Yardmaster is an easy and fun filler game where players compete in loading their train with railcars and obtaining these railcars by collecting different types of cargo. And whoever can reach the score goal first wins. Point goals depend on how many players there are.
The game is set up with two kinds of decks. One for Railcars and one for Cargo. There are five types of cargo (Coal, Livestock, Oil, Timber, and Automobile) Each player starts with an engine card, and are dealt one random exchange rate token and five cargo cards. In the middle of all players is the Railcar deck where four railcar cards are revealed in the beginning of the round onto what is called the Arrival Yard. Any time a railcard is purchased a new one is drawn. On a players turn, they will take two of the three types of actions that can be taken. 1) Draw a cargo card blindly or from the discard pile. 2) Purchase a railcar card from the arrival yard. 3) Swap exchange rate tokens.
When purchasing a railcar, you must spend cargo cards in your hand that correspond to the color and number on the railcar. For example, if it is a 3 Yellow (oil) railcar, you must spend 3 yellow oil cargo cards to obtain that railcar. The exchange rate token helps one discard two cargo cards of the color of the token to make it into a color of the players choice.
This game pretty much plays almost like UNO. When placing a railcar onto your engine, the railcar card being placed must be adjacent to the same number or the same color that is currently in play in the players area. As players continue to load there engine with railcars, each railcar has a point value and whoever reaches the point goal first wins the game. For example, in a two player, the point goal is 18.
This is a fast paced and easy game to play. While it’s easy to learn and easy to teach, this game is also quite fun when everyone is racing for the point goal. It’s a great filler game for families and gamers themselves. It’s easy to set up. If people are bored with UNO, this is definitely one to replace it with.
The components are great quality and very compact for easy travel. The box itself is very thick and sturdy compared to regular gameboard boxes. The cards are colorful and tokens are thick and wooden, just a great and simple design overall. The rules are easy to read and well explained with illustrations.
There’s not a whole lot of negative about this game. I think my only small complaint is that in a two player game, keeping track of the yardmaster token, flipping it and passing it back and forth can be confusing at first. Sometimes it’s easy to forget to flip it the active/inactive side, or even keep track of when you get to take your three actions instead of two. Other than that, the gameplay itself is pretty solid.
There is some replay value with the caboose cards and expansion bonus cards which slightly change some of the gameplay to keep the game fresh at times. I think the focus of the fun in this game is the race to the point goal, so regardless of whether there is more or less cards, the game plays well as it is. And if people are looking for an even quicker filler game that has a similar gameplay, there is Yardmaster Express (that has been produced by the same publisher) that plays super fast. You can probably get a game in five minutes or less. You get a lot of game in such a small box. Great quality and design.
Overall, it’s a fun small game that can be introduced to just about anybody and everyone can just enjoy this ‘UNO’ type race card game with a train theme.