OBJECTIVE OF LOOSE CABOOSE: Be the player with the fewest penalty points at the end of the game
NUMBER OF PLAYERS: 2 – 4 players
MATERIALS: 50 train track cards, 4 movement dice, 1 wooden caboose token
TYPE OF GAME: Push your luck card game
AUDIENCE: Ages 6+
OVERVIEW OF LOOSE CABOOSE!
Loose Caboose is a train themed dice and card game that combines many different enjoyable game mechanisms. Manage your hand of cards and play as many as you wish to extend the train track. The number on the cards played determines how many dice you will roll. There are wheels on the dice that cause the caboose to move down the track a specific number of spaces. Be careful of how many dice you roll because derailing the caboose incurs a penalty.
This game is a simple design with a really smart layer of complexity added to it. With proper planning, you can mitigate penalty points by purposefully derailing the caboose and canceling matching cards out of your penalty pile.
WHAT’S IN THE BOX
The fifty included track cards are used to extend the train track and the caboose’s potential movement. Four custom dice are rolled to determine how many spaces the caboose is moved. A little wooden red caboose moves happily down the tracks..
Shuffle the deck of train track cards and place three face up to form the beginning track. Place the wooden caboose token on the center track and decide as a group which way the train will travel. Remove a number of cards from the top of the deck based on the player count: 13 cards for a two player game, 11 cards for a three player game, and 7 cards for a four player game. Put those cards back in the box. Finally, deal two cards to each player from the now-shortened deck. Any leftover cards are placed face down to form a draw pile. Be sure to leave space for each player to have a penalty card pile near them.
Begin your turn by drawing one card from the draw pile. Next, you must choose one of two actions: add tracks & move the caboose, or pass.
ADD TRACKS AND MOVE THE CABOOSE
Play one or more cards of the same number from your hand and add them to the front of the track. The front is determined by which direction the caboose is heading. Cards may be placed horizontally or vertically so that train tracks are connected, and they must be placed adjacently to the front card. They cannot overlap or close off the track by making more connections unavailable.
For example, a player may place one card with a 4 on it, or they may place multiple cards that all have a 4 on them.
After playing one or more cards, you roll dice to move the caboose. The number of dice you roll is determined by the number on the card or cards you played. Staying in line with the above example, you would roll four dice after playing the 4’s to the track. How many cards you play does not impact how many dice are rolled.
Once the dice are rolled, add up the number of wheels showing. That number determines how many spaces the caboose must move forward. If the caboose is still on the track at the end of the movement, your turn is over. However, a caboose that would move off of the track is derailed! You are penalized for this.
The penalty is to collect cards from the back of the track equal to the number of spaces the caboose is unable to move. If the caboose has to move 4 spaces, and you can only move two, collect two penalty cards from the back end of the track. Those cards go in your penalty pile.
Be sure to collect penalty cards one at a time and place them in your penalty pile face up and in the order you collected them. It is possible that the caboose is on the last remaining card leaving you unable to collect your penalty from the track. Draw the remainder of your penalty from the draw pile.
Whenever you are about to add a card to your penalty pile, and the number of that card matches the top card of the pile, remove both cards. Add them to the discard pile. It is possible for multiple penalty cards to be canceled out during a turn. One card can only cancel out one other card. Please note, you are allowed to look at your penalty card pile and plan for penalty card cancellations.
Within the deck are four broken track cards. Landing on or passing through one of these cards incurs a penalty draw. Take one card from the back end of the track and place it face down on the bottom of your penalty pile. Face down cards cannot be canceled out.
Once you are done playing cards, rolling, and potentially collecting penalty cards, your turn ends. The next player now goes.
Rather than playing cards and moving the caboose, you are allowed to pass on your turn. If you choose to pass, move the caboose one card forward (if possible) and collect one penalty card. Your turn ends and play passes on.
WINNING LOOSE CABOOSE
The game ends once the draw pile is empty, and the person who draws the final card completes their turn. There is a chance the final player will have to draw penalty cards from the draw pile. If this happens, shuffle the discard pile and form a new draw pile.
After the final player’s turn, everyone places their remaining hand cards on their own penalty pile (no canceling allowed). Each player tallies up their score by adding the value of their penalty cards together (including the upside down cards). The player with the lowest score wins. If the game ends in a tie, the player with the fewest penalty cards wins.