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Empire Builder (EPB) Email GM   Updated June 8, 2023
Class B: Beginning Players Welcome You may play if you have read the rules, played previously, or participated in a scheduled demo. Be on time for the scheduled demonstration. The GM will remain for only 15 minutes if no one is present.
Schedule  GM: Bob Stribula (11th Year)
Round Day Start Time Duration Location
Demo 1/1Mo171Exhibit Hall Annex Table #1
Heat 1/3Mo184Wintergreen
Heat 2/3Tu184Wintergreen
Heat 3/3We184Wintergreen
2023 Tournament Format Heats Most Wins - Points

The Empire Builder tournament offers competition in all titles of the eponymous series. While Empire Builder and Eurorails will be offered in each of the three Round 1 heats, players may choose to play variants if at least three other players share their choice. Variants include original Empire Builder [without Mexico], Australian Rails, British Rails, China Rails, India Rails, Irish Rails, Iron Dragon, Lunar Rails, Martian Rails, Möbius Rails, Nippon Rails, and Russian Rails. If you would like to play one of the variants, it is strongly recommended that you bring your own copy and appear early to set it up and recruit players.

Round 1 games may use a three-card or four-card start. Remember this is a Class B event with beginners welcome. A four-card start adds additional challenges for a beginner. Let us treat the newcomers gently and help them develop into Empire Builder fans. Deal three or four demand cards to each player. (Event Cards are reshuffled into the deck.) The Semifinal and Final will use four-card starts. The player with the single highest payment on one of his/her cards may begin building track as soon as s/he is ready. (Tiebreaker: second highest payment, etc.) Use a two-round “switch-back” start. If a player pitches his/her demand cards during the switch-back start, s/he only receives three new cards. (During the switchback start, Event Cards are reshuffled into the deck.) Players must discard down to three cards when they place their train on the map board.

All games must use the half-rate movement rule as written by Mayfair. When a train starts in a half rate movement area, it moves at half rate for the entire turn. When a train moves into a half rate movement area, starting with the first movement step, it halves its remaining movement. (Round up for the allowed movement in both cases.) If there are any questions regarding the correct implementation of movement or building rules, players may be asked to count movement pips and building costs aloud.

Track between mileposts that lie on the same side of a body of water usually do not cross that body of water and should not incur the crossing fee. Track laying crews know how to build shallow curves. Please use common sense for this rule.

A player may correct a minor mistake or oversight after his/her turn ends. This is permitted provided the player has not learned any new relevant information. Depending on circumstances, this could be until the next player’s turn or until the player’s own next turn. Please do not abuse this compassionate ruling. This is a tournament, but it is also supposed to be enjoyable for all.

The GM will have The Complete Crayon Rails Book available during all rounds. It contains details for nearly everything about running the EPB tournament. It also contains specifics and errata for each version of each title in the Empire Builder system.

For this tournament we will use the most recently published Mayfair rules with one clarification and one addition. To create a truly fair game, it is best that victory conditions conform to equal turns and equal events. Therefore, if player(s) meet the city and cash victory conditions, they must declare at the end of an equal turn round. Verify that the declaring player(s) have a continuous network linking the required number of cities and at least 250 million in cash. During the round’s victory check, the game ends if one or more players meet the victory conditions. There is no final build or rebuild turn. The declared player with the most final cash is the winner. If multiple declared players are tied for final cash, the tiebreaker is the number of connected major cities. Otherwise, the cash requirement is raised as needed in 50 million increments to 300 million, 350 million, etc. Play then continues with all players eligible to win. Both requirements still need to be fulfilled in order to win.

At the game’s end, players should determine the finishing order per the Scoring Sheet instructions. Fill out the score sheet completely; the winner must record the game’s ending time, then sign, and return the form to the GM. Also recording game observations and anecdotes would be most appreciated.

The Semifinal games will feature Empire Builder with Mexico. The Final will be contested on the newest edition of Eurorails [Mayfair #4507; © 2009]. For the Final, the cost of the “Chunnel” is reduced to €12 M. (Feel free to practice with this modification during the Round 1 heats.) The Final will begin shortly after the slowest Semifinal game is complete. Note: A combined 9-hour block is scheduled to minimize the need to adjudicate these games.

Only winners or second place finishers will advance. If there are 50 or more total entrants, we will advance 25 players to five 5-player Semifinal games. If there are between 40 and 49 entrants (inclusive), we will advance 20 players to five 4-player Semifinals. If there are between 32 and 39 entrants (inclusive), we will advance 16 players to four 4-player Semifinals. If there are 30 or 31 entrants, we will advance 15 players to five 3-player Semifinals. With fewer than 30 entrants, we will advance no more than half the entrants to four or five Semifinal games of approximately equal numbers of participants. Semifinal finishing order (tiebreaker: final cash) will be used to seed five Semifinalists to the Final and to determine the event’s sixth place finisher.

Note: If we have more individual Heat winners than Semifinal slots, a single win will NOT in itself guarantee advancement. (For the previous few years, if we did not have no-shows for the Semifinal, a winner would not have advanced!) We will be using the Heats Most Wins - Points Standard Tiebreakersakers for advancement and seeding. Unlike previous years, a player winning their first game does not gain an advancement advantage.

Non-Cash Prize Description

The Train Gamers Memorial Medal, in memory of our lost friends, will be awarded to the player with the highest cumulative cash total in three different Round 1 games (not to include Empire Builder or Eurorails).

The Möbius Rails Medal will be awarded to the player with the single highest final cash (and the required number of cities) in any Round 1 Möbius Rails game. The game’s designer is disqualified from winning this medal.

The Irish Rails Medal will be awarded to the player with the single highest final cash (and the required number of cities) in any Round 1 Irish Rails game. The game’s designer is disqualified from winning this medal.


  1. Most Wins (e.g., total in all heats entered)
  2. Total Points – Players earn the following pints in each heat they entered:
    • 1st Place - 1,000 points
    • 2nd Place - 100 points
    • 3rd Place - 10 points
    • 4th Place - 1 points
    • All other places - 0 points
    • e.g. player has a 1st, 2nd, and 4th in three heats: total points would be 1,101
  3. GM Specific Tie-breaker - High final cash total all games
  4. High dice roll.