Railroad Ink is a 1-6 player puzzle board game that plays out in 7 rounds. Players roll dice to connect railway exits and optimize symbols to earn points. There are 2 versions of this game: The Blazing Red Edition and Deep Blue Edition. Both versions follow the same set of rules with the only difference being their additional expansions, Lava and Meteor for the red version and Rivers and Lakes for the blue.
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To begin, each player will take a board and place it on the table directly in front of them. They will also take one marker from the box and the route dice will go in the middle of the table. Don’t worry about the 2 additional dice unless you are playing the expansion of either version.
The object of the game is to connect as many routes on the board as possible to gain more points than all other players.
Each round will start with the Route dice being rolled once. The images that are rolled will indicate which routes all players must draw that round. 3 of the route dice show 6 different types of routes: straight highway, straight railway, curved highway, curved railway, t-junction highway, and t-junction railway. The remaining die shows overpass, straight station, and curved station images. Players will use stations to connect a highway route to a railway route, and overpasses allow both of them to cross without connecting.
All players will play at the same time following the roll, drawing the routes that were rolled on their individual boards. Each route drawn has to be connected to an exit or preexisting route by at least one side. If the routes cannot be connected, it will not be drawn at all. If possible, players will draw all 4 of the routes that are rolled on the dice for every round. Keep in mind that routes cannot be drawn to directly connect railways to highways unless there is a station in the middle. Players are allowed to rotate and reverse the route patterns rolled on the dice if needed, but each route can only be drawn once.
Players are also allowed to use a total of 6 Special Routes as shown on the top of each board. These routes will not be rolled on the route dice and will allow you to connect different networks together. Special Routes can be used only once per round with a maximum of 3 throughout the entire game. Once a special route is used, it must be crossed off on the board and cannot be used again.
The round will end after each player has drawn all of the available routes on their boards. All players will mark the spaces where they drew routes by writing the number of the current round in the white boxes of each space they drew on. These will stay on the board through the entire game and cannot be erased. Once this is done, the route dice will be rolled again to start the next round for a total of 7 rounds.
How to End the Game
The game ends after all 7 rounds have been completed.
How to Score the Game
At the end of the game, each player will calculate the points they earned for the connected exits, longest railway, longest highway, and central spaces drawn on their boards. Points will be determined by the Network Values on the board printed next to each route and marked on the Scoring Table on their boards.
Each player will have to check their boards for routes that were not connected to another route or an exit. 1 point will be lost for each of these and marked with an “X” and recorded on the Scoring Table.
To determine the winning player, everyone will add up all their points and subtract their errors, writing the final total scores on the Scoring Tables. Whoever has the most points when this is done wins the game. If this score is tied, the player with the lesser amount of error marks is the winner.
Variations of the Game
Players have the option to use a unique set of expansion dice for each version of the game. For the Deep Blue Edition, there are dice with bridge faces, open lake faces, pier faces, and images of river routes. Alternatively, the Blazing Red Edition includes meteor dice with distance faces and fixed direction faces as well as Lava lake dice. The goal for each of these expansions is to create the largest water or lava lake among all your opponents.
How the Game Changes Depending on the Number of Players
When playing Railroad Ink with more than the maximum of 6 players, you can form partnerships or teams and work together instead of all playing against each other.
You will likely get the best results if you use your 3 Special Routes as close to the middle of the board as possible and a little bit later in the game. However, you shouldn’t wait too long because you can only use one of these per turn and could miss your opportunity. To connect a good amount of networks together, start from the edges of the board and work your way toward the middle.
Time to play: 20-30 minutes
Alternative titles of the game: Kolejowy szlak: Gleboki blekit, Le Strade d’Inchiostro
Manufacturer suggested player age: 8+
Community suggested player age: 8+
List of expansions: Railroad Ink: Promo Board #1 – Blue Train, Railroad Ink: Promo Board #2 – Red Train
Community rating: 7/10
Popularity: Rank 927
Designer credits: Hjalmar Hach, Lorenzo Silva
Published year: 2018
Link to official game site: www.cmon.com