through can make for a challenging and financially tense game with tough decisions about the amount of bonds to take out.

Want to learn more? See my pictorial reviews:
mb So you're wondering about Railways of Mexico: Hopping aboard Railroad Tycoon's Mexican train
mb Preview: The separately available Railways of Mexico expansion (now including cards)
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4. Board Game: Railways of Europe [Average Rating:8.12 Unranked] [Average Rating:8.12 Unranked]
Ender Wiggins
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The Mexico map wasn't the first expansion to appear for the series. Already in 2008 a map for Europe had been published as an expansion for Railroad Tycoon, under the name Rails of Europe. After the initial publication of Railways of the World, the Railways of Europe expansion underwent a few further minor tweaks into its current form.

Several new rules appeared in this expansion for the first time, such as permanent major lines, more choice for Railroad Baron cards, new Railroad Operation cards, clearer hex classification and costs, and improved component quality. Most of these changes and improvements were taken over when Railroad Tycoon was reimplemented as Railways of the World, and became the new base game for the series.

The Europe map is particularly ideal for 3-4 players, although it can be played just fine with only 2 players as well. It is an excellent alternative to the Eastern U.S. map, and if you are looking for a change of pace, adding this expansion to the base game will give more variety, balance, scalability, and challenge. The layout of the cities and terrain is more symmetrical, and because the cities are more sparse and building track is more costly, it offers a tighter and tougher game that proves very rewarding and fun to play.

Want to learn more? See my pictorial review:
mb My favourite train game gets a fantastic upgrade!
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5. Board Game: Railways of England and Wales [Average Rating:7.98 Unranked] [Average Rating:7.98 Unranked]
Ender Wiggins
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Railways of England and Wales offers another alternative map which is also particularly great for 3-4 players, just like Railways of Europe map. But unlike Railways of Europe, the gameplay on the England map isn't quite as unforgiving, because cities are located closer together, meaning that the costs of building links are cheaper. While the Eastern US map has 52 cities and the Europe map only has 31, the England map has 44 cities, and offers a more intermediate experience.

The bonus of this expansion is that it also comes with extra components for an optional "Advanced" game by Martin Wallace that introduces a share system, similar to the 18xx series. The Advanced game has received mixed reviews, and takes the game in a very different direction, because you no longer have your own colour, but buy shares in companies that other players also control, and may even have an interest in several different companies at the same time. This adds several new points of interest to the Railways of the World base game, such as paying dividends, variable share prices, and the potential for mergers, which all add new layers of complexity.

Want to learn more? See my pictorial reviews:
mb The latest Railroad Tycoon expansion: a 2-for-1 deal that includes a completely new train game from Martin Wallace!
mb The BASIC England Expansion: a fine addition for a time-tested train game
mb The ADVANCED Share System: a Martin Wallace design for a brand-new train game
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6. Board Game: Railways of Great Britain [Average Rating:8.22 Unranked] [Average Rating:8.22 Unranked]
Ender Wiggins
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Railways of Great Britain was released by Eagle Games in 2013 and is an expansion map that re-implements and effectively replaces the Railways of England and Wales expansion, which is now out of print. It removes the advanced stockmarket version of the game, which was largely panned by critics anyway, and just gives us the England map, with a couple of cosmetic tweaks to the first printing.

Want to learn more? See my pictorial reviews:
mb The second coming of Railways of England & Wales
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7. Board Game: Railways of the Western U.S. [Average Rating:8.02 Unranked] [Average Rating:8.02 Unranked]
Ender Wiggins
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Designed by Rick Holzgrafe, the Railways of the Western U.S. expansion offers a great alternative to the Eastern US map from the base game when playing with a full complement of 5-6 players. Fans of the game will appreciate having a second map to play on, including the fact that it seems to be somewhat more balanced and less assymetrical than the Eastern US map with its decisive north-east corridor. New Major Lines along with some new Railroad Operation and new Baron cards all add up to a new and fresh experience!

Perhaps of greatest interest to some long-time players of the game are the possibilities this expansion opens up for being played alongside the Eastern US map in an epic coast-to-coast game! Some additional components are needed to make this work, but rumour has it that a further expansion is in the works to make such transcontinental play possible.

The Western US expansion also adds two new optional aspects to the gameplay of Railways of the World, which can also be used in other expansions: rotor cities (which enable cities to demand two types of goods), and fuel depots (which offer new possibilities for delivering goods over longer distances).

