Design by Helmut Ohley & Leonhard Orgler
Published by Hans im Glück / Z-Man Games
2 – 4 Players, 2 hours
Review by Greg J. Schloesser
Designers Helmut Ohley and Leonhard Orgler are train and railroad aficionados. They both have a history of designing train games, with a heavy concentration on games utilizing the 18xx system. They are quite popular within that world, but up until now, they have not really ventured into the realm of traditional European (German) games. Until now.
Russian Railroads is the train duo’s first major foray into the world of European game design. Set in Imperialist Russia at the end of the 19th century, the Tsar has ordained a major project: construction of the Trans-Siberia Railroad. To help usher Russia into the modern world, several lines on this railroad must be constructed. As these railroads progress, improvements are made, new industries arise, and brilliant engineers add their expertise, all helping the railroads to expand at an even greater rate. Russia will not be left out of the industrial revolution that is sweeping the world!
Interestingly, although the designers’ are heavily immersed in the 18xx world and system, there are few if any traces of that system in Russian Railroads. Rather, the game is unmistakably a worker-placement affair. Players will alternate placing workers on various spaces in their efforts to construct three railroad lines, acquire improved locomotives, recruit new workers, establish factories and more. Points come in droves, especially in the latter stages of the game. It is not unusual for players to score 400 or more points. Yet, with all of these points being scored, I’ve seen victories determined by just one point.