Tracks to Telluride Review

What is it?

Tracks to the Telluride is published by Winsome games, it lists for $50 (small company start up costs are the real reason for the high price).


Tracks to the Telluride is a train game that combines some of the best qualities of Silverton and Eurorails. The Map is a hex grid that you draw on, with maybe 20-30 hexes on a side. The rules are only a page (front and back) so I'll summarize them. Players pick order cards (ala 1830) and decide, in order, which of four start cities (on the N.E side of the map, which is at the bottom of the board, a little quirk) they'll choose. Up to 2 players can start at the same city. Then, in reverse order, they choose the guage for their track, narrow or standard. For now, I'll assume everyone chooses narrow, standard basically changes some of the numbers for the players who use it. (Increases costs and income). Then, the turn order is:
  1. Update Season (Summer to Winter and vice versa)

    (Skip on first turn)

  2. Draw a Mine Card (Skip on first turn)
  3. Draw a Historical Event Card (Skip on first turn)
  4. Determine Player Order
  5. Declare Pass Attempts (Summer Turns Only)
  6. Attempt Injunctions (Summer Turns Only)
  7. Pass Attempts (Summer Turns Only)
  8. Build Track
  9. Acquire Mining Contracts
  10. Declare Rate Wars
  11. Collect Income
At the beginning of the game, there are 17 Open mines. Mines are either coal, varied, silver and gold, and each have a certain income (gold mines tend to be the best, but some aren't). When a mine card is drawn, 3 mines "Toggle" (if open, they close, if closed, they open). Note that mines close whether they are owned or not, and newly opened mines are unowned, even if one or more people connect to them.

A historical event card is a 'random event' (all but one of which actually occured during the time the game represents.) Mines can be closed, trains robbed, money lost, and whatnot. Generally, the historical card is neutral (it's just plain luck if you are helped or hurt) although it tends to hurt leaders more often than it helps them.

After this point, you determine player order, based on cash on hand.

On the map are 'passes' which you must build through during summer, at a pretty high cost, and only one or two people can build through (unlike most hexes, which allow any number). These passes are the choke points of the game. During a summer turn, you can declare 0,1 or 2 passes that you might attempt to build through. Then, after everyone has declared, you can attempt a court ordered-injunction against building through certain passes. It costs $1 to try to get an injunction. Then a D6 determines the results, which range from no effect, to getting the injunction, to contempt of court and a fine. You can try to injunct anywhere you want...

After all of the injunctions, players then try to build passes. Note that just because you say you might attempt doesn't mean you are obligated to (you might be trying to sucker someone to waste money on court fees). You can only attempt one pass per turn, although you may make multiple attempts on that pass. You spend $10, roll 2D6 (modified for train gauge) and compare it to the pass difficulty on the board. If you equal or exceed the difficulty, you make it.

Building track is simple, you just add track with crayon and note the cost on the board. Costs range from 1-5 per hex, and some hexsides are impassable or require tunnels (which are quite expensive, sometimes much more than passes, but they can be built anytime without rolling). If you are the first to connect to a city, you get a flat $2 bonus, and a random 1-6 bonus sometimes (roll a D6, on a 5-6, you get D6 bonus). Building to cities helps reduce the cost of track laying, but gets you nothing other than money (and rate war opportunities).

If there are any unclaimed mines that people connect to, they take them. If 2+ players connect, they auction the mine off to the highest bidder. Next, come rate wars. Rate wars happen in reverse order. If you connect with another player at 2+ cities, you can rate war them. Each player seperately loses from 25-75% of their mining income. (Also, during winter, mining income is halved, so a rate war in winter can cost someone 87.5% of revenues). Rate wars are an incredible way to take the leader down, I continuously warred the leader in one game for 6 turns (skipping one year because I couldn't afford to not make a pass the next turn). It cost me around $5 a turn and cost him around $20. Each player can only be involved in one rate war a turn.

Finally, each player collects mining income + $5 (investors). Then the turn begins again (after adjusting the season marker). If, at the end of any turn, the historical deck is out, or one player connects from Denver to Grand Junction, the game is almost over. You flip one more mine card, closing any mines that are open on it. The player with the highest mine income is the winner.

Thoughts on the game

The game is very well balanced between the four start cities. Denver is the worst, but you must connect to Denver if you want to end the game. Trinidad has a few easy mines nearby, and a southernly route to get to the mine rich southwest that avoids passes but is prohibitavely expensive. It also has another route that is cheap, but has a moderately annoying pass. Pueblo has access to the easiest pass to the midwest, but it has to make it to start collecting income. The fourth city starts next to a 3,4 pass (3 for the first player, four for the second) that gets a few mines, then another pass that lets it into more mines. Any city can win.

The choice between gauges is weighted in favor of narrow gauge which uses the rules above. Standard gauge pays double building costs, subtracts one from pass die rolls, but gets double mining benefits (which count towards victory conditions). To win with standard means getting quick access to mines and then building towards mines. Standard shouldn't start at Denver, unless there are a lot of gold mines out early (which tend to be around Denver).

The map seems to be historically accurate; but the cost to playability is quite painful in cases. There are some routes that are just bad, although if you get locked out of a pass some would argue that any route is better than none, but it isn't that much better. For instance, a route on the South side of the map requires either 2 passes (one moderately high) to get to an area that can be gotten to by one relatively easy pass.

Components Quality

The map is a new idea. It is four laminated pieces of paper connected by a swivel, the pages fold out and then snap into place (and are quite sturdy). They map idea is patented by the designer, so it's the first time it's been done. The cards for the mines are done on high-quality paper, with no obvious perferations. There are sequence of play cards, and almost all of the information you need is on them or the map (except the three things that involve D6 die rolls, which are in the rules). A sheet calculating how much you get when you lose money due to winter/rate war is included, as are crayons and axis and allies size token (black silver and gold for 1/5/25 denominations). A summer/winter piece of paper is included, and cards to show player order and gauge. Component quality is very nice. The rules are quite simple to read, although somewhat vague regarding a few minor details (which resolve easily). Everything comes in a 3 ring binder. An interesting idea, and I think it works fairly well. Two binder-games (if the idea catches on) are about the size of one box, and you could combine multiple games per binder. I'm fairly sure the reason for binders was to decrease the cost per unit (boxes are expensive) and to allow for a flexible number of units to be produces (you have to get all of the boxes at once, but it's trivial to buy a binder and put the front and back cover on it).

Add on note -- 8/7/94 My map fell apart. The connector pin between the four parts loosened and a sheet fell off. It wasn't difficult to put back together, but I was annoyed that it happened.

Add on note -- 11/15/94 I've been playing Dampfross a lot more in past weeks. The game take about the same amount of time as T2T, is cheaper (and imported from Europe), and has four different maps. T2T is a nice game, but the replay value fell short, for me at least.


If this game were $20, it would be a must buy game. It plays quickly (all of the games I player or watched were done in less than 1.5 hours) with quite a bit of strategy but still a fair amount of luck. (The designer, when someone asked if there wasnt a better way to resolve pass building, noted that there was, but it would either double the game length or increase the game cost). It has a very good replay value and moves quickly. But, it does cost $50, so you should probably see if it is to your tastes.

How to Order

For those of you who can't get this game in a store, you can order it by sending $55.00 ($50+$5 s/h) to:

Winsome Games 
515 West Hutchinson Avenue 
Suite #6 
Pittsburgh, PA 15218-1347 
Make checks payable to: "John Bohrer." 


This was written by Brian Bankler.

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