Introducing the 10th Anniversary Edition of Railways of the World

Before I get into this review, I have a massive bias that you need to know about. I love Railways of the World. There, I said it. Railways of the World is one of my favourite games of all time. Seriously. I love everything about it: the theme, the game-play, and of course the amazing components. It really is a gem of a game. If you're not familiar with it, or want to hear me gush about it, read my one of the most comprehensive reviews I've ever written right here [review link]. In that article I said that if you're looking for a train game that's a step up from Ticket to Ride, without being too hardcore or complicated, Railways of the World is your game. If you've seen photos of this game (like the one below), with its massive board and incredible components, you might think that this a glamorous and heavy duty game that is reserved for hardcore gamers and not for you. But not at all: if you're beyond gateway games, then this is an ideal "next step" into the world of gaming.

My obvious bias doesn't disqualify me from writing this review, however, but the opposite: it makes me qualified. Because in this review, I'm not so much covering the game-play of the game itself - I've already done that extensively in my previous review. But Railways of the World has now been out for more than a decade, and to mark the occasion, the publisher put out a 10th anniversary edition of the game. The game itself hasn't changed as such, but over time the game has had numerous adjustments, additions, and upgrades, and this new 10th anniversary version is intended to be a definitive version of this beautiful game. To help make the 10th anniversary edition happen, the publisher organized a team of Railways of the World enthusiasts to be involved, and solicited the gaming community for input along the way as part of the process. I wasn't part of the team that produced this new version, but I am one of the happy owners of the new edition, having upgraded to the anniversary edition of the base game and the expansions.

But first, a brief overview of the ancestry and evolution of the game itself. Railways of the World owes its origin to more cut-throat and heavy train games like Age of Steam, from which Railroad Tycoon was developed in 2005, as a more accessible medium weight game that also had more lavish components. Railroad Tycoon appeared under a new title Railways of the World in 2009, which was followed by a reprint in 2010 that included some small changes and improvements. Since then the game has continued to be made available, and various expansions have come on board, including maps Europe, Great Britain, Western US, North America, and even one that included time travel. If you want to follow the game's evolution, you can see my pictorial reviews of its various editions starting with the 2005 Railroad Tycoon [review link], the 2009 Railways of the World [review link], the 2010 reprint [review link], or an overview of the entire series including all the expansions [GeekList link].

What this review is about is a comparison of the new 10th anniversary edition of the game, primarily with the most recent version prior to that, namely the 2010 reprint. What changes have they made to the components or otherwise, and are they improvements? If you already own a version of Railways of the World and are wondering whether to upgrade or what changes the new version has, this review will tell you all you need to know. And if you have been considering getting Railways of the World and are wondering which version to get, hopefully this review will convince you to pull the trigger and purchase this new edition (spoiler: yes, it is an improvement, and it is fantastic!). And if you're not familiar with Railways of the World at all, hopefully this article will get you interested in the game, and that you'll also read my previous review about the game-play, and be convinced to pick up this magnificent gem. With this anniversary edition, it's clear that this terrific game is standing the test of time - so let's tell you why now is a great time to pick up the 10th anniversary edition of Railways of the World.



COMPONENTS

Game Box

The box cover of the new edition is clearly marked with "10th anniversary" at the top, to distinguish it from previous versions of the game. It also has more of a matt finish rather than the glossy one of the previous version.



Perhaps the first thing you'll notice is that the new box is significantly deeper than the previous one. As in: about one inch higher - which means more storage space inside!

But that's not all - it's also much more sturdy. The previous box was somewhat flimsy, but this one has incredibly thick walls. If I had a surprise intruder while playing the game, this box would be the first thing I'd turn to as a weapon, and I'd be confident that taking a swing at his head with the box would do some serious damage - naturally a drastic course of action I'd only take so that we could promptly get back to the game! But the box is super durable and sturdy, which is exactly what you need given the massive weight and enormous amount of contents you get inside.

The sides of the box also have convenient thumb tabs to help you get the lid off the box - a thoughtful touch that immediately gives you an indication of the kind of careful thought that the publisher has given to all details. The same is true of the base of the box, where a thumb tab makes it easy to remove the maps and boards from inside the box.



Box Insert

The previous version did have a lovely insert, and I didn't think it could be surpassed, but I have to admit that it's been one-upped in the new anniversary version! Like the 2010 reprint, the 10th anniversary edition has a solid plastic insert that houses all the components beautifully and systematically in separate compartments. But these compartments are a little higher, so not everything is a tight squeeze, and there's even some extra room so you can include cards from the expansions if you want (a couple of dividers are included to help with this) - a brilliant move!

Furthermore, there's even a special clear plastic cover that sits on top of the compartments to protect everything. Talk about luxury board gaming - these guys have thought of everything!



Eastern US map

This is going to be the item of biggest interest to people familiar with the Railways of the World Series. The boards in this game are massive and colorful, and are a huge part of this game's appeal. Like the previous version, the anniversary edition comes with two boards, a map of the Eastern US and a map of Mexico, so you can play on either map. Both maps have been completely redone, and have a new look. So what has changed?

● Same dimensions: Firstly what hasn't changed: the dimensions. The massive map is exactly the same size, although fans of the transcontinental game will be unhappy about the fact that there's a small black margin on the left of the board, making it a bit messy to put the Western US map as an adjoining one for an epic double-sized game.



● Revised artwork: The artwork overall has more of a digitized and less of a hand-painted look. While the previous version's artwork looks quite realistic, it is less functional. While I find the previous version is artistically nicer (e.g. the rivers look more interesting), the new version is definitely more functional and clear. The hexes are now in an earthy red/brown instead of black, making them easier to discern, especially on some areas of the map.



