Railroad Revolution – Specialized workers lend layers of complexity
I happened to watch part of a Rahdo Runs Through Video on Railroad Revolution a little while back. What intrigued me about the game was how the various types of workers could affect actions. So, when I saw an open copy on Ward’s shelf at Atlanta Game Fest, I snagged it, read the rules and conned my husband and a couple of friends into playing it with me. I didn’t have to twist their arms too hard, though.
Worker Placement with a Twist
Railroad Revolution is a worker placement game with a twist. While there are only four actions you can choose from on your turn, which of the five types of workers you use to perform an action provides a different optional action or bonus. This adds multiple layers of complexity and new strategic options for play.
The four actions you have to choose from are:
- Station: Build a Station in a City you are connected to.
- Railroad: Extend your railroad by placing one or more rails.The basic cost covers two rails.
- Telegraph: Build a Telegraph Office.
- Trade: Sell off a company asset to raise money.
If, at the beginning of your turn, you don’t have any workers left in your supply, take all the worker on your player board back, then choose an action as usual.
How to Earn a Buck or Two
Building Stations and extending your Railroad costs money. Just performing one of those actions can deplete your starting cash on hand. Likewise, there are big benefits to using specialized workers on all of the actions, but you start the game with only 4 non-specialized and 1 specialized worker.
At first we were a little stumped as to how to acquire money and the coveted specialized workers. I hit on building Telegraph Offices to make a quick buck. Each one gives you 1 or more Telegraph Shares which are worth $150 each. You can spend them at any time and it doesn’t cost any money to build a Telegraph Office. Trade is another good option to get money. To get specialized workers, you’ll need to build certain Stations, which can also yield other bonuses. Of course, you can only build Stations that your railway connects to.
The Road to Victory Points
For each of the first three actions – Station, Railroad and Telegraph – there is a corresponding Performance multiplier track. Wherever you choose to concentrate your efforts, you’ll want to make sure you advance as far as you can on the corresponding Performance track to maximize your score.
You can also score points by completing Company Milestones. Everyone starts with two Milestones (goal cards). They might involve building specific level Stations or Rails and/or Rails across particular types of terrain. To complete a Milestone, you’ll also have to promote one or more specific specialized workers – that’s the special ability of your white non-specialized workers. You can complete a Milestone at the end of any player’s turn.
Which reminds me, I haven’t provided any details on the specialized workers. They are:
- Foreman (purple). When you use a Foreman to perform an action, he usually grants you a Victory Point related bonus, like moving up one or more Performance tracks when taking the Trade action.
- Accountant (orange). The Accountant often makes an action less expensive and/or straight out gives you money. For example, you can ignore the cost when building a Station with an Accountant.
- Negotiator (grey). The Negotiator usually provides in-game benefits. For example, when building a Station or Telegraph Office with a Negotiator, you get to take the First Station/Office bonus, even if yours wasn’t the First Station/Office at that location. If yours was the First, you get to take the bonus twice!
- Engineer (turquoise). The Engineer improves an action, like allowing you to place three rails instead of two when placing rails with the Railroad action.
Makin’ Deals Along the Way
Both the map, along rail spaces, and the Telegraph section of the board feature the word Deal in a few places. When a player lays rail or build a Telegraph Office on such a space, that player can take advantage of one or both of the current Deals shown on the Deal card (right end of the Telegraph Office). Then all of the other players may also take advantage of one of the Deals. Deals are powerful, but you need to have Telegraph Shares to take advantage of them. So make sure you build some Telegraph Offices and don’t spend all your shares as though they were cash. While you can spend Telegraph Shares freely in place of money, you can’t buy shares whenever you want.
Yet another layer of complexity and opportunity for strategy in a very interesting game. I can’t wait to play it again!
Railroad Revolution supports 2 to 4 players, ages 12 and up and plays in 45 to 90 minutes.
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