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Subject: Two players, young and oldish, ride the rails rss

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Hans Messersmith
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With your head held high and your scarlet lies You came down to me from the open skies It's either real or it's a dream There's nothing that is in between
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Twilight, I only meant to stay awhile Twilight, I gave you time to steal my mind Away from me.
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TAKE HOME POINTS:
* Ticket to Ride is a fanstastic "equalizing" game, that seems to let players of all ages play together and still have a pile of fun.
* The "only one player per double-route" rule in 2-3 player games makes a BIG difference, and can really catch you off guard if you aren't use to it.

My daughter Audrey (age 9) and I had a game of Ticket to Ride tonight. I was a bit surprised she agreed to play one on one against me, since she has never really played on her own before, usually teaming with some adult in the game. But she stepped out tonight and really showed her stuff.

In my initial three tickets I had all really short routes, two east of the Mississippi and then Denver to El Paso. I decided to keep them all. Audrey kept all of hers as well.

On my first turn, I grabbed another three tickets, and again got mostly short routes east of the Mississippi. I decided to keep all of them as well and go for more tickets. I also tried to figure out a way to get all the cities in a single long route.

It was only several turns into the game that I realized just how different a two player game of Ticket to Ride is from a four player game. Audrey started grabbing routes in the middle of the board, and every one she took blocked it off to me. OUCH! I quickly realized that my lofty goal of connecting all my cities in one big circle was going to be impossible, and I would actually be lucky to get all the tickets period.

About half way into the game, Audrey had been collecting alot of train cards, and was commenting about how she wasn't getting the colors she needed. I suggested she look carefully and see if there weren't other ways she could get to her cities with the cards she did have. The she asked "do I have to buy routes to complete my tickets, or can I just buy routes for score, Dad?" I answered that of course she could, and if she had 6 of one colour train, it could be a very good idea. She smiled...and proceeded to get Houston to El Paso, a route I had been saving up for for a while. ACK!!!! I couldn't help letting an involuntary gurgle of disbelief. In the end it didn't affect me nearly as badly as I thought it would, but it was definitely a heart-rending moment.

At several points during the game, I layed routes, and then immediately realized I had made a mistake; I had made it obvious that I wanted to connect two cities, and if Audrey so chose, she could totally mess with me by grabbing at two route and blocking me. In each case I sat there, trying to keep a poker face, praying my daughter would not notice. I was lucky; she normally is a cut throat game player and doesn't hesitate to shoot another player's game in the foot if she can.

In the end, it came down to an EXTREMELY lucky draw for me of two wild cards off the top of the deck, which allowed me to complete my last ticket AND use all my pieces. Audrey was only one white card away from completing her last ticket. If she had had a turn or two longer, or single wild card, the game would have gone completely differently. Final score was Dad 121 (with longest route) and Audrey 93.

Ticket to Ride continues to impress me as a true family game, playable by almost any age with great enjoyment had by all involved. I hope this is the first of many one on one games she and I play together.
 
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