Italian Rails
Rules for the PrintNPlay board game for two players    in italiano

  1. Components
    Game maker provides:
    • 1 map
    • 108 cards
    • these instructions
    Game players provide:
    • 6 wooden cubes (3 each in 2 colors)
    • 2 train tokens in matching colors
    • 2 pens in matching colors
    • 1 set of Poker chips or paper money
    • a tissue or paper towel for erasing the map
    The map shows Italy, including its islands of Sicily and Sardinia and 41 cities. Four Major Cities are displayed as all or part of large red hexagons. Near each city, in green, is the commodity available for pickup there. The map also shows the approximate locations of major rivers, lakes and seas that affect the construction of railway lines.

  2. Setting Up Each Game
    1. Place the map on the table between the players.
    2. Each player gets a train token, 3 cubes and a pen in the same color.
    3. Each also gets a value of 60 in chips or paper money, representing 60 million Euro as starting cash in hand. (Cash in hand may be kept private unless the Excess Profits Tax event card takes effect, after which the amount of each player's money is public.)
    4. Shuffle the cards to form a deck and deal each player five cards face down. If any of these cards happen to be events, they are revealed and a replacement drawn until each player holds five demand cards. The events are shuffled back into the deck.
    5. Each player examines these and decides on two to keep, revealing them simultaneously.
    6. The cards not kept are laid out face up nearby and known as the public pool.
    7. The player holding the lowest-numbered card becomes the start player.
    8. Beginning with this player, on the right side of the map each player marks an "X" in their color in one of the small boxes adjoining the first box labeled "Freight".

  3. Goal of the Game
    When either player's cash in hand equals or exceeds 250 and that player has connected the four major cities with a continuous network of track (and ferries), play continues until both players have had the same number of turns. The player having the most cash in hand wins. If there is a tie, the winner is the one having the least track drawn.

  4. Sequence of Play
    Beginning with the start player, they alternate taking turns consisting of the following:
    1. Moving the Train
    2. Drawing Track
    During each player's first two turns, the Moving the Train phase is omitted.

    Alternatively, a player may give up both phases on a turn in order to Swap Demands.

  5. Playing the Game

    Figure 1 · map key

    B. Drawing Track
    As it's the first activity players engage in, this phase is described first even though it is executed in the second half of the turn.

    The board is overlaid by a hexagonal grid of dots. A player employs his own pen to draw track from dot to dot (some dots are instead mountains or cities, but still count as such). Each turn drawing begins from any dot on the edge of any Major City (for example, Milano) or extends from track that player has already drawn.

    Building Restrictions

    • A segment drawn from a dot must always go to one of the up to six dots immediately surrounding it.
    • Only one player's track may be drawn between any given pair of dots.
    • A player may only draw out of two major city dots per turn.
    • It is not allowed to draw in the red area inside a major city. Instead this is considered already built track that is freely usable by either player.
    • Each player may build at most three segments connecting to a small or medium city.
    • It is not permitted to draw track so that it becomes theoretically impossible for the other player to reach any particular city.
    • It is not allowed to draw track that passes outside the international border. This should not be construed as preventing building a bridge between Reggio and Messina, however.

    At the end of the drawing phase the player must pay for each segment drawn. The cost to draw depends on the type of dot at which a segment ends. See Figure 1 for details.

    A player may never incur more than 20 million in costs during this phase.

    Ferry Connections
    There are four ferry routes included in the game, i.e. the segments that stretch over the water from city to city, such as the ferry going from Roma to Olbia.

    Ferries are treated as a special form of track on which the train may travel.

    To "draw" ferry track, the player draws to connect to one of the ferry segment's endpoints. The player then finds the two numbered circles on the ferry route. The first player to "draw" a particular ferry draws a line through the larger of the two numbers. The second player to connect that ferry draws a line through the smaller number. In either case, this is the amount the player pays at the end of the phase for construction of the ferry.

    Improving the Locomotive
    Initially both players have locomotives at the "Freight" level as indicated in the box at the right side of the map. This gives the player's train a speed of nine and a capacity of two.

    A player may improve the train's capabilities during this phase. To indicate this, the player erases the existing "X" and writes a new one in the box of the new type.

