Jorge Zhang

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Iberian Rails Review

This game received 2 thumbs up and 1 thumbs down in our anonymous vote.

An image of the playing board

Iberian Rails has the potential to provide vast amounts of mock-corporate steampunk excitement, but suffers from a few key shortcomings. The most notable downfall is the game’s complexity. With a different mechanism for choosing characters, determining the order of play, and determining the order of choosing characters; two different mechanisms for selling stock (and a third if you count the starting auction to finish game setup); different locations of cash reserves; overlapping character colors and railroad colors; rules about building, laying track on, and collecting money from hotels; costs of laying track; ability to lay track in varying locations; and differentiation among city types, understanding the rules of Iberian Rails is no easy task. The entry costs of playing this game are incredibly high, but do show promise of strong reward. By the end of the game, we were intensely examining every decision, connecting the dots on good strategy as much as we were connecting cities by rail.

Us playing Iberian Rails

Despite the game’s intense introduction, we identified a number of uniquely enjoyable features. The secrecy of each player’s cash reserves and the long calculation to determine final stock value made it a mystery who was winning the game until the very last turn, which kept it suspenseful and competitive to the very end. Although we had some apprehensions about how the game would progress with such limited starting capital, we found that the game flowed surprisingly well on it own, a mark of good design and calculations on the game designers’ behalf. The game is traditional in the sense that it uses common play mechanisms and goals, but demonstrates creativity in its own right, especially in the way corporations take the role as primary actors, not players themselves. For anyone willing to stick it out for a solid 30 minutes of attempting to understand complicated gameplay, this game promises intense industrial steampunk glory. Final rating: 6.1/10

In your opinion, what game is the hardest to learn the rules to? Let us know in the comments below, and thanks for reading!

© 2020 Jorge Zhang