Union Pacific

I played Union Pacific, with four players, for the first time yesterday. Interesting. I didn’t see too many game play similarities with Ticket to Ride. It’s usually compared to Get the Goods, which shares the dividend cards and the stock building element, although Union Pacific has a couple more layers.

Balancing track building with competing for shares was fun, although the track building element had usability problems, as the track cards are hard to distinguish. We played using my new poker chip set, assembled according to “JC Lawrences’s recommendations”:http://www.boardgamegeek.com/article/1657399#1657399. Incidentally, there’s a good offer right now at “Gamble.co.uk”:http://gamble.co.uk for a carousel of 200 decent quality poker chips for £15.

I definitely want to try Union Pacific again soon. It’s very solid, but I wonder if newer stock games like Chicago Express have improved upon it?



  1. I really prefer Get the Goods to Union Pacific. I feel that the board play doesn’t add much except tons of time. Maybe UP was worth it back when it was first released, but as an expensive OOP game I don’t feel that it is money well spent.

    I have been enjoying Chicago Express as my occasional quick rail/stock game, and am looking forward to trying my copy of Steel Driver soon. I recommend trying either of those.

  2. Hi Simon

    I played Get the Goods a few years ago. It’s nice and simple, but I found the track building element in Union Pacific added a nice trade off.

    I got UP in a maths trade. I wonder how much it would fetch on eBay?

    I have to try these new stock building games some more. I tried Chicago Express a while ago and it didn’t knock my socks off, but it’s definitely a game that rewards repeated play.

  3. I’d rather play Get the Goods than Union Pacific. I really don’t want to play either. The game has a good basic hook — the same as in Alhambra — but I prefer my train games more trainy. That is, Wabash Cannonball or Preußische Ostbahn.

    When I got my UP, the German online stores were dumping it like crazy, but perhaps now the prices have come up a bit.

    (Commenting on your blog is bloody difficult, by the way! MyOpenId login didn’t work, so I had to request a new password because my password didn’t work and then it ate my comment!)

  4. Did you use any variants? Some complain of a first player advantage with the UP stock.

    I like the plastic trains in this game (and borrow them to use in Pacific Northwest Rails). 🙂

  5. @msaari – I’ll definitely try out Chicago Express again and try to get hold of Preußische Ostbahn. I think there’s an English language reprint coming – right? You’re always far more on the bleeding edge than me.
    Thanks for the OpenID tip. I wondered why it wasn’t being used…

    @rick – We played the vanilla game, as we were fumbling around with the rules. As it happens, the first player did win, but not really due to the UP stock. I see there’s a “variant”:http://spotlightongames.com/variant/up.html at your site. I suppose this variant fixes this problem – it doesn’t have any explanation?

  6. I think the mechanic in Union Pacific is really interesting – and it is tough to know when to invest and when to try and take over a railroad but overall I, too, found the whole track guage thing a bit too fiddly. Which is a shame because, otherwise, the gameplay is very slick. As a pure economics game I think it’s quite sound.

    I can imagine real train buffs getting quite animated about the whole issue of what trains can run over what track but it makes for a confusing game when you’re not sure if dotted black lines can run on smooth white lines or whatever.

    Still I’m happy to play now and then. And your post has reminded me that I need to try out Chicago Express.

  7. Yes, Preußische Ostbahn reprint should be coming, apparently even this Essen, but I’m not 100% sure on that.

  8. No, the variant at my site is something else entirely, but some people use the variant that UP shares are unlimited.

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