52 Family Game Nights – Yardmaster

Yardmaster is a newer game for our family but it’s become almost an instant favorite and I’m excited to share it with you.

yardmaster game nightFamily Game Night #24 – Yardmaster

Our friends Gail and Lisa introduced us to several games when we got together for a game night. This is one that I instantly liked. It sounded a bit complicated when first explained, but it’s really not much more complicated than Uno.

How to Play Yardmaster

This is a card game for 2-5 players. Each player is trying to put together their own train, made up of cars of different values. The target number of points is either 18 (for 2-3 players) or 16 (for 4-5 players).

Each player starts with an engine card and the other cards are in two decks: Railcars and Cargo (including some bonus cards). There are also six tokens: five used for exchanges and 1 yardmaster. Each player takes 2 actions per turn, with the exception of the Yardmaster who gets 3 action. The yardmaster role changes from player to player throughout game play.

You trade cargo cards for railcar cards in order to “build” your train. You can only play a railcar card only if it matches the color or point value of the car in front of it. If you have a railcar that you can’t add to your train, it goes in your sorting yard (kind of like a holding pile that only you can access).

yardmaster cardsYardmaster Variations

We haven’t played often enough to know many variations. There is a related game called Yardmaster Express, but we haven’t picked that one up yet. One variation you can try is playing without the bonus cards. This allows non-readers to play, since the only thing required then is matching colors or numbers.

Summary of Yardmaster

Number of Players: 2-5

Recommended ages: the box says 8+, but we’ve played with younger.

Reading required: minimal. If you play without the bonus cards there’s no reading.

Since this is a newer game and the price on Amazon seems to vary between $20-$25. (The Express version hovers around $15.) You may be able to find it at a hobby game store but it is not available at mass merchants (Target / Wal-Mart) yet. But if you have a kid who loves trains who isn’t quite ready for Ticket to Ride, this could be a great alternative.

yardmaster game night pinHave you played Yardmaster? What’s your favorite game with a train theme?

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  1. This looks like a great Christmas gift for my train-loving boy! :)