Please Note: play money is not provided.
Stop me if you've heard this one before: this is a game in which players invest in train companies, build a rail network, and pay out dividends. The player with the most money - cash on hand plus value of their stocks - wins the game, and the publisher didn't even have the decency to put any play money in the box. Yes, friends, it's another choo-choo game, and you're probably wondering what makes it any different than the other choo-choo games on your choo-choo game shelf.
The title Dual Gauge refers to the fact that there are two kinds of track - standard gauge and narrow. Standard is more expensive and more efficient, while narrow gauge is cheaper and rather inefficient. These rectangular track tiles are laid across adjacent hexsides, and all companies are able to utilize a shared track network provided they are connected to it. Different types of track will of course call for different types of trains. Stock purchases put funds in the company coffers, and the company uses this money to pay for track. Trains, on the other hand, are paid for in stock value itself. Those trains can also be "rusted" by the purchase of newer models. Companies can also "token" station spaces on the map, increasing their routes while potentially blocking access for rivals. These, too, are paid for in stock value, by decreasing that value by an entire row in the game's capricious two-dimensional stock market.
This is not only a game, but a game system played on multiple maps. Each map has unique twists, and a set of companies with unique asymmetric abilities. What happened is, Mary told Tom that Tom needed to design a new train game once a year, and Tom thought that sounded like an awful lot of work, and being generally lazy, tried to find a loophole. "Aha! If I design a new train game system, I just need to do a new map or two and that will fulfill Mary's requirement." Tom was already quite deep into the work when Mary explained that this did not in fact satisfy that quota, and so in addition to a new train game every year, Tom also needed to come up with new Dual Gauge maps. "Curses! Foiled again!"
That works out okay for you, though, because that means a continual supply of new and exciting challenges for you and your friends. This base set gets the party started with two maps. Portugal is intended as an introduction to the system, but asks players to contend with difficult mountainous terrain. The challenging Detroit map, set in part of Michigan's Lower Peninsula, finds players taking on debt to keep underfunded railroads afloat, all with an eye toward reaching Chicago and its double-route bonus.
Also, there is a cat on the Priority Deal marker. Her name is Monster.
Designer: Tom Russell
Map Art: Ilya Kudriashov
Hex Number: 57
Duration: 60-90 minutes
Solitaire Suitability: Low