Loaded Iron: Review

If you’re in the business of making money, we’ve got some work for you. Fulfill contracts by loading train cars with appropriate materials and you just might get out of here with some profit!

About the Game

Loaded Iron is a 2-4 player game that lasts exactly 30 minutes. Players take turns playing cards which are either train cars, or cargo to go onto those train cards. Each card has a point value for end game scoring, as well as requirements to play the card and how much power it takes a locomotive to pull that card.

Players start with a hand of ten cards, five of them being cargo, and five of them being train cards. On a player’s turn, she may draw up to three cards, or play up to three cards. These cards may be drawn or played in any combination of cargo and cars.

If a player chooses to play cards on her turn, she must first have played two car cards: a locomotive to pull the whole train, and a coal car to support the locomotive. Once those two car cards have been played, a player may play any car cards she would like, with one exception. Locomotives are only able to pull enough “power” to equal 20. Each card has a power cost. Once 20 has been met, no other cards may be played on that train. Players may have as many trains as they may play, as long as the trains begin with a locomotive and coal car.

Players may play cargo cards onto opponent’s trains during the game as well. Why would you do this? Well, after the 30 minutes are up, if you still have a cargo card in your hand, it is valued at double negative value. So while you will be rewarding opponents with points, you won’t be losing double points. Players add up their points at the end of the game, subtract cargo card points at double value left in hand, and if they have any trains which held the same cargo throughout the whole train, that player earns a bonus 1000 points. That’s Loaded Iron!

Final Thoughts

Mechanics

Loaded Iron is a very easy game to follow. Players only have two options: draw cards, or play cards. There is no hand limit to worry about, and players only need to pay attention to the power they pull.

Rules

The copy I received was a PnP prototype, with rules to match. I had no issues reading through the rules though, so I would consider it close to complete.

Art

It is difficult to judge the artwork, as I received a black and white copy.

Product Quality

As previously mentioned, I received a Print and Play copy in black and white, so I am unable to form an opinion on product quality.

Is It Fun?

Loaded Iron makes for a nice filler to play with new gamers. It is very accessible, and easy to play. I personally found it to be fun, yet lacking and a little frustrating. Players do not begin the game with a locomotive and coal card in hand. This means players could go rounds and rounds of drawing cards with no locomotive in sight. If I were to make adjustments to the game, I would “house rule” that each player begins with one locomotive and one coal card, and all additional locomotive and coal cards would need to be drawn. I also found that 30 minutes is a long time to play a game with few options. I yearned for more action options, since you may only draw or play cards. Despite this, I can recognize the strategy in the game. Assuring you don’t overload your train, attempting to balance the power cost with the card value and establish a train that may earn bonus points, and in the final minutes, looking for ways to prevent yourself from losing points. You also may find that you also sabotage your opponents in the final minutes if you play a cargo card on one of their cars, when they intended to do so themselves. This could lead to your opponent having the cargo in their hand at the end of the game instead of you. While strategy exists, I wish more action options existed to make the game more strategic. Perhaps the option to cycle cards from your hand, or play cars into your opponent’s trains, which could ruin their attempts at bonus points.

I found the 30 minute time frame to be interesting. I’m not sure if I would prefer rounds since I am not used to many timed games, but the 30 minute time limit worked just fine, and goes with the theme of a train station only having a limited amount of time to load cars and get them on their way.

If you are looking for an accessible filler card game with light strategy, you will enjoy Loaded Iron. For more information about the game, visit the game’s page on BoardGameGeek, or FGX Games’ website.

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