Russian Railroads is a 'B' tournament, which means beginners are welcome to play if you have
played before, read the rules, or attended a demo. This year we will introduce expansions into the
mix. In the first heat, the basic version will be used at all tables. In the second heat, German Railroads will be the preferred version. In the third heat, the preferred version will be American
Railroads. There will also be tables of the basic version in heats 2 and 3 for those who don’t want to
experiment (or if there are not enough copies of the expansions). The semifinal and final will all be
played using the basic version.
The expansions have been out for a few years now, so hopefully they will get some play time here. If you know the basic version, learning the rules to either of the expansions is fairly simple. Perhaps learning the new strategies will take more time, but that’s part of the fun.
Russian Railroads involves building the most efficient and effective network along three separate rail tracks and one industry track. In many respects it is a classic worker placement game, where each player must choose from among the options still available each round. Variety is introduced by the use of coins (which can replace workers and must be used for some actions) and engineers (which provide the owner with personal actions no one else can use). The expansions add additional
There are several rounds per turn, depending on how many workers each player has and which
actions he or she chooses (some actions require multiple workers). Players continue placing workers
until everyone passes. Scoring is performed each turn, but the first half of the game typically nets
few points, particularly when using the “top track” strategy. On the seventh and last turn it is not
uncommon to score over 100 points out of around 300 or 400 total points. There are also endgame
scoring points for special cards and for engineers hired during the game. If you have questions,
need a refresher, or just want to learn from scratch – attend the demo where all will be explained.
The rules of the game state that a tie means both players win. That will apply in the heats (i.e. both players will be eligible for advancement – see advancement criteria below), but of course we must have some sort of tiebreaker for the semifinal and final. I will use the tiebreaker created by the
original GM, Tom DeMarco, and continued by Dan Farrow: reverse turn order on the last turn.
One of the most interesting characteristics of this game for me is the lack of randomness. Other than the initial setup, there is no luck. Theoretically, players could map out the entire game, hindered only by the choices of the other players. The whole makes for a remarkably rich experience, while the slight variations in the setup make it immensely replayable. No one strategy dominates, and I even continue to see new strategies used each time I play.
The game should take between 1.5 and 2 hours. Since the allotted window is 2 hours, the GM will adjudicate any game threatening to go beyond 2 hours. Since the last turn is critically important in this game, please make every effort to play at a reasonable pace. Slowing down the game makes for a bad experience for everyone. If in doubt what to do and time is running short, just pick an action
and move on. Finishing the game is much preferred to adjudication. If adjudication is required, the
GM reserves the right to penalize slow players if such can be determined easily.
Advancement will be based on the Heats Most Wins – Points standardtiebreakers to a 16-player semifinal, where the four winners will advance to the final. I will post a list of winners and alternates on the kiosk as soon as possible after each heat. If you win a heat and know that you will not be attending the final, I would appreciate knowing that ahead of time.
Notes: Event Sheet: In order for a game to count, a summary sheet must be accurately completed recording ALL pertinent info and submitted promptly to the GM. Winners are responsible for seeing that this is accomplished. Summary sheets will be handed out by the GM before play begins. Have fun!
HEATS: MOST WINS - POINTS (HMW-P):Tie-breakers are:
- Most Wins (e.g., total in all heats entered)
- Most Second Places
- Fewest total points behind first place in second place finishes. Not playing in a heat counts as an N/A for this criteria, not 0 points
- Fewest total points behind first place in all finishes. Not playing in a heat counts as an N/A for this criteria, not 0 points
- Fewest Heats
- High dice roll.