    A Freight may be improved to a Fast Freight or a Heavy Freight by spending 20 million.
    A Fast Freight or Heavy Freight may be improved to a Super Freight by spending 20 million.
    A Fast Freight may be changed to a Heavy Freight or vice-versa by spending 5 million.

    Of course, when a player spends 20 million to improve a locomotive, the entire allotment of money for the phase is expended and so it will not be possible to draw track during that turn.

    A. Moving the Train
    The active moves his train during this phase, traveling from dot to dot up to the train's speed limit, which depends on the train's current locomotive. Each segment between a pair of dots counts as one regardless of the terrain types involved. It is permitted to change or reverse directions in the middle of the move so long as the train is located in a city.

    At the beginning of the first Moving the Train phase, the player places his train in any city.

    Renting Track
    While travel on one's own track is free, travel on the opponent's track costs 4 million per turn, paid as the first segment is used, to the opponent. These fees do not count against the spending limit in the Drawing Track phase.

    Both trains be on the same dot or use the same track at the same time; two trains may pass each other on the same track (it is assumed there are side tracks available for the purpose.)

    Movement over a ferry is a special case. To board the ferry the train must start this phase at one of its endpoints. On the next turn the train moves off the ferry's other endpoint, but only at half speed (if odd, rounding in the player's favor).

    Demand Cards
    Most of the cards in the deck are demand cards, as shown and described in Figure 2. On any given card, at most one demand will ever be satisfied.

    Pickups and Deliveries
    Initially each player holds two demand cards and chooses one load per card to deliver. These cards are exclusive to that player.

    Figure 2 · sample demand card
    The number of loads that a player's train can hold is given by its locomotive type.

    A player picks up a load of a particular type of commodity by moving the train to a city which offers it, i.e. which has the name of the commodity next to it. This type is then treated as loaded, which is declared by marking the load on the corresponding card with a cube.

    Placing a cube on a load not only indicates that the commodity has been loaded, but also that the load has been locked. Locking means that the player must deliver that demand before it's possible to load anything else in that part of the train.

    If a player loads a commodity, but does not wish to lock it, or there is no card with which to lock it, then instead the player simply places a cube on the name of the commodity on the map where it was loaded.

    A load is delivered when the player's train enters the city needing the goods. Note that if this is a major city, it's only necessary to reach any part of the city; actually entering the center dot is not required. When a load is delivered, the player collects in the amount shown for that demand on the card, removes the cube and puts the card into the discard pile.

    A load that is not locked may be dropped off without payoff at any city.

    Public Cards
    The cards in the public pool cards may be locked for particular demands. At any time during the player;s Moving the Train phase, the player may lock a particular demand on a card by placing a marker on it. Prerequisites are that the train is carrying the necessary load and the load is not already locking another card. Once a card is declared locked, the following rules apply:

    1. No other demand on that card can be locked/delivered.
    2. The load used to do the locking cannot be voluntarily jettisoned or delivered elsewhere.

    No load may be delivered unless the demand has first been locked.

    More than one player may work on the same locked demand at the same time. (Interesting races may develop.) The first player to deliver a load gets the payoff and then the card is discarded, the other player also receiving the cube back.

    The number of cards in the public pool must constantly be monitored in order to satisfy the following rules (in order):

    1. The pool size ranges from 4 and 6 (inclusive).
    2. The maximum number of unlocked cards is 4 (the initial pool being the exception).

    Whenever a card is locked check whether the number of cards in the pool. If there are are fewer than 4 unlocked cards, draw and reveal new cards to the pool so that there are 4 unlocked cards, except do not go above 6 total cards.

    If a new card turns up and it is not a demand, but an event card, resolve the event and then draw another new card, but see the special case of Derailment (below).

    Figure 3 · sample event card
    Event Cards
    An event card takes effect immediately when it is drawn. Some event cards remain in play until the end of the current player's next turn and affect both players. The Taxation card, which taxes each player based on their cash on hand, is resolved once and then discarded. All players must obey the directions on all event cards while they are in effect.

    Some event cards require counting dots. These are counted the same way train movement is counted. To count dots from a major city, count from the city center and not from the outer dots. To count dots from a seacoast, count from the dot nearest the seacoast.

