TRAMBAHN: Helmut Ohley Mayfair Games/Lookout Spiele
TRAMBAHN is a 2-player card game where the players are attempting to expand the German 19th Century tramway system by introducing new routes and stations.
As the game progresses the horse-drawn trams are replaced by steam powered and eventually by electric trains; each time a new technology is introduced the cost of bringing it into play rises but the Victory points gained from them also increases.
The game uses a mechanic whereby Passenger cards are either placed onto Trams in front of the players or the passenger cards are played into the central area aligned with Terminal cards of the same colour. Each Tram collects passenger cards of the same colour, ie all Blue passenger cards on one Tram, all Yellow on another, plus you can have two or more Trams of the same colour at the same time. The rules for placing passenger cards on a Tram are that they must follow in ascending numerical order but not necessarily in complete numerical order; eg. 1, 3, 7, 9 is correct whereas 1, 3, 7, 5 is incorrect.
The rules for placing them on Terminal Stations is that they must be of the same colour as the Terminal and once the fourth card is placed in a row then all Trams in player areas of that colour are scored as a “Tour” and the passenger cards are discarded from the Terminal Station (4 cards) but NOT from the player areas.
Player One begins with a hand of 6 cards and 12 face down cards as money – each card has a value of $1000 as shown on its rear side, player Two also has 6 cards in hand but 15 as money. The Tram/Train cards are placed in a stack by value $5 (2x) $10 (3x) and $15 (4x) with the lowest value to the top. Three of these are laid out on display and can be bought by the players, replacing to 3 cards in the display each time one is bought, thus as more are bought the value of the trains will increase as will their VP multiplier. Players can only buy a Train if they can add Passenger cards to it; also they can only place Passenger cards in front of them on Trains.
There are JOKER cards that can be played onto Trams or Terminal Stations but they have no VP value, they are simply for expanding the Terminal row or helping players reach a column under a Train to 8. Reaching 8 cards in a column a scoring takes place regardless of the number of cards in the Terminal row and this score is placed in the Extra Tour column of the scoresheet – only one extra Tour per game.
Trambahn is a neat, clever game in the genre of 6Nimmt! and the only thing we found mildly negative about it is that it is only for 2 players. We have tried it with three players and with the components provided it works but we had to limit the number of money cards that can be held to 15 otherwise there aren’t enough cards available. During play, players can, on their turn, flip cards over from their hand and hold them as money and then draw their hand back to six cards. Putting two games of Trambahn together (which I haven’t done as yet) should give enough cards to make it a 2-5 player game which it really should be in our opinion. It is a family game with some strategies and should be available for all the family to enjoy together not just in pairs.