Draw Your Routes and Make Connections in Railroad Ink | Casual Game Revolution

Draw Your Routes and Make Connections in Railroad Ink

Railroad Ink

Lay down rail and help plot the highway, making connections and reaching exits to maximize your points as the dice determine the routes you must take.

Played in 30 minutes and designed for 1-6 players, Railroad Ink by Horrible Guild s a roll-and-write dice game about drawing routes on your player board.


Each player has a board showing a grid of seven-by-seven spaces. Around the edges of the grid are exit points connected to either railroad or highway symbols. In each round, four route dice are rolled. Three of these will show either a straight, curved, or three-way intersection of either highway or railway. The fourth die will show either an overpass (highway crossing over a railway) or a station point, which turns a highway into a railway.

Simultaneously, all players must draw the routes shown on the dice onto their boards. Each route must be connected to either an exit or to an existing route. You must draw all four routes if you are able. You can only connect a railway and a highway route using a station point.

There are six special routes, and once per round you may add one of these to your board. You can only add each route once per game and are only allowed to add up to three of these special routes during the whole game. These are all four-way intersections in various configurations of stations, highways, or railways.

The game ends after seven rounds. The main goal is to connect as many exits as possible. The more exits connected to each other by routes, the more points those exits are worth. You also gain points for your longest number of connected highways and your longest number of connected railways. Additionally, you score one point for each of the nine center spaces of your board that has a route in it. Finally, you lose one point for each route that starts out from an exit but does not reach at least one other exit. The player with the highest point total wins.

Railroad Ink Components


Railroad Ink is an excellent roll-and-write and a challenging puzzle where that element of luck makes you work hard at trying to maximize each route. There will be plenty of times when you groan as the dice roll against you, and there’s a great escalation to the game's difficulty as you slowly fill in more of the board and your options grow more and more limited.

The game is also quite compact, with the box being pretty small while still keeping the boards easy to read, making it a good game to travel with. The rules are generally easy to learn, as well, although the rules for the longest highway and railway took us a couple of reads to fully understand. Still, the core concept of the game is easy to grasp: roll the dice, draw the routes, and make the connections. Valid routes are straightforward, making this an easy game to get up and going quickly, even with new players.

A fun feature of the Railroad Ink line of games is that different ones in the series, while being quite similar to one another in the core gameplay, all introduce different, thematic variations that are fun to play around with. For example, the Deep Blue Edition adds a river that you must also lay out across your grid, while the Blazing Red Edition has meteors and lava that can be added as two separate variants to the game. But the variants are always optional — you can stick to the core, basic gameplay and feel like you are getting a rich and satisfying game in its own right.

Roll-and-writes have become an increasingly popular genre, and Railroad Ink shines in the genre as thematic, easy to learn, and some great moments that blend the luck and the puzzle perfectly. There’s not any direct player interaction, but the simultaneous gameplay ensures little downtime and a fast game.

Pros: Fun blend of luck and puzzle, portable, fun variations available

Cons: Rules for calculating your longest routes could be a little clearer, no direct player interaction

Disclosure: we received a complimentary review copy of this game.