● New water hex icons: The previous version had mountain areas noted with a white dot, but the new version goes one better by marking hexes affected by water with a water drop in the center of the hex. This is a huge plus - if you trawl through the forums, you'll find countless threads about whether or not certain hexes are affected by water, and undoubtedly this has led to many debates over gaming tables. All of that is solved with this very sensible addition of clearly marking the water hexes in this way, so there is no ambiguity about which hexes this applies to.



● Major Lines listed on the board: The new version also has a chart listing the major lines on the map itself - another improvement.



● Major Lines labelled on the cities: Another cosmetic upgrade is that the Major Lines are marked on the map with matching letters (e.g. A, B, C) in the center of each city pair that is part of a Major Line. It's a small addition that can really help game-play. Personally I have taken this to another level by using flags to mark the major lines during game-play.

● Clearer city names: Cosmetic improvement is also evident in the fact that all the names of the cities have white borders around them, to make them easier to read.

● Improved turn tracks: The phases of a turn have been indicated more clearly as well, with visual reminders of different aspects of a turn such as the auction that happens before each round of actions, followed by the payment of dividends and revealing of a new Railroad Operations card. Further, there is also an additional Turn Order track with six spaces, so if you do use the optional rule for auctioning the entire turn order, this will help with that.



● Adjusted colours: There's one major thing to mention: the colour of the blue and purple cities. These have different colour hues from the previous version, and not everyone is going to be happy about that, since there has been some confusion about the blue and purple hexes throughout this game's history. The colours in this version revert to the colours used in the 2009 version of the game, and the blue and purple are closer to each other than the blue and purple of the previous version. Now that is only going to be problematic if you have the wrong colour cubes, and I'm pleased to say that this is not an issue for game-play, because the blue and purple on the map are an exact match for the blue and purple goods cubes, and for the blue and purple New City markers. So it's a change, but won't affect you if you play with the base game - it just means that if you have some of the old expansions, they won't be exactly compatible with the cubes and New City markers that come with this new base game, due to slight variations in colour.



Mexico Map

● Revised artwork: Like the Eastern US map, the Mexico map has had a complete makeover, with exactly the same kinds of changes noted above.



The artwork has been adjusted to make it far more functional - and in my opinion, in this case more beautiful.



● Adjusted colours: The blue and purple cities also match the colours of the Eastern US map, so internally the base game maps are consistent and compatible.



● Improved Major Lines and turn tracks: We've also got nicer turn tracks and round tracks on the board, the major lines are marked on the cities themselves - all improvements.



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.

Rule Book

The previous version had two instruction manuals, one explaining the overall rules, and then a separate a rule-book for each map. That has changed, and now we just get a single large and comprehensive "Rule Book Compendium", which is a 24 page booklet that covers everything about the game, including all the expansions. You can download this right here: [Official Railways of the World Rule Book Compendium]

It's also been revised and updated to answer some questions people had with the old rules. A larger number of changes to the rules were made when the original 2005 version of Railroad Tycoon was revised and published as the 2009 first edition of Railways of the World. I have previously summarized those rules changes in this review. Even so, those changes were not significant, and my printable reference here gives a handy overview of what these changes are, so people with Railroad Tycoon could easily play with the improved Railways of the World rules. The 2010 reprint of Railways of the World didn't really make any rule changes, and since then the overall rule set has been relatively static. That continues to be the case, and in the 10th anniversary edition, besides these many rule clarifications, there are only two minor rules changes I'm aware of, which I'll cover later.



Notwithstanding the fact that there's been no significant changes to the rules, this rule book is a big improvement. We now have a wonderful rule book where everything is altogether in one place, plus has the benefit of input from many experienced players and fans of the game. Over time numerous rule questions have cropped up, but for new players relying on the new rule book, many of these questions will no longer arise because this is a more polished version that has all the necessary clarifications built in. It settles the often debated questions like whether you can pass on your turn (answer: yes), identifying which hexes count as water hexes with higher costs (answer: they now have water drop icons), legal track placement (discussion) and blocking (discussion).

Besides the instructions for the base game, the new rulebook also includes rules for all the expansions and accessories. Plus there is all the information needed about set-up for all the maps, including charts and information about which player counts require reduced cubes, and the number of empty city markers required for different maps and player counts. And if that's not enough, there's also complete information about variants, strategies, recommendations about how to handle major lines and mini-expansions, reference charts for the icons, and appendices that cover all the Railroad Barons.

The print is fairly small, but the instructions are very well laid out and organized, so everything is easy to find; a table of contents also helps with this. And there are a couple of very minor things that slipped through (e.g. the number of empty city markers and new city markers included with the game is listed incorrectly). But rather than gripe about that, it should be acknowledge that this is truly an outstanding and definitive rule book that deserves to be warmly received and praised. Everything you need has been included: A fantastic job has been done with this!



Income and Score Track

The score-track has also had a makeover in terms of graphic design.



I did notice a small change with the values on the track - now at 98 and 99 points you still earn $10 rather than dropping down to $9; a small but sensible change, although relatively inconsequential.

But more importantly is the change to the design. It now twists and turns like a winding track, which looks more natural than the score track of the previous version, and which did have the potential to confuse players when they reached the end of part of the track. The artwork of the previous score-track did have a more realistic look, whereas the new score-track has a more digital look. But the new version is far more functional, and the numbers are larger and clearer, and definitely easier to read across to the table.



