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Pocket Trains is generally seen as a cute and cuddly, free-to-play game, but if you're a hardcore gamer with a hunger and fascination with trains, this page is for you.


[edit] Basics

[edit] Choosing cars

Pocket Trains is more logistics based than Pocket Planes, but a similar feature shared by Pocket Trains and its predecessor is how cargo is priced.

Pocket Trains determines how much you get per car by the "value rating" of the car, which acts as a multiplier, and by how far it needs to go to reach its destination. For example: all Gasoline cars have 4 coins underneath them while all Water cars have 1 coin. Between any two given cities, transporting a Gasoline will generate 4 times as many coins (or bux) as a Water. The value rating of a car is the same for coins and bux: transporting Gasoline for bux will generate 4 times as many bux as Water.

Essentially, if you're given the choice between moving cars between two specific cities, move more coins.

[edit] Buying tracks

Another strategy to try is making long tracks. You've probably realized that the further your cars go, the more money you get for them. The amount of money you receive depends on the distance between the starting and destination cities, not the amount of track between them. The orientation of your tracks doesn't matter. Whether they are vertical, horizontal, or diagonal, your payment depends on their distance. The straighter your tracks are, the faster your trains arrive at their destination (and spend less time refueling), and so the faster you make money.

[edit] Organizing railroads

Pocket Trains is a platform where you can organize your railroads freely. However, there are some tips to organize them well. This affects your profits a lot.

I recently came across with people connecting railroads in a weird way, where they connect their railroads using 'group gathering/looping' method - a method where one engine/railroad claims a lot of rails. They commented that it is good cause they do not need to use much money to set off another railroad and a railroad can go more freely, so making more profit. Well, I did a test with one of my friends who played this game, where we start off with the beginning, but our strategies are different: Mine is using 'stretch out' method, where the railroads are mainly connected with a main route, and may have a few intersections(you can refer to the railroads at this page, while my friend uses the 'group gathering' method. My friend uses 3 railroads, but he have connected almost all of the stations in EU, while I used 4 railroads, but only connected to a few stations. However, results are surprising - I profit way more than him, where I get $2000 to $3000 per train set-off in average, but he only get $1000 - $1900. This situation happens is not the fact that I have more railroads than him, but the fact that how we connect railroads - the 'group gathering/looping' method profits less because the railroad have connected too many stations, where most of the stations only has 1 railroad connecting. This does not profit because the engine needs fuel charging, where limits your railroad from going too far, so even connecting more stations does not mean that you profit more as the good interchange stations(stations having 3-5 railroads) are completely 'wasted'. Instead, connecting them in a proper way does better because the good interchange stations are used properly, where there are different railroads bypassing it. This also affects the efficiency of completing events, where the normal method actually finishes more events than my friend does, thus making more extra money.

Based on my 3 years playing experience, let me give some tips for organizing railroads:

  • Connect in a proper way
  • Use intersection methods properly
  • Refuse stations that are located in a bad position(Refer to this page for more information)

These are just some basic tips. More professional tips will be discovered by yourself when playing this game for more, like how to choose jobs properly. Hope this helps some of the beginners and players who wants more profit! ~Odus20032222336 (talk)

Your thoughts and methods are appreciated! head over to the Strategy, Discussion page and tell us your theories and methods!

[edit] Growth

Pocket Trains does not come with an objective (unless you count Achievements), so when you play you make your own. Very likely, your plans are great and that means expensive to carry out. How do you get there as fast as possible without spending real world money?

[edit] Resources

On the face of it, the game has 3 currencies: Crates (both special and normal), bux, and coins. However, the worth of your rail network also includes capital investments: train engines and fuel cars, stations, tracks, railroads, and licenses. Here's how each of these are produced:

  • Trains: 1 crate plus 10 bux produces 1 train part. 3 to 14 parts produces one train engine or fuel car. (Note: the selection of parts improves the higher your level is.)
  • Stations: These cost 10 bux for each upgrade. Each upgrade allows you to store 5 more carriages at the station. (i.e. when you need to leave carriages at a station to be picked up by another engine to get to the carriage's destination)
  • Tracks: You build track for a certain amount of coins and then spend more coins to grant a railroad the ability to use it.
  • Railroads: You also pay coins for these. The number of coins increases depending on the number of railroads you have. Each section of "Railroad" can only be used by one engine.
  • Licenses: You pay 50,000 coins for each license. You can purchase licenses for: North America, South America, Asia, Africa, and Oceania. The license for Europe comes with the start of the game. You can not start a Railroad without it being connected to the original rail system. i.e. Don't bother buying the license for Oceania without owning the Asia one first.

