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On our Boston trip, Brian introduced me to an iPad game called “Trainyard.” Excellent.

Your goal is to shepherd colored trains from starting depots to the proper exit stations, indicated by matching colors. When trains meet, they share colors, so a blue train that bumps into a yellow train becomes green. If the trains meet on merging track, they join to become a single train; if they pass in opposite or perpendicular directions, they continue on their separate routes, becoming two trains sharing a compound color. So it’s not enough simply to lay track from point A to point B; you must arrange the trips so that trains meet (or not) in such a way as to get the right number of the proper colors to satisfy the stations’ color code. Timing can be crucial.

To accomplish all this, you lay your track all at once, push the GO button, and hope you planned everything out properly. The automated flicking of shunting switches on branching track often force you back to the drawing board. There is very little space to work with: just a 7×7 grid. On the tougher puzzles, this doesn’t seem like enough, but there’s always a way. In keeping with the iPad’s communicative nature, players can share their solutions—allowing cheaters to give up and look at the answer, and egotists to compete for shortest/fastest/simplest design.

Altogether excellent. I’m not buying an iPad just to play it, but I eagerly await a PC port.

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