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Empire Builder (EPB) Updated March 23, 2024
GM:Bob Stribula (13th Year)
Event Website:N/A
Class:B – Beginning Players Welcome
Format:HMW-P: Heats Most Wins - Points
Rounds:3 Heats, Semifinal, Final
Round Length:4 Hours
Advancement:Semifinal 25, Final 5
Prize Level:6

The Empire Builder tournament offers competition in all titles of the Empire Builder series. While Empire Builder and Eurorails will be offered in each of the Heats, players may choose to play variants if their choice is shared by three additional players.

Variants include original Empire Builder [without Mexico], Australian Rails, British Rails, China Rails, India Rails, Iron Dragon, Lunar Rails, Martian 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. Note: The number of available participants may necessitate three player games.

Change for 2024 Irish Rails and Mobius Rails will still be available to play as demo games during the Heats but will not count as tournament results for advancing in the Tournament.

All games will use a four-card start. Deal four demand cards to each player. (Event Cards are reshuffled into the deck.) The player with the single highest payment on one of his/her cards may begin building track as soon as they are ready. (Tiebreaker: second highest payment, etc.) Use a two-round “switchback” start. If a player pitches his/her demand cards during the switchback start, they only receive 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 published by Mayfair Games. 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. Otherwise use the straight edge test between any part of the two mileposts.

A player may correct a minor mistake or oversight after his or 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 don’t abuse this compassionate ruling. Tournament conditions apply but the games are still intended to be enjoyable for all.

For this tournament we will use the most recently published Mayfair rules with these changes.

  • Declare at the end of an equal-turn round. To create a truly fair game, it is best that victory conditions conform to equal turns and equal events. Therefore player(s) make the victory condition check and 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.
  • The first tiebreaker is the number of connected major cities. This tiebreaker is used if multiple declared players are tied for final cash. If a tie still exists, the cash requirement is raised as needed in 50 million increments to 300 million, 350 million, etc. Play continues with all players eligible to win. Both cash and city requirements still need to be fulfilled in order to win.
  • The cost of the Eurorails’ Chunnel is reduced to €12M. Other Chunnel rules remain. Please note on the scoresheet if any player builds the Chunnel.

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 will feature Empire Builder with Mexico. Only Round 1 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 Semifinal games. If there are between 32 and 39 entrants (inclusive), we will advance 16 players to four 4-player Semifinal games. If there are 30 or 31 entrants, we will advance 15 players to five 3-player Semifinal games. With fewer than 30 entrants, we will advance no more than half the entrants to four or five player Semifinal games of approximately equal numbers of participants. Semifinal finishing order (tiebreaker: final cash) will be used to advance five Semifinalists to the Final and to determine the event’s sixth place finisher. The Final will be contested on the newest edition of Eurorails. The Final will begin shortly after the slowest Semifinal is complete. Note: A combined 9-hour block is scheduled to minimize the need to adjudicate these games.

Note: If we have more individual Heat winners than Semifinal slots, a single win will NOT in itself guarantee advancement. A player winning their first game does not gain an advancement advantage. (For the previous few years, if we did not have no-shows for the Semifinal, a winner would not have advanced!) Advancement to the Semifinal will be based on the Heats Most Wins – Points Standard Tie-breakers listed below.

Additional Prizes: The GM will provide the following additional Prizes

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

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

The Irish Rails Medal: This will be awarded to the player with the single highest final cash (and the required number of cities) in any Heat Demo game of Irish Rails. 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 preliminary round games
  4. High dice roll.