We were kindly gifted Mass Transit by Calliope Games to review. Having been huge fans of Tsuro, we were excited to find this game has the unique movement mechanics that we’ve known from this publisher but the game itself has its own style.
Mass Transit is easy to learn but challenging to beat! This game could be explained to anyone within just a few minutes. You are cooperatively trying to get six meeples home from a traffic jam either by boat, train, or car (or a combination). Every meeple starts in the center square, and players play 2+ cards on their turn to try and create routes home. The catch is that you have to use a walk card to initially get each meeple off of the platform.
That doesn’t sound hard! But wait. There are three more things to keep in mind — you cannot communicate your strategy to your teammates first of all. Eep! Secondly, you have cards with exclamation points that MUST be played on your current turn if in hand. Third, once the stack runs out–which happens quickly–and you cannot play anymore cards, the game is over.
In particular we loved that you had to play certain cards with exclamation marks right away because it could throw off your current strategy in two seconds. If you had the perfect route in mind, a stubborn yellow card with traffic stops could mean a much harder game.
Once you are on one of the three types of routes, if there is a bubble with a transportation image on it, you can jump from there to the next card with that same bubble by discarding the appropriate transportation card. Example: If you are on a boat route with a boat bubble, you can jump to another boat bubble by discarding a boat card. (That’s a lot of boats). However, if you have a yellow card with a traffic light on the route you’re on, you must stop there and can only walk off the card with either a walk card or a transportation card that matches your route. While yellow cards are frustrating, they are sort of necessary to keep the game from being easy.
Another great feature of the game is the clever way the center piece was built–they are four puzzle pieces that fit into each other to create a plaza type platform. The cards line up one after another to create the routes in a creative display. Sometimes it is difficult to line up the cards exactly, but that is more of a personal preference.
We found this game surprisingly more challenging because of the yellow traffic stops, the brevity of the game (one stack of cards), and not communicating strategy to each other. It is addicting to keep trying to win!
This game adds a new flavor to our collection that we are happy to have. We played as two player but could see this as also being extremely fun with a group.
Language Barrier Playability: If this game rules are explained in someone’s language, the rest revolves entirely on symbolism!
Replayability: A wonderful amount of replayability as each game is different based on the cards you get and how you play them.
Artwork: Clean, reminiscent of street signs in a way which works with the city feel. The meeples are adorable with little outfit stickers of different professions.
Quality: Nice quality cards and wooden figures, the stickers are a teeny bit hard to place perfectly but not bad!
Strategy: While you cannot discuss strategy with your teammates, we found it best in our multiple runs to save the green walk cards for initially getting meeples off of the platform and not ending most of the routes right away so you don’t run out of options in playing cards too soon.
Instruction Manual: Short and easy to learn.
Organization: When the main platform made of four large puzzle pieces is broken apart to be put away, it is silly how hard it can be to figure out the direction to put them away! But once you’ve got it, you’ve got it (mostly). Otherwise, the box is super compact and everything fits nicely without shuffling around.