[edit] Generating Resources

Bux can be turned into coins at a daily variable conversion rate via the bank. The only (free) ways to get more bux or crates are to 1) ship them, 2) receive rewards for leveling or completing an achievement, and 3) be lucky and tap them while watching a train. Generally, you will find more crates than bux to open them.

So a lot of your resources will come from the cars you transport. However, your selection of what to ship does not change over the course of the game. So to grow faster, the key is to move more cars per unit time. This is some combination of investing your hard earned currencies into 1) creating more railroads to run more trains effectively, and 2) upgrading railroads to trains with larger carrying capacity and/or move faster.

For example, at the start of the game, your railroads do not serve many cities, so their selection is limited. Without coordinating pick ups and drop offs, the bulk of your cars will be less valuable cars. For a small train with a maximum of 8 cars, you'll want at least 3 cities, preferably 4 or 5 cities, in a line for the railroad to perform close to peak efficiency.

Having more than the starting 3 railroads will earn resources faster. Because the cost of each railroad is larger than the next, each additional railroad will take longer before it pays itself off and starts generating profit for you. However, an early investment will generate more resources in the long run. Remember that each railroad ideally contains several adjacent cities that lie on a straight line. You may also want to consider where your railroads will intersect in case you need to transfer cars from one to another.

Finally, using better trains earns resources faster. A 12-car train, such as a Carbon Steamer, will generate 50% more revenue than a starter 8-car train if the train is on a railroad that can utilize the capacity. The Express trains, while only pulling 8 cars, move about twice as fast.

The smarter your investment, the more money you make, which means more money to invest to grow faster and reach your goal quicker.

[edit] Causing Bux to Appear as Cargo Value

After you have played the game for a long time (many weeks), and therefore got to very high levels (e.g. 30 or more), bux begin appearing less frequently as the cargo value for cars in stations.

Actually, even at lower levels, as you progress up the levels you will probably notice that bux begin occurring less easily/frequently.

Early in playing the game I read somewhere that seemed authorative (sorry, I cannot find a reference) that those bux cargoes appear as a reward for speedy delivery of expensive coins cargo. I think the source specified both three and four coins as being sufficient. Even at a high level in the game, experimentation tends to confirm this. But it raises a number of questions.

  • Is speed measured, as the rest of the game seems to work, based on the crows-flight distance?
  • Is the same speed criteria applied regardless of the Train type? This seems likely.
  • Is there any allowance at all for covering a greater distance or going through more stations?
  • Do those squiggles in some lines, for example Copenhagen to Oslo, actually make it more difficult to meet the required criteria?
  • Is your speed measured in real time, or is time when you have quit the game ignored?
  • Does boosting count as increasing speed of delivery, or not?
  • Can you restart a train quickly "enough" after it reaches a midpoint station, or is there a big advantage to setting the train to go multiple stations to the ultimate valuable destination?
  • After you have earned a reward, in what station will it appear?

However, if we assume the basic premise is true, a few observations influencing strategy naturally come out.

  • Leaving expensive cargo in stations (e.g. accumulating for a long trip) will increase the delivery time, and reduce the probability of obtaining bux.
  • You are better to pick up a new valuable cargo and deliver that rapidly rather than deliver a similar cargo which has sat around somewhere. In some cases, you might actually want to swap your current cargo into the station and pick up the new one. (Although it will not generate bux, the coins generated by old cargo are still useful, and so are probably worth leaving in the station for later, as opposed to discarding).
  • Similarly, picking up a valuable cargo when going the wrong way, intending to bring it back with you after you finish your current route, is of dubious value. In fact, you should seriously consider changing your plans in some cases to deliver the new valuable cargo more quickly.
  • You really should avoid ever leaving trains with fresh valuable cargo stopped. Pay constant attention to the game, or consider sending the train multiple stops to ensure fast delivery.
  • Perhaps you should pay to refuel, after all, rather than wait and delay the delivery of a fresh valuable cargo.
  • You should probably try to replace all your slower trains with faster ones. Or, at least, concentrate on delivering cars with your fast trains.

