Welcome to The Game Shelf!

After getting into the board game hobby at the end of 2014, we've decided to share our thoughts on the games we're collecting on our shelves. The collection has certainly expanded over the last few years and we've been making up for lost time!

Sometimes our opinions differ, so Amy will be posting reviews every Tuesday and Fi will post on Thursdays. We hope you enjoy reading some of our opinions on board games - especially those for two players.

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Tuesday 17 July 2018

I've been working on the railroad:- Steamrollers

Game: Steamrollers

Publisher: Stronghold Games

Designer: Mark Gerrits

Year: 2015 (2018 Reprint)

Steamrollers is a 1-5 player roll and write game in which you will draft dice in order to create railway tracks, power your steam engines and deliver goods.The more towns you pass through the more customers you meet so you'll want top pass your goods through as many locations as possible en-route to their final stop, but there are only so many goods that need to be delivered, so you'll have to work fast to beat off the competition.

As you might imagine gameplay in Steamrollers revolves around dice. Each turn one player will roll the dice and then in order each player will choose one to use for their turn. Players have individual player boards on which they will draw out their routes, upgrades and scored points, but the supply of goods for delivery is located on a common central board. It's perfectly possible for one player to empty a town of goods if you take too long adding it to your network.

The inside of the box is nicely decorated, providing a themed dice-tray wherever you go!
You can use your die for several things; take action tiles, draw a route, deliver a good or upgrade your engine strength. Engine strength is simple, for each space you have crossed off you can move goods one stop (a stop being a town or a city). Delivering goods requires you to have rolled the number matching the city you want to deliver from, and then being able to connect a route to the city of the colour matching the goods cube. You then remove that cube and score 1 point for each town or city your good went through on it's way. Drawing a route can only be done in the coloured section matching the number you rolled, you are also limited to drawing a track type from the 2 shown on the black die (tracks can be straights, gentle curves or sharp turns). Action tiles can be bought to give you permanent or temporary powers that can be used on later turns to make your life easier. Each die face relates to one action tile, you can even steal the action tiles from other players! At the end of the game some tiles will reward you points while others cost you points, so you don't want to be caught with the bad ones.

There are several more advanced rules, which add blocked areas of the map that you have to build your routes around, requests for certain goods combinations for bonus points and unique player powers. I strongly recommend throwing them all in at the start as without them the game is a little basic. The base game is a perfectly good roll and write, but lacks much in the way of replay-ability. With the mini expansions all thrown in there is enough variation to keep you coming back for more. That being said some of the player powers can seem a little more powerful than others, The power that lets you ignore the black dice being particularly handy.

Making a spiderweb like route makes it easy to connect the cities together, but misses out on a lot of towns so might not be the best way to maximise points.

While there are points rewarded for building your route and upgrading your train the vast majority of points are rewarded for delivering goods. This is where the game can become a bit stale, there is only one strategy to win: build a long convoluted route to maximize the number of points you get per delivery. Adding the bonus points for delivering certain good sets does help counter this, but the rewards are generally worth less than one max length delivery, there is little incentive to be there first when you could get more points by ignoring them altogether!

While Steamrollers tries to add some complexity to itself with the mini expansions for me the game is simply too simple. I would have appreciated some different maps, or some extra ways to earn (significant) amounts of points to help keep the strategies varied between games.  If you are looking for a focused, quick, train-themed game then Steamrollers might well be for you.


Steamrollers was a review copy provided by Asmodee UK. It is available for an RRP of £46.99 at your friendly local game store or can be picked up at http://www.365games.co.uk/.

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