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Subject: For the Meeple, by the Meeple (Review of Ticket to Ride) rss

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Michael Carpenter
United States
West Virginia
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BOX ART




QUICK FACTS
Style of Game: Family Game
Play Time: 30 to 60 minutes
Theme: Developing Train Routes
Number of Players: 2-5
Main Mechanics: Hand Management, Route Building
Components: Okay
Weight: Light

SUMMARY
Players will draft cards to develop routes for their trains. Developing routes to connect specific cities across the United States will earn the players extra points but the routes are not required to lay down tracks all around America.


THEME AND MECHANISMS
I don't feel that there is enough theme here to even feel as if the mechanisms can blend with a theme. Laying the train pieces on the board to show the routes you have connected is the closest thing to connecting the mechanisms and the theme that I can think of for this one.


SETUP
Place the board in the middle of the table. Each player should take their score track token and the 45 train pieces of their color. All scoring track tokens should be placed on the 0 spaces of the scoring track.

Game Board:


Train Pieces and Score Marker:


One player should shuffle the train cards (124 in total) and give each player 4 cards face-down. There are 8 different colors of cards and 14 locomotives cards that act as wild cards.



Once each player has received 4 cards the remaining cards should be placed in a stack by the board and the top 5 cards should be flipped face-up.

The longest Path Bonus Card should be placed near the board as well.

Longest Path Bonus Card and Destination Cards:


The Destination Cards should be shuffled and each player should receive 3 cards face-down. Each player must keep two of these cards to start the game but players may keep all three if they wish. Any Destination Cards that are not kept should be placed on the bottom of the Destination Card deck. The deck should then be placed near the board. Players should keep these Destination Cards secret until the end of the game.

You are now ready to begin the game.



GAMEPLAY
Players are attempting to score the most points at the end of the game but achieving three ways of scoring points.

1. Claiming a route between two adjacent cities on the map.

2. Successfully completing a continuous path of routes between two cities listed on your Destination Cards.

3. Completing the Longest Continuous Path of routes.


The game is played in turns. There are no designated rounds in the game. On a player's turn he or she may choose to do one of the following actions:

1. Draw Train Car Cards: The player may draw 2 Train Cards. He or she may take any one of the face-up cards or draw the top card from the deck. If the player takes a face-up card, a new card should be revealed from the deck immediately. The player may the draw a second card, either from the face-up cards or from the deck. If a player ever takes a face-up locomotive card as their card, that is the only card they make take. If they draw locomotive card from the deck as their first draw, they may draw a second card.


2. Claim a Route: The player may claim a route on the board by playing a set of Train Car Cards that match the color and the length of the route he or she is claiming. The player should discard these the necessary cards and then place the appropriate number of train car pieces on the route that has been claimed (shown below).

The player has played three cards (2 white and 1 locomotive/wild).


The player may now place three of his or her train car pieces on the board in a route of three white spaces.




The player may also place his or her train tokens on a three space route that is gray (wild).






When a player claims a route he or she should check the Route Scoring Table to see how many points they have earned.



In this case the player would score 4 points for placing three train pieces on the board. The player should immediately move their score track token 4 spaces. Players will move their score track markers after every claimed route.

Some of the routes on the board show two side-by-side spaces. These routes allow two players to place train pieces on the routes in 4 and 5 player games. Otherwise, only one player may claim these routes.


Draw Destination Cards: If a player takes this action he or she may draw 3 Destination Cards and must keep at least one of them but may keep any number he or she wishes. Any returned cards should be placed on the bottom of the deck.

The Destination Cards show two cities that are on the board. If a player is able to place his or her own colored train cards on route that connect the two cities on the Destination Card then the player will score the number of points that is shown on the card. There is no limit to how many Destination Cards a player may complete during the game.


*Note:
The Longest Path Bonus Card is awarded to the player who has the longest continuous route of connected train pieces on the board. These train cars do not have to connect any specific cities. They must only be connected and the path may not double back on itself to include any smaller branches of the path. This card is worth 10 points. In case of a tie all tied players receive 10 points.

Players will continue to take one of these three actions on their turn until one player claims a route and is left with two or less train pieces at the end of his or her turn. Once this continues each player will get one more turn, including the player that triggered the end game. Once these final turns are taken each player should calculate their scores (remember players should have already moved their score track marker during the game for claimed routes). Therefore, end of game scoring revolves around the Longest Path Bonus Card and all completed Destination Cards. If a player does not complete a Destination Card that is in his or her hand he or she will lose the corresponding number of points on the card.