Want to learn more? See my pictorial review:
mb First Impressions as the Railways of the World series heads West!
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8. Board Game: Railways Through Time [Average Rating:7.47 Unranked] [Average Rating:7.47 Unranked]
Ender Wiggins
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Designed by another long time fan and experienced player of the game, Charlie Bink, Railways Through Time is the newest and latest family member of the series. This expansion adds a new dimension to the game: time travel.

While the basic gameplay and pick-up and deliver mechanism of the Railways of the World series is retained, players are now able to deliver goods across different eight eras in time, each of which is represented by its own map (The Stone Age, Egypt, Ancient Greece, The Medieval Era, The Napoleonic Era, The Old West, Industrial Age, and The Future). The amount of maps used depends on the number of players, so it's very scalable. The map artwork probably represents the best yet in the series.

The concept doesn't drastically alter the original form or feel of the game, but it does create a slightly different and fun experience by offering new possibilities for deliveries, while retaining most of the things we love about the base game. It's an excellent choice for fans wanting a small twist on the original.

Want to learn more? See my pictorial review:
mb Railways of the World successfully enters the Fourth Dimension by adding time travel
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9. Board Game: Railways of North America [Average Rating:7.83 Unranked] [Average Rating:7.83 Unranked]
Ender Wiggins
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The most recent expansion in the series is Railways of North America, which adds two new and separate options for the game, firstly a map of Canada, and secondly rules and components for transcontinental games.

The Canada map is a smaller map that's especially good for 2-4 players, and introduces a few new elements to the game. The first is a snow line, which runs horizontally across the map, and comes with higher building costs when building track above it. Also new are Mines and Ferries, Mines being an additional way to get goods at a city, and Ferries being required to build on a few special "Ferry" spaces that are on the map.

The transcontinental game requires the Eastern US and Western US maps, and this expansion includes the official rules for playing this way. It also comes with some additional components you'll need for this (e.g. extra track tiles, Railroad Baron cards).

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mb Railways of the World goes to Canada and goes Transcontinental
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10. Board Game: Railways of the World: Event Deck [Average Rating:7.39 Unranked] [Average Rating:7.39 Unranked]
Ender Wiggins
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The Railways of the World: Event Deck is a small expansion that can be used with the base game or with any of the other expansion maps. It consists of a deck of 50 cards, which introduce different random events to the game. Some of these are short-term objectives which will help you, but occasionally there are disasters which will hurt you - just like in real life. Fortunately in most cases you get a turn warning about the next event, so you can plan accordingly.

Nothing game-changing here, but consider it to be extra spice for fans looking to add something new to the game.

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mb Adding spice to my favourite train game!
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11. Board Game: Railways of the World: Switch Tracks [Average Rating:7.36 Unranked] [Average Rating:7.36 Unranked]
Ender Wiggins
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In conjunction with the Kickstarter project for the Railways of North America expansion, several mini-expansions were also made available. They are beautiful plastic miniatures that look the same as the empty city markers, but match the player colours, and have a new game-related function.

Fuel Depots: These represent a refueling point at a city, and you can temporarily leave a cube there and deliver it elsewhere on your next action.
Hotels: These serve as visual reminders of cities for which players have acquired a Hotel card from the Railroad Operations deck.
Mines: These work in the same way as the Mine cards from the Railways of North America expansion; they cost $10,000 and give cubes.
Switch track: These let players make a Y connection from a city connection at a cost of $5,000.

Want to learn more? See the explanation in this review:
mb Railways of the World goes to Canada and goes Transcontinental
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12. Board Game: Railways of the World: The Card Game [Average Rating:6.81 Overall Rank:1306]
Ender Wiggins
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Railways of the World: The Card Game adapts the game as a card game, so that players build railroad routes, upgrade engines, and deliver goods using track cards and city cards. It essentially takes the set-collection mechanic familiar from Ticket to Ride, and gives it a new twist by adding pickup-and-deliver elements from the Railways of the World series.

The card game comes with two sets of rules: a simplified family version (which eliminates cube delivery altogether, and limits point scoring to laying track and controlled cities), and a more advanced version for people already familiar with the Railways of the World series.

While it shares some mechanics with Railways of the World, incorporating some Ticket to Ride-like set-collection elements gives it a very different feel, and results in a much lighter and more tactical card game that can be played in well under an hour. It's a satisfying filler that offers more substance than most, and will appeal to fans of Railways of the World looking for a much more casual and quicker experience, or to people who like some luck-of-the-draw and enjoy the social and set-collecting experience of games like Ticket to Ride. It's a package that uses cards in new and creative ways, and yet has enough decision making packed into a relatively short playing time frame.