[edit] Investing for your Play Style

Say you have an Express train and have enough parts to upgrade it. Express trains can have 2 engines and 1 fuel car. Adding the 2nd engine increases pulling capacity from 8 cars to 12. The fuel car doubles the original fuel capacity for the train.

Players whose playing time is concentrated may want to invest in fuel cars. This increases the amount of time they can play until empty fuel gauges grinds the game to a halt. Increasing the number of cars their trains can pull and making sure they always have 4-coin and 3-coin cars to move also help.

In contrast, players who want to get their trains moving then come back much later won't find too much benefit to adding fuel cars since their small fuel gauge won't constrain what they can do (unless their track is very long) and they'll come back to a full fuel meter. Such a player is better off increasing carrying capacity and building long tracks so that each departure generates as much money as possible.

[edit] Community Tracks

Here is a gallery of the Community tracks and how they chose to set up their game. Get an idea of how to start out or get some helpful knowledge of how to better your already huge empire of mallards and zephyrs. See how your trains compare to everyone else's and let us see how you plan on dominating the world of Pocket Trains.

Community tracks

[edit] Small Details

After playing for a long time, a few little details (perhaps more tactics than strategy) become apparent.

[edit] Boosting

In general, boosting to your destination seems like a waste of valuable bux. The relative expense can be minimized however (or the value of the expense maximized). It is apparent that the time shown to get to the station is rounded down by a minute. Never "boost" during the initial minute, because it could actually be as little as a few seconds. Boosting is best done immediately after the time value has decremented.

In fact, if you wait until "1 minute", that is actually almost 2 minutes, and so represents a lot of real time saved for minimal expense. And if you picked the bux out of the air, the boost could be said to be free. This can help if you left the event until late in the day, or want to get to a state where you can start waiting for a long trip while sneaking play during a family shopping trip, or something. Of course, late in the day, sometimes you will want to break down and spend multiple boost bux. But be frugal, and always wait until just after the minutes have decremented.

[edit] Delivering Event Cars

The numbers 75 and 50 are just slightly more than many multiples of train capacity. In particular 75 is just 3 more than 3 times 24, and just 5 more than 5 times 14. (Common capacity values). In some cases, a trip to deliver 3 cars could be just as difficult as one to deliver 24.

So be conscious of the number of full and partial loads you have left, especially if you go on a long circuit (for example around Australia), and perhaps make sure you do some quick trips to round the remainder to slightly less than an even multiple.

Alternatively you can realize you've got slightly more than an even multiple and consciously deliver slightly smaller loads. That is, assume you need four loads to get to 75, and so a load of 19 or so can be considered sufficient to "go home".

It seems that the game gives you more Event cars the closer you are to finishing, so often it seems you are better to reduce the remainder by a small amount in any case; it seems to trigger more generous generation of cars.

At times it seems moving an Event load somewhat distant from the target helps cause more generation in stations closer, but it's not clear whether that is an actual phenomenon or just an imagined perception. But there is this annoying tendency to get such a load partway delivered, and then finish the Event with easy local deliveries.

For days with low value cars, be conscious of when you have enough pending deliveries and don't fill up your stations with excess cars.

Of course, many people probably toss such excess cars out of the station. This particular author, however, for some reason never does that and prefers the challenge of eventually delivering all partially delivered cars.

[edit] Track Selections

Tracks are a main basic thing in Pocket Trains, so selecting tracks is important. Here are some strategy to select the best tracks and avoid selecting tracks that are not worth it.

Best tracks are usually straighter, so that you can earn more as the profit of a car depends on the straight/direct distance between your current station and destination station, and straight tracks can profit more because it wastes fuel the less, comparing to other slightly twisty tracks. For example, Amsterdam - Berlin, Budapest - Istanbul, are better tracks. Other type of better tracks are mainly connecting to big cities, which linked to a lot of station. These tracks can help you to make your railroads more efficient in case you need to deliver bux cars or event cars that need to transfer between different railroads.

