As you peer into the rear-view mirror and the city skyline starts to disappear. The sound of a chip packet opening in the backseat brings a smile to your face. The opening of snacks is the universal sign that the road trip has officially began. The hills are now rolling by, your friends are sing and snacking. The warm sun is kissing you face and the excitement of adventure is in your hearts. There is something special about hitting the open roads, the excitement, the joy and the Highways and Byways that get you there.
How It Works
Be the first player to drive all your Byways and return to your Start Space. The Byways you must drive are based on your Byway Cards. At the beginning of the game, all players take turns planning their routes. After the first player wins, continue to play the game to see who comes in second, third, and/or fourth place.
Game Set Up
- Separate the Event Cards, Construction Cards, Blue Byway Cards, and Red Byway Cards into their respective decks. Separate Home Markers, Travel Markers, and Car Pieces by color. Shuffle each deck separately.
- Lay all the Vehicle Cards on the table. The first player is the person who most recently drove 50 miles (80 km) in one trip. Give that player the Player 1 Card. They choose the first Vehicle. Go clockwise around the table until everyone has a Vehicle.
- Each player chooses a Start Space and places a Home Marker on it. Start Spaces have star icons. The player with the Player 1 Card chooses a Start Space first. Two or more players cannot share the same Start Space. When you have a Start Space, place your Car Piece on top of the Home Marker.
- Deal each player five Event Cards. You can look at your cards, but no one else’s. We’ll talk about these later on in the rules.
- Start Spaces circled in Pink. There are six. One is located in each of the following: California, Wyoming, Iowa, Texas, Georgia, and Pennsylvania.
The Planning Stage: Planning Your Routes
The Planning Stage consists of three parts: drawing 12 Byways (10 blue and 2 red), placing Travel Markers to visually plan routes, and dropping either 1 Red Byway or 2 Byways from your route.
Separate and shuffle the Red Byway Cards and Blue Byway Cards. All players will draw Byway Cards until they have 2 Red Byway Cards and 10 Blue Byway Cards.
The player with the Player 1 Card draws two Red Byway Cards. They choose one Red Byway Card to keep and one to pass to the clockwise player. The next player will then draw a new Red Byway Card, keep one, and pass the other. This process repeats until everybody has two Red Byway Cards. (When playing with four players, the last player will receive the last remaining Red Byway Card.)
Every time you draw a Red Byway Card or Blue Byway Card – place Travel Marker on the road depicted on the Byway Card you just received. Place your Travel Marker anywhere on a Byway that doesn’t overlap with another Byway.
A Travel Marker has been placed on the road depicted on the Byway Card. In this case: The Loneliest Road.
Place any remaining Red Byway Cards in the box. Player 1 will now draw 2 Blue Byway Cards. This same process as done for the Red Cards repeats until everybody has ten Blue Byway Cards.
At this point, all players should have 2 Red Byway Cards, 10 Blue Byway Cards, and 12 Travel Markers on the board. Everybody can now set their Byway Cards aside. Now you get to do one and only one of the following:
- Remove one Travel Marker from one of your Red Byways.
- Remove one Travel Marker from each of two of your Blue Byways.
In either case, once you discard a Travel Marker, you don’t have to finish that Byway to win.
The Driving Stage: Let’s Hit the Road!
The Driving Stage consists of five parts:
- Playing a new Construction Card (responsibility of Player 1 only)
- Resolving an Event Card
- Optionally trading unused movement for Discards and
- Drawing a new Event Card.
Every five rounds, the Construction Cards will be shuffled and everyone will pass their Event Cards clockwise.
Give the Player 1 Card to the person who got to pick their Vehicle and Start Space last.
The Driving Stage: Construction
Player 1 has some extra responsibilities to handle before they start each of their driving turns. They must draw a random Construction Card and place it in the leftmost available card slot on the bottom right of the board. While that Construction Card is face-up, players cannot travel on any highway spaces that contain the letter on the card.
Each time you place a new Construction Card on the board, make sure the cards to its left are flipped facedown.
If you’re currently on a highway space that contains the letter depicted on the Construction Card, you cannot move that turn. You can use your unused movement on Discards.
