Monday, January 15, 2024

All aboard the Royal Limited and other dad jokes

 I started my game learning for the year with The Royal Limited.

In actuality, my current copy is the demo from the Kickstarter campaign. I made it at the time but moving distracted me . I did back it and I do have the final files. And, yes, I plan on making a fresh copy from them.

The Royal Limited is part of Scott Almes/ButtonShy’s Simply Solo line, a series of solitaire games that only uses small decks of cards. No dice or tokens or tiles or pyramids. The Royal Limited is themed around filling up a passenger train.

Not counting the conductor card, which serves as a timer, the deck consists of twelve train cards and five double-sided special passenger cards. The train cards have three bits of information on them. A color (red, yellow or blue), a number (0-3) and a special power.

The game lasts four turns. Each turn, you draw a hand of five train cards. You can either place a card sideways as a car or tucked under a car as a passenger. 

You are placing the cars in a line. The placement rules are that the next car can’t match the color or number of the last train and you have to discard the same number of cards as the card’s number.

You don’t have to discard any cards to tuck passengers. They do have to match the number or color of the card. Special passengers (each game will have two) have specific placement requirements. And, when a train car gets a passenger, its special power goes off. And if you can’t do it, the turn ends immediately.

Points are bad in The Royal Limited. Every card in your discard pile, every unplaced special passenger and every empty train car is a point. The idea is to use every card and a full seven-car train is a perfect play. Haven’t done it yet.

The key to what I think makes The Royal Limited work (and I very much think it works) is how intuitive it is. Not only do all the mechanics work, they all make sense. The game practically teaches itself.

And I have to admit that I really like the theme. Train-themed games and train games have been a part of my gaming life pretty much since I started looking beyond D&D. Games of Station Master were practically a GenCon tradition with long distance friends. There is something about trains that is like comfort food for the mind.

I do wonder if it has a simpler decision tree than any of the other games in the series. The biggest twists are the special powers when you add passengers. That said, there’s still a lot of play in it, plenty of meaningful decisions.

The Royal Limited, more than any other Simply Solo game since Food Chain Island, is a game that you can sit down; shuffle and play. 

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