IRON ROAD - Reviewed by Mike
Category/Format: Business/Board Game
Simple track-laying game which plays in under 30 minutes. Players are dealt a hand of cards depicting certain cities in the USA which they have to connect with a track. The first one to do is the winner of the round. Losing players score points for the number of track builds that they are away from completing their routes. The player with the fewest points after an agreed number of rounds is the overall winner. So the overall game duration can be varied to suit the time available.
Components are simple, consisting of a stylised map of the USA, upon which the cities have been jokingly renamed, and 'placed' in geographical regions by a colour code. This is necessary to facilitate the game card distribution in which each player receives a city card from each region and they can connect these cities in whatever sequence they wish.
The rest of the components are pieces of track, which the players lay on their building phase. In a turn players can build either 2 Simple Tracks or one Complex Track. Complex Track is one which crosses either rivers or mountains; Simple Track avoids any such obstacles.
So not much to think about when laying your track but the real thought process occurs later in the game. This is due to the fact that once you have connected to a city that other players have also joined up to you can build upon the 'other end' of their tracks. So its really down to spotting who is building a nice link to your city in the far west and then making sure that you join up with their link. Of course the other players will be exploiting your lines in similar fashion and the end result of a particular round can be quite close.
Purists would point out that it is all luck-driven and hugely dependent upon the card distribution at the start of a round. But this does not pretend to be anything other than a family fun game and should be viewed as such. The decision making is down to whether you should build through the mountains, at one track per turn, or go for the longer route and maybe cut across later.
A suitable game for a family play or as a filler for a gaming session.