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Price: MSRP: $20.00 U.S.D.

Distributed by: Mayfair Games

Available from www.gamesurplus.com ($14.00 U.S.D)

 

 

 

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Tabletop Game of the Week:

Station Master

 

station master review

 

Chris Baylis's Station Master from Mayfair games is a neat little filler that presents some interesting decisions, screw your neighbor card play, and doesn't overstay its welcome. The decision making process reminds me a bit of the Avalon Hill classic Titan: The Arena (now available as Colossal Arena from Fantasy Flight Games), and the members of our group who loved T:TA have all enjoyed Station Master.

In Station Master, players take turns either playing a train car (with negative or positive value) onto a locomotive, playing a passenger onto a train, or playing an action card to manipulate the cars and tokens already on the table. When a train has reached the token limit marked on the locomotive, no more passengers can be placed. When the length of the train reaches that same number, the game is paused and that train is scored. When all of the trains have been scored, the game ends.

A handful of details make this game more exciting than the above description might indicate. First, passenger tokens are played face down, so players can never really be sure how invested their opponents are in a particular train. Secondly, the action cards can really alter things drastically. Cards exist to switch tokens from one train to another, to discard cards in play, to increase the number of passengers allowed, and to do other mean and ornery things. It is impossible to ever get too comfortable with tactical decisions, but this is okay since the game plays quickly (20 minutes for our group) and  feels light and fluffy, so it is hard to invest much pride in a win or loss.

 

I've heard some complaints about the boring nature of the art, but I wasn't put off by it. It is a train theme and the trains and locomotives are well drawn, if a bit drab. I would have liked to see the backs of the cards differentiated to a greater degree as they can be hard to separate when they have mixed around in the box during transportation, but that is a minor complaint. This is a fun, light filler that probably should be getting to a lot more gaming tables than it seems to be. It fits nicely in the same slot as For Sale, Trendy, Zirkus Flohcati, and Coloretto.

 

- Danny Webb

(August 13, 2005)

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