Freedom: The Underground Railroad Review

freedom the underground railroad review

Year Published: 2012 | Number of Players: 1-4 | Game Length: 60+ minutes

I’m a pretty big fan of historical games, so I couldn’t wait to do this Freedom: The Underground Railroad review. I did worry that the theme would be a little too heavy for some people, but it’s a cooperative game and was known for being tough, so I had to talk my group into playing it.


What is Freedom: The Underground Railroad?

In Freedom: The Underground Railroad, your goal is to help end slavery in North America by shuttling slaves from plantations in the south to Canada. You must evade slave catchers, gain support, raise funds, and make sure to keep things moving as more slaves are brought into the plantations.

Freedom: The Underground Railroad  was created by Brian Mayer and published by Academy Games.


Freedom: The Underground Railroad Gameplay

freedom the underground railroad board game review

Players select role cards at the beginning of the game, which tell them the special abilities that they will have. Together they must move slaves, represented by cubes, from plantations in the south across the United States and into Canadian territory.

During the slave catchers’ turn, they make a random movement based on the roll of a die. The slave catchers move if their color is rolled, and will catch slaves if they end up on the same space. When slaves are caught, they are moved to the Slave Market. If the Slave Market is full, then those slaves are “lost” and are moved to the Slaves Lost card. If the Slaves Lost card is ever filled up, then the players have lost.

Players must be fundraising, gaining support tokens, and gaining conductor tokens throughout the game. You also want to use some of your actions to buy cards, which can help you accomplish your goals faster. If the players do not move enough slaves across the border within eight turns, win enough support, or lose too many slaves, they lose the game.

That’s a very brief overview of the game. If you want to learn exactly how to play Freedom: The Underground Railroad, check out the official rulebook (PDF).


Check out Freedom: The Underground Railroad at Amazon


Pros

  • As we noted above, this is a very thematic game, which is usually a good thing when it comes to co-op games. The detail in which the historical information is integrated into the game is truly impressive.
  • The theme also makes everyone want to work cooperatively to save as many slaves as possible. It’s the Pandemic effect times 10 since you know that these terrible things happened in real life and you really don’t want to let the bad guys beat you.
  • No one is going to “love the theme” in Freedom: The Underground Railroad, but most will say that they love the way that the theme is implemented. It’s a game full of history, and it is great that they put some text on all of the cards to let you know who each of the people were and how they impacted the movement. It’s educational, but it definitely isn’t boring!

Cons

  • This is a difficult game to beat, especially on the harder levels, which some people won’t like. People who have played and enjoyed other difficult cooperative games will probably love the challenge, but newcomers might want to check out some other games first.
  • The theme in Freedom: The Underground Railroad, while well implemented, may not work for some people. This game covers a very dark part of human history, which does take some time to adjust to. There were two people in my group who liked the game for the most part, but they hated the fact that they had to “sacrifice” some slaves to save the others.

Final Thoughts

Freedom: The Underground Railroad is a solid game that deals with a really heavy time period. If you enjoy historical games and/or ones that make you work hard for your victory, this will be right up your alley. It might not be a game that you will play a lot, but it’s a co-op game that most people would be happy to own.


Freedom: The Underground Railroad Links

BoardGameGeek | Amazon | CoolStuffInc | eBay


Thanks for taking the time to read our Freedom: The Underground Railroad review!

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