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:7.69 Overall Rank:104] [Average Rating:7.69 Unranked]
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 is what got this entire series going. 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:7.69 Overall Rank:104] [Average Rating:7.69 Unranked]
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. In 2017, a 10th anniversary edition of the game was produced, with further component upgrades and all round improvements, as well as clarifications to the cards and rules. The 10th anniversary edition is easily the definitive edition of the game, and is definitely the one to get if you can. 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 The reimplementation of Railroad Tycoon, and how it compares with the original
mb The quintessential train game for the average modern gamer
mb The 2010 reprint of Railways of the World
mb The 10th anniversary edition of my favourite train game (NEW)
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3. Board Game: Railways of Mexico [Average Rating:7.76 Unranked] [Average Rating:7.76 Unranked]
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. The 10th anniversary edition produced in 2017 made component upgrades to the entire game, including new artwork for the Mexico map, and much improved graphic design for all the cards.

The Mexico map is 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:8.09 Unranked] [Average Rating:8.09 Unranked]
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 in 2009, and became the new base game for the series.

When the 10th anniversary edition of the Railways of the World base game was produced in 2017, the entire series received a complete overhaul and upgrade. This included the Europe expansion, which was reprinted with a new and improved artwork and graphic design.

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!
mb The 10th anniversary Railways of the World reprint of the Europe expansion (NEW)
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5. Board Game: Railways of England and Wales [Average Rating:7.93 Unranked] [Average Rating:7.93 Unranked]
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.

The Railways of England and Wales expansion effectively became obsolete when it was replaced with the improved Railways of Great Britain expansion in 2013.

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:7.84 Unranked] [Average Rating:7.84 Unranked]
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. The Great Britain expansion received a further makeover in 2017, when the entire series was upgraded for the 10th anniversary edition of the base game. The map and cards were reprinted with new artwork, new graphic design, and additional clarifications and improvements.

The Great Britain map continues to be a map of choice that is well suited when playing with less experienced players, due to the fact that it has a lot of shorter links, and thus it's possible to build up a profitable network without the same level of tight finances as some of the other maps. Like the other maps, it's a fine addition to a wonderful series!

Want to learn more? See my pictorial reviews:
mb The second coming of Railways of England & Wales
mb The 10th anniversary Railways of the World reprint of the Great Britain expansion (NEW)
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7. Board Game: Railways of the Western U.S. [Average Rating:7.96 Unranked] [Average Rating:7.96 Unranked]
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 long-time players of the game are the possibilities this expansion opened up for being played alongside the Eastern US map in a transcontinental game. Some additional components are needed to make this work, and the subsequent Railways of North America expansion included the new Operations and Baron cards necessary for this epic coast-to-coast game.

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).

When the entire series was upgraded in 2017 for the 10th anniversary edition of the base game, both the Western US map and all the cards were reprinted with improvements and clarifications.

Want to learn more? See my pictorial review:
mb First Impressions as the Railways of the World series heads West!
mb The 10th anniversary Railways of the World reprint of the Western US expansion (NEW)
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8. Board Game: Railways Through Time [Average Rating:7.40 Unranked] [Average Rating:7.40 Unranked]
Designed by a long time fan and experienced player of the game, Charlie Bink, Railways Through Time adds an entirely 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 concept doesn't drastically alter the original form or feel of the game, but it does create a very different and fun experience by offering new possibilities for deliveries, while retaining most of the things we love about the base game. It's a good choice for fans wanting a 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:7.69 Unranked] [Average Rating:7.69 Unranked]
One of the newest expansions 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 is 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 10th anniversary reprint of this expansion included some snowy track tiles as a nice thematic touch, and also upgraded the graphic design of the map, along with clarifications and improvements to the cards.

The transcontinental game requires the Eastern US and Western US maps, but this expansion does come with some additional components you'll need for this (e.g. Railroad Operation cards, Railroad Baron cards), and a new income and score track.

Want to learn more? See my pictorial review:
Railways of the World goes to Canada and goes Transcontinental
The 10th anniversary Railways of the World reprint of the North America expansion (NEW)
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10. Board Game: Railways of Nippon [Average Rating:7.72 Overall Rank:2990] [Average Rating:7.72 Unranked]
Coinciding with the release of the 10th anniversary edition of Railways of the World and reprints of all the expansions in 2018, was the release of a brand new base game: Railways of Nippon. This is the very latest addition to the series, and brings our railroad network to a Japan map.