Score Markers

The previous version required players to use their trains as score markers, and invariably these would get accidentally bumped or moved out of position, not to mention it was always a problem when several trains were on the same score.

All that is solved by the introduction of small wooden disks (which stack if necessary) in colours corresponding to the different players.



First Player Marker

The player who wins the auction for starting player each round gets a marker, which in the previous version was a poker-sized card with a picture of a train.

Now it's a small black wooden locomotive - a nice thematic touch! - which has the additional advantage of not taking as much table space.



Track Tiles

The 217 track tiles are identical to those from previous versions, with the same artwork and size.



Player Trains

Each player gets a set of 25 trains in one of six colours, which are lovely plastic miniatures.

The colours are more or less identical to those of the previous version, but these are slightly muted in comparison. The reason for this is to distinguish them better from the colours of the goods cubes and cities used in the game. Sometimes the colour similarity confuses new players, and they mistakenly connect the player trains with specific goods/cities. While a rookie mistake, it's less likely to happen now.



Rail Baron Cards

The Rail Baron Cards offer secret objectives, and these have had a complete makeover as well, including adding icons that indicate the map they belong to (note the US flag). They also offer some clarifications in wording in some instances of cards that had occasionally been misunderstood by players.



Here are some Rail Baron cards for the Mexico map, which are clearly distinguished with a Mexican flag to avoid them getting mixed up by mistake.



Railroad Operation Cards

These cards drive many aspects of the game, and have also had a complete graphic design overhaul. I especially like the fact that the names of the service bounties and hotels are now listed very clearly on the top of the card - since this is vitally important to game-play, and it makes them much easier to read across the table. It also means that to save space you can stack the cards on top of each other with just the names showing. Given how the game as a whole is a space-hog, this is another good improvement. Some of the photos used on the cards have also been changed, to make them more appropriate.

These cards have also had the benefit of clarified and additional wording, which helps avoid misunderstandings that have popped up over time. The Major Lines cards have also been eliminated - these were unnecessary because they are noted on the board and player reference cards, and are permanently in play anyway. Again, all improvements that help both new players and seasoned ones.



The cards for the Mexico map have also had a significant upgrade from the previous version.



Player Reference Cards

The player reference cards show the major lines and summarize the actions available on player's turns, and have also had a complete makeover. The side listing the player actions now includes more detailed clarifications that explains each. The ability to build fuel depots has also been added to the list of available actions. Finally, the number of empty city markers that triggers the game end has been added to this side of the card as well. A colour wheel icon has also been added, and serves as an aid for when players are using the City Rotors mini-expansion.

The Major Lines side of the reference cards reflects the fact that each city pair that is part of a Major Line is also associated with a letter (A, B, C etc. The Major Lines are now organized in order of points they're worth, and the graphic design makeover makes these cards easier to read.



Engine Placards

These are used to enable players to upgrade their trains, and are identical to the ones from the previous version.



Empty City Markers

The Empty City Markers are a lovely over-the-top game component - all they do is act as a visual marker when a city has no cubes left, and they also serve the dual function as an end-of-game timer. The rule book incorrectly says you get 24 of these, when in fact the game comes with 20 - no big deal, the most you need is 18 in a six player game anyway.



The previous version had very elaborate markers in several different models, like water towers, coal towers, and round-houses. These have been replaced with simplified markers that depict an empty town. As one of my children said: they look like someone died there! Well, yes, they do represent ghost towns where resources have been depleted, so thematically they make sense if you interpret it that way, although you could also argue that cities with depleted goods are not strictly empty but developed. The new empty city markers are all identical, and while perhaps not as glamorous as the previous set, they are also more distinct from the markers used in the mini-expansions, where the water towers are used as fuel towers, the coal towers as mines, and the round-houses as hotels.

In a poll I am running [link], most people seem to prefer the old style city markers pictured below. As much as I will miss the variety and visual beauty of the previous set, I have to concede that I can understand the reasons for this change, functionally and thematically.



New City Tiles

These are used when you urbanize grey cities. The most important thing about these is that it is essential that they match the colours of the cities already on the board, and the colours of the goods cubes. I'm glad to say that they are an exact match, both to the cities of this base game, and the cities of all the updated expansion maps.

Note that the rulebook incorrectly states that the game comes with 24 of these - in fact it is and should be 12.



Goods Cubes

Cubes represent "goods" that will be transported by your trains, and these come in five different colours.

While the blue and purple cubes aren't quite as distinct as the previous blue and purple cubes, I had no difficulty in telling them apart, and they are an exact colour match with the cities corresponding to them on the map. This has been an issue with some previous versions, where the cube colours didn't exactly match the cities on the map, and that becomes a major headache and source of confusion when playing the game. Fortunately everything here matches; so as far as I'm concerned there's no problem there.



Goods Bag

As for the storage bag that houses the goods cubes - wow! It is a delightful black draw-string bag with a velvet feel, and impressive gold lettering.

This is definitely an upgrade that will impress people, and looks much more appealing than the plain black cloth bag from the previous version! It's also larger in size, making it easier to insert your hand inside in order to draw random cubes.



Money

The currency in the previous version consisted of three denominations in yellow, blue, and green, and now the colours have been changed to white, red and blue.

Besides the colour change, the look is identical, but I think that switching the colours is an improvement. The green and blue notes of the previous version were distinct, but perhaps not quite as much as I'd like; but with the new colours there's no chance you'll confuse the different denominations, even in low light. This was a deliberate choice, and a good one.



