Should they be at the end, or can they be anywhere?
One of our latest acquisitions arrived a few days ago, following a Kickstarter campaign last summer. It was a little delayed (and then European deliveries were delayed a bit more), but Yardmaster Express is now here in a really sleek little box.
And, quickly, a word about the box and the production values in general: this game has had a lot of love, care and attention given to its presentation. The box is really solid, with a magnetically fastened flip-top lid, which has a handy illustration showing you the main game components (there were also some Kickstarter bonus cards) and card distributions, and the whole thing comes in a nice, stylish card sleeve. Inside, as well as the elegantly graphic-designed, high quality cards, there is a nice wooden start player token and a cloth bag, which is actually enough to carry all of the components if you want to stick it in your shirt pocket. Some of these components, I think, are Kickstarter specials, but the base game kit is really nice.
Enough of all that frothing about components. Everyone seems to be doing it, though, so I don’t want to be left out.
The game is actually really simple, and only takes a few minutes to play. Players take it in turn to pick cards showing a pair of rail cars in assorted types and colours, and add their pick to the end of their train. The wrinkle is that the first car on the card you play must match either the colour or number of the last car in your train so far. If you can’t make the match you can play the card face down as a low scoring wildcard.
When everyone has taken enough cards (seven in a two-player game, fewer with more players), you add up the numbers on your cards, add a bonus for whoever has the longest continuous run of a single colour, and then whoever has the highest score wins. There is an optional extra in that you can have one of the selection of “caboose” cards in play which gives another bonus to players who meet certain requirements, and this is a really nice addition which adds some depth (different objectives) with barely any increase in complexity.
There isn’t a lot to this game, but there is enough for a quick filler game, and it flows really well. I haven’t yet played it with adults, but Miss B got the hang of the rules instantly and within a couple of games she was talking through her plans and strategies and getting really invested in the game. On our first day we played three games before bedtime and then had to stop; I pretty much had to promise to play again the next day to get her to go. I’m not saying the game wasn’t without incidents — there was a bit of grumpiness on an unfortunate card draw, leading to missing out on a bonus — but when a loss is followed by a cry of “again!” you know you’re on to a winner.
The verdict from Miss B (aged 8): “I like the idea of having the caboose bonuses because I really enjoy playing with them. I give Yardmaster Express a 9/10. At first I thought that it would be much thinner cards in width when I saw the box because there was a picture showing all the cards laid out on it and the cards looked like rectangular tiles.”
The game: Yardmaster Express (Crash Games), 2 to 5 players aged 13+.