Rail Baron - Dastardly Review #005
Updated: Jul 2, 2018
Rail Baron is the the first train based board game that we played. And played. And played.
It came out in the mid 1970s as one of the wonderful Avalon Hill bookcase games. Included is a large 3 board map of 28 railroads criss-crossing the USA. You make money two ways: collecting rent on railroads you own and completing runs between cities. You buy railroads and if one of the other players rides on your rails then they have to pay you. Two dice decide where you are making a run to from your current city. Long runs make more money than short runs. Unfortunately your opponents can see where you are headed and can try to buy the railroads to make you pay them.
The first player to $200,000 that successfully returns to their first home city wins. Of course, there are ways for your devious friends to take your money so your drop below $200,000.
Rail Baron was one of the first games that we played that included a degree of backstabbing. It became something of a cult game with my friends. Each of us had our own strategies and favorite railroads to own. For example, one person always tried to get the two railroads that locked up southern Florida while another person tried to lock up the far northeast. And there was the guy that bought railroads just to foil other players. A fun game that never seemed to play the same.
When we are on driving vacations my wife gets tired of me seeing a train and saying what the railroad’s initials stand for, how much it costs or that a town was on such and such railroad!