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Subject: Ticket to Ride: the Big Picture and the Fine Print rss

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Hans Messersmith
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Ticket to Ride: the Big Picture and the Fine Print
A review by Hans Messersmith

The Big Picture
Ticket to Ride is a fantastic railroad-themed game for all ages, where players compete to complete their rail-routes between cities and get the highest score. It is a game that is simple enough for my nine year old daughter to not only grasp easily but also to play well, and yet deep enough for this 37 year old gamer to want to play again and again. I really can't think of anyone who wouldn't enjoy this game. 9/10

The Fine Print
The Game
Ticket to Ride, designed by the legendary Alan R. Moon and published by Days of Wonder, is a railroad themed game, where players compete to complete routes between US cities on a map of the USA. Players receive ticket cards which give them specific routes they must complete to gain points, but players also gain points for connecting cities as well. The player with the highest score at the end wins.

The Rules
The Ticket to Ride game board consists of a map of the United States, with a selection of cities marked on it. The cites are connected by chains of rectangles of various colours that make up the routes of the game. EAch player has a pile of little plastic trains that are the same size as the rectangles. There is also a deck of train cards, and a deck of ticket cards, and a scoring track around the outside edge of the board. Each train card has a picture of a train car of some sort on it (box car, reefer, locomotive, etc.) in a particular colour (the locomotives are "wild" and can count for any colour). The ticket cards each show a particular set of two US cities, and a point value. If, by the end of the game, the player has connected those cities with an unbroken chain of their own train cars, they get the points for that ticket, otherwise they LOSE the point value.

At the beginning of the game, each player is dealt four train cards, and also three tickets. At this point, each player must keep two of their three ticket cards, although they can choose to keep all three. Then, five train cards are placed face up near the deck of train cards, and the game begins.

On each turn, a player may do ONE of three things:
* Buy a route: If a player has a set of train cards of the same colour and number as the connecting route between two cities, then that player can "buy" that route, and place one of their plastic train cars on each rectangle in the route. So, for example, St. Louis and Chicago have a chain of 5 green rectangles between them. If a player has a set of five green and/or "wild" train cards, that player can buy that route. Many cities have two different routes between them of different colours; in a four to five player game each of these routes may be bought by a different player. In the two or three player game, if a route has been purchased between two cities, the other route is blocked. Each route purchased scores points, with greater points scored for longer routes; 1 pt for a short 1 rectangle route up to 15 points for a long six rectangle route.
* Get train cards: A player can take up to two train cards each turn, either from the five face up cards or from the deck. The player can choose to take from either source, and can combine the sources in a turn. Whenever a face up train card is taken, it is immediately replaced with a new face up card. The only caveat to this process is that if a player takes a "wild" locomotive card from the face up cards, that is the only card he or she may take.
* Get new tickets: A player can take three tickets from the ticket deck. They must keep at least one of these tickets, but can keep up to all three if they wish.

The game ends when a player has only 2 or less train cars remaining in their supply. At that point, each player, including that player, gets one more turn, and the game is over. Players score points for their purchased routes, for any tickets they have completed, and a single player gets an extra 10 points if their routes for the longest route of any player. The player with the highest score wins.

The Components
The components of Ticket to Ride are of excellent quality. The board is beautiful, with a kind of Victorian "Around the World in 80 Days" type them. The train cards are brightly coloured, with each train car illustration looking like it came right out of a period train spotting guide. All the cards are durable, although their small size makes them a bit difficult to shuffle. The plastic train cars are brightly coloured and seem durable. The rule sheet is well written and lovely to look at, with the same Victorian illustrations as the game board.

The FUN!
Ticket to Ride is just about the best family game I have ever played. There are few games that allow players of widely different ages to play with each other with everyone having the same amount of fun. The rules are quite simple and younger players can rapidly get the hang of what needs to be done to score points, while the older players can still play, for the most part, to win, and be given a run for their money by the youngters. Everyone loves the feeling of finally completeing that tricky ticket for New York to Seattle, or getting that 15 points by buying a six rectangle route.

That being said, when played strictly among cut-throat, win at all cost gamers, the game also shines, and in fact is almost a different game. The reason for this is that the game is highly competetive, with players racing to buy the limited connections to key cities. Moreover, its quite easy for player 1 to ruin player 2's day by buying a particular route that it is obvious player 2 needs (from the pattern of other routes they have purchased). And there is strategy as well, often set after you see the first few tickets you get; do you go for a few long tickets, and the long, juicy 6 rectangle routes that make them up, or do you go for lots of shorter, interconnected tickets?

Who shouldn't play Ticket to Ride?
People who don't like to have fun? Seriously, I'm hard pressed to think of anyone who would simply hate the game. There is a fair amount of luck involved in the train cards a person receives, and especially in the ticket cards if you risk taking more after your original few, so people who prefer to limit the randomness in their games may not be satisfied.

Final Thoughts
* Never forget the increasing return of score points for longer routes. If you think of each of your trains as a potential score, then the longer routes you make out of the same number of trains, the better you will do in the long run. For example, with 10 train cars, I could make 10 points out of 5 two rectangle routes, or I could make 20 points out of two five rectangle routes, or better yet 22 points out of a six and a four rectangle route. Make your train cards work for you.
* Always look for the most efficient way to complete your tickets. Sometimes the shortest route between two cities is not the best way to compete the ticket for those two cities. Think of all your tickets holistically and look for ways to complete them all together. This will leave you more train cars to score more points with.
* I really can't recommend this game highly enough to those with children 8 years old or older. Kids immediately grasp the rules, and mark my words, they will be beating you soundly if you give them any room to do so.
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Jim Cote
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skalchemist wrote:
Seriously, I'm hard pressed to think of anyone who would simply hate the game.


Me. yuk
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Hans Messersmith
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Hamilton
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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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ekted wrote:
Me. yuk


Good to know.
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Shane Walsh
Australia
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It ain't rocket science but TTR must have some aspects that make it worth playing ? ....
 
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Hans Messersmith
Canada
Hamilton
Ontario
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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
badge
Twilight, I only meant to stay awhile Twilight, I gave you time to steal my mind Away from me.
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Port Power 1914 wrote:
It ain't rocket science but TTR must have some aspects that make it worth playing ? ....


I'm not sure what you mean, Shane. Or are you talking to Jim C?
 
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