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Gaming Friday this week was a touch weird. Being a holiday, it was slightly more crowded than usual, which means more activity, but Shaterri and I were in the mood for less excitement than usual, as we were fatigued from a cold, damp day of forest hiking. Also, our host ducked out for half the night due to a surprise invite to some wedding-related event.

Cards Against Humanity was winding down as we arrived. We had too many people at this point for a single game, so one table started up Forbidden Desert and I broke out my new copy of Trains with three other people.

Imagine Dominion. Now imagine playing a simple territory-claiming board game simultaneously, but you can only expand or upgrade your territory if you play a card in the Dominion game that lets you. That’s Trains. It really is someone disappointing that so much of Dominion is copied straight over, to the point where roughly half the cards are identical in cost and effect. I totally understand that common criticism. The marriage of games works well, though, and both halves are simple enough in their own rights that learning both at the same time isn’t hard.

The game isn’t confrontational. You can’t block off other players’ expansion — you can only make expanding more expensive. The card game half lacks Dominion’s attacks that discard, destroy, and steal other players’ cards. It doesn’t even have attacks that add extra junk cards to opponents’ decks, though in this case it’s because all players already give themselves tons of Waste cards as a side effect of building. At the end of the game, all four of us felt that there was enough interaction that it didn’t feel like four-player solitaire, but not so much that opponents made it impossible to play.

I ended up winning with 44 points, with second place at 40 and the other two players roughly around 35 and 28 (I think). Dominion familiarity definitely helped my performance. I focused on improving my money production early, which let me develop big-ticket card drawing in the midgame and big VP cards at the end. I also started in an isolated corner, which kept other players from sharing my territory points.

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