Barrakesh Express

From IcehouseOrg
Jump to: navigation, search
Barrakesh Express
Designed by Matthew Rogers
I've been savin' all my money, just to take you there...
Control surface transport on Mars
:Players Players: 2 - 4
:Time Length: Long?
:Complexity Complexity: Low
Trios per color: 5
Number of colors: 1 per player
Pyramid trios:
Monochr. stashes: 1 per player
Five-color sets: 5
- - - - - - Other equipment - - - - - -
Special map board, playing cards, custom goal notes
Setup time: 3 minutes
Playing time: 30 minutes
0.5 Hr
- 60 minutes
1 Hr
Strategy depth: Medium
Random chance: Medium
Game mechanics: set collection, hidden goals
Theme: Martian Trains
BGG Link:
Status: complete? (v1.0), Year released: 2987


Under development


This game is currently under development, in the Playtesting stage. Feedback is strongly encouraged! Feel free to give comments on game design or structure on the talk page.

Scenario, Background, and Sources

The beds of the dried Martian seas are ideal for building railroads, and nuclear-powered trains are destined to become the most important inter-metropolitan transport on Mars. Build and acquire combinations of routes to achieve the rail network that will give you lasting control of Martian surface trade.

Barrakesh Express is modeled on the popular commercial game Ticket to Ride by Alan R. Moon. Unlike the many unofficial expansions for Ticket to Ride (or the pyramid mash-up Ticket to Mars), it does not use any of that game's physical components, relying instead on Looney Pyramids and standard playing cards to complete a kit with the custom map.

The Martian map for Barrakesh Express synthesizes 150 years of speculation, fiction, and fantasy about Mars. The names of some of its cities are derived as follows:

  • Helium, Tarak -- from Edgar Rice Burroughs' Barsoom.
  • Barrakesh, Kushat, Valkis -- from the Martian planetary romance stories of Leigh Brackett.
  • Deuteronomy -- from Desolation Road by Ian McDonald.
  • Varnal -- from Michael Moorcock's Old Mars.
  • Thyle, Electris, Eridania, Argyre -- from the Martian cartography of Giovanni Schiaparelli.

Equipment and Setup

Place the map board between the players. Each player needs a full stash (five trios) of pyramids in their own color. These are kept at hand to be played onto the map board.

Print out the goal notes and cut them up. (Plain paper works fine for this purpose.) Shuffle them face-down, and let each player draw three. They can keep all three, or return one or two to the supply of goal notes.

The deck of playing cards should have 54 cards (4 suits of 13 each, plus two Jokers). Shuffle it and place it face-down near the board. Turn up three cards and place them next to the deck. Create a space for a discard pile.

Turn Priority and Game Duration

The person to have most recently ridden a train goes first. Play proceeds clockwise.

When one player has played his or her fifteenth and final pyramid to the board, play continues until the end of the turn cycle (i.e. until just before the original first player). Then the game is over.

Turn Actions

Each player may take only one action per turn, choosing among three types. The three action types are:

  • Draw a card
  • Claim a route
  • Draw a goal

Draw a Card

A player may take one of the three exposed cards next to the deck, or draw the top card from the deck. If one of the exposed cards it taken, replace it immediately by turning up the next card from the top of the deck. If the deck is exhausted, shuffle and recycle the discard pile.

Cards have values according to the numbers printed on them. An Ace is worth 1. A Jack is worth the same value as the highest number card of that suit held by the player. So if a player has a Jack of Clubs and a 7 of clubs, the Jack is worth 7. A Queen is worth twice the value of the highest card in-hand of its suit. If a player has a Queen, 6, and 3 of Diamonds, the total value of Diamonds in the hand is 21 (6 times two = 12 for the Queen). A King is worth three times the value of the highest card in-hand of its suit.

A Joker counts like a Jack, but may be assigned to any suit.

Claim a Route

A player may claim a route by discarding cards of a single suit with values that total to at least the printed value on the route square on the map. Route squares indicate which suit must be played. If the square shows O instead of one of the four suits, any one of the four suits may be used.

Place one or more pyramids on the route square to complete the claim. One pyramid pip is needed to cover each 5 points in card value, so a route square that cost 13 diamonds would be covered by a large pyramid (3 pips), a small stacked on a medium (2+1), or a stack of three smalls (1+1+1). A route square valued at 21 spades would need five pips of pyramids. For convenience of inspection, always stack pyramids with smaller sizes on top (i.e. tree rather than nest).

Some routes are doubled, with two lines and two route squares. Each route square relates to one of the lines, and each must be claimed separately. Either will provide the network link for the two Martian cities that the route connects.

Draw a Goal

A player may use a turn to draw two goal notes, and keep both, one, or none.

Scoring

When the game is over (see Turn Priority and Game Duration, above), players score as follows:

  • Begin with a base score of 30 (the total pip value of a pyramid stash)
  • Subtract the pip value of any un-played pyramids.
  • Add the face value of all completed goals in-hand.
  • Subtract the face value of all goals in-hand not completed.
  • Award a bonus of five points to each player who can circumnavigate the planet on his or her routes.

Printable Files

The files linked below are to print for use in this game.

A cleaner, slightly modified board is available over on the discussion page (it is an unofficial edit made by another contributor, hence may be subject to change before final approval).

Map Board

  • Prototype Board -- Print these two pages and join them side-to-side, so that the one that says "MARS" is on the left.
  • Finalized board COMING SOON. Please post any comments on the prototype to the discussion page.

Goal Slips/Cards

Other, Earlier Martian Train Games