Dale of Merchants 3: The Grand Continental Railway Game Review

Please note: Dale of Merchants 3 is a standalone game. You do not need any of the other games in the Dale of Merchants series to play it. In addition, Dale of Merchants 3 can seamlessly be incorporated with the original game or any expansions in the series. We ask that you read the Dale of Merchants Game Review to learn how to play the game. We will focus only on what is new to this game for this review.

The Basics:

  • For ages 10 and up
  • For 2 to 4 players
  • Approximately 30 minutes to complete

Geek Skills:

  • Active Listening & Communication
  • Counting & Math
  • Logical & Critical Decision Making
  • Reading
  • Pattern/Color Matching
  • Strategy & Tactics
  • Hand/Resource Management

Learning Curve:

  • Child – Moderate
  • Adult – Easy

Theme & Narrative:

  • Seek new fortunes thanks to advanced steam technology


  • Gamer Geek approved!
  • Parent Geek approved!
  • Child Geek approved!


French novelist, poet, and playwright, Jules Verne, said: “Trains, like time and tide, stop for no one.”. Heavy powerful, trains will travel on their tracks, laboring with their load, no matter the weather. In the world of commerce, the railroad system opened new corridors to profit and opportunity. Prosperity can now be found in distant corners of the land that could only be traveled to by foot. For you, a savvy merchant always on the lookout for new markets, the rails offer a gateway to new riches, but the competition is always fierce.

Dale of Merchants 3: The Grand Continental Railway, designed by Sami Laakso and published by Snowdale Design, is comprised of 110 cards, one game board, and one custom six-sided die. The cards are as thick and as durable as your standard playing card. Illustrations, also by Sami Laakso and new artist Jesús Delgado, are colorful and bright, bringing each of the animals to life and furthering the game’s theme.

What’s New

As mentioned in the heading, we will only focus on what is new since the game is absolutely the same as documented in the Dale of Merchants Game Review. In most cases, what is new is really just a refinement of the original rules, making the game better.

New Merchants To Contend and Partner With

Dale of Merchants 3 introduces six new animals to play with. As with all the Dale of Merchants games, each animal has its own deck that introduces different playing styles, tactics, and strategies.

  • Archiving Dessert Monitors are masters of controlling the location of cards with the special ability to discard and pick up cards in the player’s hand and discard pile. A worthy entry into the game and a game-changer. New players and long-time enthusiasts will enjoy the simple ease of card control the Monitors bring to the table.
  • Discontent White-headed Lemurs are perfect for those players who cannot make up their minds and want to try different approaches on a whim. Lemurs can replace cards by getting rid of those in the player’s hand, providing plenty of opportunities to shift gears early, mid, and late game.
  • Scheming Green Magpies allow players to steal cards from their opponents, but not blindly. Like the real-life magpies, players must be particular about what they are looking for. You’ll need to observe your opponents, taking note of what cards they collect, if you truly want to utilize the magpies to their full and powerful potential.
  • Sharing Short-beaked Echidnas believe that sharing is caring, and they care a lot. Players who recruited these animal merchants will gain access to just about everyone else cards, but not without offering something in return. Make use of the echidnas if you believe that player interaction and sometimes forced cooperation is the right tactic to victory!
  • Superstitious Snowshoe Hares use luck (via the die) to help manipulate and control the market, but not blindly. The snowshoe hares know that believing in luck fully is a fool’s choice. Players can reroll the dice and tempt fate again if fate does not smile on them, thanks to their superstitious attitude.
  • Prepared Grizzled Tree-kangaroos are not mischievous or scheming by nature, but they cannot help themselves with such easy access to others’ front pockets. Hiding things feels right and creating diversions to remove unwanted attention appears to be in their second nature. All in good fun, mind you, and a great animal merchant to have on hand even if the competition isn’t playing dirty.

To learn more about Dale of Merchants 3, visit the game’s webpage.