The player with the most points wins the game. If there is a tie, the player with the most completed Destination Cards wins.


FINAL THOUGHTS
PROS:
- This is considered one of the top gateway games in the hobby.
- The fast pace keeps the players engaged.
- There are two depths of strategy that can entertain multiple levels of gamers.
- Anyone of almost any age can understand the core rules of this game.


CONS:
- The game can be pretty mean at certain player counts.
- Despite there being a deeper strategy than the initial game presents, it is more important to have a keen sense of timing than a complex strategy. This is enjoyable, but not overly entertaining for gamers.


It would be hard to deny that Ticket to Ride (the base game) is a great gateway game. You can show this game to a lot of people that enjoy more mainstream, mass market games, and they will likely enjoy it. You can also show this game to non-gamers and it's core is simple enough to make it easy to learn, but the potential for being mean allows people to become engaged.

Where this game shines for me is the deeper layer of play that is available. Stocking up on cards and unloading them at the right time makes the game more tense than if players are simply claiming routes as they obtain the appropriate cards. Claiming routes too soon can give away your intentions (Destination Cards) and allow observant players to make your route much harder to connect. Learning to sense when to unload your numerous routes in consecutive turns determines how good you are at this game in my opinion.

With that said, I feel like this is not an exciting game. Now, I don't want to sound like this is a bad design because it is definitely not. However, my rating of a 7 is based solely on the design of the game. I personally have no desire to play the game unless I feel it is the absolute best possible choice for the situation. Again, it isn't that the game is bad, I just don't enjoy it that much. Sometimes simplicity in a game is great, brilliant and impressive. Sometimes simplicity can be dull and boring. I find Ticket to Ride's simplicity to be somewhere in between those two ends of the spectrum. I do stay engaged during the game but I never feel like I am doing much more than hoping to see the cards I need come out. I realize that you can start taking several colored cards because you are stocking up, but doing that just isn't that exciting to me.

The base game is SO simplistic that it can just be mechanical and a tad monotonous (in each play and from game to game). There is no theme to latch onto and there is very little strategy. There is strategy, just nothing exciting at all. My choices in this game are almost meaningless in my opinion. Should I take a couple blue train cards this time? Oh, they were taken. It's okay, I'll grab some green train cards this time and get my blue cards later. Maybe I will take a locomotive card instead. There are choices, but I don't think they are exciting. Even if my initial approach to completing a route is blocked I can just go a longer way. Yes, it will hurt me to have to do so, but there's nothing I can do about it anyway. I can't stop you from placing your train cars, so there's no crying over spilled milk. I just have to start doing the same thing with some different colors.

The only thing I can say resembles decision-making is when players have to decide if they are going to spend time blocking or focus on completing Destination Cards. There is no real benefit to building a strategy around blocking though unless you are extremely lucky to have your routes move through the same area as another player. That isn't a tough decision though, it is more of a tactical move that you can toss in there occasionally because it the OBVIOUS decision.

Again, let me stress that I totally understand that the game does its job as a gateway game and non-gamers can certainly enjoy this game very easily, but that doesn't necessarily mean it is all that great for gamers and I don't think the base game is all that great. At least not as much as people seem to think.

The good gateway game design warrants a good score in my opinion. My lack of interest in playing the base game keeps it from being rated any higher. If you are going to look into this game, look into the expansions as well! The expansions are where this game really shines.



Rating - 7/10


If you enjoy my reviews please recommend and check out my geeklist For the Meeple, by the Meeple
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BLIND PEW
Wales
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the first half is just a repeat of the rules
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Curt Frantz
United States
Pennsylvania
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jeremylaurie wrote:
the first half is just a repeat of the rules


Is that a problem?
 
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Michael Carpenter
United States
West Virginia
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jeremylaurie wrote:
the first half is just a repeat of the rules



There isn't much to the setup or gameplay so there wasn't much of a way to spice it up and still get the point across. I think a lot of reviewers include the setup and gameplay to allow for readers to get a feel for the game. That way if they do not have the game, rule book, etc. they can see how the game flows.
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Sven F.
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MariettaTennis wrote:

SUMMARY
Players will draft cards to develop routes for their trains. Developing routes to connect specific cities across the United States will earn the players extra points but the routes are not required to lay down tracks all around America.


United States and southern Canada...

MariettaTennis wrote:

One player should shuffle the train cards (124 in total) and give each player 4 cards face-down. There are 8 different colors of cards and 14 locomotives cards that act as wild cards.


110 train cards rather than 124.
 
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