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This review was first posted to Kulkmann's G@mebox...
String Railway is a game published by Japon Brand/Okazu Brand from Japan. The game was initally published in 2010. The initial print run was very small, and the game immediately sold out. Fortunately, the game is back in print and available again from hobby stores in Japan. I had been searching for a copy for 14 months, and quickly grabbed a copy from Banesto in Japan.
The game comes in a small, rectangular box, about six inches by four inches. Inside the box is a small score board, a deck of square station cards, some plastic markers, five wooden pawns, rules in English and Japanese, and 48 pieces of string ... in a variety of colours!
The game is for two to five players. The English rules are clear, and I had no problems understanding them. The colourful station cards feature both Japanese and English text.
This is a train game... sort of. The idea of the game is you use the large, looped, black string to create a game board. This boundary string is the perimeter. A smaller, grey loop of string is placed inside the board. This is the mountain. A length of blue string is similarly placed - the river. Finally, players select their starting positions, next to marks on the black boundary string, and place a base station card in their colour. They take five strings in their colour, four short and one long, and the game is ready to begin.
The aim of the game is to score victory points, and you do this by placing your strings, representing your railroad, to stations cards. On a player's turn, they flip up a station card from the deck, place it anywhere inside the playing area, and then place one of their five strings. String must begin and end on different station cards. After placing the string, points are scored based on the stations entered during the turn. Everybody does this for five rounds, and the winner is the player with the most points.
This game is really a super filler, taking no more than 20 to 30 minutes. It is not a difficult game to learn - the only real detail is in the different station cards that are revealed. There are eight different types of stations, each with specific scoring rules - clearly indicated by consistent use of icons on the cards themselves. Most stations simply award points for an initial connection, and impose a limit on the number of players that can connect to that location. A couple of them award points to the owner (the first player to connect to it), but then remove points for any future connections by other players. Players also lose points for building over the river, mountain, as well as other player's railroads that are not inside a station card.
String Railway is fun. It's tiny, quirky, and fast to play. The string placement mechanic is inspired - it feels very organic and natural as you bend the string to your will. Luck can be a factor here. Some stations are not good when drawn early, and others aren't good when drawn late. I think the luck factor is acceptable for a game of this length. Early leaders can be dealt with by attacking their base station (therefore deducting points), or blocking him out of lucrative areas of the board via string boundaries or company limits. Careful placement of stations, and timing the use of your long string, can bring you back into contention.
The only problem I can see with the game is it could be tricky playing it on a slippery table surface. The plastic coated cards are slick, and move around as players place their strings. This can also be a game of millimetres too, as you try and maximize your strings potential. Avoid playing with a miniature wargamer, you know, the ones who take a millimetre seriously...
After nearly four decades of game playing, I find myself craving original and different. String Railway is a breath of fresh air. Recommended.
- Last edited Wed Feb 29, 2012 11:04 pm (Total Number of Edits: 3)
- Posted Wed Feb 29, 2012 12:32 am
And when you gaze long into Ducky Momo, Ducky Momo also gazes into you.
Avoid playing with a miniature wargames, you know, the ones who take a millimetre seriously...
I think you hit the nail on the head there. It's not a game I want to play with anyone too competitive, who will complain if an accidental nudge ruins the clever blocking play they spent 10 minutes calculating to the micron. No doubt I would also get an earful about the luck of the station draw.
Great fun for the rest of us, though!
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Yeah, the resolution just isn't there. However, that has been a less of a problem than it seemed to be at one point. It was just some players who tried to be a bit too precise.
It's a lovely game. Sure, sometimes you lose or win thanks to an outrageous station draw, but most of the time the games are exciting until the end.
The game also scales quite well - I like it with all player counts.
Now who are these five?
Come, come, all children who love fairy tales.
It helps a lot playing on a game table with a felt cloth. Sometimes a very slippery surface can be annoying even or non-competitives, like suddenly a railway being way off (a centimeter or more) from a station is SHOULD be connected to, and you can't bring it back there without messing up other strings that also SHOULD be connected to place X.