Bond Certificates

The new version's bond certificates use the same kind of quality stock and the 2010 version, but are slightly smaller in size.

I think I will miss the slightly larger and more impressive looking certificates of the previous version, but it's not really a substantial change, and these are more than adequate. Given that table space can be at a premium in this game, having something slightly smaller can have advantages too.



Special Link Tiles

These two tiles are unchanged from the previous version of the game.



Expansions

I plan to post separate reviews about the 10th anniversary reprint of all the expansions, so I'll be somewhat brief here. But since the colour matching was important to the publisher, they wanted to make sure that expansion maps were available that correspond exactly to the colours of the cities and goods cubes of the base game. So they did a complete reprinting of all the expansions (with the exception of Railways Through Time), with colours that are an exact match to the colours of the base game.



I have these new expansion boards, and am happy to confirm that everything matches exactly with the colours of the 10th anniversary edition of the base game - especially the blue and purple cities. The artwork on these maps has also been completely redone as well, to match the style of the base game.



CONCLUSIONS

Rule Changes

The main changes with the anniversary edition are upgrades to the components rather than the rules, but there are rule changes on two points:

1. Income freezes upon reaching end of score-track

The first change to the rules is about how to handle getting to the end of the score track, and what impact this has on your income. There has been some confusion about this under the previous rules, as you can tell from this poll. Part of the problem was that a couple of sentences from the 2005 Railroad Tycoon rulebook were accidentally omitted in the 2009 Railways of the World rulebook. But the official word (confirmed by posts here and here) was that your income wraps along with your score, and that after being reduced, it will eventually begin to rise again "If a player earns more than 100 points, move the player’s token back to the beginning of the track and add 100 to their final score. If this occurs, the player’s income will be reduced, but will begin to rise again."

Under the rules of the 10th anniversary edition, your income now freezes after wrapping your score. "Once a player reaches the end of the track, move the player's token back to the beginning of the track and add the top number of points to their final score. If this occurs, the player's income for the remainder of the game will be the amount marked on the last space of the score track." It's only a small change, but personally I think it is an improvement, although in reality it won't have a big impact on game-play. For more discussion about this see this thread.

2. Four Services Bounties available at start of game

One big change made when Railroad Tycoon became Railways of the World in 2009 was that the Major Lines were no longer part of the Railroad Operations deck, but were placed face-up from the start of the game. Subsequently there was not even a need to print these cards, since Major Lines were permanently available to all players. Now a similar approach has been made to Service Bounties (the original plan was also to mark them with an S to make this more obvious, which unfortunately didn't happen). The idea is that besides the regular cards that are face up from the outset, four Service Bounties are selected randomly and are available face-up from the outset, while the rest are removed from the game entirely. This has a bigger impact on game-play, because it opens up the options available at the start of the game, and gives real incentives for building to certain cities from the outset; it also means that Service Bounties will never show up as the game progresses.

Reactions to this change have been mixed. Critics of the change point out that it can make the economy too generous and the openings too scripted, because there are some obvious choices at the outset, and lots of points easily gained for half or more players; they prefer a less predictable and more variable start to the game, and where money is tight early on. On the other hand, advocates of the new rule point out that it has some advantages. It prevents a situation where a Service Bounty is turned up mid-game and effectively rewards a lucky player who already has track connected or near that city. Normally a Service Bounty can prompt heavy bidding to be first in turn order, in order to get first crack at getting to the city in question, but if only one player has a real chance to get to that city anyway due to their existing rail network, then lady luck has effectively handed them some free points. In a game where strategy is important, this can be frustrating when it happens, even if it doesn't happen often. Having them available at the outset also gives players more things to race for from the start of the game, and helps them kick-start their economy.

In my opinion, this rule change is not insignificant, because it can really change the feel of the initial stages of the game. Which is better? It depends on what kind of style of game you like to play. If you want a tight and competitive game from the outset, and can handle the odd time when a random card draw benefits one player with good fortune, and if you like the dynamic elements that arise from these appearing throughout the game, then you'll prefer the old rule. If you don't mind a more generous and less tight economy, with more point incentives available from the start of the game rather than having the Service Bounties pop up randomly as the game develops, then you'll prefer the new rule. I would like to have seen both versions mentioned in the rule-book, perhaps with the old rule listed as a variant for more experienced players. For more on this, see this thread, where I have posted a poll where you can indicate which way you prefer to play, and discuss which rule you prefer and why.



Component Changes

To summarize the component changes, let's just list and recap all the things that have changed from the 2010 printing of the game in the 10th anniversary edition.

