Designed by Mayfair CEO Larry Roznai Artwork by Mike Atkinson & Justin Gerard
EMPIRE EXPRESS is a member of one of the most popular train track resource collecting and delivering games where players take pen to paper (in this case it's crayon to laminated board) and draw lines between Towns, Cities and Mountains and across Rivers and otherwise dangerous terrain. These games represent the struggle man has had to build railways across the world and to collect and deliver all manner of goods that are needed on the farthest side of the map. These are the railway games that Mayfair Games are renowned for.
In EMPIRE EXPRESS all players begin with a 12 train - a train capable of carrying 2 loads and moving 12 dots (or the equivalent of depending on the value of the dot, town or city) - plus predetermined starter demand cards. These cards are numbered 1-12 and dealt out 3 per player according to the train colour chosen.
On the board are pre-drawn tracks in the player colours, in the basic game these should be drawn in (crayon) by the players. In the advanced game the demand cards are shuffled and dealt randomly as in the usual Empire Builder game, and the pre-tracks are disregarded.
Other differences between the basic (new) game and the advanced (regular( game are that in the basic version there is no additional payment for entering Towns and Cities. In the basic game being the first to $150m is enough to win, but in the Advanced game you also need to have connected all four major Cities with a contiguous track.
Unlike the other games in this series that I have played, the load chips are pre-printed card counters instead of plastic chips on which you have to place a sticker prior to the first playing.
The basic game can be treated as a way for new players to learn how to play or it can be played by experienced Empire Builder devotees who haven’t the time for the full length version. Empire Express plays quickly and is as much fun as the original and its contemporaries.