Linie 1 (presumably German for "Line 1") is a German-made board game, invented by Stefan Dorra, published by Goldsieber Spiele.

Ever played the old Nintendo/computer game Pipe Dream, or any of its spin-offs? The idea is that you've got some ooze flowing through some pipes, and you have to keep adding sections of pipe to keep it from spilling out. Take this wonderfully addictive concept and turn it into a multi-player board game, and you've got Linie 1.

You, and your opponents, are contractors hired to set up trolley lines in some German city. Unfortunately, none of you are in any mood to cooperate. Furthermore, once someone has laid some track down, it's fair game for anyone to expand and use. What you end up with is a city full of trolley tracks that resemble a bowl of spaghetti.

The board is square, and divided into smaller squares. My copy is back in Canada (and I'm in Korea), so I can't check exactly how many squares, but there are only 126 tiles, so it can't be more than 11x11. My guess would be 10x10. Around the edge of the board are 12 trolley stations, numbered 1 to 6, two of each (like-numbered stations are opposite one another on the board). There are also a number of buildings (museum, movie theater, etc.) scattered around the board, labelled in German.

At the beginning of the game, everyone takes 5 track sections: three straight, two curved. Everyone also takes two cards and secretly looks at them: one shows which line number they are, and the other shows which buildings they must visit (in any order).

On each player's turn, they may play two sections of track, one at a time, drawing tiles to replace them. The other tiles have straight pieces and curved pieces, as well as more exotic pieces, like branches and cross-overs. Players may also replace tiles already on the board with a new tile as one of their moves, providing that all track sections shown on the tile being replaced are also on the new tile. For example, if there's a piece of straight track where you want a right turn, you can replace it with a tile showing a straight track with a branch turning off to the right, but not with a tile showing only a right turn. When you do this, you take the old tile to add to your supply, rather than drawing a new one to replace the one you played. Once tiles are on the board, they have no ownership; anyone can incorporate them into their network if they so desire.

The first piece of track placed orthogonally adjacent to a building gets a trolley stop sign; anyone intending to visit that building must now go past that stop, not any other side of the building.

As soon as a player can trace an unbroken (but, in general, very circuitous and bizarre) path from one of his stations to the other, passing by the buildings shown on his card on the way, he places a little trolley on one of his stations, and starts rolling a special die and advancing his trolley on each turn, rather than placing tiles. The player whose trolley first reaches the end of its route, wins. This means that the first player to finish laying his track doesn't necessarily win; a shorter route completed a few turns later may lead to victory.

But is it fun?

Yes! This is one of my favorite games. The game starts slowly, with people placing track sections here and there on the board, where they think that they might eventually prove useful, while trying not to reveal which line number they are, or where they're going. Sooner or later, people start guessing (correctly or incorrectly) each others' line numbers and destinations, and start strategically placing track sections in order to thwart one another while simultaneously helping themselves. The tracks twist and writhe like a snake in a seizure, as players fight desperately to guide them in the direction they want. Eventually, the game crescendos into a frenzied endgame as players draw tile after tile, hoping desperately for just the right piece to complete their madhouse trolley line.

Although it can be played with as few as two, and as many as six people, I find it best with three or four, leading to just the right amount of chaos and frustration. The rules are simple enough to learn in a very short time, and the game is fun for all ages. If you liked Pipe Dream, or enjoy board games, I'd recommend picking up a copy of this.

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