Trial By Trolley: Bring the Trolley Problem to Life

Trial by Trolley is a wickedly fun board game that delights in black humor and ruthless self-preservation. Each round will force one player to take on the role of the judge and decide which of their teammates to kill and which to spare. If you’re looking for a wild and fun party game that brings out the survivalist in us all, then you’ll love Trial by Trolley.

What is the Trolley Problem?

Trial by Trolley is based on the classic “Trolley Problem”, which is a philosophical conundrum that has been around for years. The setup is essentially that a trolley is making its way down the tracks, careening towards two separate tracks that each have someone strapped to it. In the original quandary, the conductor must decide whether or not to allow the trolley to run over the track with five people strapped to it or to switch it to a track with only one person on it.

Trial by Trolley takes this ethical dilemma and turns it into a battle for survival. Players split up into two teams, with one team strapped to the first track and the other team strapped to the second. One player takes on the role of the Conductor who must decide which team to run over. During each round, players will pull different cards to try to convince the Conductor to spare them.

Setting up the Tracks

This board game uses a small board that shows the track splitting into two. There are also three decks of cards labeled Innocent, Guilty, and Modifier. The game begins with the conductor taking the first two Innocent cards from the top of the deck and playing one on each team’s track. These represent things that the Conductor would obviously not want to kill, such as a puppy or a bus full of children.

Each team will then draw an Innocent card of their own to add to their track. Sure, maybe you’d let a little puppy get run over to spare the bus full of children, but would you give up the cure for cancer as well? Players will go back and forth debating why the Conductor should spare their track, adding a fun element of debate to the game.

Next, each team will play a Guilty card to their opponent’s rail. These cards will provide the Conductor with an incentive to run over the other team. That puppy may be cute, but what about the terrorist who’s also strapped to the track alongside him?

Modifier Cards

This is where things can really turn around. The next step involves each team playing a Modifier card, which they’re allowed to play on either their own track or their opponent’s track. This can switch up the meaning of one of the cards, providing the Conductor with a powerful incentive to swing the other way. 

For example, what if that puppy was just an utter bastard? Or what if killing the terrorist means that his two adorable dogs will end up starving to death? Moral and ethical dilemmas abound as the Conductor must debate his decision. Once the Conductor chooses which track to send the trolley down, each player who gets run over has to take a death token.

The next round begins by switching the role of the Conductor to the next player, splitting the rest of the players into new teams. Once each player in the game has had a chance to play the Conductor, the game ends and the player who died the least amount of times wins the game!

Make Your Choice in Trial by Trolley

Trial by Trolley is playable by anywhere from 3-13 players. It’s truly made to be a party game, as it can accommodate such a wide range of people and its humor really is quite absurd. This board game is suitable for ages 14 and up, mostly due to the somewhat dark humor of the game. Playing time lasts around 30-90 minutes depending on the size of the group, but you can really play as many rounds as you like. Buy Trial by Trolley today and enjoy the hilarity of this dark and absurd board game!

 

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