The beauty of a game that can be played uninterrupted by rule book checks within just a couple of rounds of action cannot be understated.
True to my form as a board gamer playing a perpetual game of catch-up, and reviewing games that are really too long in the tooth to warrant a fresh take, here’s my fresh take on classic railroad-em-up, Ticket to Ride.
I actually received this game as part of my birthday haul a good while ago. Having previously swerved it due to concerns about how much pleasure a game based around a train theme could possibly deliver, I approached it somewhat cautiously. And then after one play, immediately approached it again with absolute joy!
Ticket to Ride has become an instant family favourite in our house. In just one week after purchase the game hit the table six times and not once did it fail to bring delight.
I’d heard great things about the game, but as a fan of theme I’d felt that this one was never going to stoke my own coals, how wrong I was.
The Track to Success
The basic premise is that each player is a railroad tycoon attempting to lay routes across the USA and Canada that in turn score points and pave (or railroad) the way to victory. Players have a hand of cards consisting of different coloured train carriages and must match these to corresponding routes on the board to lay tracks between the various cities. Different sized trains score different points, with the longer the train, the bigger the score.
In addition, each player has tickets in their hand as well. These tickets depict a route from one city to another. If the player manages to lay tracks between the depicted routes they score the number of points marked on the ticket card. If they fail they lose the same number of points at the game’s end.
Finally, an extra ten points are on offer for the player who lays the longest unbroken route across the map.
During turns players choose to pick up cards (2 max), lay a route, or grab additional tickets. Only one option may be taken each turn, and basically that’s all there is to it.
Keeping Things Simple
It’s this simplicity that really makes Ticket to Ride shine. The beauty of a game that can be played uninterrupted by rule book checks within just a couple of rounds of action cannot be understated. Ticket to Ride is one of those rare games that is blessed by wonderful ease of play but also holds a lovely depth for the more strategic minded. There is plenty of scope for undermining your competitor by building a route that blocks them and this always leads to plenty of laughs at the table. I mean everybody loves getting one over on a family member. However, because the game is so thoroughly engaging and charming in equal measure the little moments of undermining another player are generally met with wry smiles and good humour. Monopoly this is not.
In terms of looks and quality, again Ticket to Ride really shines. I’ve found that Days of Wonder products generally really come to life at the table with wonderful use of vibrant colour and extremely well made playing pieces. This is certainly the case with this game. When the pieces hit the board it truly looks like a thing of outstanding beauty. The scoring is marked on a counter that runs around the edge of the board and it’s something I really loved. With Ticket to Ride everything is right in front of you and the brilliant use of colour means it’s never difficult to gauge where you stand in the race to victory. Once the various railways are mapped across the board it looks mightily impressive.
One for the Kids
My six-year-old did take some time to get to grips with things and needed assistance from time to time, but he also thoroughly enjoyed the game. Meanwhile my ten-year-old and those older have fallen in love with Ticket to Ride. It’s become a must play at every family game night and that wonderful marriage between simple gameplay and surprising depth proves a dream combination.
In addition, I introduced this to my parents recently as the first game we sat and played together since my new obsession kicked in. The next day they messaged to say they had been out and purchased a couple of board games of their own. A seal of approval for Ticket to Ride and no doubt!
There’s little more to say really. If what you seek is a game that plays like a dream, looks like eye candy, and entertains all the family, then look no further than Ticket to Ride.
My own seal of approval is highlighted by the fact that we now own four different incarnations of this absolutely wonderful board game. My only disappointment is that I harboured doubts about this game prior to play. Doubts that of course have now gone up in a glorious puff of steam.