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Subject: The Results of My First Try Playing TTR with Young Children rss

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James Fehr
Canada
Edmonton
Alberta
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Last Sunday afternoon I was looking for a boardgame to play with my four oldest children that would last about an hour, and decide to bring out Ticket to Ride. I had played this once before with my oldest daughter, who is 9, but never with my 7 year-old boy or 6-year-old twin boys (not for a long time anyway). I was very curious to see how much help they would need.

The game got off to a pretty good start after I quickly explained the rules. My 6-year-old twins did need some help pointing out the routes on their tickets, as they haven't been reading long and their grasp of U.S. geography is pretty much non-existent. As the game progressed, a few things became apparent that I would imagine are common when playing with children:
- No one seemed to care about the other children knowing the routes they were trying to build, and I didn't see any reason to try and keep everyone's tickets hidden.
- Each child was trying to work on one route at a time. This worked out fine, although I told them that as they grew older, they might do better if they tried to work on multiple tickets at once
- No one was ever trying to deliberately block anyone else from finishing a route. I even highlighted where I was trying to go to see if they would try and stop me, but they were too busy working on their routes to care.
- Watching the scoring markers jumping around on the track was a little distracting for some of the children. If a person was near the end of the pack, they often got worried, and I could watch the relief spread on the faces when their markers would leap-frog over others' to the front. They didn't totally understand how much the final scoring of the routes would affect the final outcome of the game.
- Note: I took out the cards from the Mystery Train expansion as I didn't want to have to worry about explaining some of the special cards.

Overall, they surprised me by their very good grasp of the rules. The older two needed practically no help at all, and actually did really well. The game was pretty tense for my 9-year-old and one of the twins, but everyone enjoyed it. An aside: The kids were glad to see Calgary on the board (how many games have Calgary on the map?!!!) as the one city on the map they've actually been to, being about 3 hours from where we live.

It was interesting to see the strategies each child seemed to develop on their own:
- The 9-year-old never picked up any more tickets than 3, and was having a lot of trouble with completing one due to some severe congestion around one of the cities on the route. She had the smarts to try and pick up significant points by completing larger sections of track that didn't correspond to her tickets, and ended up doing pretty well.
- The 7-year-old just kept plodding along, methodically finishing his routes and picked up new tickets a couple of times. By the end of the game, he had completed all 5 of his tickets, 3 or 4 of which were for double digits.
- One of the twins seemed to usually draw 2 train cards from the top of the stack on his turn, as he was looking for just the right cards to complete whichever route he was working on at the time. Needless to say, he always had a pile of cards at his side, but in the end, he was able to use most of them. In fact, he would have done really well if it wasn't for the fact that the final route he had picked up was for a lot of points and he ran out of plastic trains to complete it - by one train. Poor guy (but I like our kids to learn to handle disappointment).
- The other twin was also drawing the top 2 cards from the card pile a lot. He was very happy to finish his first 3 routes in good time, but then wanted to work on a 20-point route from Los Angelos to New York that he didn't quite finish by the end of it. He didn't mind very much - it was just fun for him to try.
- Meanwhile, I was trying to keep up with the pace of the leading children, but hadn't drawn very good tickets to accomplish this with. Near the end I completed a route along the top of the map, picking up a couple of 6 train links. I wanted to finish near the front, but not too far out in front.

By the end of the game, 3 of us had used ALL of our plastic trains, and the other 2 had only a few left if that. What was supposed to be a 1 hour game ended up being more like 1.5 hours.

In the end, my 7-year-old's ability to complete all of his routes, including some 5 and 6 car links, brought him 126 points. The 9-year-old finished with 84, the first twin with 81, and the second with 76.
Where did I end up? It turns out that an 8-point route I thought I had completed was actually missing a small link between 2 of the cities that I didn't see until the final scoring. That dropped me 16 points from where I should have been. I did just barely get the 10 longest train points, but that put me at a final score of 111 points. If I had completed that one route, I would have beat the 7-year-old by one point. As it was, he reveled in his victory, and I'm glad I missed that one link.

All of the kids are now anxious to play it again as soon as possible. Now that I know how well it works with even fairly young children, I am too!
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Steven Dennis
United States
Covington
Louisiana
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Re: The Results of My First Try Playing TTR with Young Child
Great report. As a parent I love to hear reviews centered on how a game plays with younger children. Good Job!

Steven
 
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T. Fred
United States
Phoenix
Arizona
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I was wondering about trying this game w/ my kids and nephew. Thanks for the report.
 
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Jim Patterson
United States
Iowa City
Iowa
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Thanks for the report. I'll have to give this a go, too.
 
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Julie Duffy
United States
Phoenixville
Pennsylvania
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Re: The Results of My First Try Playing TTR with Young Child
Great report. You kept four children busy for an hour and a half? Never let anyone say board games are 'too expensive' again!

My husband and I play like your kids: not too competitive, just trying to complete routes.
 
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Eddy Richards
Scotland
Allanton
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Re: The Results of My First Try Playing TTR with Young Child
This pretty much mirrors my experience of playing with my 6 year old (now 7) - he loves playing it, and grasped the rules very quickly - they are fairly intuitive. The first few times we played we omitted some of the more complex rules (Stations, tunnels, ferries - this is TTR:Europe I should add which has added these to the original TTR I think?) but now we include these.

He also tends to work on one route (and often, one piece of track) at once and doesn't usually try to do a number at once. He also struggles to find the places on the tickets on the board, so we usually play semi-openly so I can tell him or remind him where they are.

He quite likes picking up the locomotive (joker) cards (do they have these in basic TTR?), I think because of his method of completing one section at a time in an orderly way.

I haven't yet tried this with my 5 year old but I think I will as he would enjoy it. I have played it with a 3 y.o. nephew, but he was happy just to put the pieces on the map where his father told him to. That child is a railway fanatic though, and just loved the thought of a train game and requested to play it repeatedly (he'd seen me and son no. 1 play it earlier in the week when we were on holiday in the summer)

It's a good game for children though, and an entertaining (and even educational way of spending an hour or so with them).

Nice report - has reminded me to get this out with the boys soon!

Eddy
 
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Take joy from your wins; take lessons from your losses.
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Riva
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Re: The Results of My First Try Playing TTR with Young Child
    Thank you for this report. I play TtR online with my daughter (9) and my son (6) on a regular basis and they do quite well. I have twins (almost 4) that are not ready for it yet, but your writeup leads me to hope for good things in the future.

    I have Europe, and generally we leave the tunnels and stations out of the picture, but do include the ferries. My six-year-old enjoys the game and plays with all of his cards up on the table. As they are not cutthroating yet this is not much of an issue.

    They are not at a level where they can give me a run yet, but I think that will be soon with my daughter.

             Sag.


 
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Cheryl Dunning

Arizona
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Thank you for your report, I have an almost 5 year old who doesn't quite read yet, but I am hopeful that I will be playing this with her soon. I may get the USA map too (I have Europe) just because I like both anyway.
 
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