Tracks that are no worth it to purchase are mainly more twisty tracks, like Darwin - Cairns or Broome - Perth, or tacks that connects to 1 or 2 stations like Fairbanks, Edmonton, Dublin, and many more. Few tracks are also not worth is because the location of the citie/station is not good like Oslo or Dubai, which makes you have less profit.

This is a list that the tracks are not worth it to buy except when you need to get achievements. The reason of not purchasing the track are mainly 3 of them, which will be written in the tracks below:

Some tracks are not listed due to many reasons, making them more profitable, or better than the tracks above. For example, the reason why Stockholm, Copenhagen, Helsinki and St. Petersburg is not in the list mainly because that the tracks form Stockholm to Copenhagen is slightly better for deliveries to the west, while the tracks form Helsinki to St. Petersburg is slightly better for deliveries to the east. This is just my opinion, it is normal that some do not agree some tracks listed above. However, if you use them well like using intersection methods or linking them using short railroads, the tracks above can also be useful. If you want some tips to use the tracks well, you can go to my home page (Odus20032222336) and take a look at my railroad plannings as a reference. If you disagree some of the tracks listed above with strong reasons, write the reason in the discussion of the strategy page, or directly comment at my talk page. Any opinions are welcome, and please use respectful words. Thanks for the support!

[edit] (Not) Opening Crates

If, especially when early in the/a game, the number of remaining crates in a category (especially Special) cannot possibly complete a locomotive, leave the crates unopened; you can probably better use the bux instead.

When you're doing a non-first game, steamers and even expresses seem very boring; you may want to delay opening non-Special crates at all. Possibly to level 9 or even 12.

But balance that against the fact that the lower your level is, the more likely you are to complete a locomotive (or fuel car) by opening a (non-special) crate. (Fewer crates needed, plus fewer possible results). And if you don't get some good special locomotives, you may need to break down and build an Express.

As a possible actual strategy, perhaps see the conclusion in the following section Crate Expectations (Normal).

Strangely in my very first game a Dragonbreath just seemed to naturally pop up. But that doesn't seem to be the case in all games. A Carbon Steamer is a big improvment over a regular steamer. But sometimes you get a large number, but not enough, Bullet parts or Dekotora parts, etc.

[edit] Crate Expectations

[edit] Normal

As your game level increases, the number of possible locomotive parts you might receive when opening a crate increases with it (to a maximum of 20). This means that, if you consider the probability of completing a set of parts required to construct a locomotive, that probability decreases as your level increases.

Consider the New Jersey Freighter, which can only be obtained at level 20, and requires 11 parts to construct. If you assume the parts you receive are evenly distributed you will need to open 220 crates to expect to get the required 11 New Jersey Freighter parts. And that costs 2200 bux.

Furthermore, that "reasonable expecation" is only slightly more than 50% probability. Check an online calculator for binomial distribution, using parameters 0.05 for single event probability, and a number of parts wanted and attempts (trials). (For example, try 11 parts (successes) wanted, and 220 trials). An upshot of that is that you have a reasonably high probability of not getting all four freighters completed with only 220 crates. (That is, failing to get the necessary number of parts for all four).

However, if you have a certain number of New Jersey Freighter parts already, then that number 220 decreases by 20 for each part you have. That is, if you already have 10 New Jersey Freighter parts, then you can reasonably expect to complete the set of 11 parts by opening 20 more crates.

A consequence of these specific observations is that you must be careful to keep enough Crates (normal crates) and Bux at the end of the game to be able to have a reasonable probability of constructing your New Jersey Freighter. As the game progresses, both Crates and Bux become harder to obtain. And you cannot obtain New Jersey Freighter parts until you reach level 20.

Therefore, once you have a reasonable working collection of Trains you should save (keep) something over 220 Crates specifically to get the New Jersey Freighter parts. (In fact, statistical analysis based on the Binomial Distribution suggests you may need close to 300 crates). You need the Bux to open them, but those can probably still gradually obtained at level 20. But it's as well to start consciously saving those before you reach level 20, also.

(Note that level 20 is not necessarily the true end of the game; you may well still have two or three dozen or more Events to finish to achieve the Main Event. But once you are at level 20, and have obtained at least one of all Trains, from there you can mostly coast to the completion of all Achievements).

