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Train Games in An Hour or Less (Where You Don't Own a Company)
Tom Russell
United States
Dearborn
Michigan
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I'm a little embarrassed by my train gamer microbadge. It's not that I find train games embarrassing, or that I don't enjoy them-- I certainly do! It's just that it's very very very hard to get train games on the table.

I'm all like, "You guys, this game is about TRAINS! And STOCK! STOCK in TRAINS! DIIIVVVVIIIDDDDEEENNNNDDDDSSSS!!!!"

And they're all like, snore

Part of their hesistance, though, is the knowledge that a single train game will likely be it for the entire evening. And I'm sympathetic to that. At the same time, I don't want to settle for another round of Zombie Dice or Munchkin.

So, here's what I'm looking for: train games that play in less than an hour.

In case the nomenclature "train game" is ambiguous, let me define it a little more narrowly:

I'm looking for a game, themed around trains, in which players don't "own" a company, but may (or may not) own stock in one, in which there is a track-laying component. Ticket to Ride, for all its merits, does not apply.
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1. Board Game: Chicago Express [Average Rating:7.23 Overall Rank:339]
Tom Russell
United States
Dearborn
Michigan
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I've heard this/Wabash typically plays in about 45 minutes, and that it's a fairly meaty train game, especially given the playing time. I almost bought it, and then the guy at the store, a hardcore 18xxer, said that once you've played it once, there's no need to pay it again, as every game plays exactly the same as the last. I'm probably still going to hunker down and get it eventually, when/if I find myself more fiscally solvent.
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2. Board Game: Paris Connection [Average Rating:6.78 Overall Rank:1145]
Tom Russell
United States
Dearborn
Michigan
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I've played one ten-minute game of this Winsome and found it really enjoyable. The guy who taught us the game sold it as very lightweight, and didn't want to set it up properly-- all the trains were in one big pile. I think the game has a lot more to it, but proper decision-making and shares-deduction is probably contingent on having all the trains properly set on their boards.
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3. Board Game: TransAmerica [Average Rating:6.66 Overall Rank:859]
Dwayne Wood
United States
Cabool
Missouri
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Do my work for me railroad minion, Muhahahahaha!
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4. Board Game: Steel Driver [Average Rating:7.02 Overall Rank:878]
Brad Miller
United States
Seattle
Washington
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Might be a bit more than an hour, but with experience, pretty doable I'd say.

EDIT: To keep Rompcats from gettin in a lather...
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5. Board Game: Santa Fe Rails [Average Rating:6.83 Overall Rank:1682]
Dwayne Wood
United States
Cabool
Missouri
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not sure about the hour time limit.
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6. Board Game: Pampas Railroads [Average Rating:7.10 Overall Rank:3230]
Tony Chen
Taiwan
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7. Board Game: Samarkand: Routes to Riches [Average Rating:6.91 Overall Rank:1141]
Tony Chen
Taiwan
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8. Board Game: Italian Rails [Average Rating:7.00 Unranked]
upandawaygames.com
United States
California
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Often finishes in 45 minutes or less.
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9. Board Game: Railroad Dice [Average Rating:6.20 Overall Rank:3468]
patrick stevens
United States
Los Angeles
California
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And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.
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Not my favorite, but it fits the time schedule and ownership of companies changes.
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10. Board Game: Stephenson's Rocket [Average Rating:6.87 Overall Rank:957]
Stephen Smith
United States
Jackson
MS
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Knizia does train games.
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11. Board Game: Open Rails Origins [Average Rating:6.69 Unranked]
Steve S
United States
Roscoe
Illinois
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It's print-and-play but an extremely nice print and play.

The game plays in probably forty minutes or so. Players own stocks in the different railroads but don't own a specific railroad - in fact the company you control can change partway through the game if you get enough stock in one.

In fact for an even shorter game, the designer also has now put out Open Rails Express: Cleveland Interurban, which uses a similar play system but uses a much smaller play area, and you control trolly lines rather than railroads.
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12. Board Game: Railways of the World: The Card Game [Average Rating:6.75 Overall Rank:1774]
Blake Morris
United States
Henrico
Virginia
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This size viola da gamba is like a cello with frets. I started playing at age 48.
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This card game version of Railways of the World plays fairly quickly and is not difficult.
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13. Board Game: Railroad Barons [Average Rating:6.29 Overall Rank:4126]
Ron Parker
United States
Fort Wayne
Indiana
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This doesn't strictly belong on the list, because nobody lays any track. But because it's an 18xx game, I'm going to flagrantly break the rules and add it anyway just to counterbalance TransAmerica.

It claims a 45-minute play time, but the biggest caveat (besides the no-track-laying thing) is that it's strictly a 2-player game.
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14. Board Game: Freight [Average Rating:7.50 Unranked]
Lajos
Japan
Hachiouji
Tokyo
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This is usually under an hour (with 4 players or less), but it is a PnP and needs some additional components (such as cubes and coins) that need to be provided by the game host/players. I think it satisfies your requirements, however.

(I'm this game's designer.)
 
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