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A new board game for 3-5 players made in Pittsburgh PA using small-scale manufacturing equipment
164 backers pledged $22,025 to help bring this project to life.
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Railroads, a boutique wooden board game project video thumbnail
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$22,025

164

Railroads by Social Hour: The $90 reward tier

What's in the box?

One board of the Northeast and Midwest United States as shown below, including city tiles for: New York, NY; Philadelphia, PA; Baltimore, MD; Boston, MA; Portland, ME; Albany, NY; Buffalo, NY; Pittsburgh, PA; Cleveland, OH; Detroit, MI; Grand Rapids, MI; Cincinnati, OH; and Indianapolis, IN

City tiles are not glued onto the board, they can be removed to allow board to be collapsed and placed into its box.  Note that Portland in Maine is shown off center to demonstrate.
City tiles are not glued onto the board, they can be removed to allow board to be collapsed and placed into its box. Note that Portland in Maine is shown off center to demonstrate.

 8 Railroad Company Game Stock Certificates and starter tiles: 

  • Baltimore & Ohio (aka the B&O)
  • Pennsylvania
  • New York & Erie (aka the Erie)
  • New York Central
  • Philadelphia and Reading (aka the Reading)
  • New York New Haven & Hartford
  • Jersey Central (lol)
  • Pittsburgh and Lake Erie (aka the PLE)

 12 Resource tiles (3 each in 4 colors), 72 demand tokens (in 5 colors), a cloth bag, 40 stock tokens (8 in 5 colors), 1 starting player token, 40 straight tracks, 35 curved tracks, 20 straight splits, 15 curve splits, 15 bridges, 10 hard turns, and a rule sheet.

 Railroads by Social Hour plus Canada: The $125 reward tier

What's in the box (Everything in the $90 tier + the following):

The Northeastern and Midwestern United States, plus Québec and Ontario.  Cities added include: Toronto, ON; Montréal, QC; Ottawa, ON; Québec, QC

 Also adds 3 companies to the game:  

  • Grand Trunk (I actually wanted to include a famous Canadian railroad from the 1800s that's still around, but I emailed them and they were like "Dear nobody, No.  Sincerely, a giant Railroad Corporation.")
  • New York, Ontario & Western
  • Boston and Albany

 4 more resource tiles, 24 more demand tokens, 5 more stock tokens, 10 more straight tracks, 10 more curved tracks, 10 more straight splits, 5 more curved splits, 5 more hard turns, and 10 more bridges.

Railroads by Social Hour plus U.S. Southeast: The $150 reward tier

What's in the box, (Everything in the $90 tier, plus the following)

The U.S. Southeast maps and city tiles for: Atlanta, GA; Nashville, TN; Richmond, VA; Raleigh, NC; Charlotte, NC; Charleston, SC; Jacksonville, FL; Tampa, FL; Miami, FL; Louisville, KY

 Plus 5 more Railroad companies with stock certificates: 

  • Chesapeake and Ohio (aka the C&O)
  • Monon Route (with love to all the Hoosiers out there)
  • Louisville & Nashville (aka the L&N)
  • Atlantic Coast Line
  • Southern Railroad

8 more resource tiles, 48 more demand tokens, 20 more stock tokens (including room for a 6th player), 40 more straight tracks, 35 more curved tracks, 20 more straight splits, 15 more curved splits, 10 more hard turns, and 15 more bridges.

Railroads by Social Hour plus Canada and the U.S. Southeast: The $175 reward tier

A gigantic wooden map that includes the U.S. Northeast, Midwest, Southeast, and Eastern Canada.

With all 16 companies, 24 resource tiles, 144 demand tokens, 78 stock tokens (6 in 13 colors, which allows for up to 6 players to play 13 rounds, the most intense railroading chaos I offer), the cloth bag, 100 straight tracks, 100 curved tracks, 50 straight splits, 40 curve splits, 40 bridges, 25 hard turns.  Hours and hours of pure railroad nerding out.

Catzilla not included
Catzilla not included
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The Rules of Railroads:

Players win by earning Net Worth (points) by connecting cities to what they want.  There is no money or budgeting in Railroads.

Railroads is played in rounds: 8 rounds for 3 players, 7 rounds for 4 players, and 6 rounds for 5 players

Phases of each round:

  • New Stock (Starting player, and going to the left)
  • Trading Stock (After 3rd round only, starting player, then to the left)
  • Build Track (In reverse order by the companies' presidents)
  • Pass the starting player token to the left

New Stock Phase

  • Start with the current starting player, and then go to the left.
  • Take one of your stock tokens not currently in the game.  You may FOUND a company with this token or ADD it to an existing company.
  • The first round, each player MUST found a company. (See founding companies below)
  • If there are no companies left to found, than you may no longer found companies.
  • You may only found one company per round.
  • If ADDing a stock to a company causes you to become the player with the most stocks in the company, switch one of your company stocks with the PRESIDENT stock token.
  • There is a limit of 11 stocks per company. (one on the president spot and ten on the general stock space)
  • Note: Each round of the game you will only add one stock, so in round 1 you will have 1 stock in the game, in round 2 your will have 2 stocks in the game, etc.

