Volldampf: Rules

By Martin Wallace
For 2-6 players age 10 years and up

Translation by Bob Scherer-Hoock (Usual translator’s disclaimer: I am not a German speaker. The following is a computer-assisted translation. I have done this many times, learned a few things (even some of the language) and am reasonably confident of the results, but I can’t in all cases be certain I have translated all nuances correctly. (After all, ambiguities can be found even in one's native language) This will certainly make the German edition playable, but if someone more knowledgeable about the language comes along and says something should be read another way, then please believe them.)

Railroads are hot!
Build a track-network in 20th century Germany. You always earn money if merchandise is transported over its proper section of track (tracks in the same color as the goods). Transfer between tracks to be able to transport more merchandise. Build so that you can use as many of your own routes as possible. But don't neglect to occasionally use other players’ routes along with yours! Since investments are expensive, you need to take out bonds, but consider the interest that you must pay.

Goal of the game
Whoever is farthest on the income track after a pre-determined number of rounds is the winner.

Game components
    1 Game Board
  48 Track cards: 8 each in 6 different symbols / colors
  18 Merchandise cards, each with 3 cities
  14 Action cards
    6 Sequence cards, with "Turn sequence" on the backside
    6 Locomotive markers
  36 Bonds, 24 x 1, 12 x 5
  40 Merchandise cubes: 10 each in blue, violet, red, and yellow,
  96 Track sections: 4 colors with 15 sections; 2 colors with 18
100 Bills: 50 x 1, 20 x 5, 20 x 10, 10 x 20

Game setup
- Each player chooses a color and gets 10 marks, 1 x 5 and 5 x 1, a locomotive marker and track section in his/her color.
In the game for two players you use the "blue" and "red" colors. The two players get all 18 track sections in this case.
With 3 players, each gets 15 track sections.
With 4 players, each gets 12 track sections.
With 5 and 6 players, each gets 8 track sections.
- All locomotive markers are put on the big start space. That is the illustration of the locomotive at the bottom right of the game board.
- The eldest player gets the sequence card with the number 1; he/she is the start player. His/her neighbor to the left gets the 2, and in clockwise order the next player the 3, etc. On the rear of the cards is a short overview of the game.
- The start player administers the bank separately from his/her own money.
- In games with fewer than 6 players, the unused game components remain in the box.
- The track cards are shuffled. All cards are required with 4 and 6 players.
With 2 players, 2 cards are taken out of each color and placed in the box.
Three cards are selected by chance in the game with 3 players and these are put into the box.
With 5 players, 1 card is taken out of each color and 2 other cards are drawn at random and put into the box.
- The action cards are shuffled and are laid out as a face down deck beside the game board.
- The bonds are separated by their 1 and 5 values and are placed beside the game board.
- The merchandise cards are shuffled and placed face down beside the game board.
- Lastly the merchandise cubes are now distributed on the game board. Put all merchandise cubes into the bag. One by one, a merchandise cube is drawn from the bag for each blue and violet city and placed on that city space. It doesn't matter which color merchandise cube is drawn. Some merchandise cards are now uncovered, depending on the number of players in the game, one after the other. One merchandise cube must be placed in each city that is named on each card. The merchandise cubes are drawn one by one from the bag without looking inside it. With:
2 players - 5 cards
3 players - 4 cards
4 players - 2 cards
5 players - 1 card
6 players - 1 card
These merchandise cards are set aside.
- The start player begins. After him/her proceed in clockwise order.

The game board
The game board shows Germany in the 20th century. Some German cities are represented by violet and blue spaces. (Comment: “Dresden" had to be moved for game play reasons somewhat further west from its actual location.) The red and yellow spaces represent connections to cities in foreign countries. It is only a coincidence if merchandise cubes either start on the same color spaces.

Between the individual cities there are many different track sections. Each track section is marked with a colored symbol, which contains the expenses for the construction of this section. Merchandise is transported over these track sections, but only if the players have put track section pieces there.

Surrounding the game board is an income track on which the players’ locomotive markers show their current incomes and thus their victory points at the end of the game.

The playing cards
On the merchandise cards, three cities are named. If such a card is drawn, merchandise cubes are put on these cities by a blind draw from the bag.
There are track cards in 6 different colors. To the better differentiate between these, a geometrical symbol is assigned to each color, so all green symbols are octagons for example. These symbols match those on the game board. One can use a track card to build on any track section of the same color.
The sequence cards determine the turn sequence of the players.
The action cards are played in order to enforce certain special actions.

