Saturday, September 30, 2023

Mass Transit Provides Perfect Vehicle For Strategizing

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“It’s quittin’ time in the Big City, and rush hour is about to begin!” Designed by Chris Leder and Kevin Rodgers, and with art by Mark Quire comes Mass Transit from Calliope Games.

“Work together in Mass Transit to build transit routes and run vehicles out to the Suburbs. Players must work skillfully together, but the twist is that communication is limited: players cannot tell each other what cards they have in their hands or share their strategies, so planning moves is tricky.” The game offers a solo mode and multi-player mode, making it versatile and fun without always needing a group to play with! Plus the caveats on communicating add to the gameplay.

This game is actually one of three games successfully Kickstarted last year by Calliope Games and you can see the others in the video below.

What’s in the Box?

  • 1 Big City board
  • 52 Mass Transit cards
  • 6 Commuter pawns
  • Game rules
mass transit game pieces

As always we like to point out the quality of the game pieces because not all cardboard is the same! Fortunately, this game comes with high quality commuter pawns and the transit cards have a good weight which is important when placing so many down on a table. Plus the board locks together in the box neatly which is just a great touch.

How’s it Play?

Mass Transit is a really fun and easy to learn game for transit enthusiasts of any age. Playing with a group of people offers a really fun collaborative experience, and the pace of the game can start to go really quickly once everyone has a solid grip on the rules. The game also offers “Mass Transit Solitaire”, a game mode played by a single player with the same rules as a game with multiple players. While there are many single player tabletop games on the market, many of them have much more complex rulebooks than Mass Transit, and it is nice to see something that can be quickly picked up and understood by everyone. 

The goal to get every person home from the Big City is one that can be completed in a multitude of ways, but it can also be prevented in a multitude of ways as well. Players can use their cards in two ways: they can extend routes for the commuters, or they can discard cards to move the commuters away from the city towards their homes in the Suburbs via a certain mode of transportation.

Each mode of transportation — bus, ferry, and train — can be delayed by Traffic Stops on the route, or completely cut off by Dead End Transit Lines, forcing the commuter to walk to the next station before being able to travel again. There are also Urgent Cards that can throw a wrench in the player’s plans as they are cards that must be played when they are in a player’s hand. 

The Verdict?

I will say that the more players there are, the harder the game can be. Once cards are discarded, they cannot be reused, and the game has the possibility of ending in failure if the group runs out of cards to draw from and if they don’t have cards left in their hand. Even so, it is very hard to get discouraged by a loss of the game, and the short play time means that there are ample opportunities for a group of players to win the game many times over. While a Solitaire style game reduces the risk of running out of cards, there is the added challenge of not being able to strategize with anyone else along with a more limited range of movement on the board.

Whether playing Mass Transit by yourself or with friends, the game never fails to be a fun time. The straightforward concept and rules allow for new players to jump in with little hesitation, and any person who becomes a regular player will easily be able to teach friends and family the ropes and pull them in for a few games as well. The solo mode of the game is a greatly appreciated element, and it’s a nice touch on an already well rounded transit strategy game.

You can pick up Mass Transit from Calliope Games for $15 once it releases!

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Images and review copy courtesy of Calliope Games

Edited to add clarity around discarding cards and ending the game.

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  • Kathryn

    Kathryn spends her free time watching a variety of TV shows and movies, and holds an affection for strategy games of all kinds. pc: nonartisticart

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