Feeling like becoming a train magnate to rule over the competition?
Ticket to ride is a game where you, and up to four other players, will fight (hmm… compete, you don’t “fight” when doing business!) turn by turn to take control of different routes that connect cities in the board either in North America or Europe depending on the base board you get. There are also expansions for the game that will enable you to play in places like Asia or Germany with the Märklin expansion.
The game’s mechanics are very simple, yet difficult to master. And this is because as you progress through the game, you will find that long term strategy, vision and prediction of what your opponents might do, is the key to be able to get those precious coloured routes that will get you to your target. One thing is for sure… similar to Settlers of Catan or Carcassonne, Ticket to ride is all about location, location, a little bit of luck, and planning… and did I say location already?
What’s inside the box?
As you open your newly-but-old-fashion-oriented board game, you will find a cool sturdy board with the picture of your continent of preference, a lot of cards depicting different coloured wagons that you use to claim the routes on the board, which is basically how you get points, little plastic wagons coloured for each player in the game; cards that represent different destinations, that you should try to link through the game because they will greatly affect your score at the end of the game, and other pieces to count your points.
The materials used for the game are of good quality, the board itself is a six-folded piece of work that is a little bigger than the average boardgame but that is very sight friendly and really works well to fit in the pieces you will deploy during the game.
Playing the game…
So, you have the game, you have all the pieces in front of you and you gathered your 4 best frienemies to play with. It is really simple, each player will have 45 wagons of their preference and they will also get 4 wagon cards to start with. Wagon cards will match the color of some of the routes in the board, and to claim those routes you just need the same amount and color of cards for the route you want and enough wagons left in your stash.
Each of you will also receive up to three destination cards, these cards are to be kept secret since they will change your game strategy. Each destination card you complete will give you points by the end of the game… but be careful, because not completing one means you will lose those points!
In each turn, you can either take two wagon cards (one if it is a locomotive, which is like a joker), take new destination cards or claim a route. After an action is done, the turn goes to the next player and so on.
This is when that long term strategy and vision will come in handy, since you have to learn when it is best to claim a route or to take wagon cards. You will need to learn to balance both kinds of plays because you might end up having no wagon cards in your hand or you might end up losing important routes that could have been claimed before.
You will also probably want to focus on completing those destination cards, while trying to get some good points from routes you claim and not getting blocked by other players who will be also trying to get their destinations.
The power of reading…
Actually, in this game you have little to read… the rules is the only component which actually have letters printed on it. What I mean by “reading” here is deciphering what others might be thinking or what their plays can be.
During the game, you will be able to see some of the wagon cards available to pick up, you will also see the amount of wagons already placed in the board and their possible destinations. This can provide you some interesting options and game changing plays because you might decide to cut other players routes or you can prevent them from completing their destination routes.
This is where competition really begins, as one player can seriously damage another player’s score by the end of the game if he sets his mind into the game!
In the end, this is a really fun game to play. The simple mechanics and relatively fast gameplay can provide you with a very good afternoon of competition where you can prove your frienemies how your planning skills are, or maybe how devious you can be against them in a match.
The fact that you don’t have any text at all is good to introduce kids to board gaming, or for those who really are not into those sometimes complicated rules included in some other titles.