Saturday, 15 April 2017

Murder And The Orient Express

We had another get-together with our friends the Perrys on Friday. We'd tried a couple of murder mystery evening with them over the past year and, having enjoyed them, Catherine wanted to have a go at writing and running one of her own.

The mystery went well; it's not an easy thing to design something like that and Catherine rose to the occasion providing an entertaining couple of hours for all involved, even if most of us guessed the identity of the killer. It was the journey to the solution which was fun, not necessarily the destination.

And, talking of journeys and destinations, we finished the evening with a game of Railway Rivals. This game has been released in a boxed form at some stage, but my version is one of the early cardboard tube editions purchased directly from the designer at a games con in the mid-eighties. I have four maps in my set, and we ran with France, since it's one of the two I have that suits six players.

Railway Rivals is, as the name suggests, a game of building railway systems and then (in an abstract form) operating them. This is, of course, a whole genre of games now, but Railway Rivals was one of, if not the, first.

Half of the fun of the game is that you get to draw on the laminated map. Here's the game in its early stages, as each player expands their network from one of the starting towns around the map.

Once the map has a mostly complete network the game shifts into an operations phase, which is run as  series of  races between randomly determined towns on the map. Players win more points with which to expand their network, and the races are punctuated by chances to expand your system.

We had one player team race ahead in the operations phase, and pretty much hold their position, but there was a lot of shifting around for the other five places. My network was the green one, which started in the south of France. I managed to create lines which at least pushed to the edges of some other areas, and had some lucky races come up which  made use of track I'd just built, but only managed to get a fourth place at the end. The most exciting races were a short one which ran from Rouen to England, and consisted of three ferries racing across the Channel, and another race which saw three players steaming across the whole country from Bayonne on the Spanish border to Belgium.

This was the map at the end, with additional player doodles.

This was the first time I've had this game out in possibly twenty years, and everyone seemed to enjoy it. sadly I don't think you can buy new maps for it anymore.

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