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Subject: Ticket to Ride. A Staple in Family Boardgaming? rss

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Stephen Cappello
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I've only recently introduced my parents to my hobby, and so far they've taken a liking to it. I've tried many of the staple "Gate-Way" games. Carcassonne, Settlers... Tonight I brought out Ticket to Ride. This review will be based on my perceived reactions to the game by my family.

Setup:
Setup for Ticket to Ride is a cinch. Take out the board, hand each player a baggie of trains, then shuffle and deal the cards. (We do have the 1910 Expansion. If we had to use the regular cards, I'd give setup 4 s instead).

Rules:
The rules for Ticket to Ride are printed on four pages. I was able to explain the rules to everyone in less than 5 minutes. The game is surprisingly simple, yet is deep enough to warrant continued play.

Gameplay:
Once the game started, it was apparent that my folks weren't exactly getting the subtle strategies of the game. For example, my mother had the Washington, DC to Miami ticket, and almost completely focused on completing it. So much to the point that at the end of the game, she had almost 20 cards in her hand only missing one pink for the Charleston to Miami, when she could have used other cards to score some random tracks to at least score some points. I think right at the very end she picked up on this, after my father started dumping all his trains in a last ditch effort to grab as many points as possible.
My father picked up on the ticket drawing endgame strategy that I was using, and was able to pick up a few easy tickets, and a couple that he had already completed.
Mother ended up with the Longest Route, which surprised me, but in the end, the extra 10 points were of no help.

Other Comments:
Neither of my parents enjoy fantasy games, and my father is turned off completely by fictional names he cannot pronounce. First thing my father noticed when I set out the board was the miss-location of Chicago and Duluth, but reasoned that they probably had to be repositioned due to the track lay-outs. The familiar names and familiar map were a big plus for my father.
The game lasted just over an hour, which is near the limit for my family. I think the next time we play this time will be cut down to a more manageable 45 minutes, but I doubt it will ever get down the 30 minute mark that the box suggests.
I ended up beating both of my folks by a rather large margin. I believe the score was something like: Me - 180, Father - 146, Mother - 67, but they both were enthusiastic about our next game.

Conclusion:
Overall, I believe that Ticket to Ride may well become a game that we can play as a family. Even with my large victory, both of my parents seemed very interested in the game until the very last. I think my mother took solace in small victory of Longest Route. My father laughed to no end when I told him how he blocked one of my paths. I think he picked up on how blocking worked after that.

Everyone enjoyed the game, and I see this one hitting the table again soon.
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Gareth Reynolds
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Sippi wrote:
The game lasted just over an hour, which is near the limit for my family. I think the next time we play this time will be cut down to a more manageable 45 minutes, but I doubt it will ever get down the 30 minute mark that the box suggests.

From my experience the time the game takes will be dependant more on the number of people playing than the experience each player has (although a first game will of course take longer as people check rules etc.)
It's got to the point that each player in my games takes about 15 minutes. ie. with 2-players I expect a 30 minute game, with 5-players it will be about 75 minutes for the game.
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Stephen Cappello
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Excellent info. With the three of us (most of the time) it should hit that 45 minute mark which is perfect.
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Chris Ferejohn
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Did you give some strategy advice when introducing the game? I'll usually do that with new players if the rules are simple enough (with complicated rules they usually just need to concentrate on the mechanics). Especially if you are trying to bring in non-gamers, it can make the first play less frustrating.
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Stephen Cappello
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Yes, absolutely.
Probably about half-way through the game I tried to explain blocking (which my father picked up) and pulling tickets that could possibly be routes you've already done or could be finished with one or two more tracks.
I think mother just had a vandetta against the Washington-Miami route, but it seemed like both of them picked up the essence and basic strategy of the game.
I usually try to take it easy on new players when teaching a game. I just happened to get three "to Houston" routes, all which required one extra track to my network, in one turn. I did give them an extra round before I started the end game.

All in all, I think next time we play, they will give me a run for the money.
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Justin
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Avron wrote:
It's got to the point that each player in my games takes about 15 minutes. ie. with 2-players I expect a 30 minute game, with 5-players it will be about 75 minutes for the game.


75 sounds extremely long to me for 5P Ticket to Ride. I think it helps to have an experienced player to point out turns, ask "deck?" when they're deciding cards, turn board cards as soon as they're taken, shuffle, etc. Nothing overbearing, just keeping the pace. Family gamers in particular may fail to realize it's their turn or forget about the random draw option with its potential wildcard payout. I don't time my games, but I'd estimate that they fall between 25-45 minutes.
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