Final Word

The Child Geeks were eager to adopt the new animal decks and enjoyed using them both as a standalone and mixed with the other cards in the Dale of Merchants series. Of course, each Child Geeks had their favorite, but none of the new animals were left to the side. According to one Child Geek, “More great cards to play with. At this point, I don’t really see the differences anymore. Each animal brings something slightly different, but each is always really fun to play with.” Another Child Geek said, “Yeah! More animals! The game is great because there are so many options without learning a lot about each animal. Just pick and go!” The Child Geeks played the game multiple times, mixing and matching, finding that their love of these animal merchants was strong.

The Parent Geeks were also satisfied, but I don’t say impressed. According to one Parent Geek, “I think this is just more goodness to the game. I didn’t see much in the way that was overly new, other than the subtle ways each of the new decks allows the player to craft their road to victory. I actually like this because it allows us to shift our thinking in subtle ways versus radically upsetting everything I really enjoy about the game series.” Another Parent Geek said, “Just more goodness. Like an extra dollop of whipped cream on a tasty pie. Yes, please! Is it too much, though? Never! How can you go wrong with more opportunities to enjoy the game? You can’t!” The Parent Geeks thought the new cards in the series were a welcome addition, if not specifically asked for or needed. Regardless, it got their vote for full approval.

The Gamer Geeks, like the Parent Geeks, were happy to play with new cards but didn’t feel the game really needed it. Still, they were delighted to find that each of the new animals did – indeed – offer a new approach, albeit a bit too subtle at times. According to one Gamer Geek, “I like the fact that the game designer is still working on new and interesting ways to approach the game. But right now, I don’t know, feels like a few of these decks are just shifting their approach to a very slight angle and calling it new. I don’t think there is anything terribly needed or missing from the original game, and I don’t think this expansion or addition or whatever we want to call it is needed. That said, I’m glad to have access to it. The game is still fun, and these new cards never changed that.” Another Gamer Geek said, in a much less wordy review response, “Good stuff. Enjoyed it.” When all the Gamer Geeks were done with their games, they voted without hesitation to fully approve Dale of Merchants 3, which is an addition. Not an expansion. I need to make that clear.

Dale of Merchants 3 is similar to another great music track on an already great gold album. It blends in and provides value to the whole and is also just plain good by itself. That said, is it needed? Of course not. And nor was Dale of Merchants 2: The Era of Trade Masters or Dale of Merchants Collection. The original game was solid, stood alone, and was good enough. But one cannot argue that the original game also left the door open to other possibilities. None of which were necessary to patch holes or address the missing depth of play. Each of the additions to the game extends the original idea, revitalized with a new and different approach. So, needed? Nope. Wanted? You bet! It’s always boring to take the same path. The brain needs new experiences and things to ponder. This addition does just that and does it just as well as the other additions that came before it.

A quick word to those looking to get into this game or already have a few of the Dale of Merchant series on your shelves today. If you are new to the game, I still believe the original Dale of Merchants is the best foot in the door, but if you only purchased Dale of Merchants 3, you won’t be doing yourself a disservice. It’s solid and complete. And for those of you who already have everything, Dale of Merchants 3 will slide right into your games with almost zero effort. If you are lucky enough to own Dale of Merchants Collection, you’ll be pleased to know there is more than enough room to store this addition with all other others.

Do travel this railroad with the newest animal merchants to learn if they help or hinder your goals of merchant domination. I hope you enjoy the trip.

This game was given to Father Geek as a review copy. Father Geek was not paid, bribed, wined, dined, or threatened in vain hopes of influencing this review. Such is the statuesque and legendary integrity of Father Geek.

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About Cyrus

Editor in Chief, Owner/Operator, Board Game Fanatic, Father of Three, and Nice Guy, Cyrus has always enjoyed board, card, miniature, role playing, and video games, but didn't get back into the hobby seriously until early 2000. Once he did, however, he was hooked. He now plays board games with anyone and everyone he can, but enjoys playing with his children the most. Video games continue to be of real interest, but not as much as dice and little miniatures. As he carefully navigates the ins and outs of parenting, he does his very best to bestow what wisdom he has and help nurture his children's young minds. It is his hope and ambition to raise three strong, honorable men who will one day go on to do great things and buy their Mom and Dad a lobster dinner. Cyrus goes by the handle fathergeek on Board Game Geek. You can also check him out on CyrusKirby.com. Yes, he has a URL that is his name. His ego knows no bounds, apparently....

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