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Subject: Ticket to Ride: A Layman's Review rss

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Susie Rogers
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This is a review for people who aren't intense about gaming and play casually. This is written by a gaming layman, for gaming laymen. For those wondering, in my mind, Gaming layman = casual gamer who doesn't know what terms like "game weight and game components" mean.

Game Bits:

I really like Ticket to Ride's game bits. The little plastic train cars are really cute and fun! So cute, BBG decided to give us little trains to use in the threads, like so:redtrainyellowtraingreentrainbluetrainblacktrain Cute, right?

The fact that they give everyone a big pile of trains is cool because it gives you a little insight into people's mind. Some people keep their trains ordered in a neat little line and others leave them in a big pile. This picture (http://www.boardgamegeek.com/image/132637) is a really good example of what I am talking about. I think I gave it an extra star just for nostalgia. When my sister and I used to play monopoly, you could see the difference between us. My money lived in a very disorderly pile. I would just rifle through it to get what I wanted. My sister always had hers neatly organized in little stacks of each bill denomination . Good times.

So yeah, I love the little trains. Fun stuff!

The other bits are just as nice. The cards are on a nice stock and hold up well. The art is very nice and clean. The only problem is the inevitable argument of whether it's a purple train card or a pink train card (it's totally mauve, btw). The board is also very nice. It's a nice thick board with a pretty map on it. The colors are sharp and nice looking. I really like the game bits. They did a good job on them.

Rules Complexity

The rules are very simple. The object of the game is, like most, to score the most point. You score a point 3 different ways. During the game, you can score points by claiming routes (the longer routes net you more points). After the game is over, you add up your completed destination tickets and score those points. The person with the longest continuous track gets 10 extra points.

On each turh, you have 3 things you can do: pick up train cards, claim a route, or get a new destination ticket(s). There is some stuff about which cards you can draw/pick up and how claiming routes, but it's a really simple game.

This is a game that you can take the shrink wrap off, read through the rules once and just play. I really like this aspect to the game. It's a big selling point in my book.

Play:

Play is simple and very fun. Because of the limited options of things you can do, the game play usually moves quickly. This is good if you are an impatient person like me. Also, this is easily a game you can play non-competitively. I enjoy playing games where my goal is to score a lot of points and not necessarily to stomp on the other players.

Unfortunately, this game can get really nasty sometimes. If someone takes a route that another player needs(intentionally or unintentionally), then bad feelings can occur. Depending on who you are playing with, this kind of thing can make or break a game. I played an online game where I blocked someone by accident, I was just trying to connect routes. My opponent got so mad he blocked me as much as he could and started trash talking. That's no good! It takes the fun out of it. If you play, you should be careful to not get upset if someone blocks you. It's part of the game and a strategy people can employ to yield maximum results. Because of this aspect, TtR only gets 3.5 stars.

Strategy

I really like the strategies behind this game. There are several strategies you can use, but they are usually simple strategies. My husband and I both use different strategies and I will share them with you here.

I like to pick two long destination tickets at the beginning. Then I will spend the first several rounds accumulating as many cards as I can and get big sets. Then I will try to complete my two long routes and connect them into one long route. Then I will draw lots of destination tickets and try to get some that I have already finished or can finish in a short amount of time. If I get a ticket that I can not complete, I will draw more to make up for the lost points.

My husband has a much more patient strategy (mine keeps me kind of busy). He also tries to get all the long routes and hooks them together. He will take long, winding paths to complete his two routes, trying to get only 4, 5, and 6 car routes. He's kinda sneaky because it will look like he is just ambling around the board, then he will somehow play his last 6 trains and connect his route into one long route. He has ALWAYS gotten the longest train bonus at the end. He usually wins as well. I stand by my strategy! I lose against my husband, but I usually win against other people.

Anyways, there are many different strategies, but they are all just as simple. This is a good thing!

Note: strategies change between a 2 player and a 4 player game, but this is like most games. You just have to think differently.

Set up, break down

Setting up TtR is very easy. You lay out the board, deal out some train cards and some destination cards, lay out 5 train cards for everyone to see, and then hand everyone a baggy of their trains. That's it. It doesn't get much simpler than that!

Break down is surprisingly easy as well. Despite the fact that there is usually around 100 plastic trains on the board at the end of the game, it's a snap to clean up. Each color train comes with it's own little baggy and it's easy enough to scoop them right into the bag. Because of the plastic cars and nice board, the trains slide easily across the board and into a bag. This also makes them easy to separate on the board (it also means that if someone bumps the table during the game, that person is probably in for a beating).

The most annoying aspect of the game is the fat stack of train cards. Keeping them shuffled and stacked is a royal pain. I have tiny hands, so I hate shuffling. That's my husband's job. Since it's not part of set up or break down and I can get my husband to shuffle, it has no bearing on the score. I just thought I would mention it.

Conclusion:

This game gets a little over a rating from me. I also have given it a 9 using BBG's ranking system.

I really enjoy this game and it is definitely my favorite edition of the Ticket to Ride series. I know a lot of people prefer the Europe or Marklin edition because it adds some additional rules complexity to the game, but I feel that this original version is very good because of it's simplicity. It feels very streamlined compared to the others games where I felt the other bits were just tacked on. There is still a challenge in scoring as many points as you can and beating your opponents. The strategies aren't complex, but you can use different strategies for different opponents or situations and come up with a challenging but fun game.

As an added bonus for me, this game is a very useful tool for me in the classroom. I teach English to Japanese students and I can use this game to help this practice English. Obviously, it's only simply English they get to use, but it's a good way of 'tricking' them into having fun while using English. It also shows a little about American geography.
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Peter Mumford
United States
Somerville
Massachusetts
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sujihime wrote:
As an added bonus for me, this game is a very useful tool for me in the classroom. I teach English to Japanese students and I can use this game to help this practice English. Obviously, it's only simply English they get to use, but it's a good way of 'tricking' them into having fun while using English. It also shows a little about American geography.

What a great use for a game! Maybe Shogun or Samuai would be a good way for Americans to learn Japanese. Spanish with El Grande? Russian with St. Petersburg? Lots of possibilities here.
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