The Driving Stage: Events
Without looking, the player clockwise of you must select an Event Card from your hand. Resolve the effects on the Event Card, even if you cannot or choose not to move that turn. Once the Event Card has been resolved, place it in the Event Card discard pile.
You’ll notice that Event Cards sometimes refer to highway spaces and byway spaces.
- Highway spaces are the white dots on the board
- Byway spaces are red, blue, or have the intersection symbol
- The intersection symbol above shows you when a Red and Blue Byway cross paths.
If the Event Card has an effect which conflicts with the Construction Card, discard the Event Card, don’t resolve its effect, and start moving. The same principle applies if the Event Card requires you to do something you can’t do.
Once the Event Card deck runs out, shuffle the Event Card discard pile and use that as the deck.
The Driving Stage: Moving & Discarding
You may move up to six (6) spaces per turn. But you don’t have to move all six every turn, or even at all if you choose not to and can move to any dot connected to the previous one. You are allowed to backtrack, going on the same space more than once per turn. You are allowed to share spaces with others.
After moving or not moving, if you have not reached your movement limit, you can trade extra spaces for Discard Actions. For one (1) space, discard one Event Card from your hand and draw the top Event Card from the deck. You can do this multiple times in a turn as long as you have extra spaces to spend.
To get credit for finishing any given Byway, you have to drive the entire length continuously without leaving to drive on another road. If you leave a Byway in mid-travel, you must travel the entire Byway’s length later. Do not remove your Travel Marker from its Byway until you travel the entire length of the road.
The Driving Stage: Pruning & Passing Event Hands
After moving and optionally discarding, draw one Event Card from the top of the deck. At the end of your turn, your hand should always have five cards.
If all 5 Construction Card slots are filled up at the start of Player 1’s turn, two things happen. First, Player 1 picks up all the Construction Cards on the board, shuffles them together, and places a fresh card face-up in the leftmost slot. Second, all players pass their Event Card hands clockwise.
When You Achieve the Objective
When you return to your Start Space after driving all your Byways, place your Event Cards in the discard pile.
Highways and Byways is a great embodiment of a road time. It has all the emotions of a road trip, Fun, excitement, planning and annoyance. As someone that doesn’t get to Road Trip as much anymore, this game brings me as close to the real thing as possible.
I had to play this with the group of friends I recently (6 months is recent) trip down to Phillip Island. We had so much fun on that trip and stopped at several places along the way, took some detours and hit several patches of road works. Highways and Byways was exactly the same, everything we experienced on that trip.
As a group, we were actually quite shocked by how well it mapped on to a real road trip. It was nice that it was a map of the US, as other than myself, none of the group had been there. It made the game more exciting for us. We all agreed road tripping through or around the US is a dream trip for us all.
We played Highways and Byways all day; ate snacks, laugh and even put our Phillip Island Playlist on. I had brought several games to play that day, as I have a pile of review copies still to play, and none of them hit the table. We were so excited to explore new places and drive different cars.
The art of Highways and Byways are beautifully understated. The use of background pastels and soft lines, mixed with the hard lines of the focal point. It is an extremely clever way to give your cards depth. As for the byway cards, they have a great level of detail to the maps, yet don’t seem cluttered or messy. The art in this game could have gone horrible wrong if not handled with the care it was. Too much detail and the board look confusing, cluttered and aesthetically horrible. Too simple and it would look too easy, and more like a simple kids game.
My only real issue with this game is probably the planning stage. It is a part of the game that adds an additional depth of game play and strategy. But can sometimes drag out, especially when you are playing with more strategic players. We actually played a few games, where we dealt all the cards out, yet the was a little too random and lengthened the game. We also tried with the blue cards, pick 4 and keep 2 then past the rest. This seems to speed up that side of things and allowed for strategy and the speed need to not get bogged down in this section.
Pangea Games have really put a lot of effort into this game, as it feels like you could quite easily plan a road trip based of the game. I had my reservations that this could just be a Ticket to Ride clone and it really isn’t. It is smart, well researched and incredibly fun.
Highways & Byways hit Kickstarter over night and is the closest thing to a road trip I have experienced without leaving your house.