Chug Along with our Best Train Board Games


Railroads hold a special place in American history, particularly beginning with the early to mid-18th century. Monopoly immortalized four of the earliest American railroads: Reading, Pennsylvania, Baltimore and Ohio, and Shore Fast Line.

However, Monopoly is not exactly a train board game!

Instead, here are 10 of my favorite train games that will get you on the right track if you are looking to add to your collection. Each of these have some combination of route building, financial elements, and pick-up-and-delivery components.

If you want to a quick overview, just use the table below; or, you can see extended descriptions of the game further down.

Ticket to Ride

Number of Players Ages Time to Play
2-5 8+ 60 minutes


It’s nearly impossible to start a list of train board games without putting Ticket to Ride at the top. The 2004 Spiel des Jahres winner continues to be popular today–with derivatives and expansions–and helped launch Days of Wonder into board game prominence.

Though not necessarily seen that way when first released, Ticket to Ride is often now seen as a gateway game to introduce board gamers to European style board games (in other words, something that wouldn’t be released by Hasbro). This makes it an ideal game for family gatherings or for children with the willingness to engage in a deeper game.

Players compete to build railroads all over the United States, strategizing how best connect cities and preventing other players from doing the same.

Railways of the World

Number of Players Ages Time to Play
2-6 10+ 2 hours

Railways of the World has been around in some form since 2005, originally released as Railroad Tycoon.

Following in the footsteps of other train board games released by Winsome, Railways of the World is a comprehensive strategy game that requires participants to devote a significant amount of time and mental energy. Not to mention a decent wingspan to reach across the giant board of 36×45 inches.

Players begin their journey to be the “master of the railroads” with one locomotive and a tycoon “mission” card.

1830: Railways & Robber Barons

Number of Players Ages Time to Play
2-7 14+ 3-6 hours

1830: Railways & Robber Barons makes all games on this list look like Chutes and Ladders.

As much a game about stock markets as trains, 1830 immerses players in the role of railroad/stock baron who must outmaneuver other players to seize control of American railroads.

Harcore gamers will appreciate the lack of any luck element found in the game. It features nothing but pure strategy played out over 3-6 hours.

Note: The game has been out-of-print for awhile now. The game is rather expensive through online retailers and even through eBay and other auction sites. Also, before embarking on this adventure, you may consider checking out this guide to 18xx games.

Age of Steam

Number of Players Ages Time to Play
2-5 8+ 60 minutes

Although not quite the heavyweight of 1830: Railways & Robber Barons, Age of Steam is deep enough to engage any serious board game enthusiast.

Like several other train board games, Age of Steam challenges players to build railroads and deliver goods in a more efficient way than their counterparts.

Whistle Stop

Number of Players Ages Time to Play
2-5 13+ 75 minutes

Just as Age of Steam, players in Whistle Stop are each responsible for transforming a startup railroad business into a transportation monopoly by picking up and delivering cargo across the country by creating a network of railway stations that can out-transport your friendly competitor tycoons.

Whistle Stop makes for a nice “medium-weight” game compared to the more in-depth strategy games on this list. Players can complete a game generally within an hour. Players familiar with Age of Steam may recognize some of the gameplay elements, but newer players will appreciate the more streamlined approach.

Trains

Number of Players Ages Time to Play
2-4 12+ 45 minutes

Unlike most games on this list, this one is not set in the United States. Instead, it is based on the burgeoning railroad system in 19th century Japan. The Japanese railroad companies where often dependent on capitalists, such as yourself (or at least the persona you play in the game).

Depending on which edition you purchase, you will either be responsible for managing train systems in 19th/20th century Japan or modern day Japan (complete with the latest train technology).

Trains is a card game, in which you develop a better deck throughout the game. You then use your deck to build stations across Japan, which in turn provide you points necessary to win the game.

And if you end up enjoying the game, you can enhance it by purchasing Trains: Rising Sun.

Chicago Express

Number of Players Ages Time to Play
2-6 12+ 60 minutes

Much more lightweight than previous games, Chicago Express compete to see whose company can accumulate the most wealth.

Similar to those games, players vie for the most control over the burgeoning American railways system. Taking about an hour, the game ends after 8 rounds if at least 3 companies no longer have shares, at least 3 companies no longer have locomotives, or if only 3 or fewer houses are in the general supply chain.

Spike

Number of Players Ages Time to Play
2-4 14+ 60 minutes

Spike is similar difficulty to Chicago Express. In other words, experienced board game players should pick it rather easily and newer plays shouldn’t need to much time to catch on. Further, even though the recommended ages are 14 years and up, the game is easy enough for children as young as 9 or 10 to play along.

As for the gameplay, it is similar to many of the other games. You balance expanding your railroad with picking up and delivering goods, upgrading your trains, and building more tracks/stations.

Game of Trains

Number of Players Ages Time to Play
2-4 8+ 30 minutes

I have saved the easiest for last!

Game of Trains is a rather straightforward card game that requires players to reorganize their train cards from descending order to ascending order.

There some puzzle elements to the game, but largely this game is easy to pick up and great to break out for family holiday gatherings or with friends who are new to non-traditional games (i.e., Hasbro/Milton Bradley style games).

Wesley Lyles

Wesley is a jack of all trades hobbyist. Though much of his spare time is spent playing board games (especially solo card games like Legendary), Hearthstone, Rocket League, and MLB The Show.e He also enjoys most sports, but pays way too much attention to baseball and football.

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