In fact, it seems a good rule might be to make sure you keep a reserve of at least 4 unopened Normal Crates for every event you have completed. If you achieve Level 20 around about the completion of 80 events, you should then have an inventory of over 300 crates (320 if you manage 4 per event exactly). As you notice yourself approaching Level 20, you should definitely start trying to hoard the 3000 bux also.

[edit] Special

It seems that all Special parts are always available. So, assuming all parts are equally likely, the following would seem to be the number of crates necessary to open to have a reasonable expectation of completing each of the indicated 7 special trains.

Train Name Parts Needed Crate Openings
Carbon steamer.png Carbon Steamer 4 28
Dragonbreath.png Dragonbreath 5 35
Mallard.png Mallard 12 84
Daylight.png Daylight 12 84
Dekotora.png Dekotora 13 91
Century limited.png Century Limited 13 91
Bullet.png Bullet 14 98

And, if you need a certain number of parts for a Special Train, the expected number of crate openings is simply that number times seven. Note that when you open a certain number of crates, you can reasonably expect to get all the locomotive units for that number. So, as you open a lot to get a Bullet, the various locomotive units requiring fewer parts should fall out too--as side-effects in a way.

[edit] You can build Railroads from the Map Screen

  • Building railroads by trying to move trains to unclaimed cities happens naturally, but you can save coins by instead going to the Map to build large networks (without claiming them for any Train/Railroad).
  • This is one way to more economically complete the Achievements for connecting all cities in continents.

[edit] Formula to Complete Game

Summarizing some of the points made above, the following falls out as a methodology for finishing the game (getting all Achievements). There is a caveat that there is an initial period of growth you must go through to get the game to the stage where you can reasonably obtain 50,000 XP points when completing each day's event.

[edit] Do a Daily Event almost every day

  • Enjoy the addiction, and make measurable progress.
  • But if you can do a frenetic hour or so after the event is finished, that will likely bring in a lot of extra revenue as your only goal then needs to be keeping all trains loaded and moving nearly all the time

[edit] Aim to earn about 50,000 XP per day

  • That will get you to Level 20 by about Event 80.
    • If you earn more or less than that, you will get to Level 20 correspondingly earlier or later
  • Before you can begin earning 50.000 XP per day, however, you must "invest" to create a network capable of doing that
    • Running a sparsish network from Vancouver to Beijing with some extra loops at each end seems to work
      • Probably servicing with about 10 Trains
      • When you make your network larger, it does take more time to run, so you do want to limit growth

[edit] Simultaneously Try to Net about 20,000 coins per day

  • Remember that you will lose amounts for repairs.
  • Netting 20,000 coins per day/event will give you about 1,600,000 coins by about Event 80.
    • That is slightly more than you need to purchase and claim all tracks with a reasonable network
      • If you adopt the strategy of merely buying all tracks you can get away with an even smaller amount
  • It is not necessary to claim all tracks before you finish the game
    • Unless you feel you will enjoy running Trains all over the world
    • And you do not even need to purchase every track, just at least one into each city

[edit] Concentrate on hoarding 3,000 bux and 300 (Normal) Crates before you get to Level 20

  • When you get to Level 20 that should allow you to obtain the entire Freighter set
    • The point here is that if you get to Level 20 with few bux and Crates, it could take a long time to complete the Freighter set
    • All other Awards are effectively deterministic.
  • The crate total is probably more important to maintain than the bux total
    • you can open crates in excess of 300, and use bux in excess of 3000
(Actually 3000 plus a little buffer, say 200, so you are not broke after opening 300 crates)
  • Disturbing observation: this author once opened 300 crates, and got only 10 New Jersey Freighter parts
  • sometimes it seems that exiting and re-entering the Craft screen (in the middle of opening a large number of hoarded crates) improves distribution of parts; the author did not do that in the particular case
  • In fact, the above means maintaining a crate total of about 4 times the number of events completed
    • and a bux total of ten times the crate total (you can probably let it slide a little, too)
    • That is, build the hoards gradually.
      • That will allow you some resources for expansion along the way.
      • Special Crates can also be used as the basis of railroads
        • But you can't expect to start getting complete Special Trains until about Event 91
(Except for Carbon and Dragonbreath, but, since there are several other good Special Trains, there is a reasonable probability at least one of them will get completed before Event 91)
  • It would appear that Special Trains have lower maintenance costs