Players 2-4
Length mins
Equipment Required a single piecepack set, double 6 dominoes
Designer JonathanDietrich
Version 0.5
Version Date 2003-03-21
License GNU Free Documentation License , dual-licensed CC BY-SA 4.0


An abstract train game for the piecepack.


PDF Version


Reviews & Comments

This game is still in beta... and needs some work. Any help would be appreciated. --JonathanDietrich

Has anyone played Tariffs by Joonathan C. Dietrich (see Rulesets in Progress) yet? Without having played it yet, it appears to utilize a simple and elegant mechanic. It's an abtract rail game of the type where players race to complete secret routes over shared links (like Transamerica in that sense) but with an added element; dominoes are used as route links over a tight-packed board of tiles, and domino pip numbers establish tariff costs for all links in a route. Unplaced links may also be traded with other players. I plan to try the game over the Thanksgiving/Christmas holidays. For people who think that Transamerica is OK but a bit too light or too random, Tariffs might be just right.

Jonathan, I noticed you don't use the pawns (not a criticism, just an observation) and I couldn't resist thinking of a possibility. How about giving each player an opportunity to place his pawn in the center of any tile in lieu of taking any other action that turn, once during the game (pawns never move once placed). Then, any routes running through the tile holding the pawn benefit the pawn owner (the pawn owner's score goes down by the tariff through that tile for each route through the tile). Theme-wise, you could say this symbolizes the pawn owner collecting an infrastructure lease payment or some such thing. Because players don't know just when another player will declare a route complete, there would be a trade- off between placing the pawn safely early but probably not in a lucrative position, versus waiting until routes look like firming up but maybe not having time to get it placed at all (once a route is declared, it would be too late to place a pawn).

-Mike (taken from the yahoo group)

Mike, I am very happy to hear from someone looking at Tariffs. Your idea of using the pawns as an additional element sound like fun, please let me know if you give it a try.

This is one that I was working on, and hoping to enter into a competition at one point, but hit a couple of snags with playtesting, and I liked the idea enough that I wanted to get it out in the open. The primary problem that we found during playtesting was the amount of braindrain, time consuming, doing the math, that can occur on anyone's turn.

-- JCD (taken from the yahoo group)

Yah, I can see how that might happen. I assume you mean that there is a lot of time put into calculating all cost differences of the various potential routes each move. As you probably have noticed, my brother Steve and I like to use dominoes is games; they are available, the same length as a tile, have two numbers on the front (with an end-to-end difference), and have hidden and open faces. These properties make them a very versatile component group. One slight problem they do have though is that pip patterns are not quite as convenient to read at a glance as numerals are. This probably contributes a bit to the potential problem you mention in Tariffs.

It occurs to me that analysing routes in Tariffs would be less daunting if there were not so many different tariff values. For example, if link tariffs were always either 0, 1, or 2, or were always 0, 1, or 5, then it would be possible to see the relative costs of routes almost at a glance. I can think of two ways to do this. One is to say that blank domino halves are zeros, 1,2, or 3 pips means a tariff of 1, and 4,5,or 6 pips means a high tariff (I would say that either 1 or 5 would be a good "high" tariff, just because they make route costs easy to determine quickly). Another possibility is to use wooden matches for links; the match head mean a tariff of 5 and the other end means a tariff of 1. With only two values of tariffs, route cost calculations should be much easier and hopefully the depth of the game will still be very good.

If this game can be dialed in optimally and a purpose-made version put together with suitable graphics, it seems to me that it could have commercial potential. As I mentioned in my earlier post, the game reads like a cousin of Transamerica that should have significantly improved depth.

-Mike (taken from the yahoo group)

CategoryGame ThemeTrainCategory MechanicMultipleBoardsCategory CategoryNeedsTesting