Eurorails: Building Victory with Crayons
My friend Matt invited me over a few years ago to try out this new board game he had learned. It was called Eurorails. At this time, I had never settled Catan or built Carcassonne and I really didn’t know much about board games beyond the usual suspects. Well, I was enamored. I fell in love with this game and immediately sought it out and introduced it to my friends and family. Eurorails set me off onto a new track of gaming which I still ride upon today where games are rich and complex and a hell of a lot of fun.
What makes Eurorails so great? Perhaps it’s because you get to create; create an extensive rail network throughout Europe as well as creating a successful exporting business. Sure there is competition between the players, but its not direct competition and reduces the cutthroat nature built into some other games such as Risk. Whether you’re delivering juicy Valencia oranges into the snowy northlands of Scandinavia, or delivering sheep from the rugged Scotland hills to the forested wilderness of the Balkans, Eurorails is always a fresh, new experience. Europe is a continent rich and varied in culture and each of your Eurorail sessions can be just as rich and just as varied.
Eurorails revolves around two different actions; building rails and transporting goods on those rails. To build your rails, you must buy track which will connect different cities across the continent. The cost will differ depending on the terrain you are building on, whether it be flatlands, hills, mountains, or across rivers and into ferries.
You can then move your trains across the rails you have built in order to pick up certain types of goods at certain cities and deliver them to other cities. The longer you must travel to deliver the goods the more money you will get for them. You are given option cards which tell you what goods you may delver where and for how much money. Each card has three choices which you can choose from.
The challenge here is to slowly build your way up without overextending yourself. If you try for too long of a route right away, you will end up going broke, and the bank charges a steep 100% interest rate! Finding the right balance of route lengths and where to build your rails is not always easy, but the challenge is what keeps bringing me back time and time again.
So you build rails across Europe, but what do these rails look like you ask? What are you using to build them? Well, crayons of course! That’s right, crayons; those colourful creation tools of your childhood. The white board of Europe is marked out with dotted terrain points which you use crayons to connect, building your rail network. After the game the crayon is easily washed off with some tissue paper, made blank and ready for the next game.
Using crayon to build the rails is really quite brilliant. It allows you to clearly see your coloured rail and allows for maximized variability in your rail network as you can really make your rails go anywhere you want on the continent. It also doesn’t require other cumbersome board components to be present, allowing you to simply move your train pieces and nothing more.
The commodity tiles each give a different symbol for the type of commodity it represents. These can be confusing to some, but an easy-to-read legend chart in the rule book should make this easier. The map itself is also very well balanced with the route distances and load pay-offs.
I consider Eurorails to be my gateway game, the game which turned me into a serious board gamer. It is brilliant in its balance and composition. The game does go on too long for some (a couple of hours or more), but I am just fine with it. The crayon rails allow me to create my own train system across my favourite continent with incredible freedom. I love to challenge myself to go for that long route from Sweden to Spain and I love the feeling of satisfaction when I finally get too deliver that big payoff. So if you’re looking for a challenging and strategic train game which is also a lot of fun, or whether you’re just looking for an excuse to play with crayons again, give Eurorails a try.