● Improved box: The game box has much thicker and sturdier side walls, is larger in height so that it can fit more contents, and has thumb tabs for easy removal.
● Improved box insert: The box insert has a removable tray for storing the bonds and money, and extra compartments so you can include storage of expansion cards.
● Revised maps: The Eastern US and Mexico maps both have all new artwork, clearer text, fixed hexes, and have undergone a complete upgrade. A border on the edge of the map does make Transcontinental games less optimal.
● New water hex icons: All hexes that require an extra cost due to water are clearly marked with a water droplet icon, similar to how mountain hexes are marked a white dot.
● Improved Major Lines: Not only is there a clear Major Line chart on all maps (sorted in order of point value), but the start and end point of Major Lines are marked on the cities themselves with matching alphabet letters (e.g. A, B, C etc).
● Improved round & turn order tracks: The tracks on the board for keeping track of turn order and rounds have been upgraded and improved.
● Improved cloth bag: The cloth bag for the goods cubes is now a larger, more beautiful, and high quality velvet feel black bag, screen printed with the game name in gold.
● Revised empty city markers: Instead of city markers of four types, there are 20 identical markers with a design sculpted with a `ghost town' feel.
● Improved score track: This now has a snake-like design, with clearer numbers and figures, and the lowest income at the end is $10.
● New scoring discs: Instead of needing to use trains for scoring, there are stackable wooden score discs in all the player colours.
● Revised train colours: A slight colour adjustment has been made to avoid them being identified with the colours of goods cubes and cities.
● Revised banknote colours: The currency colours have been adjusted to make the different denominations more clearly distinct in low light.
● Revised game cards: Many revisions have been made to the Railroad Operation cards and the Baron cards, mostly with added clarifications to avoid misunderstandings by players.
● Revised bonds: The bonds cards are are slightly smaller, and have a rectangular rather than square shape.
● New city name on Hotel and Service Bounty cards: The city name of these cards is part of the title, making these cards stackable and easier to read.
● Revised player reference cards: These cards have been redone and improved, with Major Lines on one side and player actions on the other, including clarifications.
● Revised colour-matching: The colours of the cities have been altered from the previous version, but the cities, new city markers, and goods cubes are all an exact colour match, including blue and purple. It just means they won't be an exact match with previous versions of the game.
● Revised expansion maps : All the expansion boards have been reprinted, to make sure their city colours are an exact match to the components of the new base game.
● Revised comprehensive rule book: Includes updates and clarifications, and gives information for the base game and all expansions, rather than separate booklets for each expansion.

That's a long list of upgrades! I've browsed through the comments on the Kickstarter, and probably the biggest complaint from people, besides the usual requests for specific components or about slightly damaged items, has to do with the colour matching (which I'll get back to in a moment) or the Transcontinental game. These issues aside, it's obvious that virtually all the component changes are solid improvements. I was already impressed with the changes made by the 2010 reprint, but they were minor compared with the much larger scope of the changes made in 10th anniversary edition. There may have been a couple of small glitches that slipped through - and to be fair, some criticisms were a result of misunderstandings on the part of backers - on the whole the anniversary edition is fantastic.



Concerns?

If you do come across negative press, you might think that Eagle Gryphon Games totally blew this project. So are there any things that the folks putting together this anniversary edition got wrong? Of course. It was a massive project, and with a sizable undertaking of this scope, there are always going to be tiny things that slip through the cracks along the way, and this was no exception. Although it should be mentioned that most of the outstanding errors don't relate to the base game, but have to do with small details about the expansions (e.g. absence of listing the major lines on the North America map, and a missing score disc for the extra set of ice trains). In this article I don't want to discuss any issues relating to the anniversary reprints of the expansions since I'll be doing separate reviews on those. So let's just focus on the base game for now, and summarize what are the areas where some additional polish could arguably be needed.

● Color mismatching?

This has been a long-standing issue with this game, going back to the days of the original Railroad Tycoon (2005) and the first edition of Railways of the World (2009). The basic issue was when the city colours on the board didn't exactly match the colours of the goods cubes or new city markers, and this was especially a problem with the blue and purple coloured items, which were often and easily confused. The 2010 edition of Railways of the World did fix this issue, but now in the anniversary edition we have slightly different colours. Is this an error? Not really. Granted, it does mean that in the anniversary edition, the colours of the cubes and cities are different from the 2010 edition and from previous expansions, and that does affect compatibility. As one person wrote: "In the end, I think what this is really about is that the new printing colors for the cubes and the maps are a bit different from that of RotW 2nd Edition and some dislike that change. I can understand that for owners RotW 2nd Edition. However, the new cubes and all of the new maps do match each other in color. Moreover, at least for myself, the color differentiation between blue and purple is sufficient on the new maps." The new cubes match the new map colors and city tokens nicely. In my copy of the game, at least, and also the copies of most other people, they are finding that everything matches just fine, and there's absolutely no issue.

The fact is that the publisher has gone to great lengths to make sure all the components of this new edition are a perfect match within this box. Do to the history of this issue, they even delayed completion of the project at one point, to ensure that the components did have an exact colour match, as described by Rick Soued in this project update here: "I REFUSE to publish these game again until all the color issues of the past have been addresses and straightened out. So I am insisting that I receive another set of digital proofs that show me for sure that the colors of the cities on EVERY map match every other map; and that the colors of the New City hex tiles match those same city colors on every map. Only then will I approve these digital proofs and allow the mass production of the games. Also related, I have held off on the production (by a different factory) of the wooden supply cubes until I have an approved set of digital proofs showing the proper, and matching, city colors mentioned above. Then I will send a copy of these digital proofs to the wood-producing factory so they can match exactly the colors of the cubes to the colors of the cities ... I have no reason to delay any part of this process other than to produce these games as perfectly as we can and get nagging past issues (like the color differences) sorted out before they get published incorrectly again." Later he added: "Making sure the colors matched (cubes and cities and New City markers on the one hand; and trains; ECMs and scoring disks on the other) was indeed a VERY big priority for us and we had MANY people check on these matches before the mass production took place. I am confident that the appropriate colors match."

I appreciate this commitment to quality and consistency, and believe it succeeded on this point - and I know I'm not the only one. Here's what MentatYP wrote: "I've only checked the RotW boards so far, but blue and purple cubes match the colors on the boards almost perfectly. Blue is spot on, and while purple cubes are a touch darker than the board they're still a very good match and you'll never confuse them for blue unless you are visually impaired in such a way that you have trouble differentiating them--the colors are very distinct to me." And Robert Kamper: "I pulled out all my maps to verify color and the blue and purple cities on the new maps are very different colors even in POOR lighting. The new cubes match perfectly as well."

