Stop that doggie on that train. Loose Caboose! Review.

  Loose Caboose There's a caboose on the loose! Lay down numbered track cards in  Loose Caboose!  in a race to keep the caboose from goi...


Loose Caboose

There's a caboose on the loose!

Lay down numbered track cards in Loose Caboose! in a race to keep the caboose from going off the rails. The higher the number, the more dice you must roll to move the caboose. Don't let the train derail or else you'll pick up penalty points. End with the lowest score and you've engineered a win!

Loose Caboose! is the first trained theme game from Gamewright. As with most of their product line the game is easy to pick up and play and only takes a short time to complete with quick rounds that allow for a bunch of fun matches as a warm-up or in between game during big game sessions or as a time filler while waiting for some other activity.  The box is small and in it you find a deck of cards, some dice and a wooden caboose "meeple". All you need is to get a medium sized flat surface to play on.

The game is a push your luck card laying and dice rolling game. The objective is to lay out a shared track ahead of the runaway caboose to prevent it from derailing. You do this with track cards which can connect in different ways as long as they do not overlap, and you do not create a loop. A turn has three steps.

1) Draw a card

2) Add a card and move the caboose OR

2b) Choose to pass

Each card has a point value on them and cards with the same point value can be used together. The points do not stack to a total number, they rather indicate they are of the same "difficulty" group. for example, I am allowed to play three cards with the number two. Or 2two cards with the number 4. 

The number of the card(s) played will be used in the next step of the game, roll dice to see how far the caboose travels. The number that is on the cards played indicated the number of dice to roll, up to a total of 4 dice. 

 Once rolled you move the caboose forward on the track and if you run out of track at the end you will have to pick up a penalty card from the end of the track. One card for each missed "step" You take the card one at a time and put it in front of you on the table in your "penalty pile". If the card you take happens to match the top card of your penalty pile than they cancel each other out and you may remove that card from the pile and discard it together with the track card you just picked up.

This is where the push your luck and strategy come in to play. By looking at the cards in your hand you can decide if pushing forward and play a lot if dice is worth the risk, perhaps you can add cards to the game that are worth a lot of penalty points and setup your opponents. Or you gamble to purposely let the caboose go off track in order to cancel the cards in your penalty pile. 

You always want to try to leave as little room for the next person ahead of the track without going over, let the risk be taken by them while you sit comfortably yourself. If you decide to pass because you cannot or choose not to play, you have to take a penalty card and move the caboose forward 2 track cards. If the caboose is already at the end, then you still get the penalty card, but you skip the move step.

In addition, there are also broken track card to make your life more difficult, If the caboose passes over or stops on this card then you must take a penalty card from the back of the railway and bank it for the duration of the game, it cannot be cancelled out by another card. Brutal.  This however adds another layer of risk vs reward strategy where you can layout this card and hope you will not land on it , setting up the next player or players.

The game is over when the draw pile is empty and the person that drew that last card completes their turn. Once complete you total all the penalty cards in front of you and the person with the fewest penalty points wins. In case of ties the person with the least amount of physical cards has the tiebreaker. If those are the same as well then, they will share the victory and the spoils.

The game is super easy to understand and play and each game take 15-20 minutes to complete. It is suitable for ages 6 and up and supports 2-4 players.  What is fun about it is that even though you might carefully plan out your strategy the tracks coming up in the deck as well as the roll of the dice can really mess with that plan and level things out for the others. This is why it can work so well with smaller kids who just like putting cards down and roll dice as well as adults who want to try to push their finger on the scale and get tactical without truly knowing if it will succeed. To quote a friend who we play tested with "That train had it out for me, something out of Final Destination: The Train-ening" As the game luck had him pick up card after card. Everyone at the table young and old had a good time with this game but I can imagine that for some the big luck factor and simplicity could turn them off. However, I say to them, why so serious? how could you deny yourself some fun, light game play as a palate cleanser and conversation starter?

Final Destination: The Train-ening

If you are looking for a fun game that comes at a price that works even as a fun stocking stuffer, then you should definitely check out Looks Caboose! available at Amazon, Target ,etc. and of course check your Local Game Store. 

About the writer: DadGeek (Rob) is the co-founder of GeeksVsGeeks. He is a product of the eighties and never let go of his geek interest and hobbies no matter how often someone told him to stop. His love for gaming and all things geeks has been part of his parenting style and permeates throughout the whole family. A family of Geeks vs Geeks 


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