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    Review: Yardmaster

    March 13, 2015

    Our Gotta-Play series is a weekly spotlight on particular games that we think are exceptionally fun and that we believe everybody should try, whether brand new or old classic. On every Saturday afternoon we’ll have a game laid out on one of our front tables, and we’ll be offering free demos and a chance for you to give it a shot. If you try it and find that you simply must have a copy, we’ll be offering a 10% discount on that title through the demo period. So it’s great way to build up your library of the very best games we have in the store – while saving a few bucks along the way! We’ll be demoing Yardmaster this Saturday, March 14th 1-4pm.

    Yardmaster is a fast-playing, clever little card game from the folks at Crash Games. If you can imagine a mash-up of Uno and Ticket to Ride, you might be on the right track to understanding what Yardmaster is all about. The game plays with 2-5 players and takes about 20 minutes to finish. The box states it’s for ages 13 and older, but Yardmaster can likely be played with kids as young as 10 or even with sharp 8-year-olds. The game is still fairly new for us but is selling very well, especially after the Crash gang came by to run some demos.

    The goal of Yardmaster is for players to acquire points by adding Railcar Cards to their trains. The scoring is super-simple: the number shown on each Railcar Card is the number of points that card adds to a player’s score. In a two- or three-player game, the target total is 18 points, while a four- or five-player game targets 16 points. Players start with five colored Cargo Cards in-hand. In order to add a card to a train, each player must spend these Cargo Cards to purchase corresponding Railcar Cards. Four Railcars are always displayed face-up in the center of the play area (called the Arrival Yard), and are replenished as they are purchased. Each player needs to have a sufficient number and color of matching Cargo Cards as the number and color printed on the target Railcar Card in order to buy it. Once a Railcar Card is purchased, it can be added to a player’s train only if its number or color matches the last Railcar Card there. If neither characteristic matches, the purchased Railcar Card can be placed in a player’s Sorting Yard. Cards stored in the Sorting Yard can be added to a train later on, but only when a “caboose” that has a matching number or color is in position at the end of a player’s train.

    Each player gets two actions on a given turn. There are three choices of actions in total, and players can combine them in any way – including repeating the same action multiple times. For example, one action can be to purchase a Railcar Card as described above. Another action can then be to draw a Cargo Card from either the top of the deck or the top of the discard pile. A third choice of action is to swap Exchange Tokens, which are used to turn in a particular type of cargo (color) for any other at a rate of 2:1. Each player gets one random Exchange Token at the beginning of the game and will always have one of these available for use. If a player chooses to swap tokens, he or she may do so with any other player – this is not allowed to be refused!

    Yardmaster also features bonus cards that show up in the Cargo Deck, and these allow special actions that can really shake up play. One might allow a player to take an extra action, or to take any Cargo Card from the discard pile, or even to use an Exchange Token at a more beneficial rate of 1:1 for a turn. These bonus cards are very helpful when drawn, and can give players just enough of an edge to pull ahead of their opponents. And you’ll need every edge you can get, because this game is always extremely close – which only adds to the fun!

    Overall, Yardmaster is an instant hit and very accessible for just about anyone. It’s light and inexpensive, and provides a quick 20-minute blast of fun with a good amount of strategy and just a little luck. There’s also a Yardmaster Express edition available, which is a smaller, faster, and less-expensive version of the game. Either way, you can’t go wrong with having a copy of Yardmaster in your collection.


    If you like: Set, Ticket to Ride, Uno
    You’d definitely enjoy: Yardmaster
    MRP: $19.99
    Designer: Steven Aramini
    Produced by: Crash Games