In my opinion, there have been some misunderstandings about this. If you try matching your old boards with the new cubes, or your old cubes with the new boards (including Nippon), they won't be a perfect match and then you will have problems. In both cases, mind you, there is a solution (suggested here): have a second set of cubes and new city tiles corresponding to the edition of the boards you are using! I did check with the publisher, and they do have available separately the goods cubes from the 10th anniversary edition (link), and a limited supply of the new city tiles from the previous version (link).

To summarize:
Mismatched colours:
● 2nd edition cubes + 10th anniversary edition maps
● 2nd edition cubes + 10th anniversary expansion maps
● 10th anniversary edition cubes + previous expansion maps
Matched colours:
● 2nd edition cubes + previous expansion maps
● 10th anniversary edition cubes + 10th anniversary edition maps
● 10th anniversary edition cubes + 10th anniversary expansion maps



● No Transcontinental game?

Firstly, we should note that the new rules compendium does include rules for the Transcontinental game, which is an epic form of the game involving the Eastern US map being placed alongside the map of the Western US expansion. The anniversary reprint of the Railways of North America expansion even includes all new and improved cards for this form of the game. But the issue here is a practical one: the Eastern US and Western US maps don't line up for a perfect adjacent fit.

I can appreciate that for some people the fact that the Eastern and Western US maps don't neatly fit together is a disappointment - you'll find a discussion about this at length in this thread. Rick Soued from Eagle Gryphon explains that this was an oversight (source): "As to the alignment of the ROTW West and East US, we blew that also. And this time I can say it was a "blow" by a whole committee of ROTW fans who helped me on these reprints. The matter simply never came up and got no consideration at all. All we can do is correct it when and if we reprint either one or both of the boards in the future." Later he expanded on this in the Kickstarter comments with the following: "Every different graphic artist that worked on this project basically told me that we could not scale between the maps to accommodate the TransCon game. So we did not try to. We did provide rules and there are, and always have been, several accommodations you must make to try to play that TransCon game ... at no point did we ever say or assume that the Mexico maps and the RONA Canadian map would be integrate-able with the EUS or WUS maps. The "future" fix involves what we can do when we re-print those latter two maps." This will be somewhat disappointing to fans of the Transcontinental rules. Even so, rules for this larger form of the game are still included in the rulebook on page 8. The reality is that this won't affect most people, since the game is designed first of all to be played with each expansion separately, so it wouldn't be fair to overstate this issue.

I have corresponded directly with the publisher Rick Soued about this, and he has indicated that there are plans to re-do these maps for fans who are keen to do the Transcontinental Game. He's given me permission to share the following: "I do plan to re-do the Western US map so it "fits" with the Eastern map, and gives those who are interested in it a better overall double map to work with for the Transcontinental Game. I did "mess up" on that score and plan to rectify it ... it looks like we will try to Kickstarter Vital Lacerda's Railways of Portugal in January so likely I will do the reprint of that Western Map at that time."



● Bad rules and countless mistakes?

In reality, there aren't really many errors in the new rulebook at all. The only actual mistake is where Rick Soued from Eagle-Gryphon has pointed out the number of new city markers and empty city markers is listed incorrectly: "The Rulebook is in error. ROTW needs only 12 New City Markers (no change between the old and new versions). RON needs 16 New City Markers and that is the number provided with the RON game. Both ROTW and RON come with 20 (not 24, again the Rulebook is in error) Empty City Markers." Perhaps there is one other very minor thing that eludes me right now. Besides that there are two rule changes which have been noted above, one that is minor (income freezes with score-wrapping), and the other that I wish had been mentioned as a variant (handling Service Bounties at set-up). For the rest, the revised rulebook is thorough and excellent, and is a huge improvement.

By now it should be clear that any claim about "countless mistakes" in the 10th anniversary edition is not factual. Most of the concerns I've come across that were voiced are a result of misunderstandings about the colour matching, or are relatively insignificant, and are normal when fulfilling a project of this size and scope. A huge amount of improvements have been made in the 10th anniversary version, but because many of these are about clarifying small details on cards or graphic design, many of them will escape notice by the untrained eye. As I've shown above, the 10th anniversary edition is most definitely a solid improvement!



Recommendation

Should you get the 10th anniversary edition of Railways of the World? I think the publishers have done a fantastic job with this new version of the game. It's a splendid game that deserves a fine edition worthy of its high quality, and this is that edition. Virtually all the changes that have been made are upgrades and improvements. Many of them are small, but they all make the playing experience clearer and better. If you're new to this game, don't hesitate in going for this great version!

What about if you already have this game, is it worth upgrading? That depends on how important these changes are for you. For the average person, if you're already familiar with the game and its rules, you probably will find it hard to justify spending money on a new edition. Of course, if you can easily find a buyer for the previous version and recoup a chunk of the cost towards the new version, or have someone in mind that you can give away your used copy as a gift, then picking up the new edition is going to be awfully tempting, and if you play the game a lot, you'll probably get a lot of enjoyment from the small improvements. So if you love this game and if it sees a lot of table time, you will love this new edition, and you may want to make the upgrade. Almost everyone is likely to appreciate the small changes and improvements that have been made to the components and rulebook, and will appreciate what a fine job has been done in putting together this new edition! Certainly if you don't have the game at all yet, you should try to pick up the 10th anniversary edition if you can.

