Railway Rivals

Railway Rivals is a game by David Watts. These are the Variable Pig house rules and best used in conjunction with the official FTF rules V6.


1. Each player is a railway company. They build a network of lines trying to link the most towns by the best routes. Hills and rivers get in the way; and soon the other players do too. In the second half of the game, players race trains from town to town. Their earnings can be used to build more track, to earn more revenue. The winner is the player with most money in the bank at the end.

2. Except where noted, these rules are based on the 6th edition of the normal Railway Rivals rules.

3. The GM decides all disputed points.

4. Players may correspond, make and break agreements etc.

5. There are 12 rounds, 6 building and 6 operating.

Game Setup

1. The GM advertises the number of players required (e.g. 4-6) and starts the game when sufficient players have signed up.

2. The list of players are announced with a request to supply the following details:

3. The GM then has to decide who gets what start town. This can be done in a number of ways, such as:

4. For colours, the GM can use the same process as towns but note that many regular players have a preferred colour. Note also that certain colour combinations may not have sufficient contrast, or the GM may not have a pen of that colour (if using a paper map) so will have to be changed.

5. The results of the above are reported in the zine (sometimes called round 0) together with the rolls for round 1.

Building Stage

1. There are normally 6 building rounds. The GM sets 3 die rolls, so all players have the same building allowance. The rolls will be decided using the best 3 of 4D6 (rolls including two or more 1's are excluded). Moves by all players are simultaneous; but if you enter a hex even one hex behind an opponent, payment will be required.

2. Normally, to build from one hex to the next costs one. hills and wide rivers increase construction costs. Crossing a river costs three; building into or out of a hill costs three. From one hill to another costs five; so is crossing a river while building into or out of a hill. All these costs are paid by the die roll, and do not go onto accounts.

3. Payments to rivals. Except at towns, entry to any hex already used by a rival involves payment to them. It costs one to join or cross their line. To build alongside their track costs two per half hex, as well as the one for joining. If there are two companies already there, you pay both of them. There are no payments within towns. Some boards have town hexes bordering each other, a payment of one per half hex is made to build alongside a rivals track in this case. All payments are made from the accounts.

4. All lines entering a hex are considered to join at the centre.

5. Where two players build track in the same hex during the same round (but not simultaneously) payments are reduced by half, plus the normal joining fee.

6. Each player can extend his lines, and add branches, as they like. But their track must be continuous. No-one can start building a piece of track that does not join their existing line. A throw may be used to build in two or more places. Throws, or parts of throws, can not be saved or added to another throw.

7. Each player starts with a capital of 20 units. Besides payments to rivals, the first player to reach town has an income of 6 units. If two or more players arrive simultaneously then the income is split between them. This does not include the starting towns.

8. If a player's builds involve paying over 15 units to one other player, they pay in full but the other player receives only 15 units.

9. Players' companies can go into debt at any time; interest is 20% per round.

10. Builds are written thus: a, b, c refer to the three rolls. The start point is enclosed in (). Use town names when they are built to or through. Other conventions often used are a semi-colon when parts of the same build are split over two locations, and multiple dashes to show the number of pips used, such as when crossing a river.
Example: 3a. [5] (S14) - - S16; (P9) --- P10

11. All builds are firm, and not conditional on what other players do.

Operating Stage

1. Players now compete to carry traffic between towns. Players use their own track free, but pay 1 per hex to run on other players' lines. Some games have special runs explained on the board.

2. Actual racing is done by the GM using an average die.

3. Each key number is used once in rounds 7-9 and once in rounds 10-12. There are 6 operating rounds: For maps with 36 numbers only there are 6 races per round and players may enter up to 4. For maps with 36 numbers plus 6 specials, there a 7 races per round (2 of the 14 destinations being specials) and players may enter either 4 or 5 races as directed by the GM.

4. Each sector (sector 1 = 11-16) must occur twice in each round. For maps with the usual 36 + 6 specials, each of the fifteen combinations of two sectors, plus the six combinations of sector + special should occur once in each set of three rounds. See table below:


Ideally, the same race should not occur twice in the same game. This may be difficult to achieve for maps with a lot of double or triple numbered towns, so it's not a hard rule. There is also an alpha test version of an online race generator on this site.

5. The minimum length of any race is determined by the GM at the start of the game, based on the map in play. It is typically 3 or 6 hexes. For games in Variable Pig, it will be 3 unless otherwise stated.

6. There are four types of run:

Normally XRP are for the same race, they may be extended to cover races in the same round. In joint runs, orders from the 2 players must agree. In XRP payments to and from the partner and to other players must be specified.

7. Routes must be clearly indicated to the GM, giving all payments to others. Ambiguities are interpreted in the worst possible way.
Example: Chipping Sodbury to X15 on own line, pay 3 to CHUFF to X18, then own line to Trowbridge.

8. A run with no entrants is held over and offered as an extra next round (except in the final round). In Variable Pig games these are freebies (do not count towards the race entry limit) - other options commonly played are one extra race per 2 holdovers, or no change to the race limit at all.

9. The winner earns 20 units, second gets 10, all others get nothing. Income from joint runs is shared (as are costs). In the event of a tie, both players get 15 points.

10. Instead of the above, some maps use the Bus Boss scoring rules, see para 31 here. Note that where this is the case, race entrants whose track lengths are more than double that of the shortest track for the race are disqualified.

11. Extra track may be built at the end of each round. The total length of the track that may be built is 10 units after round 7, and decreases by 2 units in each succeeding round. All payments are made from accounts and are as in the building stage. Some maps may have different numbers of build units allowable - GM to advise.


Most RR maps these days are created using graphic tools. This site hosts a GIMP plugin for Rivals map drawing (v0.0.2) and tutorial