    When trains are to move at half rate, round in the player's favor. When a half rate event card affects a partially moved or a player's train moves into an area of bad weather, the train's remaining movement is halved, rounding all fractions in the player's favor.

    A player who loses a turn may not move the train, deliver, pick up, build track or upgrade during the lost turn. It is also not permitted to Swap Demands and draw new ones during a lost turn.

    If the current player is to lose a turn, the effect is that the player loses the rest of the current turn and all of the next turn. For this reason it is important to resolve any Event card drawn right away.

    There are three flood cards in the deck. Each flood card indicates rivers which are flooded by that event. Note that the Po River is an extensive river system; all rivers in the Po system are affected when the Po floods. Flood cards have two effects:

    1. All segments – bridges – built over the indicated flooded rivers are destroyed. Erase all the bridges over those rivers.
    2. The rivers remain flooded until the end of the drawing player's next turn. No one may build any track over a flooded river and no one may move a train over a flooded river, until the event leaves play.

    When a river floods, neither player may build track where the other player's track has been washed out until that player has had one turn in which to rebuild it. Storms at Sea events affect the use of ferries, preventing their use until the end of the drawing player's next turn.

    During the course of play it's possible for two different volcanoes to erupt. Mt. Vesuvius is depicted close to Napoli. Mt. Etna can be found on the eastern coast of Sicily.

    Derailment Events
    Each Derailment event card lists a number of cities. If a train is within 3 dots of one of the cities listed, the owning player loses one load and also the next turn.

    The player is allowed to give up a locked load. This unlocks the card (unless the other player has also locked the same demand). If someone unlocks a card in this way, the number of unlocked cards may legally exceed 4.

    If a locked load for a privately-locked card is lost in a derailment, the player may retain the card as a privately-locked card (in which case it will be necessary to go back to pick up the load again), or relinquish the card go into the public pool. The public pool may temporarily go above 6 cards in size in this special case.

    Swap Demands
    A player having no locked loads may, instead of taking a regular turn, gather up all unlocked cards, shuffle and discard three of them at random. These are then replaced by three new cards. The player may then immediately lock cards (new cards or remaining old cards) using the commodities currently loaded. (It is not allowed, however, to pick up new loads at the current location for this purpose.) If locking causes the drawing of more cards (because there were fewer than 6 cards) these may be locked as well.

  6. Variants
    Here are some optional rules that players might want to try. All players must agree to any optional rules that are used before play begins.

    Fast Trains
    When using this rule, freight and heavy freight trains can move up to 12 dots per turn. Fast freight and super freight trains can move up to 16 dots.

    With this variant, if a player is unable to move or build to make money, it becomes possible take a loan of up to 20 million Euros from the bank with the proviso that the amount of 40 million must be repaid as soon as the player possesses it.

    Small City Access
    Players looking for more planning complexity can limit entry into small cities to one player each.

  7. Design Notes
    Some might notice that some expected product types are missing. Fashions/textiles, leather goods, shoes, cattle/beef, vegetables, coke and beer were all contemplated, but fell victim to the desire to avoid product chips and thus have only one product per city. Geographically, missing are Pompeii (inside the Napoli hexagon), the Vatican (inside the Roma hexagon) and San Marino (located in a too-busy area). There are also more ferries today than shown on the map, but those shown are probably sufficient to meet player needs.

    It is legal, by the way, to draw the bridge between Reggio and Messina, which has the same cost as crossing a lake. Although such a bridge has never been built, it has been contemplated many times over the years, beginning with the Romans and continuing with Charlemagne, Robert Guiscard and others. Although plans have always been scotched, they are currently on once again.

  8. Credits
    Deepest thanks for the gracious help of all who helped this game to become a reality.
    Original system: Darwin P. Bromley and Bill Fawcett
    Public-locking system: Don Woods
    Map Advice: Alessandro Trovato and Marco Calcaterra
    Game testers: Eveleen Tang, Gordon Hua, Andrew Martin, Justus Pang, Ken Tidwell, Bernard Yeh
    Game and Art Design: Copyright 2011 Richard Heli
Spotlight on Games > PrintNPlay > Italian Rails
Last update: December 9, 2014 · Created: October 3, 2011
Please send any comments to Rick Heli