But even if you have a previous version of Railways of the World, or even the original Railroad Tycoon, you can continue to play with it and enjoy it - although I'd definitely recommend adopting the rule changes that have been implemented over the years. As one person wrote on the Kickstarter comments to someone who just purchased the 2010 edition rather than the anniversary edition: "The game is 100% playable exactly as it is. The overwhelming majority of changes are upgrades and clarifications rather than major errors. There definitely were some actual fixes, but thousands of us have been enjoying this game in it's current state for well over a decade now. Rest easy and enjoy your purchase!" But you do need to be aware of one main thing, especially if you start branching out into the expansions (which I highly recommend): the components of previous versions of the base game won't be an exact colour match for the cities on the 10th anniversary reprints of the expansion maps. But certainly everything corresponding to the purple and blue in this new version matches internally (cities on the board, goods cubes, new city tokens), and they also are an exact match for the city colours in all the reprints of the expansion maps. So I wouldn't recommend using an old base game with the new expansion maps, or the new base game with old expansion maps.

With the 10th anniversary edition, Railways of the World has really progressed to the next level, and everything is really an improvement in every way. Involving fans and experienced players as consultants was a very good move. A large team of people have been involved and have put a huge amount of work into a project that they love, and the quality of the final product proves it. I think we can safely say that now we do have a definitive version of the game, and that new players can go out and get the 10th anniversary edition with confidence, knowing that they are getting a shiny new version of a game that has been enjoyed for a decade already, but now has the benefit of some serious polish to the rules and components. Major kudos to everyone who worked on this new version and helped polish it into this fine edition. And special thanks to everyone who contributed to the rulebook, which is a wonderful and comprehensive resource.

My favourite game now has an absolutely amazing edition, and I can't recommend this highly enough!



------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
mb The complete list of Ender's pictorial reviews: http://www.boardgamegeek.com/geeklist/37596

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Nick L
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Another great review, Ender. Your reviews really helped me when I was getting into ROTW. I'm loving these reprints and can't wait for Portugal.
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Alex Drazen
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Great review.

My citation for mistakes/downgrades would be:

- Border on East/West map for Transcontinental game
- New empty city markers. Too big -- they cover up the city color. They're also ugly.
- Service Bounty change. Should have been variant, as you cite.
- New city marker count cited in rulebook.
- City colors. I actually have a hard time telling apart the new blue and purple, while the old ones were easy for me to see.

I still think a list of all available service bounties in the game given to all players would balance any "luck" issue. The bounty cities don't tend to be anything special - are there even any red city bounties at all? (only one I can think of is possibly Chicago and I usually don't play Eastern U.S.) Or if you have a bounty city at the start, make it a grey city, like on Nippon. That makes it 3 moves (and an expensive urbanize) instead of 2 moves -- seems more interesting to me.

Or have bounty cards numbered 1 to 8 (or whatever it is) and let the players pick the cities for each number at game start. My big disappointment with bounties is they make for a "fixed" game. Routes do this a little bit too, but most of the routes are things you might somewhat end up building anyway.


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Louis Brenton
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Amazing & thorough review, as expected.

I’m very happy with the new printing. The only real major mistakes in the printing I see are:

1. The empty city markers completely conceal the color of the city they’re on. (Otherwise I consider the new markers an improvement)

2. The border around the Eastern US map. I’ve never played the transcontinental game, & doubt I ever will, but I can easily understand the frustration regarding that.

I’m strongly in favor of the new Servicee Bounty rules & I believe they improve the game by taking away a randomly-distributed player advantage.
 
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Henry Allen
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You state once or twice that all the expansion maps have been reprinted with this edition. Is that actually true? I thought Railways through Time was not reprinted? Is that correct and are there any others? Do we know if there are plans to reprint such maps with the new treatment?

Thanks for the detailed review. For my part I feel that going back to the darker purple and blue hues was a mistake, it makes them harder to distinguish from each other. That's not a deal breaker, Otherwise it does look like a great edition and certainly something anyone who doesn't already have the game should pick up, its a great game!
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Jim Dauphinais
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Only Railways through Time maps were not reprinted with the 10th Anniversary Edition. All of the other expansion maps were reprinted.
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Jim Dauphinais
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Adding to Ender's color matching summary, note that the original RRT goods cubes also reasonably well match the 10th Anniversary maps and New City tiles.
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David Janik-Jones
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Up Front fan | In ancient times cats were worshipped as gods; they have not forgotten this | Combat Commander series fan | The Raven King (game publisher) ... that's me! | Fields of Fire fan
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Once again, Ender shows us all how reviews should be done. Stellar work, as always.
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Richard Young
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Adding my Kudos to Ender for his unfailingly thorough, colorful and dispassionate review of a classic in the cube delivery rail-game family. Avoiding the hysterical "sky is falling" approach to changes or updates to popular games, it is refreshing to read a well researched presentation that doesn't have you rolling your eyes at some point. Far too many threads spend an inordinate amount of time agonizing over "ministrivia." Again, well done Ender!

That said, there can be lively discussion about some aspects that inevitably came up regarding the neglect to maintain the Trans-America option to tie the East and West USA maps together. I've only played that variant once and it was long but fun, and a shame that it was missed in the 10th design process. Incorporating the Major Lines into the map-board rather than cards was done long ago and I think most accepted that as a good thing easily adopted regardless of edition by putting the cards out at the start where applicable.

