Iberian Rails

Iberian Rails

by Monsoon Publishing

A review by Mawihtec

  • 2-5 Players
  • 70-90 Minutes
  • 14+ Age (seriously this is true)

All Aboard.

Look out Spain. The trains are coming. In actual fact six train companies are vying to be the most successful. You along with up to four other investors. Will compete for control of these six companies. Giving you the power you need to take them in the direction you want them to go. Thus giving you the most return on your investments. Lay tracks. Privately and publicly sell shares. Dividend payouts at the right time can enhance your wealth. Get it wrong however and the company might suffer in the long term.

Calling at.

The interesting rollercoaster-esque design of the box art hides behind its dark exterior.

  • Double sided game board,
  • 27 Shares in the six companies,
  • 126 train meeples (21 in each company colour),
  • 15 Character cards,
  • 15 Character boards,
  • 5 Player markers,
  • 5 Player screens,
  • 40 Hotel tiles (8 in each player’s colour),
  • Cardboard coins in denominations of 1, 5, 10, 50 and 100 pesetas (old Spanish currency before euros),
  • 6 Wooden cubes (1 in each company colour).

Play.

In Iberian Rails, you are not playing as one of the train companies instead you take on the role of investors. The holder of the most shares is the CEO of that company and makes the decision of growth by laying tracks or selling shares publicly or privately. The options available to you will depend on the character you have chosen for that round. Once the point is reached that four of the companies have sold all their shares or connected twelve cities. The game ends, final dividends are played and the richest player wins.

Details.

How does this all work in actual play then? Players take turns to choose a character. This character will determine what actions are available to you during the round. This will range from

  • Laying Tracks
  • Public Auction (players take turns bidding)
  • Closed Auction (sealed bid style. Hold bid in closed hand, highest wins)
  • Special ability.

These characters range from Hoteliers with a special ability to allow you to build hotels in your colour on the board. Or maybe you would prefer being a Bureaucrat and earning extra money from a train company you control. Have you seen your self more as a dark broody type? Then the Mafioso could be your choice. Their special ability is “making an offer you can’t refuse” (basically paying some money to the controller of a company to act as CEO for the round. Do not get too attached however as at the end of the round you will be replacing characters and picking new ones for the next round. Trick here is you cannot re-pick your existing character OR a character from a player who comes after you and has yet to replace their character.

Once all this fun is sorted out the round proper begins. But it is not player turns but company turns. The companies have a set turn order which does not change. Each round the player who holds the most shares in a company acts as CEO (Mafioso can break this rule. Unsurprisingly). The CEO then decides what that company will do based on the options available on the character card they have chosen.

Play proceeds this way until four of the companies have run out of shares. When this happens the current round completes and final double dividend payouts occur. Players count their cash and highest wins.

Throughout the game various bonus’s are paid out when a train enters a Hotel hex or occupies an already used hex. You cannot just lay track unlimited there is a cost involved and that increases the more track laid each turn.

Special Note: As the player holding most shares controls the train company on its turn. It is a distinct possibility that players may find themselves without an action from round to round. This can lead to a lot of downtime between your interactions with the game in any meaningful way. Especially if other players are prone to the dreaded AP (analysis paralysis).

Extra notes.

If this sounds a little dry? That is because it is. This is reinforced in a big way by the rulebook. I have never come across a rulebook that used phrases like (and this is a direct quote from the rules). “Furthermore, upon laying a railroad companies track into a hotel hex, immediately count the number of tourism city hexes said railroad company is connected to and bank immediately pays that number times 10 in pesetas to the owner of said hotel”. YAWN. The whole of the rulebook is written in this overly verbose semi-legalise style text that appears to be an attempt at adding theme. But in actual fact just makes the entire game less accessible to a lot of players. As a reviewer I see a lot of rulebooks and This is definitely one of the least welcoming. I am all for flavour text but save it for the flavour part. Rules need to be laid out in a clear easy to understand manner. Something that could have been done a lot better here. Yes you can understand what they are saying but you have to concentrate a lot more than is necessary.

Final thoughts.

I have to say I was very disappointed in Iberian Rails. When I first received the game I was excited by the prospect of building trains across Spain, running train companies and getting into characters. Even the artwork while a little heavy on the dark browns and darker shades looked interesting and a bit of fun. Imagine how I felt when I started reading the said rulebook in the aforementioned game box containing the previously said game. Still moving onto playing I was hopeful the false start was only a minor hiccup. Wrong, all our players experienced moments of frustration as they were left twiddling their thumbs and playing on their phones as they had virtually nothing to do for one or two rounds at a time. Not one I can recommend or finding a home on my shelves.

Pro.

  • Train meeples.
  • Character cards.

Con.

  • So dry it is arid.
  • Down time.
  • Outstayed its welcome.

I was provided a copy of “Iberian Railssolely for review through the Board Game Exposure group. This game has now been forwarded on to another member of BGE for review. this does not affect my review or my final thoughts on the game.

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