Rail Raiders: Infinite

Alrighty, Boils and Grills, let’s git along li’l dawgies through the spacelanes – there’s rustlin’ to be had, and them lawbots, well, they’s ain’t gonna stop us from gittin’ them phat lewts!  It’s time to take to the stars to conduct a little railway robbery with Rail Raiders Infinite! NInja Division and Soda Pop Miniatures ran a kickstarter for this one awhile back, and while many of us are eagerly awaiting ships to come in with the expansions and other kickstarter goodies, I was fortunate enough to get my hands on a core set at GenCon. 

Let’s have a look-see what’s under the hood.

I’ll freely admit the main driver behind my backing Rail Raiders Infinite was for the stash of adorable chibi space cowboys that would come with it. One of these days I’ll totally paint them all, I swear. In the meantime, can I just tip my hat to whomever came up with the package layout?

Each of the miniatures is cradled nicely in their plastic nooks, and the cards and dice for the game are also well secured in their wells. Some games are a pain in the proverbial to repack, but kudos to the guy (or gal) that set this up. After removing the rulebook and sheet of tokens (all the punching!) you find the other five raiders, the rest of the lawbots, and the rail cars. The card decks hide under the rail cars.Sneaky sneaky card decks.

As mentioned, I got into this for the chibis, so let’s deal with the game stuff in a bit. CHIBIS! Each hero has a singular ability to help in the quest to score all the Double Dollars.

Sidebar: Double Dollars is a mouthful, and when I score two double dollars I keep mentally reminding myself that this does not mean I in fact have four dollars.

Tazak Geronimo is in it to help his people, and is frighteningly effective at throwing his opponents off the train. Literally. That’s his special rule. If he beats you in a duel, you have to make your way back into the train again. Cactus Zak thirsts for justice and revenge. And you thought cowboys drank whiskey! Quite the opportunist, every time he wins a duel against another raider his own loot pile grows.

The Kid – who I’m pretty sure is actually older than he wants us to think – is looking to bankroll a jailbreak. He’s fast and preecise and can reroll a die in any showdowns, as he angles for the best results. A gunslinger since her childhood, Josie Oakley’s got a keen eye and a quick hand. Try to stop her sneaking some loot out from under your nose, and you may find yourself bamboozled.

Speaking of bamboozling, Huckleberry’s always got an ace up his sleeve. Literally. This game is based on poker dice, and he’s guaranteed an Ace result in every showdown. Pearl Heart is a charmer through and through, and has an almost precognitive ability to find the best loot. Wait, it’s because she can actually sneak peeks at loot counters. That explains it.

As for the Lawbots, these two Deputies flank the better-armed Sheriff. Authority is key – if there’s a Sheriff in the train car, the Lawbots get a reroll for their showdowns.

And if there’s a Marshal? They just flat out get an extra dice. Darn Lawbots, don’t they understand we all just want our share of the loot, like, really bad? Why you gotta be so … Lawful?

Each rail car comes with its own rules, and specifies how much loot can be found and what sort of Lawbot presence might be found. With seven different types of car, not including the locomotive, there’s plenty of variety to be had.

Lawbot presence is determined by Long Arm of the Law cards, which either place Lawbot models in the rail car when flipped, or provide specific instructions for existing Lawbots. Loot cards can only be garnered once those pesky Lawbots are out of the way, and only if the other raiders will get out of your face long enough to loot the .. loot. Loot cards are mainly cash – Double Dollars are the currency, and whoever has the most at the end of the game wins – but there’s also new pistols and other tools.

The High Noon deck is the game clock. Players flip at least one High Noon card every turn, and when the deck runs out, everyone has to bail because they’re arriving at the station, where a less-than-warm welcome awaits. Oh, and there’s reference cards too, that remind you what the Lawbots are worth and the hand ranks for the poker dice, which govern all showdowns.

The rulebook itself is pretty straightforward, 16 pages including backstory and component listings. The actual rules themselves don’t start until page 8. Plenty of examples are shown throughout, and the back page is a handy reference.

Once you lay it all out, the game can take up a long table quite handily. The length of the train is governed by the  number of players, with up to eight rail cars plus the caboose and engine.

What ensues is, frankly, silly fun. The whimsy of the chibi sculpts juxtaposed with the gambling nature of the poker dice bounces against the frenzy of shootouts with Lawbots, trying to outwit your opponents as you jockey for position along the length of the train, and there’s a decent amount of screw-your-neighbor as you deliberately try to foil each other’s efforts to get the best loot.

The product quality is high, the sculpts are a lot of fun, and as much as I had misgivings about the poker dice as a determining mechanic, the options they’ve opened up for allowing for more unique Raider abilities that lend themselves to different playstyles has be happy with their inclusion.

Hopefully we’ll see the Kickstarter shipments resolved and on their way soon – I’m looking forward to even more Raiders to choose from, and more variety in the Lawbots.

Choo! Choo! Pew! Pew!