More controversial, possibly, was the decision to choose four of the Service Bounty cards to put out at the start of the game as well. Part of the charm of this particular take on cube delivery rail games is its randomness compared to more "serious" versions such as Steam or Age of Steam. The random arrival of many of the operations cards can be significant, particularly those that retain their power over the course of the game. Why it was deemed so important to have the Service Bounty cards added to the Major Line cards is not clear to me. But that is a matter of taste I admit. If the idea was to have a more even playing field, there is a lot more that could have been done to reduce the "randomness" that makes the RWotW series what it is.

Fortunately, there is enough in what has become a "game kit" to let people play the way their particular group prefers and it deserves its place as a modern classic...

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Warren Adams
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jimdauphinais wrote:
Only Railways through Time maps were not reprinted with the 10th Anniversary Edition. All of the other expansion maps were reprinted.
Finally, recognition that this map was a blight on the whole franchise!
 
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superman829 wrote:
The border around the Eastern US map. I’ve never played the transcontinental game, & doubt I ever will, but I can easily understand the frustration regarding that.

True. It's worth repeating this quote from Rick Soued (Eagle Gryphon Games) about that:

"I do plan to re-do the Western US map so it "fits" with the Eastern map, and gives those who are interested in it a better overall double map to work with for the Transcontinental Game. I did "mess up" on that score and plan to rectify it ... it looks like we will try to Kickstarter Vital Lacerda's Railways of Portugal in January so likely I will do the reprint of that Western Map at that time."

KlydeFrog wrote:
You state once or twice that all the expansion maps have been reprinted with this edition. Is that actually true? I thought Railways through Time was not reprinted? Is that correct and are there any others? Do we know if there are plans to reprint such maps with the new treatment?

You're right - the Railways Through Time boards were the only ones not reprinted, and I'm not aware of any plans to do so. Thanks for highlighting that.

jimdauphinais wrote:
Adding to Ender's color matching summary, note that the original RRT goods cubes also reasonably well match the 10th Anniversary maps and New City tiles.

This is worth knowing and mentioning, thanks for pointing that out.

If you have the original Railroad Tycoon or the first 2009 printing (i.e. not the 2010 reprint) of Railways of the World, you may find that the city colours, goods cubes, and new city tokens of those match more closely with the 10th anniversary edition colours.
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EndersGame wrote:
superman829 wrote:
The border around the Eastern US map. I’ve never played the transcontinental game, & doubt I ever will, but I can easily understand the frustration regarding that.

True. It's worth repeating this quote from Rick Soued (Eagle Gryphon Games) about that:

"I do plan to re-do the Western US map so it "fits" with the Eastern map, and gives those who are interested in it a better overall double map to work with for the Transcontinental Game. I did "mess up" on that score and plan to rectify it ... it looks like we will try to Kickstarter Vital Lacerda's Railways of Portugal in January so likely I will do the reprint of that Western Map at that time."
I'm not clear on how redoing just the Western map will help. The Western map doesn't go all the way to the right edge, and the Eastern map doesn't go all the way to the left edge. Both will have to be redone, unless he intends for people to overlap the two boards, although the way the hexes are on the Western map now is worse.
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James Naylor
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Such a detailed review!

Great to read such passion about my personal favourite.
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J Chav
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Bummed I missed the kickstarter but glad I'm subscribed to Ender's Geeklist that was edited.

Thank you for your review Ender, always amazing.
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Liu Apertotes
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EndersGame wrote:
The new cubes match the new map colors and city tokens nicely. In my copy of the game, at least, and also the copies of most other people, they are finding that everything matches just fine, and there's absolutely no issue.


While that is true, I find that true also of my 2010 copy. Yet, depending on lightning, we have issues differentiating between blue and purple. I wouldn't like to play an edition where that difference is even less prominent and it boggles my mind why a new an improved edition would take a step back on that. Color matching is great, but not at the expense of color differentiation.
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Excellent detailed comparison. I don't think the changes are significant enough for me to want the new version, but it's nice to see that the game is still receiving this kind of attention.
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Ben Armstrong
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I'm late to the party here but I have to applaud this effort. Bravo! Been eyeing this one for a long time, but this might have pushed it back up my wish list.
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OzLefty
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IDK, I've been pretty disappointed with the 10th anniversary version. They charge a premium, but were too cheap to add things like the mini expansions (which are basically just a few new plastic pieces), instead wanting $US40 for them! The new empty city markers are weird and don't fit the theme even for the US maps, let alone the European ones. They don't look like something you'd have in a railway, and they don't even make thematic sense - an "empty" city isn't a ghost town, it's a town where its need for goods has been met by players setting up routes.

The map could certainly make the major lines a lot more obvious than the tiny letters, and it would have been nice if they'd included markers for them, and a couple of dice (the rules suggest using them as markers for the cities that have service bounties). Again, they charged a premium for this edition over the original.

Also the rule book is badly-written and confusing, including weird errors even for the setup of a player's very first game. Take its instructions on how to set up Railroad Operations Cards. "Take the Railroad Operations deck and sort out all of the "start" cards marked with a yellow "S" in the bottom left-hand corner." OK, that's precisely 3 cards. Righto, got them. Then it continues. "From these "start" cards, sort out the cards with Service Bounty in the title, randomly select 4 of them, and return the rest to the box." Uh, what? There were only 3, and none of them were the service bounties. Presumably it's supposed to read "In addition to these start cards"? But then the next instruction confuses that too. "Now place these 4 cards and all of the remaining "start" cards as a face up display next to the game board." The "remaining" start cards? Uh, you mean all 3 of them, since there are only 3, and they weren't service bounties?

Seriously, this is pretty appalling for a special edition.
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