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Game Review

The European railbuilding game

Ages 10 and up
Mayfair Games
Game © 1990 Mayfair Games Inc.
game in play
Uncle's Games link

2-6 Players3-4 hours


Build a railroad network across Europe. Make cargo deliveries to fund your business in a race to make money.


At the beginning, the map is clean. There are no railroads anywhere. Players are given a colored pawn (their train), a matching colored crayon and EU$50 million. Players are dealt three "demand" cards to tell them where their first deliveries may be made. For the first two turns, players may only build railroad track. They may spend EU$20 million per turn.

On turn 3, players start their trains from any major city. Major cities are the large red hexagons on the board. Trains must pick up freight, and then deliver the appropriate cargo to the destination specified on a demand card. At the beginning of the game, trains may carry 2 freight items and may move 9 miles (dots) per turn.

The typical turn has these two phases:

  1. move your train

  2. build up to EU$20 million worth of track

As a train passes through a city that produces a specific freight, trains may automatically pick up the freight --similarly, they may also drop off freight as the pass through any city.

Freight types range from tourists and laborers to cork, oranges and bauxite. The demand cards specify which freight is being requested in which city. In general, the further the city demanding the freight is from the source of the freight, the bigger the payout when the delivery is made. Payouts range from EU$4 million to EU$65 million.

After a player has moved his/her train along the track, they may build additional track. Track cost varies depending upon the terrain it crosses. Between two normal mileposts (dots) it costs EU$1 million per post. If your track crosses a mountain, the cost is 2 million per post (triangle), and if it is alpine (hollow triangle) 5 million per post. Entering cities, crossing rivers and lakes incurs additional cost as well. When a player builds track, they use their crayon to draw their track on the board. By the middle of the game, the board is a covered with multicolored criss-crossed crayon lines.

When freight has been delivered for a demand card -- the player is paid the amount for the demand and is dealt a replacement card. Occasionally, the card dealt is an event card. Events are storms or railroad strikes. They can hinder train movement, or cause a train to lose some freight it is carrying. These are rare, but annoying when they occur.

The goal of the game is to connect your track to 7 of the 8 major cities, and then have EU$250 million cash on hand.

in play -- closeup

terrain closeup

Winning Conditions:

The first player to have EU$250 million and consecutive rails connected to seven major cities wins.

late in the game  

Our Opinion:

Thumbs Down!Eurorails was an Origins award winner when it came out. Overall, it is a good game -- however, when playing to completion it is a very long game, and tries the patience of the players.

The game is reasonably balanced... the construction is nice (after you get past the hundreds of stickers you must place on mini-poker chips to prepare to play.) The board is nicely made for reuse and the cards are all very sturdy. It is difficult to say if this is good or bad, but all of the city names are spelled in the native language of the area (with the English alphabet) -- For instance "Wien" on the board is Vienna -- if you are unfamiliar with European city names, this can make the game very difficult or educational.

The Zombies tried the game on two separate occasions. The first time, we had a limited amount of time to play, so no one was close to winning within the 2 hours we played -- at that point, we were still interested in playing. The game was getting interesting -- the strategies of where it's best to lay track were forming, and we liked drawing with crayons ;-). On the second occasion, we played to complete the game -- This was painfully long. The game claims to take 3-4 hours... we played about 5. After 3 hours, the novelty was gone. We were tired of having almost zero cash constantly -- any money you make from a delivery almost always goes to laying more track for the next delivery. After 3 hours, most of us had our track laid and we struggled to move our trains around th board in a race to EU$250 million. By the end, we were relieved to stop playing... two of the three players were so close to 250 million goal that it was clearly a race to get the last delivery made. Like Monopoly, never play this game to its real completion. It starts fun and then it gets boring.

We'd recommend that if you know that you'll never play to the end, get this game. But be warned, once you play to the end -- you'll really be sick of it. That alone is the biggest problem with the game -- it is so long, that you'll want to quit before you stop enjoying it.

Where to buy:

You can find this game in dedicated game stores, or order it from Mayfair Games.

Uncle's Games link

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