One player drives a trolley that is rapidly approaching an intersection in the tracks. They have a decision to make.
Two teams have one track each. Both tracks are littered with a mixture of positive things (innocent people, the knowledge of the known universe, the world’s supply of donuts), and negative things (serial killers, the guy who invented talking radio commercials, the cast of the Big Bang Theory).
In Trial By Trolley, you work with your team to appeal to the morality of the trolly driver, in the hopes that they will choose to spare your team’s track in favour of mowing down whatever waits on the tracks belonging to the opposing team.
It’s an unusual game- one that relies on humour, imagination, and weaponizing philosophy to find a reason why a mermaid’s life should be more treasured than a plant that contains the cure to all known diseases (yes, that’s a stretch- but that’s kinda the point).
Trial By Trolley is best played in a party environment. It’s a game that falls under the “argument stimulator” umbrella, like werewolf and other deductive reasoning games before it, teams will (playfully) debate the moral quandary of each track.
Like the other Cyanide and Happiness games, Joking Hazard, Trial by Trolley has a distinct visual style that mimics the brand’s web comic and videos.
One of my favourite things about Trial By Trolley is the way the cards connect visually with each other to build the tracks, and build the scene of what awaits the trolley should the driver decide to take that track.
The humour in Trial By Trolley doesn’t punch down in the same way that other “joke” games tend to do. In the three games I’ve played, I haven’t seen any jokes and the expense of marginalised people, and while the jokes aren’t what you’d call “family friendly”, that can be enjoyed by teens and adults.
At its heart, Trial By Trolley is a game about humour, and then takes that humour a step further into the realm of philosophy. Sometimes the cards open a wider, even metaphysical discussion that you’re not always ready for.
For example, running over a crystal that “is said to contain an apocalypse demon” sounds like a bad idea. But if it’s your job to justify why the trolley driver should run over it, you’ll start thinking about it more. “It’s SAID to contain an apocalypse demon, but we don’t know for sure.” “What IS an apocalypse? Do we know what that looks like?” “If demons are real, as this crystal would suppose, does that mean we can fight it with religion?”
Trial By Trolley is what you make of it. Playing it with my regular board game group on a Friday night over a few drinks was a vastly different experience to playing it with my parents and a Doctor of Philosophy the following night. Both sessions were super enjoyable, but for different reasons, and I can’t recall another game that offered such a malleable experience.
Trial By Trolley, like Joking Hazard, contains several hundred cards. While the same card may come up more than once, the fact that they are played with 2 others will always change the situation, the joke, and the moral quandary at hand.
Trial By Trolley is available to preorder right now from your local Good Games store, and online.