Remember those dreaded math story problems?
“A passenger train leaves the train station 2 hours after a freight train left the same station. The freight train is traveling 20 mph slower than the passenger train. Find the rate of each train, if the passenger train overtakes the freight train in three hours.”
Fortunately for most of us, we never really had to calculate the rate of speeding trains to keep our jobs in real life! Phew! In my world, trains are a lot more user friendly when someone else is calculating their schedule!
Let’s put the nightmare of story problems behind us and view train travel another way with this railroad inspired card game.
“Two trains are scheduled to leave Union Station. Be the first to get rid of all your passenger cards from your stock pile and discard pile to win!” (See – no pencil, paper or calculator needed!)
All aboard for some train traveling fun! For this game, all you need are two train conductors and two decks of playing cards. Cards rank from king (high) to ace (low). Conductors sit opposite each other. Each conductor pulls a card from one of the decks to determine who will go first. The player with the lowest ranking card starts. The cards are returned to the deck. Each conductor shuffles a full deck of cards and hands it to their opponent.
Conductor No. 1 Layout
The first conductor does the following: (see adjacent graphic)
- 1. Deals a pile of 12 cards face down and turns the top card face up on the stack. This is the depot pile of passengers.
- 2. Deals the next 4 cards face up in a column to the left. These are train cars for passengers.
- 3. The balance of the deck is placed face down to the left. This is a stock pile of passengers.
- 4. Creates a discard pile for unused passenger cards.
Your job as conductor is to get rid of all your passenger cards from your stockpile and discard pile to win. Here’s how to get rid of passenger cards:
- 1. Load passengers into the train cars by laying descending sequences of alternating color cards. For example, if a train car starts with a 10 of diamonds, add a red 9, then black 8, and so on onto the car. The cards are overlapped so each can be seen. Passenger cards from other train cars can be combined by moving the entire sequence on to another train car. When cards a transferred and leave an open space, it can be filled with a card from the depot pile.
- 2. As aces appear, they are laid in a column in the center of the station to create the platform. Aces are built up in suit and sequence to king during play.
- 3. The last card on each train car, the top depot card and the top card from the discard pile are available for play.
Once the first conductor has made their layout, first move any aces to the center platform. The empty space is filled with a card from the depot pile. The next card on the depot pile is turned face up.
This conductor can keep making plays until no more can be made. Then the top stock card is turned face up. If it can be built onto the layout, the turn continues by turning over the next card from stock and so on. When there are no more plays to be made, the stock card is moved to a discard pile next to the depot. The top card from the stock pile is turned face up for their next turn. This turn ends.
Layout with Conductors 1 and 2
Now, conductor number 2 creates a layout by dealing out the cards as the first conductor had done. This conductor’s cards are laid as shown in the graphic to create one large layout.
Conductor 2 lays cards as above but can ALSO build on opponent’s train car and platform cards! And if possible, can play cards from their depot pile and train cars onto the opponent’s discard pile in ascending or descending sequence regardless of suit or color. Hint: Loading up an opponent’s discard pile can increase your chances of a win!
However, moving cards from a discard pile or stock pile to an opponent’s discard pile is NOT ALLOWED!
A turn ends when there are no other plays except to lay a card from the stock pile onto a discard pile.
On conductor number 1’s next turn, they can build on an opponent’s cards as described above too!
When a stock pile is depleted, without shuffling, a conductor turns over their discard pile to form a new stock pile. When a depot pile has run out, empty spaces are filled with stock pile cards.
The order of play is important.
- 1. A train car space must be filled before any other plays are made.
- 2. Depot cards must be played before train cards and discard pile cards.
- 3. When a depot card is played, the next card in the pile is turned face up before making another play.
- 4. Cards are played to the train cards before being played to the discard pile.
If a player doesn’t follow the order of play rules and is caught by an opponent, the opponent yells “STOP!” to end a player’s turn. The opponent flags the mistake and then makes the play correctly. The opponent then takes over the turn.
The first conductor to get rid of all the cards in their stock pile and discard pile is the WINNER!
Just like any game played the first time, it takes a couple of rounds to learn the play. But, once you do, you’ll find your game night clickety-clacking down the track! WOOooOOOH!
Russian Bank instructions, The Card Games Bible, 2014, Octopus Publishing Group Ltd.