The game turn
The game proceeds in a pre-determined number of rounds. Each round consists of the following 7 actions, that are always taken in the same order:
1. Merchandise cards uncovered and merchandise cubes placed
2. Track cards uncovered
3. Bonds purchased
4. Turn order purchased and track cards chosen
5. Track sections placed
6. Merchandise cubes transported
7. Income gained and dividends paid

1. Merchandise cards uncovered and merchandise cubes placed
The following number of merchandise cards are uncovered with:
2 players - 1 card
3 players - 2 cards
4 players - 2 cards
5 players - 3 cards
6 players - 4 cards
On each city named on a card, 1 merchandise cube is drawn from the bag and placed. 

2. Track cards uncovered
Now, track cards are drawn for the auction and laid out in groups. Each group consists of 3 cards (in the game with five or six, each group is 2 cards!).
-  A player draws 3 cards from the face down deck and places them next to each other - as the first group – face up beside the game board.
-  Draw as many groups as there are players participating.
Example: In the four-player game, 3 cards are drawn four times to form four groups. The first 3 cards form the first group, the next 3 cards the second group, etc.

3. Bonds purchased
The start capital of 10 marks doesn’t go very far. You must offer money for track rights and must pay for the construction of track sections. Therefore, you have the chance in each round to acquire bonds. The bonds can be paid back at the end of the game, however you must pay a dividend for them each round, so you should carefully consider how much money you require.
- Beginning with the start player, number 1, each player in turn decides how many bonds he/she wants to buy. Tip: 3 or 4 bonds should be about it.
- Players get the corresponding bond chips and receive six times the amount of money printed on them.
- Players place the bond chips in front of them.
Example: A player takes 3 bonds. He/she gets three bond chips with the value 1. From the bank, he/she gets 18 marks, 6 x 3 bonds.

4. Turn order purchased and track cards chosen
The players make offers for the order in which they can select track cards. However, the turn order is also important because track sections are placed in this sequence later and merchandise is transported in this order.
- The start player begins by offering any amount of money and lays the corresponding sum in front of them.
- The other players in turn (clockwise) offer a sum of money too. This offer must be higher than that offered by the prior player. The players in each case place the money offered in front of them.
- There are several offering rounds until the highest bidder is determined.
- The first player who can not or doesn’t want to outbid the previous offer must pass and take the sequence card with the highest number (in the four-player game, this would be the 4).
- The first player who passes pays nothing. He/she takes back the money he/she offered.
- The next players who pass must pay only half their bid, rounded up. They then get the sequence cards with the next lowest numbers.
- Only the players, who come in first and second, must pay their entire bid.
- In the game with three players, the player who passes first must pay half their bid and the other two players pay their full bids.

The money paid goes into the bank. 

In this new player order, as declared by the sequence cards (1 through 4 with four players), each player selects a group of track cards and places it in front of them. 

5. Track sections placed
In the current turn order, track sections are now placed on the game board.
Player 1 selects one of his/her track cards. This player is then allowed to place on of his/her track sections on a free space that matches the symbol shown on the chosen card.
The player must discard the card after using it.
- Only one track section can be placed on each space
- The player must now pay the expenses for the construction of this route. He/she pays the amount shown in the symbol on the game board to the bank.
Example: The Red player hands over a track card with a purple circle and places a track section between Hamburg and Hanover. The cost of construction is 5 marks, paid to the bank.

- The players with sequence cards 2, 3, etc. take their turns. Each player can place one track section.
- If each player has played once, then the start player begins a second round by placing 1 track section again. A third round follows.
- In the game with five and six players, there are only two track placing rounds.
- If a player does not want to place a track section, he/she must discard a track card. All cards, whether used or not, are placed in the discard pile. 

6. Merchandise cubes transported
Now, merchandise cubes are transported. Player 1 begins, then the other players follow in the turn order. If all players have played, a second transportation round follows.
- Whoever is next selects any merchandise cube. He/she takes the merchandise cube and transports it over the route chosen by him/her to a space that has the same color as the merchandise cube.
- The player counts each track sections that he/she uses on the way to this space. A merchandise cube can be transported at most 6 track sections.
- Merchandise cubes can only be transported between locations where track sections have been placed.
- A merchandise cube cannot be moved over the same track section twice nor can it pass through the same location twice.
- Once it has arrived at the goal, the merchandise cube is put back into the bag. 

Now, the scoring follows:

- For each track section, over which a merchandise cube is moved, the owner of the track section has their income increased by 1. The locomotive marker belonging to the player is moved forward on the scoring track the appropriate amount.

Example: The yellow player is transporting a violet merchandise cube over 5 track sections. He/she uses 3 yellow tracks and 2 red. The yellow locomotive maker is therefore moved forward 3 spaces, the red 2.

7. Income gained and dividends paid
The players now in turn get their income, in turn order.

The amount of the income corresponds to the position of a player’s locomotive marker on the scoring track. If the yellow locomotive marker stands on 14, for example, the yellow player gets 14 marks.

