Iron Horse

Designed by Dirk Henn
Published by db Spiele
Translated by Ken Tidwell

A tile laying game for 2-6 railroad founders by Dirk Henn


Goal of the Game

Each player represents a railroad company. The goal of the companies is to carry the most traffic along the longest routes and, thereby, receive the most points.


The small, colorful train markers are placed according to the initial layout card of the same color (with two players use red and yellow, with three players also use blue, with four add green, with five lilac, and with six players use all of the colors). The rail tiles are shuffled and placed face down beside the board. Each player draws one rail tile, which they may look at. The last player to choose their color and draw their rail tile takes the first turn.

Course of the Game

Who places the tiles?

Each player, on their turn, places one rail tile on the board. A player may place the tile in their hand then draw a replacement tile, if there are any remaining. If the tile in their hand cannot be placed on the board (because of other constraints described later), they may draw a new tile which must be placed on the board immediately. In this case, the player keeps their old tile and does not draw another a new tile.

How are the tiles placed?

Rail tiles must be played such that the marking in the corner of each tile is aligned with the same mark on the space on the game board.

Onto which spaces are you allowed to place rail tiles?

You are allowed to place pieces onto any space which is adjacent to either the border of the (outer) edge of the board (not the town in the center) or a previously placed piece (adjacent means edge to edge, not diagonally).

You may not place a tile in such a way that a track is traced right back to its neighboring end (forming a 1-point track). This would be the case, for instance, if you placed a half-circle track at the edge of the board or a 90 degree turn in a corner (You are allowed to place those towards the town though!). A track has to be at least two pieces long. The only exception to these rules is that a piece may be placed if there is no other place to put it without violating this rule (usually the last pieces go that way). [Ken: I don't know if this exception also applies when you cannot play your tile in hand and then draw a second tile which also cannot be played without violating these rules...]

Closed loop tracks, which appear in the middle of the board and belong to no player, occur in the normal course of play during the layout of the pieces and are not subject to any special restrictions. They are not important for the course of the game.

What happens when a route is completed?

Points for completed routes are scored as soon as an unbroken line is formed from a starting space up to the city or up to the edge of the game board. When scoring, each rail tile is worth one point, if the route runs to the edge of the board, and two points, if the route terminates in the city. Record the points scored and turn the railroad marker on the start space face down. A player who has completed all of their routes may still lay tiles on their turn.

When does it end?

The game finishes when all the railroad markers are turned face down. The player who collected the most points is the winner.


Anyone who wants to introduce additional strategy into the game may naturally play without the fixed bearings of the rail tiles, i.e. the rail tiles may be placed on the board in any orientation. Or one could also play with a hand of two, or even three, rail tiles. But please consider that in both variations, particularly with more players, players should be prepared to wait longer for their turn.

The Game Cabinet - - Ken Tidwell