Trains and stock markets have been on my mind a lot lately. I’ve been hooked on Amabel Holland‘s Dual Gauge, which is a stock-holding and route-building game for 3-5 players. Plus, I played an epic and enjoyable first game of Helmut Ohley and Leonhard Orgler‘s 1880: China (new Lookout Games edition), which was one of my most anticipated SPIEL ’22 releases. So in the spirit of trains, allow me to share a few new and upcoming releases.
• In mid-May 2023, Hollandspiele announced the release of Dual Gauge: Netherlands and Eastern U.S., the third expansion map pack for Dual Gauge, designed by Amabel Holland. If you’re not familiar with Dual Gauge, it’s a shared incentive train game system where you compete against other players building train routes, and operating and investing in train companies. It has 18xx-lite vibes, but feels unique and can be played in about 90 minutes. Each map for Dual Gauge varies up the core system in fresh and interesting ways, offering players a plethora of exciting new challenges.
Here’s the publisher’s description of what twists and turns you can expect in the new Netherlands and Eastern U.S. map pack:
The Netherlands map seats up to five players and features a new gauge conversion step, allowing you to flip narrow track to its standard side. Of course, what it doesn’t do is change your narrow trains. You’ll need to plan your train purchases carefully, and beware of opponents who might use this tactic offensively.
That’s if you have enough time, of course! The standout feature of this map is a race to complete certain Goals. Achieving one of the map’s eight Goals will win you a disc. This can be traded in later, either to place a station or to buy a precious second share of stock in a single round.
The Eastern US map is for three to four, and is a bit subtler. Preprinted track segments provide awkward chokepoints to either work around or embrace. Company turn order isn’t fixed, but shifts from round to round depending on company stock value. Increases in that value are gated – tied to your dividends, so you’ll need to work for big routes while your rivals try to block you with aggressive token play.
At the western end of the maps, there are the destination cities of Detroit and Chicago, each containing a set of Bonus Discs. When a company ends a run there, their President claims a disc. At the end of game, you’ll get a payout based on the number of discs you’ve claimed.
• Dual Gauge isn’t the only train game getting new maps. Eagle-Gryphon Games is crowdfunding the Age of Steam Deluxe Expansion Volume IV on Gamefound, which includes seven new expansion maps for Age of Steam. The Volume IV maps cover a wide range of player counts (2-6 players) and each map has its own unique feel.
The crowdfunding campaign also includes the Age of Steam Deluxe: Acrylic Tile Set, which features transparent acrylic tiles for both track placement and new city placement, which will allow you to see the board below each track tile to read the maps easier.
If that wasn’t enough, there’s also a Jamaica/Puerto Rico promo map expansion available too. Jamaica is a 2-player map expansion and Puerto Rico is a solo map expansion, both designed by Ted Alspach.
• Speaking of Ted Alspach and map expansions for train games, Maglev Maps: Volume 1 is available at retailers after a successful Kickstarter campaign in May 2022. With Maglev Maps: Volume 1 you get a box set with three expansions for Maglev Metro (Moonbases & Mars, London & Paris, and Mechs & Monorails), and each features a double-sided map with different rules and mechanics from designers by Ted Alspach and Dale Yu and Bézier Games.
• On the 18xx front, Mercury Games announced 1868: Wyoming in a May 2023 press release. 1868: Wyoming is an 18xx game for 3-6 players from designer John Harres, which integrates the coal and oil industry boom in Wyoming to add some fresh twists to traditional 18xx mechanisms.
Here’s the scoop from the press release for 1868: Wyoming, which is due out in 2024:
Original TraXX edition cover
1868: Wyoming is novel in that it depicts the coal and oil industry boom-and-bust cycle in a way that is different each play. Railroads must decide whether a new rail line makes sense given the development level of an area and the potential for total industry collapse. All the while the Union Pacific pushes further West seeking vital connections to maximize their revenue. Variable at-start Private Companies ensure that no one strategy can be employed with any guarantee of success.