"Play is an essential component of Wholehearted living." Brené Brown
What do you mean we don't have time for another game?
Introduction: Our Story
That cold, January evening I sat on our Livingroom couch doing what I often did – browsing through the Touch Arcade website, doing my best to find a new game that I would enjoy. Tap – tap – tap – tap, “Nothing looks very exciting,” I thought to myself. And that’s when I stumbled over a comment about Ticket to Ride for iOS. Curious, I searched the site for more information on Ticket to Ride only to find a glowing review.
A modern Board Game? On the iPad? My curiosity continued until I had found other modern Board Game apps with glowing reviews as well – most specifically, Carcassonne. At that point in time I was completely out of the loop when it came to modern tabletop gaming. Sure, I played simple Board Games as a kid, and even enjoyed a game of Mexican Train, Balderdash or some other party games. So, after stumbling onto Ticket to Ride for iOS, my curiosity continued to get the best of me. Upon reading glowing review after review, I finally caved in and purchased both apps, focusing first on Ticket to Ride.
As soon as the app was downloaded, I watched a short video tutorial and played my first game. Intrigued, I played again. And again. And again. When my lovely bride came into the room later I said, “I have a game I’d like you to check out.”
“You know how much I hate video games,” she stated, in a rather kind way.
“Yes, yes, I know. But this isn’t a video game. It’s a board game. One we’ve never played, but I think you’d really enjoy it.”
She enjoyed table games. Her family of origin often played simple games like Mexican Train as well, but we didn’t take many opportunities to play games together. As I mentioned before, neither of us were aware of what Modern Tabletop Gaming had become.
It took over a ½ hour of coaxing, but she finally caved in and decided to give it a try. I’m pretty sure I didn’t see my iPad for the next three days, as she was hooked. She smiled when winning, and yelled at the AI when she didn’t. I think I had as much fun watching her play as she had playing.
We had a great marriage to that point in time, but had never found a hobby that interested both of us. I’d play simple video games – she’d make crafts. I’d go for 15-20 mile bike rides, she’d walk. We were twelve years into a wonderful marriage, but we hadn’t found many things that we enjoyed doing – together. Ticket to Ride on iOS changed all of that. After a few weeks of playing Ticket to Ride and Carcassonne on iOS, we made our first gaming purchase from CSI. We’ve never looked back.
(Our first order from CSI!)
(Our Current Gaming Closet - not everything fits. We're gonna need a bigger shelf!)
Ticket to Ride:
Thirteen years after its original release, there’s not much more that can be said about Ticket to Ride. Nevertheless, with Ticket to Ride being the Gateway Game that converted our family to modern gaming, I felt it was due its own review.
Artwork and Components (Base Game + 1910 Expansion):
When it comes to Artwork and overall Presentation, Days of Wonder really knows their stuff! When we first opened Ticket to Ride, we were impressed with the overall quality of the playing board, the artwork, and the components. The Playing Board was (and continues to be) one of the larger ones for any game in our collection. It looks fantastic spread out on the table, and is very inviting, even to non-gamers. Not only that, but the additional touch of having a few extra train pieces of each color shows that Days of Wonder wanted to impress their customers.
Both the Train Cards the Tickets for the Ticket to Ride U.S. map are…small. This is, perhaps, the one aspect of the components that Days of Wonder could have improved upon. However, having read a great deal about the physical game before making the order, I knew the cards and tickets would be small. However, having purchased the 1910 Expansion with the Base Game, it wasn’t at all a concern.
(1910 Expansion Cards/Tickets are Larger & Easier to Hold.)
A simple feature that may go unnoticed by some is that the game board includes a symbol for each color, so those who are colorblind ought not be deterred from enjoying it. There are symbols on the corner of each card that correspond to the same color on the playing board.
(Cards and Game Board are Color-Blind Friendly.)
Ticket to Ride is considered to be a “Gateway Game”, meaning that the overall gameplay is simple to learn, so anybody can sit down to enjoy it. Our youngest daughter was only 5 years old when we first received it, and at the time she was able to play “open handed” with us. Four years later, she can easily play any of the Ticket to Ride Maps, as well as much more complex games. Overall, it’s perfect for families or those who only play a game casually. But there’s still enough to it that experienced gamers can enjoy it at the beginning or end of a Game Night.
Beginning of Game:
At the beginning of the game, each player receives:
1. 45 Train Pieces (their choice of color)
2. 4 Random Train Cards from the Train Card Deck
3.3 Tickets from the Ticket Deck. (Players must keep at least 2 tickets, but may keep all 3 if they choose to do so.) Tickets not kept are discarded to the bottom of the Ticket Deck.
Goal of the Game:
Ultimately, the goal of Ticket to Ride is to see who can get the most points. Points are earned by:
1. Claiming routes on the Player Board
2. Completing Tickets (only Scored at the End of the Game)
3. Longest Path (Bonus)
Claiming Routes on the Player Board:
On the Player Board, there are various routes between cities. Some are very short, with only one segment, while others are long with 5 or 6 segments. When a player claims a route between two cities, they must turn in Train Cards of that route’s color. For example, if a route is Green and 5 Segments Long, the player must turn in 5 Green Train Cards, and may then place their Trains on that route. They may also turn in “Wild” Train cards if necessary to help them complete the route. For example, if they have only 3 Green Train Cards but also have 2 Wild Train Cards, they may turn in all 5 to complete the route.