However, players also must immediately pay their dividends now on their bonds. The printed value on the bond chips indicates the amount Example: A player has 6 bonds with the number one marked on them. He/she must pay 6 marks in dividends.

If a player does not have sufficient money to pay the dividend, he/she has to go back as many spaces on the income track for each mark he/she is short of funds, not going past the start space. To continue the example: The player gets an income of 4 marks. Since he/she must pay 6 marks of dividends, and however has only 1 mark of capital remaining he/she lacks 1 mark. Therefore, he/she must now put his/her locomotive marker back 1 space on the income track.

Afterwards, action cards are distributed (sees below). The next round begins again with “Merchandise cards uncovered and merchandise cubes placed”.

The action cards
- The player who is farthest behind on the scoring track gets an action card at the end of the round. If there is a tie, all involved in the tie get a card.
- One also gets a card if one gives up the chance to move a ware in the transportation phase, no matter whether voluntarily or not. One can refrain from moving both merchandise cubes in a round and get 2 action cards.
- A player can have as many cards as they wish and play as many cards in a round as they want. A card is always played in the appropriate game phase.
Example: The "favorable opportunity" is played in phase 5 (track sections placed), on the turn of the player using the card. More detailed explanations of the cards are found in the appendix.
- After playing the card, it is placed on the discard pile. If the action card deck is depleted, the discard pile is shuffled and a new deck formed.
- If a player should need a card and there are no more in the deck, and none in a discard pile, then he/she may draw one at random from any other player. 

End of the game
The game finishes after the round in which the last of the track cards were auctioned.
With 2 players this is 6 rounds; with 3 players, 5 rounds; and with 4, 5, and 6 players it is 4 rounds.
Now the players determine their victory points. The printed value of the bonds is subtracted from the current income (on the scoring track).
Whoever stands farthest ahead on the scoring track after this has won. Money is counted only in case of a tie; then the person with the most money wins. Otherwise the money counts nothing. 

Rule changes for the two-player game:
- Bonds purchased: The players must secretly and simultaneously decide how many bonds they want to acquire. Both players take a number of bond chips, either 1s or 5s. Secretly, take some of them in hand. Simultaneously reveal them and the players get their bond chips and the corresponding money. The remaining bond chips that players decide not to take are put back in the reserve.
- Turn order purchased: The bids are made secretly and simultaneously. Each player secretly places 1 to 5 marks on the table. Then both players simultaneously reveal their bids. The offered money must be paid to the bank. In the case of equal bids both players must repeat the offering. This can happen many times in a row.

Explanation of the action cards
In the game, there are seven different action cards. There are two cards for each one.
Here you can find more detailed explanations of the individual actions, which you can look up as needed. 

Schnelle Lok (Fast Locomotive)
Move a merchandise cube up to 7 track sections instead of up to 6.
Play in phase 6 (Merchandise cubes transported) when the player holding the card is next in turn to transport merchandise. Naturally a player who holds both “Fast Locomotive” cards may not play both at once in order to transport merchandise 14 track sections. 

Subvention (Subsidy)
If you are currently in last place, you are allowed to make three (!) trips instead of two.
Play in phase 6 (Merchandise cubes transported) after all other players have made their second merchandise transportation trip. The player using the card can now perform another transportation. If another player also wants to use the same card, they play in the order of their sequence cards. Players may not play this card in order to forfeit a trip and draw a new action card. 

Günstige Gelegenheit (Favorable Opportunity)
Pay 5 marks and you can put in a track section after playing a track card at any location. Play in phase 5 (Track sections placed).  If the player whose turn it is to place track sections has this card, they can ignore the printed value on the board and pay only 5 marks.

Sabotage (Sabotage)
Prevent a player from moving a merchandise cube. He/she can transport another merchandise cube, however. Play in phase 6 (Merchandise cubes transported). Play this at the moment another player wants to move a merchandise cube. 

Zusatzfracht (More Freight)
If you are the next player to move, draw a merchandise cube from the bag and put it on a city of your choice. Play in phase 6 (Merchandise cubes transported), if the person holding the card will be the next player to transport merchandise.  

Alles neu (Everything New)
You can sort the display of the track cards before the auction. Play in phase 3 (Bonds purchased) after payment is made for the bonds and before phase 4 (Turn order purchased) has been played. This card can be played only once in a round. If a second player also wants to play this card, the sequence cards are used to resolve this. The player with the higher number card doesn't use this action card in this round but he/she is allowed to keep it. 

Neue Planung (New Planning)
You are allowed to a merchandise cube into another city of your choice. The player playing this card can use it at any time. It must, however, be his/her turn.

The author:
The Englishman Martin Wallace lives in Manchester and prefers complex, selective games. He has already developed a whole line of games and has published some of them in his own small publishing house. After "Der Weisse Lotus” (The White Lotus), this is his second TM-Spiele game.

 

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