Founding Companies (New Stock Phase)

  • You may found a company from the unfounded companies on your turn in the NEW STOCK phase.  Place the company STOCK CERTIFICATE at the end of the other stock certificates, and place your stock token on the PRESIDENT spot. 
  • Note: The order railroads are founded is very important so make sure to keep the stock certificates in order from newest to oldest.
  • Take the company roundhouse tile and place it on the board.
  • You can only found (and build track) on green spaces.
  • You may found touching one tile (cities or resources) but not touching two tiles at once.
  • You may not found touching any open track of another company.

Trading Stock Phase

  • Starting in round 4, after every player has added their new stock in the New Stock phase, there will be a Trading Stock phase.  You must wait until every player has added new stock before trading.
  • The starting player may move up to 3 of their stock tokens (including stocks on the president spot) to any company or companies on the board.  Once you have moved 3 stocks, you are finished.  The next player may move stocks.
  • You still have to abide by the 11 stock token limit. (1 in the president spot, 10 in the general stock spot)
  • You cannot found companies in this round.
  • You cannot move stock tokens from a company founded this round, but you can move shares TO a company founded this round.
  • If you now have more stocks in any company than the President, switch one of your stock tokens into the PRESIDENT spot.
  • If your removal of stocks from a company where you were President has caused another player to become the majority, place one of their tokens in the PRESIDENT spot.  If two or more players now tie for majority, the outgoing president breaks the tie.
  • If a company STOCK CERTIFICATE has no stock tokens left on it, it is in THE RED. (see mergers below)

Building Track Phase

  • The newest company builds first, followed by the next newest, until the oldest company has built.  The starting player token has no relevance to the track building phase.
  • All track is built by the president.  
  • The president may build as many pieces of track as the number of players with stock tokens in the company. For example, if the purple player has 5 stock tokens, and the red player has 1 stock token, then the purple player, who is president, may build 2 pieces of track because there are two players in the company.
  • There are 3 types of track in railroads: Single track, split track, and bridges.
  • All track must be connected to the company roundhouse by a direct line of track.  You cannot build track on the other side of connected cities or resource tiles.  You must build around the tiles, and they are essential to the geography of the game.
  • You cannot cross water.
  • You cannot connect to another company's track that currently has stock tokens in it. (see mergers below)
  • Single track is built off open ends of company track.  It counts as one build per track piece.
  • Split track can only be played on single track pieces. You cannot directly lay down split track pieces.  Any piece of split track must preserve or overlap all of the old routes that were caused by the single track that it replaced.
  • You cannot split track that has already been split once.
  • Bridges can only be played to cross other companies tracks.
  • Bridges may only be played straight across the hex and function as a straight piece of track.
  • Bridges cannot be split.
  • Once a tile has a bridge, no companies may build single track or split track on that hex.
  • Building a valid bridge counts as building one piece of track.
  • A president may choose not to build track, or to build fewer than the allotted tracks for the company.
  • The moment a Railroad company connects a city to a new tile (city or resource) it wants, it earns Net Worth for all of its players.

Making Connections (Building Track Phase)

  • All cities have two random demand tokens on them at any time.
  • Passenger tokens are worth $1 per stock when you connect the city to another city.
  • Freight tokens (In 4 colors, red, brown, black, and yellow) are worth $2 per stock when you connect the city to a resource tile of the same color.
  • If a city has two of the same color demand tokens, you will get paid for both upon connecting to one tile of the right color. (double payout)
  • Remove the satisfied demand tokens from the game and draw replacements randomly from the cloth bag.  If you draw the color you just connected, it is not satisfied, it symbolizes the city asking for you to connect to another new tile of that color.
  • One piece of track can cause many demand tokens to be satisfied, players are payed for all of them.
  • A company may, for example, make a connection with the first track, satisfy several demand tokens, replace them, lay it's next piece of track, and then satisfy those demand with the new connection.
  • All demand is from the city's perspective.  This is the most difficult concept in Railroads.  If the Erie RR connects Cleveland to a black tile (mine), any future black demand tokens on Cleveland can only be received from connecting to a different mine.  No other company (including the Erie) will ever receive another payout from Cleveland for that particular mine.  This is called the NO DUPLICATE ROUTES rule.  If you are ever unsure whether a connection satisfies demand, do the following.  Look at the city in question, and then look at every tile connected to that city by any railroad.  None of those tiles can satisfy that demand.
  • When the demand token bag is empty, put the discarded demand back into the bag and continue.
  • Net Worth (score) is tracked on a piece of paper, like in Scrabble.

