Yardmaster

yardmaster gameplay 2
Players:
2-5
Multiplayer:Yes, pass n' play or GameCenter
AI:Each AI player can be either an Easy or Hard AI
Universal App:Yes (there is a single app which works on both iPhone and iPad in HD)
Purchase for iPhone:Use link below to purchase universal app
Purchase for iPad:

Price: Free
User rating:
GD Star Rating
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Yardmaster, 8.3 out of 10 based on 4 ratings

From the 18xx crayon games to the ever popular Ticket to Ride, train games have been with hobby gaming almost as long as hobby gaming has been around. Now comes Yardmaster, a set-collection card game that’s less interested with owning the rails as with preparing the trains that travel them. Is your cargo in order?

Gameplay

Yardmaster casts the players in the role of engineers – the John Henry kind, not the Tony Stark kind – racing to be the first to get incoming freight cars loaded onto their train and out into the great wide world.

yardmaster gameplay 1

Each turn you can take 2 actions – any combination of drawing a card from the deck, drawing the top card from the discard pile, trading your exchange token, or buying a freight car from the Arrival Yard. The player with the Yardmaster token gets to take an extra action; at the end of his turn, the Yardmaster token passes counter clockwise, so that each player takes it as the game progresses.

yardmaster buy railcar

Each car has a suit (one of 5 types of cargo) and a value from 1 to 5. Tapping the Arrival Yard lets you select which of the four cars you’d like to buy; tapping that card brings up your hand for you to tap cards to pay for it.

yardmaster transaction

Typically you must use a number of cargo cards equal to the freight car’s value to purchase it. However, you can also use a second kind of cargo if you have the corresponding exchange token – each pair of exchanged cargo cards can stand in for 1 of any other kind of cargo.

yardmaster to sorting yard

Cars must be added to your train such that each car matches the value, cargo, or both of the car before it. Any car you purchase that can’t be added to the sequence goes to your Sorting Yard. You can add it on any subsequent turn that it could legally attach to your train, which does not count against your two actions.

yardmaster gameplay 2

In addition to cargo cards, the deck holds special action cards. These allow you to do things like take 2 cards immediately, take the card of your choice from the discard rather than what’s on top, etc. Importantly, these cards don’t cost as actions, so the effectively enable you to do more with your turn – even more than the Yardmaster.

yardmaster game over

The total value of your train is equal to the total value of the freight cars attached to it. The game ends when one player has a train at or above the goal value.

Implementation

Yardmaster is a fairly straight-forward game, with a fairly straight-forward app and interface. The vector inspired art lends itself well to bold regions of bold color, communicating just about everything important with a minimum of reading required.

yardmaster rules

Less bold and vivid, sadly, are the rules. They appear to be a straight scan of the printed rulebook and offer no hint whatever at the interface – it isn’t too hard to figure out, but lends a rushed feel to the proceedings. This becomes doubly apparent with the lack of any tutorial.

yardmaster setup

Local games are played with each player being any of a human, easy AI, or hard AI. Online also exists via GameCenter; we had no issues getting a game started, but there doesn’t seem to be a broad player base, so we didn’t get a chance to play even a single game through to completion.

Verdict

Not unlike Stalag 17, Yardmaster is a perfectly serviceable set collection game in a perfectly serviceable app that has no real outstanding qualities either against or for it. Fans of the subject material will likely be pleased, and while the game is easy enough to teach it’s unlikely to win many converts. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with it, but in an environment as competitive as the App Store, that isn’t always enough. Only time will tell if this game’s fans make a broad enough constituency to keep this one on the right track.

yardmaster other player



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