Want to learn more? See my pictorial review:
mb This is what Ticket To Ride The Card Game should have been!
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13. Board Game: Railways of the World: The Card Game Expansion [Average Rating:7.00 Unranked] [Average Rating:7.00 Unranked]
Ender Wiggins
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Railways of the World: The Card Game Expansion is an expansion to the card game that consists of 50 cards. These add a number of new elements that can be added to the game individually or together, such as Baron cards (offering long term objectives for bonus points), Switches (allowing links of multiple colours), Tunnels (allowing existing cities to be connected), Grey Cities (promoting longer deliveries). It also comes with cards making the game playable with five players.

But one of the best parts of the expansion are the rules for a Draw Deck variant, which can be used with the base game as well. This variant eliminates some of the luck of the draw and makes the gameplay more strategic. Overall it's a nice small package that many fans of the original game will consider a must-have.

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mb Travelling further on a Ticket-to-Ride-type train game
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14. Board Game: Railways Express [Average Rating:4.99 Overall Rank:10536]
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Railways Express is the newest member of the RotW family. It's inherited the striking good looks of its parent, with a beautiful board, and attractive components that include track tiles, cubes, and trains. However this is a very different game from Railways of the World, because it's geared to children aged 6 and up. Rather than a pickup-and-deliver game, it's a race game, and the aim is to be the first player to build track that connects the four cities of your colour.

On your turn, you roll dice, which will determine the types of track tiles you can place that turn, and the terrain type you can play them on. Cubes in your colour (which can be earned by connecting to grey cities) can be discarded to re-roll dice. Players can also optionally add in Service Bounty cards (which award extra re-roll cubes for connecting to these cities), and Railroad Operation cards (which give special abilities, like re-rolling dice or placing extra track tiles).

This is not a game that's pure luck, since you do have to make good decisions about using what you roll to optimize the placement of your track tiles. But the level of strategy is enough for most 6-10 year olds to grasp, and parents should find themselves on a fairly level playing field with their children. Games are often close, making this an ideal family level game.

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mb A lavishly produced Railways of the World race game for the kids
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Ender Wiggins
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So why should you consider Railways of the World?

First of all, it has an impressive pedigree, being the offspring of a Martin Wallace system that has proved most successful in Age of Steam, an ever-popular gamer's game from 2002. It was simplified for a wider audience as Railroad Tycoon in 2005, and as a result of some minor improvements was further refined as Railways of the World in 2009, receiving the benefit of further improvements in a 2010 reprint.

Most importantly, Railways of the World is more friendly and accessible than the tougher experience offered by the original Age of Steam. Its strength lies in the theme, which is closely connected with the pick-up-and-deliver mechanic, and the economic system that is at the heart of the game. When combined with lavishly produced pieces, colourful components, and a game that is playable by the average gamer and can be completed in 2-3 hours, the Railways of the World system has generated some serious staying power and appeal.

I love the theme, the components, the game-play, the depth, the interaction, the sense of building, the length, the replayability, the expansions, and the fun - it's obvious that there's a lot going for this great game! So if you find Age of Steam too tough, or Ticket to Ride too simple, as most gamers will, then Railways of the World is for you, and can rightly be considered the ultimate and the quintessential train game for the typical modern gamer! With the benefit of multiple expansions that are now available, it's an outstanding and ideal medium-weight train game.

So where should you start?

Not only is the original Railroad Tycoon out of print, but it's also obsolete, given that it has been reimplented and improved as Railways of the World. So make sure you get the 2010 reprint of Railways of the World which comes with corrected and improved components, and a Mexico map and cards for 2-3 player games, and an Eastern US map and cards for 4-6 player games.

As far as expansions go, Railways of the Western U.S. offers a similar experience to the Eastern US map, by providing an alternate map for a similar number of players. For the same feel of game but for 3-4 players, the Europe and England maps are ideal, with the Railways of Europe map providing a tougher and tenser game, and the Railways of England and Wales map coming with optional advance rules and components for a share system. For a different take on the game system, try the Railways Through Time expansion, which changes just enough to give a different and fun feel, and is fully customizable and scalable by enabling players to select a combination of smaller maps and transporting goods between them.

Railways of the World: The Card Game takes the game into a whole other direction again, by adding some Railways of the World mechanics to a Ticket to Ride style of game, and turning it into a card game, so this is a good option if you want a lighter and more casual game.

This is a terrific series of games, and I look forward to playing it many more times in years to come!
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