So Frankly...

So Frankly...

Friday, March 4, 2011

Getting on Board with Ticket to Ride

Last month I said I would review Ticket to Ride, which is one of my go-to games for casual gaming. No one has ever told me they dislike it, and we often have people ask to play “the train game”. With it being recommended for ages 8 and up, which is accurate, it is accessible to many children. At the same time, it is definitely a game that will appeal to adults. The publisher, Days of Wonder, produces quality games that are solidly made with artistic components, making them a joy to play.

Welcome aboard! Ticket to Ride is the cross country adventure game set in Victorian America. You are travelling the United States, attempting to become the most travelled person in the country. You will be taking trains from city to city to claim the honor, trying to get to all of your given destinations before time runs out!

Photo by Manuel Pombeiro
The artwork in Ticket to Ride is reminiscent of the novel Around the World in 80 Days. In fact, the game play has some of that feel to it. Players play sets of cards attempting to “claim routes”, placing little passenger train cars on the routes between nearby cities. These claims score points, which will determine the winner. Additionally, each player has a few cards, called “destination tickets”, which give secret goals of connecting two cities that are not near each other; Los Angeles to Miami might be one destination ticket a player might have. The end of the game occurs when one player has essentially run out of little passenger cars to place. At the end of the game, those secret goals which have been completed add to the score; those goals which failed subtract. The person with the most points at the end of the final scoring is the winner!

Since only one person can claim each route between nearby cities, there are strategic opportunities to block, giving this game a little spice. That said, we have nearly always played Ticket to Ride as a “friendly” game, with confrontation happening incidentally as a result of trying to complete destination tickets, rather than overt attempts to block someone. It’s just as fun as a friendly game. The game is not complicated (though it’s not tic-tac-toe, either) and the strategy is not so complex that you are exhausted after play. I will say again that I have never met anyone that doesn’t like the game: kids and adults alike.

Ticket to Ride belongs to the genre of “Eurogames”, a style of gaming that originated in Germany. Unlike American designed games, Eurogames do not eliminate players. Everyone is in the game until the end. Typically, there is scoring during the course of the game, with a big set of points being awarded at the end of the game to finally determine the winner. The person leading up to the end isn’t safe; someone can certainly come from behind in the endgame scoring.

Be aware there are several versions of Ticket to Ride, including Ticket to Ride: Europe, Ticket to Ride: Märklin, and Ticket to Ride: Nordic Countries. I will recommend the original Ticket to Ride, with the United States map, since it is slightly simpler. However, any of them would be a great purchase. They are all loved by both casual gamers and the hobby gaming community.

Ticket to Ride: ages 8 and up, 45 minutes, 2-5 players.
Good Casual Gaming! Kid Friendly!

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