Episode 90: All Aboard!

90: All Aboard!

Release Date: Nov. 9, 2009

Running Time:  166 min.

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The jingle, the rumble, and the roar. We ride the rails touring the world of train games from simple to sublime, including an in-depth review of the modern classic: Age of Steam.

News & Notes: 18EZ, Days of Steam, Cleopatra's Caboose
The List: Age of Steam
Table Talk: Chicago Express
Back Shelf Spotlight: 
TransAmerica: Vexation

Truckloads of Goober:  Railways of the World
Game Sommelier:  5 non-train games with train game mechanics
Mail Bag:
CHITAG, Hive iPhone app, Owz That dice

Complete Show Notes continue after the break.

 News & Notes

18EZ   Link | BGG

An introductory board game teaching the 18xx system.

Days of Steam   Official Site | BGG 

Lay tiles, build up steam, deliver goods! New Edition from Valley Games.

Cleopatra's Caboose    BGG

Ancient Egyptian rail power! Who knew?

Spiel-a-thon 2009  Link

Saturday, Nov. 21 4:30 - 7:00 PM. Come join us for fun, games, and help support a great cause.

The List

Age of Steam Official Site | BGG

A modern classic. Balance shares, select actions, construct links to deliver goods and increase your income.

Table Talk

Chicago Express  Official Site | BGG 

The B&O, C&O, Pennsylvania and New York Central railroads drive from the East Coast across the growing eastern US to Chicago. Savvy investors will profit the most as lines move ever-westward.

Back Shelf Spotlight

TransAmerica: Vexation   BGG 

A simple expansion for TransAmerica or TransEuropa, adding 3 color tracks per player.

Truckloads of Goober

Railways of the World Official Site | BGG 


The Game Sommelier

The challenge: 5 games that use train game mechanics without being train games.

Power Grid

Jet Set


Thurn & Taxis


Short list



Auf Achse



Donors - Pledge Drive 2009

Thanks to the following donors/subscribers:

David “Mr. Megawatt” Corbin 
Mike “The Overlord” Betzel
Toby “The Grail Seeker” Rickards & Will “The Mad Monk” Rickards
“Up Front” Dave McLachlan
Allyson “Acey-Deucy” Mitchell
Joonas “Cosmic Creditor” Sahramaa
Nancy “Year of Plenty” Martira
Don “Doom Track” Mills
Doug “Elder Sign” Fein
Brian “The Power Plant” Looker
Matt “The Scarecrow” Morris
Adam “The Conductor” Foster
Kevin “Boxcars” Masaryk
Dustin “Iron Horse” Gervais

Mail Bag

CHITAG is coming later this month! Enter here for a chance to win 2 tickets to the show!

Hive is now available on the iPhone

Owz That dice!


Music credits (courtesy of Ioda Promonet) include:

"Trainspotters" - by Fat & Frantic - buy the mp3

"Who Stole That Train?" - by The Twilight Ranchers  - buy the mp3

"Mystery Train" - by Big Mama, Big Mama - buy the mp3

"Freedom Train" - by Braithwaite & Whitely - buy the mp3

"Train Rolls On" - by Mississippi Mudsharks - buy the mp3

"Sasha Takes the Train" - by USAF Band of Mid-America - buy the mp3

"Take the A-Train" - by Irven Tidswell & His Orchestra - buy the mp3

"Chatanooga Choo-Choo" - by Bryan Smith & His Dixielanders - buy the mp3

"Railroad Spikes & Shotgun Shells" - by The Believers - buy the mp3


I'm sure there are some goofs in there somewhere. Let us know if (when?) you find one!



<looks sheepishly left, then right>

The latest Name That Game Puzzle asks you to solve a word/math puzzle to find the answer.

One small problem. One of the clues is wrong. Whoops! So here, we present to you the corrected Name That Game Puzzle.

Listen Now:  

Download: Name That Game #90

Since many folks may not notice the correction here on the web site, we'll run the puzzle again on the next episode and extend the deadline.

Sorry for the goof.

 Great show - one for the trainspotters :-)

I was a little bemused by the statement that rail games are perceived as complex - I don't see them as any more difficult than your average multiplayer strategy game. I've taught a number of people 18xx from scratch and few of them have struggled with it (well, they struggled with the sheer length of time it can take to get through a game turn but in terms of understanding there was no real problem).

I suspect it is the play length which puts a number of people off, as well as some of the over enthusiastic proponents of the genre (many of whom seem to only play rail games).

I enjoyed the "Age of Steam" coverage but I was a little surprised that you did not mention its recent reprint (available at Essen) "Steam". It's basically the same game but stripped down a little bit. Sorry, Dave, the dice are gone in the new version but it does play more forgivingly than its predecessor.

As you went through the Sommelier list I found myself nodding in fervent agreement to Stephen's comment that there are just boxcar loads of games out there which are 'train games without the trains'.

The most obvious to me would be Canal Mania where you are building canals and then shipping goods - it is a train game with barges.

 Ah, Owzat, the staple diet of English schoolboys in the 1970s.

Games of cricket played out during boring history lessons or in the playground between classes.

We also use to make our own Owzat dice when we did not have the real thing available. Take a pencil and imprint dots on each of the six sides of the shaft: One Dot for 1 run [on two sides], Two dots for 2 runs, Four Dots for a 4, Six dots for a Six and the side left blank was "Owzat"

Reroll to see the result One Dot="Not Out", Two Dots="Caught", Four Dots='LBW', Six Dots="caught and bowled" and blank="Bowled Him!"


Ah, those were the days......

Our concepts of relative complexity continue to diverge. (There's a sentence for ya...) If you recall, I found Monopoly more complex than Careers while you found Pandemic more accessible than Ghost Stories. Then there was the different perspective on elementary schoolers and Hare and Tortoise. This one though takes the cake; while I've not yet had the privilege of playing Age Of Steam, I'm not sure how the dizzying beast you describe could be easier to get into than crayon rail games, which are to me to as comforting and low impact as fireside soup. Wait for the winter weather to come, pick your favorite soup, your lucky color and your preferred continent (I recommend India Rails myself, but you can go around the world and beyond by this point). You may find that while more involved than Transamerica, it's a cozier experience than Age Of Steam.  Ticket to Ride falls between the stools here so that I usually find myself wanting to either relax completely and play Transamerica or properly gear up for one of the Mayfair games. (Weirdly enough, Power Grid was originally- as Funkenschlag- a crayon game.)

How does the Man in Black fit into that music rights discussion, I wonder?

Oh and "feeling fat and sassy?" Are you a Don Hertzfeldt fan by any chance?