The 10th Anniversary Edition of Railways of the World
The Railways of the World franchise heads to Antarctica
It's no secret that I'm a big fan of Railways of the World and its expansions, and have been for many years already. If you're not familiar with this series, check my overview of the entire series in this list [GeekList link] and see my massive pictorial article [review link] on the base game. Together with my article about the new 10th anniversary edition [review link], that should tell you all you need to know about the base game. It's a delightful mid-weight game with a wonderful theme, eye-catching visuals, high quality components, and excellent game-play in which you are building and managing your own railroad network on a massive board, delivering goods between cities in order to earn points.
I'm currently covering all of the expansions, and so by necessity that includes the latest addition to the series: Railways of Antarctica. This is the newest expansion for Railways of the World, and basically consists of a new map specific to Antarctica. As with all the expansions, in order to play you will need components from one of the two base game games (Railways of the World or Railways of Nippon) along with the separate expansion map. Two separate scenarios exist for the Antarctica board, both of which were created by winners of a contest sponsored by the publisher.
So let's take our trains to the south pole, and find out more about Railways of Antarctica!
Origin of the Antarctica expansion
This is a very limited and unique expansion, for a number of reasons:
Firstly, it's very white - literally! Just like in real life, when you get Antarctica, there's not a lot to see. It's an icy and snowblown landscape, where the harsh cold and wintry climate means that it's often white and entirely frozen, and there's certainly not many signs of life to be seen at first. The same is true with the Antarctica map. The first thing you notice about this expansion map is that it has no terrain distinctives and no cities - just an all white landscape. Clearly, if you're going to develop anything here, you are going to need to put in some serious effort!
Secondly, this unique expansion map is somewhat of a sand-box (or should that be snow-box?) for making up your own rules - although two official rule-sets do exist. It was created in conjunction with the 2017 Railways of Nippon Kickstarter, which helped crowdfund a new base game for the series with a Japan map. As part of this Kickstarter, the publisher announced a special map of Antarctica as a stretch goal that would be reached when the project passed $25,000 in pledges, and this special map would be produced at the same time as the 10th anniversary edition of the base game and expansion reprints. But there was a catch: backers had to come up with the rules as part of a prize-winning contest! A competition was held by the publishe, with a mid April 2018 deadline, and they judged and selected the best entries that they received. Two winners were announced in a Kickstarter update in May this year [link].
The map is 9" x 12" in size, and is made of the same solid quality board as the other expansion maps, so it isn't a cheaply produced throw-away item on thin cardboard. While the landmass of the continent of Antarctica is all white, the ocean does feature some texture and variation in colour, to give a sense of increasing depth, and ice around the edges of the continent itself. There's even a whale and seal to be seen!
There are 55 hexes altogether - I counted! Just as with all the other maps that were printed as part of the 10th anniversary printing, coastal hexes that have higher building costs due to their adjacency to water are clearly marked with a water droplet icon.
Some other special extras were also produced as stretch goal incentives. When the project passed $20,000, a special set of "Ice Trains" were made available, which could function as an alternative player colour.
Unfortunately a special scoring disk for this in the same colour was overlooked. Here's what the publisher stated in the Kickstarter comments: ""We realized only when the game was done that I had forgotten to get "ice" scoring disks. The next time we are doing a game production requiring plastics we will produce some for those of you who ask for them."
But the trains themselves look very cool - literally - and you can use them on any map, not just the Antarctica one.
To match these ice trains, some transparent mini-expansion pieces (hotels, mines, fuel depots, switch tracks) were also produced. These use the same miniature sculpts as the official mini-expansions for the game, and can be used either as empty city markers or mini-expansions for any of the maps.
But naturally all these components were begging for a frozen setting where they would fit best - and that's our Antarctica!
The two contest winners were Joe Holliday and Don Lynch. The rules for the Antarctica expansion are readily available since were included in the Kickstarter announcement that publicized the names of the winners. I didn't find the formatting of the rules the most clear, so I put together a printable PDF which organizes the rules for the two Antarctica scenarios in a clearer and more consistent format. You can download that file on BGG here:
Railways of Antarctica rules - Two Winning Game Designs
Scenario 1 - Research Station Rescue
The first winning scenario for the Antarctica map was designed by Joe Holliday, and the premise can be described as follows:
Four research stations in Antarctica desperately need supplies. Your ship, loaded with rail-building equipment and the supplies so urgently needed by the scientists have just arrived at the frigid coastline. It’s a race to be the first one to deliver your supplies. There is also a "Beat the Blizzard" solo variant.
How it works: The basic rules of the original game apply, but there are some changed rules to reflect the new setting of the expansion and this scenario. Players start by each establishing a single research station on the map, and each draws 10 random good cubes which they must deliver, the winner being the player who accomplishes this first.
Scenario 2 - Exploring and Exploiting Antarctica
The second winning scenario for the Antarctica map was designed by Don Lynch, and its premise can be described as follows:
In the near future, worldwide corporate greed and political corruption have opened Antarctica for exploitation. Likely sites of valuable minerals have been identified. Bases have been established along the coast, which have quickly become Boomtowns. The anticipation grows. Reminiscent of previous land or gold rushes, but on a far larger scale, Antarctica is now open for business. New Cities represent infrastructure and supply depots. For the time frame of the game, no Exploratory Sites will get developed well enough to produce goods in any appreciable quantity for delivery. However, they will create demand for new supplies as the sites develop. Plus New Cities are constantly consuming additional supplies, which can be cheaper to buy locally than to have specially shipped in.
How it works: Once again the basic rules of the original game apply, but there are some changed rules to reflect the new setting of the expansion and this scenario. During game set-up, eight new city tiles (two in each colour) are placed randomly around the edges of the continent, and populated with three goods cubes. Exploratory Sites are also determined and marked with coins, and deliveries can be made to the New Cities or the Exploratory Sites. Red cubes must be delivered first and earn an extra point. The game end is triggered when there are 6 empty New City tiles or if there is no possibility of future deliveries, and the player with the most points wins.
Not many people make it to real life Antarctica, and I expect that not many people will make it to Railways of Antarctica either. But it is part of the entire series and deserves some coverage, even if only hard core gamers, scientists, or penguins show up here to enjoy this bleak environment. This map is really an expansion for the Railways of the World die-hard, and has to be considered more of a bonus novelty item than anything else.
Those who do visit here are not likely to spend long lengths of time here, but will probably settle for exploring the frigid cold once or twice, and then head back with their trains to regular civilization. Still, a journey to the south pole is not to be dismissed too lightly, and for the battle-hardened Railways of the World veteran, it will be hard to resist coming here at least once!
The complete list of Ender's pictorial reviews: http://www.boardgamegeek.com/geeklist/37596
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