Networking just got even more frustratingly fun in Railroad Ink Challenge Lush Green Edition from Horrible Guild!
*Flip and Fill * Networks * Connections * Simultaneous Play * Small Box * Solo Play * Portable * Fun * Strategic *
Railroad Ink is one of my all-time favourite games. The simplicity to strategy ratio is so inversely proportionate that it makes my eyes water (in the best possible way!). It’s super easy to learn, and really easy to teach. But it’s a strategic, spatial puzzle that seriously gets under your skin. It’s portable and massively versatile. At the table, or on your lap. In the room, or over the internet, this little roll and write about making highway and railway connections is a solo star as well as a crowd pleaser.
And, whilst I am by no means a master of Railroad Ink Blazing Red Edition, Horrible Games recently levelled up by bringing out two new editions; Lush Green and Sunshine Yellow. And, I’m admitting right here, right now; I’m utterly obsessed with this glorious greenie!
GREEN MEANS GO!
In Railroad Ink Lush Green (as in Red and Blue), someone rolls the 4 route dice showing sections of highway and railway every round. All players then use each dice once to make as many exit points as possible around their own boards. Three times per game, you can choose one special route dice, although be warned; with 4 exits on each, these can sometimes hurt just as much (or more) than they help! Repeat this 7 times, and whoever has made the highest number of connections is the winner. Any routes that are not closed off will result in negative scoring, extra marks are awarded for routes crossing the central area, and the mini-expansion included in each set mix up the gameplay by reducing the rounds to 6 and giving extra ways to score or lose points.
So far so familiar. But look closely at the Railroad Ink Lush Green edition board, and you’ll notice something quite different.
First off, it has symbols on it; Factories, villages, and universities to be precise. These award different bonuses if you can connect them into your network. For example, a factory allows you to repeat one of the four dice that round. Villages award extra points if you can connect them to a station, and factories allow you to use additional special dice (rather than being limited to just 3 per game).
Secondly, there is a space relating to cards. And not just any old cards. Challenging scoring objective cards which you can use each game for (if there was a word meaning greater than infinity, that would be inserted here!) replayability and enjoyment purposes. Given that the points are weighted so that the first to achieve them gains a higher amount, the level of direct player interaction in Railroad Ink has suddenly gone from zero to ten in one go!
Thirdly, there are two new expansions in Railroad Ink Lush Green which enable you to gain extra points for planting forests and setting up woodland trails. I would say the forest expansion is the easier of the two, so begin there if you’re looking for a soft entry into Railroad Ink or the Challenge editions.
Fourthly, there are more additional expansion dice (soon available for purchase) than you can shake a stick at! Engineer, Cthulhu, Electricity, Sky, Underground, Future, Arcade and more. Each pack upping the strategy to an almost nose-bleeding level, as the ways in which you can manipulate the dice rolls change and multiply.
And last but not least there is now a fully formed Solo mode that goes beyond simply tasking you to Beat-Your-Own-Score. This is especially exciting for me as a fully fledged solo gamer. BYOS modes are fine, but having something meatier to sink my teeth into is chef’s kiss special.
Eating my Greens!
For the price, I honestly can’t think of a game range that packs more crunchy play into such diminutive sized boxes than Railroad Ink. Every round is a different, but no less fantastic, combination of challenges and opportunities, frustration and fun. And whether you play alone or with a crowd of people, the main sound you hear around the table is the squeak of mental cogs turning (oh and hair being pulled out from its roots!).
And the little boxes themselves, with their deliciously smooth and subtle magnetic catch clicks, are a joy to hold and behold on the shelf. The dry wipe contents contained snugly inside, aching to be slid out on to the table and played. And on that point, if you already have a Red or Blue edition, you can use those expansions on the new Railroad Ink Lush Green boards. Similarly, you can use the new Railroad Ink Lush Green expansions on the Blue and Red boards.
I am honestly finding it hard to think of anything I don’t like about Lush Green. In fact, I am kicking myself for not backing the Collector’s Edition on Kickstarter which contained every single version and expansion in a special designed storage container. Never mind, though, as Zatu are stocking them all, meaning that I can complete my collection, box by box!