Railways of Nippon is effectively an alternative base game, coming with all the components you need to play. That means that unlike all the other expansions, you don't need Railways of the World, because it's an independent game and includes the player trains (in 4 new colours), cards, bonds, money, score track, and other bits and pieces necessary. It is only for 2-4 player games, however, so you will need some extras if you want to play with more players on the larger expansion maps. But it is another great entry point into the series.

The Japan map is a smaller board, similar in size to the Mexico and Canada maps. The cities are relatively close together, but the challenging terrain ensures that playing on this map still produces a very tight and competitive game.

Want to learn more? See my pictorial review:
mb A new base game for Railways of the World, and the ideal medium weight train game (NEW)
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11. Board Game: Railways of Antarctica [Average Rating:5.33 Unranked] [Average Rating:5.33 Unranked]
As a stretch goal when making the 10th anniversary edition of Railways of the World, the publisher produced a special bonus map, Railways of Antarctica. Two separate scenarios exist for the Antarctica board, both of which were created by winners of a contest sponsored by the publisher.

There's not a lot to see here, besides a whole lot of snow and ice - but that will change once you start adding track and trains. It's a novel idea that makes it worth exploring at least once. But just like real life, Antarctica isn't likely a continent most players will visit often, but it is a nice option for something totally different.

Want to learn more? See my pictorial review:
mb The Railways of the World franchise heads to Antarctica (NEW)
 
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12. Board Game: Railways of the World: Event Deck [Average Rating:7.45 Unranked] [Average Rating:7.45 Unranked]
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.

Want to learn more? See my pictorial review:
mb Adding spice to my favourite train game!
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13. Board Game: Railways of the World: Switch Tracks [Average Rating:7.40 Unranked] [Average Rating:7.40 Unranked]
In conjunction with the Kickstarter project for the Railways of North America expansion, several mini-expansions were also made available. With the 10th anniversary reprint these were produced in improved colours matching the trains for both Railways of the World and Railways of Nippon.

These mini-expansions 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.

Railways of the World: 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.
Railways of the World: 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.
Railways of the World: Switch Tracks These let players make a Y connection from a city connection at a cost of $5,000.
Railways of the World: Hotels These serve as visual reminders of cities for which players have acquired a Hotel card from the Railroad Operations deck.

Railways of the World: City Rotors This is a special mini expansion included in Railways of the Western US. Special city markers have a rotating colour wheel that shows a second colour which a city will accept deliveries for; this is rotated to a new colour each time a delivery is made.

Want to learn more? See the explanation in this review:
mb Railways of the World goes to Canada and goes Transcontinental
mb The Mini-Expansions for Railways of the World (NEW)
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14. Board Game: Railways of the World: The Card Game [Average Rating:6.73 Overall Rank:2226]
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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15. Board Game: Railways of the World: The Card Game Expansion [Average Rating:7.06 Unranked] [Average Rating:7.06 Unranked]
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.

Want to learn more? See my pictorial review:
mb Travelling further on a Ticket-to-Ride-type train game
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16. Board Game: Railways Express [Average Rating:4.81 Overall Rank:16690]
Railways Express was created in 2013 as very different member of the RotW family, with similar components but very different game-play that is intended especially for younger players. It has 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).

Luck plays a big role, but it's not entirely 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.

Want to learn more? See my pictorial review:
mb A lavishly produced Railways of the World race game for the kids
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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. And in 2018 a 10th anniversary edition was produced for the entire series, that is the most definitive and polished version yet.

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 re-implemented and improved as Railways of the World. The 2010 reprint of Railways of the World comes with corrected and improved components, but the best version to get is easily the 10th anniversary edition produced in 2018, which has upgraded components, clarified cards, and a revised rulebook. This base game has a Mexico map and cards for 2-3 player games, and an Eastern US map and cards for 4-6 player games.

Another starting point is Railways of Nippon, which is an alternative base game that comes with all the components needed to play, including a smaller Japan map and cards for 2-4 player games. However if you want to branch out later to expansions on larger maps for 5-6 players, you will need to buy some extra components (more trains, track tiles, and scoreboard). All of these are available separately from the publisher, but it does make Railways of the World a better starting point if you think you'll be getting expansions later.

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 Great Britain an easier game since cities are close together. For another smaller map, try Railways of North America, which comes with a map of Canada and has some special rules about a snow belt.

For an entirely different take on the game system, try the Railways Through Time expansion, which adds the idea of time travel. This is fully customizable and scalable by enabling players to select a combination of smaller maps and transporting goods between them, and gives the same game-play a whole new flavour. 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. Railways Express is more for younger children, and not recommended for strategy gamers.

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