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Trial by Trolley

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Play OverviewPlay Overview

Trial by Trolley (2020) is a game about exaggerated moral choices, based on the trolley problem that forces you to choose between two bad scenarios. Each team places a series of innocent things on their track and not-so-innocent things on their opponent's track. They then try and convince the Conductor player to send the train down the other branch. It's a simple premise about making really difficult decisions that are made fun by how over-the-top (and how of-the-current-cultural-moment) the choices are.

Play involves creating two tracks from your cards. The aim is to make your opponent's route easier to choose to destroy by placing the best Guilty cards. Equally, you aim to make your own route hard to choose by placing the best Innocent cards. The twist is that you place one Modifier card before the Conductor makes their choice. This can turn an Innocent card into something that needs destroying, or maybe make a Guilty card even more guilty.

It's an old idea brought up to date with cartoon characters and imaginative zeitgeist examples of who or what you might want to destroy. Would you rather destroy "Your Landlord", "Your Boss", "A Child Eating Dinosaur", "A Creepy Clown Car" or a "19-year-old Billionaire"? Would you rather save "A Pool Full of Babies", "A Funeral Procession", "Your Dad", "The Next Picasso" or a "Flower That Can Cure Cancer"? The Modifiers are just as inventive. For example, would you still kill your boss if they were "In Love with you"? Would you save the next Picasso if they always "Kick every animal they see"?

Once you have completed your tracks each team then tries to persuade the Conductor to choose their opponent's track. To win you need to have picked cards that pull the heartstrings of the current Conductor which is often more tactical than it sounds. The track that survives gains a point and the roles rotate for the next round. Once everyone has been the Conductor the team with the most points wins.

It sounds a bit dark, and it is to some extent. But the exaggerated modern examples of who to kill (or not to kill) bring humour and intensity to the dilemma. It's fascinating to see these moral conversations come to life because players care about the right thing to do.

Our examiner, Andy Robertson, first checked Trial by Trolley 23 months ago. It was re-examined by Jo Robertson and updated yesterday.
Too complex for your family? There are lots of games similar to Trial by Trolley. Here are some easier younger-rated games:

Play StylePlay Style

This is a Narrative and Sequencing game with Communication and Creative elements. You can play with 3 to 10 players in the same room. Best with 5 or 7.

You can play this game in the following styles:


Learn to Play: This takes 5 minutes to learn.

Play Time: This game will take between half an hour and 45 minutes to complete. Larger groups take longer for each player to be the Conductor.


This game is good if you want to:

Age RatingsAge Ratings

Skill Level

13+ year-olds usually have the required skill to enjoy this game. Still, it's important for parents and guardians to consider the maturity required to process the game content.

Content Rating

We rate this suitable for 16+ years-olds. The nature of the game is choosing to "Murder" someone or something. The cards depict sometimes disturbing scenes, although this is always cartoon in nature.

One of the cards depicts a "Family of Cannibals" with blood dripping from their faces. There is also a card of a "Childhood Bully" with a child that has a black eye after being hit. There is a "Murderer" card with a character drenched in blood. Another card has "An Angry Kid Who Will Shoot Up a School" referring to high school shootings. There is also mention of Necrophilia and Pedophilia.


There are no additional in-game purchases, loot boxes, adverts or subscription costs.

DetailsGame Details

Release Date: 01/01/2020

Skill Rating: 13+ year-olds

Players: 3-10

Genres: Narrative, Sequencing (Communication and Creative)

Accessibility: 36 features

Components: Board and Cards

Developer: Skybound (@Skybound)

Taming Gaming Book Written by parents for parents, the database complements the in-depth discussion about video game addiction, violence, spending and online safety in the Taming Gaming book. We are an editorially independent, free resource without adverts that is supported by partnerships.

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