Publisher: Mayfair Games & Lookout Spiele
Designer: Helmut Ohley
Trambahn is one of the series of two-player games released by Mayfair Games & Lookout Spiele. After pretty good success with Patchwork, Trambahn was high on the list to try and I managed to make my first game convention trade to get hold of a cheap copy at this year’s UK Games Expo.
In Trambahn there is a very light theme of running a tram company, but really it’s a pretty abstract set collection game. In the game your cards have multiple uses, they are either passengers, tram cards or money. There are 4 or 5 main phases to each turn. First you must play one or two passengers. There are 4 colours in the game and when any colour has had 4 passengers played it triggers a scoring round. Second you can add a carriage to a tram – carriages are number 1-10 and must be played in numerical order, though there can be gaps. Finally any leftover cards in your hand can be converted to money – each card will always be worth just one money in your supply. Your supply of money is used to buy tram cars – these increase in cost over the course of the game, but their score multiplier also increases as you pay more.
With a hand of only 6 cards, your choices on your turn are pretty simple. Generally you want to time well when you score by playing passengers so this will dictate if you play one or two and which colours you want to advance. Then you need to decide whether to extend a tram’s carriages, which has some push your luck elements when deciding how long to wait to leave fewer gaps in your run. Finally you can add any cards you don’t want to your money pile and decide whether to spend money on buying a tram car. Without a tram car you won’t score any runs of carriages you’ve made, so it’s important to plan ahead a little here.
|A selection of cards. Those higher in the numerical order have a higher base value of points, ranging from 1 to 3 points.|
The end of the game is often a very tense state of either a rush to the finish for the player in the lead or dragging it out to try and score extra points if you’re behind. As soon as the 10th scoring takes place, the game is over and the player with the highest point total wins.
Trambahn is a really hard game for me to rate. I really enjoy the game, but I do seem to have had a lucky streak most times we’ve played it. Amy, on the other hand has not got so lucky and she doesn’t seem to enjoy it so much, which somewhat takes the shine off my experience. Yes, there’s some luck of the draw, but similar card games have the same drawback, like Lost Cities, but they’re quick enough that it doesn’t matter. When the luck is in your favour you feel like you’re making some really powerful decisions – hoarding the cards your opponent wants as money, being in control of when the colours score to make sure you are in a favourable position. But when you’re on the bad side of lady luck, you can feel a bit powerless.
So far I’ve been enjoying Trambahn quite a bit and from a personal perspective it’s a solid 7/10 from the Yellow Meeple, but if my playing partner isn’t enjoying it, I’m not sure how much longer it will stay in the collection.