Trambahn – Growing a Tramway in Historic Munich

Trambahn reviews a new card game from Mayfair Games.

“Trambahn” is a game that revolves around transportation options in Munich at the end of the 19th century. The types of trams that were available at that time included those powered by horse, steam and later electricity. Mayfair Games has designed a two-player card game where players compete to purchase trains, build passenger volume and earn valuable victory points. The game includes 16 Tramway cards (5 horse trains, 4 steam trains and 7 electric trains), 112 Station cards (28 in each of 4 colors), 8 Conductor cards, 4 Terminal Station cards and 2 Player Aid cards. There is also a Scoring pad and Rule Book.

To set things up, the Station cards and Conductor cards are shuffled together. One side of these cards represents money, and the other side denotes a passenger/station. The starting player draws 12 cards from that deck and places them face down in front of him. The other player draws 15 cards and does the same. These face down cards will be the starting money piles for each player, with each card representing 1,000 Marks. The remaining cards are placed face down nearby (money side up) to form a draw pile. Next, each player draws an additional 6 cards from the draw pile to form their starting hand, which will represent various colors of passenger/station cards. The 4 Terminal Station cards are positioned in a column in the center of the table and the 16 Tramway cards are kept nearby. Lastly, each player receives a Scoring pad and a Player Aid card.

To play the game, players alternate turns by doing the following……first, the player must play 1 or 2 cards from their hand as passengers directly to the right of one of the 4 Terminal Stations of matching color. Secondly, the player can start routes of various colors in front of them by playing any number of the remaining Station cards in their hand in columns. However, each of the cards has a numeric value (1-10) and the cards can only be played in ascending order. Each of the cards played can also earn a certain number of victory points as shown on the center of the card. Third, the player can place any remaining cards in his hand on his money pile face down. Fourth, the player can purchase one or more of the Tramway cards to get their routes up and running. The Tramways vary in price, but a higher priced Tramway will pay off with more victory points. A Tramway card can be placed on the top of any of the route columns that a player has in front of them. This will activate the route for scoring. Lastly, the player draws enough cards from the draw pile to bring his hand total back to 6 cards.

Trambahn 2Scoring occurs anytime a 4th passenger is placed to the right of any of the 4 Terminal Stations. Whenever that happens, the game is paused, and all player routes that have a Tramway card can be scored at this time. Victory points are determined based on the value of the Tramway (1, 2 or 3) multiplied times the sum of all victory points shown on each card in the column. Scoring is done throughout the game, but the game ends immediately after the 10th regular scoring tour.

A Conductor card is like a wild card, and can be played as a passenger or added to a route. There are also additional scoring opportunities (Extra Tours) that can really help a score. Routes qualify for this extra tour and are scored separately whenever there are 8 Station cards (including any Conductor cards) in a route in front of them. Only one extra tour per route column is allowed. The player with the highest number of victory points from the 10 regular scoring tours plus any victory points earned from his extra tours is declared the winner.

Although this game may at first appear complicated, it is extremely fast to learn and easy to play. The Toys Bulletin staff really enjoyed play testing “Trambahn,” and it has quickly become an office favorite. There is more and more strategy involved as you gain experience with the game. Although it is important to build high scoring routes, timely placement of passengers by your opponent might provide him multiple scoring opportunities from lower valued routes, while you earn nothing. It is also extremely hard to decide which card(s) to play each turn as passengers, which cards to use for routes and which cards to use for money. You want to do all of them, but you simply cannot. You need money to buy Tramways, but you need long routes to score lots of victory points. You have to balance things out, watch your opponent’s moves and hope for some good cards from the draw pile. All of this makes for a fun game for sure.

“Trambahn” can generally be played in 30-45 minutes and is suggested for ages 8 years old and up. This will certainly make a great addition to your game collection. “Trambahn” retails for $21.00 and can be purchased at your local games store or directly from the Mayfair Games website.

–RJ Cullen

Posted in Card Games