Our Station Master review, what we have to say about the Train themed speculation game. Players get limited cards and passenger tokens and must manage how they want to approach the trains that move through the yard (three active at once). You have the option to play a passenger or play a card. One shifts the dynamic of what it will be worth and one makes a play at trying to capitalize on it. Not all information is known, so the right bluff could be just enough to slip into getting big influence on an important train. For something light and easy, you definitely get a robust gameplay experience.

We took a look across fun, replayability, player interaction, quality and art & style to come up with the overall score for our Station Master review. See the breakdown by category below.

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Fun (6 out of 10)

For the fun section of the Station Master review, we award a solid 6 out of 10. The game is on the simpler side but interesting. The mechanics are smart, cool and align with the theme. Players are working a communal train yard and they need to either add to train cars (add points) to one of three trains or assign passengers to them. The passengers have a secret value that is multiplied by the end value of the train, so it is all about making the best math bets on the 13 locomotives that add to your station. You are making strategic decisions but bluffing and what are you are communicating with your actions factors in to everything.

Not necessarily too much of a downside considering the idea was to create something lighter, but actions at times don’t seem to matter enough. There are only so many options you can bet on and only so many ways you can hedge those options. Since this is a marathon of locomotives and not a sprint, there is at least enough to eliminate luck, so hard to complain.

Replayability (6 out of 10)

For the replayability section of the Station Master review, we award a solid 6 out of 10. Every game is packed with new paths to victory and it is effortless to get to the table, two things that greatly help with replayability. What brings it down is the changes don’t run that deep. There is plenty to make you want to play this a handful of times and justify a purchase but it is never going to be that title you hunger to play. It is like if you were playing a super intense game of tic tac toe, eventually everyone learns each others tricks and there is nothing left there to do.

The game strives to be on the lighter and more accessible side, which it succeeds at. You may lose some of that grander scope of bigger speculation games but that is not what this is, it boils this idea down to a simpler concept and it does it just fine. They get plenty of props for making a solid experience, but others have done more with less.

Player Interaction (7 out of 10)

For the player interaction section of the Station Master review, we award a very good 7 out of 10. The player interaction is the best thing the game has going for it, especially if you like bluffing. It is a hard communication idea to work into board game play. The problem is that it takes everything over or it makes things lopsided. That is not the case here, it is just a smooth layer that helps keep everyone on their toes. You know based on the value of your passenger if you are betting that a train is a winner or loser, but your opponents do not. With information just imperfect enough, you need to dance around your opponents and do just enough to pit others against each other to save your own influence.

If you want to think about engagement amongst all, turns are quick and players are constantly in the game. Even when it is not your turn, what everyone does has a very real effect on your short term circumstances. With everything moving and communicating about what they are doing (or not doing) constantly, interaction runs high.

Quality (6 out of 10)

For the quality section of the Station Master review, we award a solid 6 out of 10. This title is an update of the original 2004 title and oh boy did they do a great job with the changes to play and overhaul to all art and graphics. This isn’t everything but it does speak to overall quality, and that is found throughout. There is not much to this title except cards and player tokens but they are all done well. The nicest feature is the personalized passenger tokens. Each player gets their own color and symbol type. There are things like boots, briefcases and coffee mugs. They are high end wood pieces that are incredibly fun to roll around your hand.

Art & Style (5 out of 10)

For the art & style section of the Station Master review, we award a middle of the road 5 out of 10. The theme here is on point, it is a throwback to the times when traveling the rails was the thing to do and all the art deco elements that went along with that time period. This is true in the cover art as well as all the cards. The issue is that the execution is just a tad generic. This might be one that you pass by because the cover doesn’t grab you but it is sadly not as good as the game inside of it.

The train cards speak to a very specific style and they do it well, though there is little variety. It gets the job done and will certainly give something to anyone who enjoys trains or history but nothing more than that.


Station Master Review | Board Game Halv

Station Master is the train yard management game that is a light yet robust speculation title, with just the right amount of bluffing and hand management thrown in. Updating the original 2004 version this relaunch dramatically improves gameplay and artwork. Games are light and quick, so if you are looking for something that is quick to the table that has you making different short and long term bets better than you opponents, this is a solid one to check out. You may be left wanting more to do at times, but coincidentally that would break the lightness of the title so it is up to you if you think this will fit your play style. This has been our Station Master review, we hope you enjoyed it!

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Editor's Rating:

See the full explanation of the judging criteria here.

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