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2-6 players, 1-2 hours

designed by

reviewed by

Surely the Nineties must be the decade of the rail game. We already have Empire Builder and its spin-offs, 1829 and its spin-offs, Santa Fe and Freight Train. You can now add one more to the growing list: Tracks to Telluride.

With a price tag of nearly fifty American dollars, it is the most expensive game on the list. For your money you get: a game board, various chance decks, several cards used for bookkeeping, two charts, poker chips, crayons, dice and two copies of the rules. All this comes packaged in a white three ring notebook.

The players gather around the uniquely designed gameboard representing a map of Colorado, USA. The gameboard is laminated for drawing on using crayons. It also comes in four parts that are joined by a fastener for easy storage in the notebook's pockets. Seventeen of the mines depicted on the map are opened by randomly drawing their mine cards from the chance deck. The remaining mines are separated into their various decks by colour. Players start with an opening stake of cash and choose their starting cities.

A round begins with a change of seasons. The season is either Summer or Winter. During the Winter turns the players collect half their normal fees for mines and there are fewer phases. A Mine Event card is drawn. Each Mine Event card lists three mines, all from the same quadrant or from three different quadrants of the gameboard. Each open mine listed is now closed and vice versa. A Historic Event card affecting all players is drawn and acted upon. The players now take their turns starting with the player with the most cash on hand.

During a player's turn a player will spend cash to build a rail line and use the crayon on the gameboard to mark the player's progress. There is nothing new here; this is typical for this type of game.

What makes this game different is that thirty of the hexes on the gameboard are designated as passes. During the Summer turn, before building track, players declare which passes, if any, they will attempt to build through. Players may attempt to stop each other's progress by paying a small fee but risk a larger fee upon failure.

When a player completes a track from the home city to an open mine, the player can add the deed to the mine to his possessions at the end of the game turn. Immediate cash can be generated as the player draws track by reaching a city. When the Historical Event deck is depleted or, more likely, when someone connects Denver to Grand Junction the game is over. One final Mine Event card is drawn and those three mines listed are closed. The object of the game is to own the most valuable mines at the end of the game.

Tracks to Telluride has many good points: It is easy to learn and play. There is a high degree of player interaction. Players may decide to impede another player's progress through Colorado for a price. There is a rate war phase where players may extort money from each other by risking profits from that game turn. Too many multi-player rail games are everybody against the game system with no player interaction.

On the flip side, Tracks to Telluride has some heavy negatives: Most passes allow only one player to use them and all of the other players will need several game turns to recover after losing a contested pass. Many Historical Event cards penalize the player with the most cash. This is devastating if you are in last place and have been saving desperately for a last ditch stab at victory. It is very unfair when a player loses the game because of the final Mine Event card.

In conclusion, Tracks to Telluride is not a bad way to spend two hours with four or five friends. However, fifty bucks could be better spent elsewhere.

Alfonzo Smith

next up previous
Next: MAHARAJA Up: Sumo 20 index Previous: 1839 and 1850
Stuart Dagger