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Game: Ticket to Ride
Version: US, UK, Nordic, Switzerland, Marklin with US & UK expansions
Ticket to Ride was the first game I noticed at the local game playing group. I think half the tables were playing it the first time! So I went home and read about it, watched the tutorial, and played sample games on the Days of Wonder website. Then I ordered it, without having played a real live game!
I have introduced this game to several friends, all of whom quickly went on to purchase their own copies. One couple has bought every edition ever printed and we drive out of state once a month just to spend a weekend playing games with them! And this is by far our favorite.
I like this game because each version is slightly different and more difficult than the previous version. I would personally rank them from easiest/simplest to hardest/most complicated as: US, UK, Switzerland, Nordic, Marklin.
The US is so easy to learn how to play. We have even played with kids and adults mixed. Once, the child was too young to really figure out the geography and route planning. So their job was just to gain enough cards to build random sections of track. They enjoyed the game, and the randomness actually made the game more challenging for the rest of us!
I love that even when I lose the game, I can still feel a sense of accomplishment for completing my tickets (like I'm playing against the game instead of against the other players). I love that we can be social and chatty while playing, without ruining anyone's game experience. And now that there is an iPad version I can play anytime, anywhere, against friends, strangers, or the AI.
Tonight was interesting in that we played four people with iPads instead of fishing out the actual game. It helped my husband play, who has physical and visual limitations which make him usually opt out of playing boardgames.
Easy to learn, ability to make the game easier or harder based on version played, and nice components. Good for mixed ages and skill levels, and easier to feel like you didn't lose even when you didn't come out in first place. I would highly recommend for families.
Addictive! Have to purchase the US expansion pack to get full-sized train cards and tickets for the US game. All other editions come with full-sized decks.
The Verdict: Purchase
I own the US (and expansion) and the Nordic for playing 2-3 players. I want the Switzerland game if it is ever reprinted. Almost everyone I have introduced this game to has gone out and bought their own copy!
iOS: Ticket to Ride
I have all the expansions available in the iPad version. Currently, US Mega, US 1910, US Big Cities, US (traditional), UK (with stations), and Switzerland. I love the iOS version and think they did a terrific job. I do hope they improve chat, as it is limited to very short sentences and no way to scroll to see what messages you may have missed on the iPad. I dislike the ELO ranking system, as many people will refuse to play if you might decrease their coveted rank, or will simply leave games to avoid losing. Luckily these users do not represent the majority.
Ranking: Here is how I would rank TTR editions
Switzerland: Best for two players. To increase the difficulty, remove the country to country tickets.
Nordic: Best for three players. The board seems too spread out for us when we play only two players. When you can just work different parts of the board with minimal overlap, the game isn't as challenging which is part of the fun for me.
US: Best for four players and newbies. When we play five, and we have people who can't stand being blocked out of part of their routes, we steal the stations from the UK version. US expansion pack really feels like a must have to get full sized cards.
UK: Best for four or five people. Stations make all the difference. The layout of destinations seems to make this board feel more balanced to me than the US. [The US seems to most likely be won by whoever completes a coast-to-coast route. The UK has more variability in route points and section lengths scattered across the board]. The expansion pack is great because it adds tickets, but many of the people I have played with have not liked the depots and warehouses addition.
Marklin: Best for four players who want to deal with passengers. It is possible to play Marklin just for the map and forget about the passenger aspect. I liked the additional strategy of passengers to increase my points, but others in my group did not. This one gets played the least. Maybe Marklin is just a little too complicated for many people who want the simplicity of TTR, so it might be a transition game for people ready to branch out beyond TTR to more difficult rail games.