Linie 1

Game invented by Stefan Dorra.
Published by Goldsieber.
Reviewed by Dirk Bock (

Players: 3-5
Playing Time: 45 minutes

Imagine a city where cars are banned from the streets and where public transport takes care of all your needs. Doesn't sound too bad, but...

Imagine a city where said public transport is organized by up to five different tramway companies, whose directors are trying to get their customers to their destination as quick as possible while blocking the other companies from doing so.

Things may get weird in this scenario and Linie 1 by Stefan Dorra, winner of the 1994 award Spiel des Jahres with his game Manhattan, lets you explore the possibilities. [Ken: I'm afraid Dirk was a bit confused here. Seyfarth invented Manhattan. The only previous game I'm aware of from Dorra is Razzia, though I believe he has published many others.]

True to the American spirit of planning the city is comprised of squares with some 12 special buildings thrown in. Along the city-border are 12 terminals for the six possible rail lines. Your task is to build a continuos track from one terminal to, depending on the number of players, two or three of the cities buildings and finally to the other terminal. If your track is completed, you race your tram along its route, as the first player to reach his terminal is the winner of the game.

Which terminals you have to connect to what buildings is determined via two cards. This introduces the needed uncertainty; you can only try to deduce waht the other players are up to.

The track construction is somewhat similar to the 18XX-games, although simpler. You have five cardboard-tiles with tracks available and you may place these tiles as long as no track "leaves" the board, leads into one of the destination squares or lets an already existing track run into a dead end. Upgrading of tiles is also possible as long as any existing track remains on the board. Of course you don't want your passengers to jump off the running train, so each building has to be equipped with a stop. This stop is situated on the first tile placed next to the building, no matter where you would like it to be. A change from the "usual" procedure in track- building games is that you are not forced to extend an existing route with your newly build track: you may build wherever you want.

As soon as your track is ready you show your cards, announce your route to the other players and set your tram in motion. A die roll lets you move one to four spaces forward, or you move your tram up to the next stop, whether it belongs to your route or not.

This last phase is a bit of a let-down. Constructing your route without showing the other players what you are up to and trying to spoil their plans is fun, rolling a die and moving your tram is not. But Linie 1 shows a certain quality which seems to be quite rare today: the timing works almost perfect! In most games the winner is only a little bit ahead of the crowd and within four, five turns all players have completed their assignements. Yes, this means that you definteley need luck to win Linie 1, but it also guarantees an exciting finish. With a playing time of some 45 minutes you get an entertaining game, which appeals to the whole family. You will not spend a day playing Linie 1 again and again, but playing it every now and then, perhaps as a warm-up for more involved games, is not a bad option.

The Game Cabinet - - Ken Tidwell