Trick of the Rails

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Trick of the Rails, themed on the rise of the American railway period, combines 18XX-like portfolio management and a trick-taking card game. Players collect stock certificates and make the companies more valuable by laying a rail network.

The game alternates between stock rounds and operating rounds. In stock rounds, the cards played become shares for the players. In operating rounds, the cards played become track for the companies. The companies get trains, which determine how many track cards they can count for their profit (the trains have costs as well, which may lead to companies not making any profit at all) and in the end, players simply count the value of their shares and highest value wins.

  • 3–5 Players
  • 20 Min
  • Age: 14+
  • Designer – Hisashi Hayashi
  • Artist – Ryo Nyamo, Ian O’Toole, Todd Sanders
  • Publisher – Japon Brand, OKAZU Brand, Terra Nova Games


First of all, let me tell you that I’m starting to become slightly obsessed with this game and in my opinion, rightly so. I had heard a lot of really good things about it and luckily managed to pick it up at BGGCON last year, I actually picked up a copy for myself as well as a copy for a friend for Christmas before I had even got a chance to play it. I had really high hopes for this game, and it definitely delivered for me.

It’s a lovely small trick taking card game, with an excellent theme and a perfect tip of the hat to the world of stock taking and 18xx. I love the clean simple artwork and the fact that it’s really compact, a great game to throw into your handbag (that’s where I keep my copy), your desk at work, your car or even your carry on if you want something light but interesting to play when travelling. I also think this neat little game could easily be played down the pub ( I recommend this) or waiting in line for a convention, show etc if you have a bit of floor space.

This year, I’ve been gaming with a few of people that are new to games and this always goes down well. Everybody seems to get really excited about it. It might not be for everyone but it is definitely a super fun, clever little game.



The cards are completely language independent and rules are clear which make it even easier and quicker to follow. There are 50 normal cards (10 each numbered 1 through 10 in five different “suits” or railroads,) five train cards, five exchange cards and five starting track cards. As mentioned earlier, the cards and box are very compact so easy for travel.

Without going into too much detail, the game is played over a series of Tricks until the players have played all of the cards from their hands.

  1. The lead player can play any card from their hand to the middle of the table, this card will then be called the lead.
  2. In a clockwise order, each other player will play a card from their hand. If they have a card of the same company as the lead. If the player has no cards of the same company, they may lay another card.
  3. Whoever played the highest numbered card of the same company as the lead wins the trick.
  4. Then players will either gain company shares or lay track to railways. Which action the players will take is decided by the leftmost card in the Trick Lane.

The game ends after the final track has been played. Then, before a winner is declared, the value of each companies shares must be determined. 

There’s actually an Expert Variant and Team Variant to the game which I haven’t actually tried yet, but seemed quite appealing to me, so I shall be trying both of those out in the near future.

Final thoughts

As mentioned earlier, I definitely found this to be a fun, neat little filler and would recommend this to anybody looking for something light/quick whilst still being able to incorporate stock rounds and portfolio management. It’s a really clever, unique card game and I will definitely keep playing and enjoying this game in the future.

Please check out Terranova Games here:

Thank you for reading, and catch you next time.




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