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Game Preview: Ticket to Ride: New York, or A Tiny Ride in the Big Apple

W. Eric Martin
United States
North Carolina
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When Alan R. Moon's Ticket to Ride hit the market in 2004, it launched a wave of enthusiasm that's still creating ripple effects in 2018. I remember playing Ticket to Ride for the first time in a Barnes & Noble south of Boston on a copy (I believe) owned by Alison Hansel, creator of the term "meeple". This was in April 2004, less than a year after my discovery that pockets of gamers lived all around me in southeastern Massachusetts, many of them ordering huge boxes regularly from Adam Spielt and other German online retailers.

That first game experience was like lightning. So fast, yet so engaging! I ordered a copy immediately, acquired the Mystery Train expansion that matched the tiny cards in the first edition of the game, and have kept riding this train for years.

Unlike many publishers, Days of Wonder had a philosophy of releasing only one or two new standalone games annually. The company wanted to devote everything it could to getting the game right, then promoting it continually in order to convert it to an evergreen title on its catalog. Not every DoW title reached evergreen status, but a good percentage of them did, with the publisher continuing to release expansions and spinoffs for them in subsequent years.

The latest such release in this game series is Ticket to Ride: New York, which keeps the gameplay nearly identical to the original game, while shrinking the game board (and the playing time) to a quarter of the size. Players now start with only two transportation cards in hand, one or two tickets, and a supply of fifteen vehicles — taxis in this case. With six card draws, you could have fourteen cards in hand, and with four routes claimed, you could have thirteen taxis on the board, triggering the final round of play. Eleven turns in the shortest possible game?! Yes, indeed.

With gameplay being so short, I've seen little blocking in the ten games that I've played on a review copy from Days of Wonder. As with 2016's Ticket to Ride: First Journey, you hit the gas immediately in TtR: NY because you know you don't have time to waste. After all, getting from Brooklyn to Lincoln Center — the two most distant points on the game board — takes two-thirds of your taxis, so any diversion might leave you stranded! Maybe I just haven't played with jerky, block-prone players yet. There's still time to experience that in the months and years ahead...

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