Author: Martin Wallace

Publisher: TM Spiele 2001

Awards: none



Once again, a game has chosen the good old days of steam-railways as a background. The game Volldampf is the German version of a game from the Early Railways Series by Winsome Games, and the game is focused on building railways in Germany and using the tracks to transport cargo between different towns.

At the beginning of the game, the map is empty and no tracks exist. The players have a small amount of money as starting capital, but they may raise additional funds by giving out shares. The giving out of shares fundamentally increases the available capital, but it will cut into a player's capital later during the game since he will have to pay a dividend on every share till the end of the game. Also, as a preparation for the game, a cargo piece is placed on every town within Germany. These cargo pieces have four different colours, the meaning of which will be explained later.

The game is played in a fixed number of rounds, with the exact number depending on how many players participate (2 to 6 players may enjoy a game). During each round, a fixed turn sequence will have to be followed. At the beginning of a round, additional cargo will be spread among some towns on the map. Apart from towns within Germany, now cargo may also appear in some larger European towns - it all depends on which towns are mentioned on the current cargo card(s). Once again, the colour of the cargo will vary randomly.

Next, track building cards for this round will be revealed. Depending on the number of players, sets of three cards each will be revealed from a random stack and they will be available for auction. In the auction phase, players may bid their money for the privilege to be first player for the current round, and after the bidding has been made the order of players for the current round is determined. Following this order, the players now each are allowed to take one of the revealed sets of three track building cards.

In the following building phase the players may use the cards which they have auctioned to build tracks on the routes between the towns on the map. Each route may only contain one track, and a player may only place a track there if he has a corresponding track building card (the map is broadly separated into 6 areas, and for each area a different track building card exists). Furthermore, a player also has to pay building costs to build a track, so that successful track building requires a card and money.

In the following transportation phase it will be seen if a player has invested into good tracks. Once again starting with the first player, two rounds of cargo transportation will be played. For this, the player picks up a piece of cargo and he may move it - along up to 6 tracks - to a town corresponding to the colour of the cargo. For each track used the owner of the track receives an increase of 1 point on his income marker.

After the cargo was moved, all players receive their income depending on their income marker and they - possibly - have to pay their dividends. If a player does not have enough money to pay dividends, his income marker is decreased correspondingly. After this, a new round of the game will start.

An additional element of randomness is introduced to the game by the use of action cards. The player with the smallest income at the end of a round receives a free random action card, and also players who pass on the option of moving cargo receive action cards. These cards may be used in a number of ways: faster engines allow a longer route to transport cargo, saboteurs may stop another player from transporting a specific cargo, state funding allows the transporting of a third piece of cargo etc.

When the specified number of turns has been played, the game s over and the player with most income on his income marker (not the player with most cash) wins the game.

Volldampf is a cute and fairly easy railroading game, featuring clever rules for the generation of income by the movement of cargo. Early in the game, players must keep an eye on the options available for track building, since tracks which may be used quite a bit later in the game are quite essential to build. Especially since players also depend on other players' tracks, the building of a good network is important in order to prevent a generation of two much income for opposing players. The game is fairly short, and it is definitely a good pastime.

Looking for this game? Visit Funagain Games!

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Copyright © 2006 Frank Schulte-Kulkmann, Essen, Germany