- Designer Mark Gerrits
- Artist Steve Tse
- Publisher Moaideas Game Design
- Players 3-5
- Time 40 minutes
Mini Rails is the latest game from designer Mark Gerrits who also did SteamRollers. Moaideas Game Design is the publisher. Mini Rails is the very essence of what constitutes a “train” game as the only two actions are buying stock and building track.
The game consists of a quick 6 rounds before establishing the winner with the most valuable stock.
The components are very nice. A frame for the modular main board is provided. Pawns and action markers for each player as well as a player board and and board for turn order and counting the rounds are in the box.
The main board is seeded with track for each color of train (discs) dependent on the number of players.
The turn order board is set up with the pawns Catan style with the last player going twice in the middle. The train discs are then randomly drawn and placed in other other column with one more disc than the number of pawns.
Each player now has 2 turns per round. They must buy stock or build track in any order. To do those actions the player moves his pawn to the other column picking up the disc color they want and leaving the pawn there in its place. This establishes the turn order for the next round. If the disc was taken to be stock, the player puts the disc on the zero position of their player board.
If the disc was taken for track, the player places it on the main board in any space adjacent to already present track of the same color. If that space contains white pips, everyone with stock in that color moves their stock disc up equal to the number of white pips. If the pips were red, stock moves down. Finally, one disc will be leftover at the end of the round. That discs is moved to the round counting/taxation area. The color represents a train company that has paid taxes. A train company may pay taxes more than once or none depending on the game.
After the sixth round, any train which has not paid taxes will not score positive points. Remove discs of that color from the positive portion of player boards. Any companies which have paid taxes are removed from the negative side of the board. The winner is the player with the most total stock value.
Train game aficionados will find Mini Rails to be a mini train game reminiscent of Paris Connections. The set up time and play is even faster. For the rest, Mini Rails is fun and fast, easy to teach and learn. For only having 2 actions, the choices can be surprisingly difficult to make. The risk of tax outcomes also add a bit of tension to the game. The game can feel a bit out of control but figuring out how best to advance your holdings is the main challenge.