How to sabotage the 19:05 to Paris
written by Brendan Mills, Game Designer, 10 Jun 2020
I thought I’d preface this short blog-style post with an anecdote about Stop the Train! Working in London, there’s a 75 minute train journey in from Kent, which I frequently use to catch up on work. One day, I was listing out some new ideas for Intervention Cards. The list was quite short. All I had written across the top of my paper was ‘Hijack the Train‘ followed by a question mark. I was so absorbed in my brainstorming that I didn’t notice the advance of the ticket inspector. Naturally his attention was drawn to the extra-size words written out like a threat across my notepad.
Likewise, sabotaging in Stop the Train isn’t always that easy to hide. So I thought I’d write a little guide on how to play the Saboteur. Now, some play this role better than others, but hopefully arming yourself with a strategy or two will deepen your enjoyment and help you explore the breadth of playing possibilities.
Play it wrong and you will quickly find yourself on the receiving end of an ejection vote at the Emergency Meeting. Suddenly, you are falling down a ravine, with the fate of the train taken out of your hands. Play it clever and you might be able to outwit your adversaries (sorry I mean friends! I must remember that they are friends. At least they were before we boarded this train). Inevitably though, if you are creeping around the engine furnace and shovelling in some extra coal, you’re going to draw suspicion. So, here’s some tips on how to send that train to its final collision.
Tip 1: Ditch the Brakes Cards… selectively!
All the focus in-game is on the Speedometer…how fast are we going. You need to ditch those brakes cards as much as you can, but not all of them! Too much here will get you thrown off a bridge. You need to have some examples of being helpful. So, when you pass cards Effect Cards, always discard Hit the Brakes or Hard Brake… no one will ever know you have done this. Then, buy trust with the next player by passing across one (or more convincingly, two) Apply the Brakes cards. Better still if you can do this when the train is at a high speed.
Tip 2: Masquerade!
Masquerade (with your actions) as a Speedster. In the couple of turns preceding the hill sections, overtly give fast options to the next player, or play a controversial Full Speed Ahead card if you’re the current player. It’s a little risky if someone else is the Speedster, but you can play the Passenger List intervention card and find out if that’s a concern or not!
You can bluff as any character though – obsess over permits to travel as a (faux) Ticket Inspector, be vocal about the Fast Track because you need to get away fast as a (faux) Prisoner of War. Passenger knowledge is power!
Tip 3: Bluffing at the Signal Box
Anything can happen at the Signal Box, so have a strategy in mind. If the train has been travelling at a fast speed thus far, you might be able to execute a clever bluff here – choose to call an Open Vote and opt for the Viaduct. This is the route least likely to be chosen by the Saboteur, so it is a bold bluff. The only risk here is that there’s a couple of Emergency Meetings, but perhaps you’ve managed to do the damage already if you’ve ditched the brakes cards.
Tip 4: J’accuse!
In true ‘Werewolf’ fashion, you can outright accuse another player of sabotage. Bolster your argument by spying on their last Effect Card or their ID card, but wait until they have done something with the Effect Cards or Intervention Cards that could be construed as suspicious. Divert those accusations and put the heat on someone else. Do this just before the Emergency Meeting and back up your story by voting for them. If you uncover an MI6 Agent, well that could change things!
Tip 5: Brazen, Overt Sabotage!
Bluffing in the hidden traitor role might not be for you, so why not go fully overt? This works especially well if there’s a Stuntman or an MI6 Agent aboard. Again, use the passenger list to work out the strategy. Even if there is not, you might find some helpful intervention cards to keep you from being ejected: Hang On or Occupied. You can also cause havoc beyond the Effect Cards with Jam the Controls, Run the Red and Gun to the Head.
Pair the information you have gathered with the opportunities that arise to make more creative sabotage strategies. Choose your intervention cards wisely and strike when you can. And remember, if you can, don’t stop the train!