Railroad Ink

In Railroad Ink your goal is to connect as many exits on your board as possible. Each round a set of dice are rolled in the middle of the table determining which kind of road and railway routes are available to all players. You then to draw these routes to create transport lines and connect your exits. The more exits you connect, the more points you score at the end of the game.

The Good

Path Building (+8)

While I never do well or even have fun with games that use polyominos, the one spatial puzzle I do enjoy no matter what is path building. It appeals to my needs to have an origin and a destination, and have a lot of options available to me. I’m also very much entertained at the variety of things to draw, such as roads and railways. I suppose my only confession here is that I may start using a ruler because I want my board to be prettier.

Permutations (+8)

Because you can reverse and rotate all of the dice and the edges of the map are different, you can imagine ways around and through any of the die rolls. Your player mat shows what faces exist so you could do some quick forecasting but I never manage to do this. Optimizing and planning for the future is also such a great feature in this game considering you are penalized for paths that lead nowhere.

Puzzle Evolution (+6)

When you feel as though you’ve mastered the simple rails and roads, you can make this building process more complex by adding meteors & lava (Blazing Red Edition) or rivers & lakes (Deep Blue Edition). Let me know if you’re one of those people and are looking for an apprentice because it has been months since I beat my own personal best.

The Bad

Downtime (-4)

Since you cannot proceed without everyone being ready, if folks are not aware that they are holding up the round then this game can last forever. I say this from experience – when those who are good at path building may feel punished by the rest of the group for taking more time.

Mind’s Eye Mirroring (-1)

It’s much easier to be told exactly what orientation and shape to place on your map like Kokoro does. But, it’s required in the nature of the game to be able to mind’s eye the ways the die can be rotated and reversed to best serve your needs. If you can’t do this, there’s no way around it and you really can’t win.

Dice Tracking (-2)

If you don’t pay attention to whether you’ve used the four white die, it’s impossible without a friend with a good memory to recall what was available. Especially if you start feeling self-conscious, tell everyone you’re ready and realize you’re a path short. Luckily, since everyone has to draw the same dice faces you can consult with your neighbor.

The Ugly

Stubby, Confusing Markers (0)

Just complaining, no points deducted… These markers come double-capped and I never know what side is the marker vs the eraser. My solution is just to remove the eraser entirely, set it aside, and then start writing. The other piece about this that I want to mention is the inability to accommodate people like me who do not like chonky writing utensils for roll and writes. This is even more true with the fact that we have so little space to draw up all these paths.

Tiny Dice (-2)

You cannot play this with a large group because the dice are not big enough to see from afar. This is a major problem with folks who cannot see the die faces and need to keep it in front of them while the rest of the group is also delayed from rolling the dice for the round.

Round Restriction on Special Routes (-2)

I really don’t understand why you can’t use as many special routes as you like in a round. Three is a good sweet spot over the course of the game but it seems like an unnecessary burden on an already merciless game to have to hold back and slow burn the only thing you truly have control over.

Difficulty: 1/5 for Novice
Satisfaction Grade: B- (81.33%) for Great
Worth Your Money? Yes.