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Subject: Ticket to Ride: a review of my 43rd ranked game rss

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Mike Amos
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This review is part of a series I am doing to follow up on creating my Top 50 Games of all time list in 2013. Like TtR, many of these reviews are of well worn games and serve primarily as a place to further hash out my thoughts, as much for my benefit as anyone else.

I don't think there is a single game that I can name that I would be more likely to point out to anyone, regardless of his or her level of interest in boardgames and say, if you haven't played this then do so now. Ticket to Ride, in my mind, is easily the most accessible game to that average American (I don't have the background to speak for anyone else). I don't though, always read the most accessible books or watch the most accessible movies. Sometimes I want something simple but reasonably substantial but not all the time.

Ticket to Ride suffers in a few areas:
First, there can be a lot of dead turns. Like the pause in every conversation that everyone finds awkward and annoying, multiple times in the course of game there are just multiple times around the table that everyone is drawing blindly because no one wants the cards that are out or can get anything of value. Ticket to Ride has added several mechanics but never really fixed this.

Second is the expansion problem. TtR just keeps adding expansions, because if you can make a buck off a theme why not. The problem is that to keep people interested they keep adding a new mechanic each time. This is great for the couple hundred hardcore players but the new mechanics get cumbersome and messy, they move the game away from the simplicity that makes is so accessible. As one moves to more complex versions of the game, the same energy can often be spent to reap a higher reward by just learning a new game.

Finally, there is an issue that may not be the games fault entirely. Because of the gateway nature of TtR, it tends to bring in people that are not prepared for the interaction that can hide in the game. As a result, the game is most often played in a very aseptic fashion. You play your little train game over there and I'll play mine here and we'll have a very congenial race. This game is balanced towards this kind of play but a truly cutthroat game of TtR is amazing. Watching or participating in active spoiling and misdirection is so much fun. I would like it if the game was more balanced towards this but I think it would have less success as a gateway game.

So for being the most solid and accessible gateway game I'm including this game in my top 50. For being a game that hews too closely to the lack of interaction of most board games, introduces too many new mechanics and having dead turns, it lives down in the forties. If you've not played it, you need to check it out. If you have but are done, I respect that. If you're still into it, keep going.
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C L
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Great read. I enjoyed your variation on the typical review format. Skip all the fluff and get right to the best part of any review, your thoughts and opinions on the game. You brought up some points I hadn't considered before.

Not trying to step on your toes here but I would give your series an official name, for example..Mike's Musings-Top 50 edition.
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Mike Amos
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Thanks CL. No toe stepping was felt. I probably should give it some kind of name. I've been muddling through the review process so far I've had a couple games that have been deemed not worthy of being posted by reviewers and they're not entirely wrong. I'm still trying to figure out how to handle those I thought about moving all of them to the BGG blog format but I don't know. I enjoy some of the feedback I've seen and feel like that would largely be lost.
 
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Black Finn
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I always like to read reviews and game narrative on the older games as well as the new stuff so thanks for kicking this one around again

My son has the original and Switzerland and I own the "Europe" edition. I actually think the Europe version is better than the original because you can still have a cuthroat game with 4 but the station option gives you some keep alive hope if a route gets trashed early on.

I also agree with you, generally on expansions and reworks. So many of the games do it and by and large, I find the spin offs and also most expansions superfluous and not adding anything to better the original. I own two expansions myself and rarely ever touch them. We occasionally play the warehouses just for something different.

I felt the same about Settlers. The original Siedler remains the best. If you have a winner, why change it?

I would recommend Ticket to Ride or Ticket to Ride Europe for competition board gaming and for any gaming group who don't already know the game. I'd put it higher than the 40s though. There have been an awful lot of good games published but you know, we rarely ever play a game of Ttr and don't enjoy it.
 
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