Merging Companies (Building Track Phase)

  • A company is considered "active" or "in the black" if there are any stock tokens in it.
  • A company is considered "inactive" or "in the red" if there are no stock tokens from any players in it.  While it is inactive, turn it's roundhouse tile upside down on the board.
  • A company may become active again during the New Stock or Stock Trading phase if a player places a stock token into the company.
  • Companies may never build track connecting to an active railroad.
  • Companies MAY however build track into a railroad in the red by connecting to an open end of track. (not a piece that needs to be split)
  • If an active railroad connects to a railroad in the red, immediately take the stock certificate of the inactive railroad and place it under the active railroad.  The companies are now permanently merged, with the inactive railroad now being a subsidiary of the active railroad.  Any new connections are made as if the merging railroad had just built the track of the merged railroad.
  • Once merged, other players may not place stock tokens in the subsidiary company.  
  • The active company maintains its position in the company order.
  • There is still an 11 stock limit on the merged company. (having a subsidiary does not increase the maximum permissible stock tokens)
  • You may never found companies touching inactive "in the red" railroads.  Railroads can only be merged in the track building phase. (founding occurs during the stock phases)

Pass the Starting Player Token

  • After building track, pass the starting player token and start the next round.  After the last round, the player with the most Net Worth has won.

What is it like to play Railroads?  Core concept and strategies.

Railroads was designed to be a table talk game.  Having more stocks in a company will help you get more Net Worth when the company makes a connection, but having more players will get you more track.  You should be talking people into joining your company (just don't invite everyone), talking them out of working with other players, convincing them that merging two companies is a good idea.  This is the heart of Railroads.  That being said, the game generally takes between 90 minutes and two hours for new players to finish.

Tips:

  • Sometimes a rival company turns into a monster.  Try founding companies in it's way, and remember, the enemy of your enemies are your friends.  You can work together to terrorize the leading players' companies with scrappy new companies.
  • If other players are trying to put a company in the red to merge it for big profits, feel free to trade a stock token into it and laugh about it. We call this "Floating" the company.
  • This leads to the next tip, being the last player during the stock trading phase is very powerful.  It allows you to guarantee putting a company in the red where you are the only player.  This is the best way to set up mergers because no one will have time to float it.
  • Don't get too attached to any company, if there are no connections in the near future, move your stock tokens to greener pastures.
  • You can win without being the president of the companies.
  • Distances in Railroads are longer than they look.  At one track per turn, don't expect to cross the midwest.  Focus on easy connections or big alliances.
  • The value of company has a lot to do with how many cities it's currently connected to because that represents the network's demand load.  If a railroad is connected to 4 cities, that means there are 8 demand tokens it could satisfy with it's next connections.  A railroad with only 1 city has a very low demand load of 2 tokens.  Even so, sometimes the big railroads exhaust their profitability and are abandoned.
  • The stocks in Railroads are abstract, they have no explicit value, other than their ability to earn you net worth on the board.  Stock in Railroads was designed to emphasize teams and opportunities and to eliminate budgeting.  They serve their purpose without the need for calculators.
  • All players have the most opportunity to earn the most money on the last round, because they have the most stocks out.  This means that while players may have built a lead in Net Worth, players can still come from behind and end up on top up to the very end.

Risks and challenges

I greatly value your belief in my boutique board games. There are a lot of important risks and challenges that I have been working to address and manage. I do have one advantage over people who manufacture abroad or through a third party: Since the production process is entirely in my hands, I know EXACTLY what is going on at every momentand thus can be extremely upfront about the status of the project. If there were ever time delays (and there should not be after my exhaustive calculations), I could tell backers exactly how many boards are finished, how many tracks are packaged, how many stocks are printed, how many tokens are dyed - I prefer dyeing to painting, it preserves the grain of the wood - how much of the project budget has been spent, etc.

I can tell you very honestly that making boardgames this way is a "Get poor quick!" scheme. This is not a road to riches, but instead a ton of work. I am proud of what I do, and I have been very careful to place a price on the games that ensures delivery ahead of sales. I wish I could price the games lower because I would rather share them with a larger audience than distribute a limited quantity, but when you work with sustainable woods as I do, all kinds of things can go wrong. Warping and moisture are prime concerns that must factor into the cost of the game. The project budget is such that, if I had to replace a batch of wood from a catastrophic moisture error, I could. I also severely limited the number of copies that I am making, so that, if things went so poorly that I ended up having to lose money on the project, I could afford to do it and still deliver the games.

I appreciate your belief in board games as an art form. With the project entirely in my hands here in Pittsburgh, PA, you will be updated through the process.

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