Some routes are Gray in Color, meaning that any color train card may be used to claim those routes. However, all cards must still be the same color. A player may not turn in a Blue Train Card and a Red Train Card to claim a 2-segment Gray Route. Instead, they must turn in two train cards of the same color. They may also use Wild Cards to help complete a Gray Route.
(There are many routes to help you get around the board!)
The longer the route, the more points the player receives.
1 Link = 1 Point
2 Links = 2 Points
3 Links = 4 Points
4 Links = 7 Points
5 Links = 10 Points
6 Links = 15 Points
As soon as a player claims a route, move their score marker around the outside of the board the proper number of points forward. (More Details on claiming routes are included below.)
(The Game Board has an easy-to-see reminder for Route Scoring.)
At the end of the game, Players will gain (or lose!) points based on the tickets in their hand. For example, if a player has the Los Angeles to Miami Ticket, and they have trains that claim routes that connect all the way from Los Angeles to Miami, they’ll receive 20 Points for that Ticket. Similarly, if they do not have a train that connects all the way, they will LOSE 20 points.
Other tickets are very small. Denver to El Paso, for example, is worth only 4 points.
Longest Path Bonus: See Note Below
Beginning with the player who has the most travel experience (or a randomly chosen player), turns are taken in clockwise order. On a turn, a player may take one of three options:
1. Draw Two Train Cards.
2. Claim a Route Place Trains on the Player Board
3. Draw new Tickets
Draw Two Train Cards:
In Ticket to Ride, the Train Deck isn’t always random, instead, 5 Cards are laid out from the Train Deck beside the Game Board. Players may take 2 Cards from any of the 5, or take two cards blindly from the Train Deck, or may take 1 from each.
• If a Wild Card is present, a player may take it, but may not take any additional cards.
• If at any time there are 3 Wild Cards present in the 5 cards beside the board, they are immediately discarded, and 5 new cards are drawn to replace them.
Players will draw A LOT of cards during a game of Ticket to Ride. Of the three options a player can do on their turn, this is the one they’ll likely take advantage of most often. A nice set of Card Holders may be helpful for some players.
When the Train Deck becomes depleted, all discarded cards should be reshuffled to replenish the Train Deck.
Claiming Routes on the Player Board:
As noted above, a player can turn (discard) train cards to claim a route between two cities.
• In this example, The Black Player has turned in 4 Orange Train Cards on one of their turns to claim the route between Denver and Kansas City, and has placed 4 of their Black Trains on that route, earning them (7) Points.
• The Yellow Player has turned in 4 Purple Train Cards to claim the route between Denver and Omaha and has placed 4 of their Yellow Trains on that route, earning them (7) points.
• The Green Player has turned in 2 Blue Train Cards to claim the route between Kansas City and St. Louis, earning them (2) Points.
IMPORTANT: While there are oftentimes two routes between some cities, only ONE of the routes may be claimed in a 2 or 3 player game. They are BOTH available in a 4-5 player game.
As such, if the Green Player would like to go from Kansas City to Denver in a 3-player game, they must choose alternate routes to connect those cities.
If a player chooses not to draw Train Cards or Claim a route, they may instead choose to draw additional Tickets on their turn. They draw 3 Tickets from the Ticket Deck, and MUST keep at least one of these tickets.
As soon as ANY PLAYER has 2 or less trains left in their supply, they trigger the end game. At that time, EACH PLAYER (including them) receives one final turn. Afterwards, the final scores are tallied.
End Game Scoring:
Each Player presents the number of tickets they have completed. If they have trains of their color that connect both cities on a Ticket, that Ticket is considered Complete, and they earn the number of points noted on the Ticket. If they do not have trains connecting both cities on a ticket, that Ticket is considered incomplete, and they LOST the number of points noted on the ticket.
After scoring the Tickets have all been scored, look at the Board to see which player has the Longest Continual Path of Train Pieces of their color. The Player who has the longest continual path receives a 10 Point Bonus. If 2 or more players are tied for the longest continual path, they both/all receive the 10-point bonus.
Quick Thoughts: 1910 Expansion
The 1910 Expansion for Ticket to Ride provides not only Train Cards and Tickets of normal size, but also adds new Tickets and 3 additional modes of Play. They include:
• 1910 – Tickets that only have a 1910 Logo on the Cards
• Big Cities – Tickets that only have a Big Cities logo on the Cards
• Mega – Combine ALL Tickets
Adding in the 1910 Expansion is a smart decision for anybody who enjoys playing Ticket to Ride.
Based on the BGG Rating Scale, I’ve rated Ticket to Ride an 8.5/10. It was THE GAME that brought my family into Modern Tabletop Gaming, and we still enjoy playing it on a regular basis.
For those who enjoy Ticket to Ride, there are several additional maps. Of them, we own and regularly play:
• Ticket to Ride: Europe
• Ticket to Ride: Africa
• Ticket to Ride: India/Switzerland
• Ticket to Ride: U.K. / Pennsylvania
• Ticket to Ride: Rails & Sails
Like this review? Additional recent reviews may be found at the links below.
Fields of Green
More Woo-Hoo Gamer Reviews to Come!
Excellent review!! Well written with highly descriptive category of each phase! And additinally, I loved your story of convincing your wife to give a try with the board games and she have been hooked ever since! Beautiful marriage you both have!