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Hisashi Hayashi

Latest Edition from ASMODÉE

STRING RAILWAY is one of the weirdest “board” games you will ever see or play. It is, and has been for some while, very popular in Japan, and now it is openly available for England and Europe.

The game comes in a box similar in size and shape to a spaghetti box. It has rules booklets translated in several languages, which is brilliant. However the rules are made as brief as possible and really aren’t as comprehensive as they maybe should have been.

There is no illustrated example of running string lines through stations. It says that each end must be attached to stations but doesn’t mention running through them. It’s no biggie but it does create possibilities for arguments.

The “board” is a length of string (now we know how long a piece of string is) that is placed on the table in as near to a square as possible (or a triangle if there are only 3 players and a Pentagon for 5 players). A blue string (river) and a circle of grey string (mountains) placed inside the black string shape creates the playing area. 

The idea is simple. Players each have a Station (conveniently placed in a corner of the board near them) and they have 5 lines of coloured track, 4 short and 1 long. (as in 5 pieces of string).

On their turn the players draw a random Station card which they place inside the black string. Then they run one of their tracks from their home station or from one they own or are in to, making sure that each end touches the station card. Points are scored for each new station entered - VP values are marked on the Station tiles.

Crossing the Mountain or River string costs you extra and crossing an opponents string earns them a bonus - all payments and rewards are in VPs.  After 5 rounds (30+ minutes) the winner is the player with the most VPs.

Because it uses non stable material (wool-like string) the game is susceptible to manipulation - nudging a track over a little so you can lay your track, for example.

I would have liked to have seen specific spaces on the tiles that the tracks have to touch/reach or run through as this would have stopped any arguments. Otherwise it’s fine fun, unusual  and entertaining.

© Chris Baylis 2011-2021