Ian's Movie Reviews
Short Reviews of Movies, Board Games, and Other Stuff

Ticket to Ride: All Aboard the Bandwagon

Every once in a while a game comes along with captures the attention of casual and serious gamers alike, which dominates the leisure room table, whose reputation spreads through word of mouth like wildfire. Ticket to Ride is certainly one of the best examples of this type of game. Released in 2004, Ticket to Ride exploded onto the scene and has only grown in popularity, eventually becoming one of the dominant franchises in the board gaming world today.
Ticket to Ride is one of those games which works for practically anyone, from those who have a hundred games in their collection to those only exposure to gaming is playing cribbage with the relatives every thanksgiving. It has a wide appeal and an addictive nature which has spawned a number of different versions and expansions. With the Europe, Marklin, and Nordic Countries editions as well as the Switzerland, dice and 1910 expansions, Ticket to Ride is a force to be reckoned with.
But does it deserve this recognition? Is Ticket to Ride as good a game as the masses would have you believe? Does this simple yet involving game deserve its recognition and popularity? Lets find out.

Components

The first thing about Ticket to Ride which will jump out at you is the board artwork. There is a steam-punk feel to the board, especially with the scoring track around the edge. The board itself consists of a map of North America with many colourful routes to many major cities throughout. The map itself is quite varied with some areas cluttered with shorter routes and more spaced out areas with longer routes. Whats great is that these different areas correspond with the actual geography; the cluttered areas around the east coast and industrial Midwest, while more spacious areas are in the southwestern desert and the Canadian prairies.
Being a train game, there are many train pieces in the box. These trains exist as small, plastic miniatures and are really excellent. They are brightly coloured, well-detailed and have an almost poker-chip feel to them as you are constantly playing with the spare piece in your hand.
The other main components are the cards. There are destination cards, which outline routes, and train cards, which are collected in order to buy routes. The train cards come in numerous colours along with multi-coloured wild cards. This is where the components of Ticket to Ride disappoint; not with the design of the cards, which actually fits the theme quite nicely, but with the size of the cards. They’re so small, you constantly worry about them slipping through your fingers! Why they decided to make these cards so minute baffles me. They just need to be a little bigger and have the feel of regular playing cards, and everything would be fine. Oh well.

Gameplay

Ticket to Ride is all about claiming routes to score points. Routes are claimed when you have saved enough train cards of the same colour as the route. The longer the route that is claimed the more points are scored This idea of collecting sets of cards draws from many classic card games such as Rummy and Go Fish, so it gives a very familiar feel to the game.
Points are also scored by connecting routes between various cities. The cities you need to connect are displayed on the route cards, which also have a point value which you will score if you succeed. You may take route cards at any point throughout the game. However, if you do not connect the cities, you lose those points. This is a brilliant move on the designer’s behalf since it gives more risk and more urgency in the game. It also ramps up competition since players are usually clamouring for the same destinations and there’s a tension which always exists as you hope that no one claims your route before you have a chance to.

Conclusion

Ticket to Ride’s fame has resulted in many people jumping onto the bandwagon of popularity. But is this easy-going train game a passing fad, or is its recognition well-deserved? In my humble opinion, Ticket to Ride is worth its price of admission and then some. It is certainly worthy of its reputation and is a great game for almost any time of gamer.
The idea of collection cards and trying to gather enough cards of any given colour, depending on the routes you want, is an idea that anyone who has picked up a standard 4-suit deck should be able to relate to without a problem. This is a really easy game to pick up, making it widely accessible and perfect for word-of-mouth fame.
Okay, so its easy to learn. But is it fun? Absolutely. Ticket to Ride gives you what great games should give you; a sens of accomplishment (if you’ve played well) and friendly competition. The sense of accomplishment comes from the completion of routes and the extensive network of connected cities that your colour of trains has created. The friendly competition comes through never knowing if all your plans will be foiled when the person on your left buys up the same connection you needed. It really is a race to buy up all the routes which creates a thrilling and exciting environment.
Ticket to Ride has become one of the touchstones of modern board gaming. Its star power reaches the levels of games like Settler of Catan and Carcassonne. There are a number of versions available, though this original game it still Ticket to Ride in its most pure state. The other games work to soften the competitive edge and make the maps a little more balanced. The first game is still the more cutthroat and relies more on racing for the routes. It is unhindered by small extras like the tunnels and train stations and provides a simple, unadulterated hour of fun and enjoyment.

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2 Responses to “Ticket to Ride: All Aboard the Bandwagon”

  1. I believe I commented on your earlier Ticket to Ride post as well, but this is one of the best games I have ever played. I’ve seen it bring together casual gamers, hard-core Dungeon Masters, the guy who’s just here for the beer and sore losers who have been known to flip over the board. And don’t worry, every game has been peaceful and fun. This is always a go-to game and a hit with all ages.

  2. TtR is my favorite game to teach to newbies by far. My wife and I just bought TtR: Nordic Countries, and that seems to work better for two (as it creates much more competition for routes).


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