Ethan Van Vorst
Several months ago I decided to search for a game that would appeal to both my wife and I. She's not really into my games, you see, and bringing out Axis & Allies or Battletech and tossing her an invite is thoroughly out of the question. Trust me, I've tried. So when it comes to boardgames we usually settle on Sorry! or Monopoly Deal. Not that there's anything wrong with those games, it's just I want my wife to sort of branch out a bit and try something new. So after a few suggestions from the friendly folks here at BGG I opted to get Ticket to Ride, and it's been a really fun experience, surprising given that I tend to go for world conquest games. This is my first ever Euro and if they're all like this I might be taking a gander at some more.
Image courtesy of nordlead/BGG
The gameboard is large and colorful and depicts the lower 48 US states, as well as the southernmost Canadian cities. Major cities are highlighted and a number of variously colored tracks serve as connectors between cities. Some cities are as many as 6 tracks distant from others, while other cities may only have a relatively short 1 or 2 tracks between them. The map is nice, colorful, and very sturdy and done in a sort of "turn of the century" style. On the border of the entire map is a numbered track with which players keep score.
Image courtesy of Fawkes/BGG
Ticket to Ride has a ton of pieces, largely small plastic trains in one of five colors; blue, red, yellow, green, and black (for the Goth player, I assume). Each player starts out with 40 of these train car pieces. There's also a smaller bag with some spare trains, in case your dog (or your emo Goth friend) eats one or two of their boxcars during play.
Image courtesy of Chad Rutt/BGG. The box is beautifully compartmentalized. Everything has a place and you'll never have difficulty sorting it all out.
There are also 5 small wooden player tokens, each of the aforementioned colors. These are used on the scoring track on the border of the main game.
Image courtesy of Christine Doiron/BGG. The wooden player tokens.
The game comes with an enormous amount of cards in one of two flavors. First, and the most numerous, are the individual colored train cards. There are 8 separate colors plus a wild card train, and 12 cards of each of these colors (and 14 of the wild cards). That brings the sum total to 98 of these train cards (and my, are they a pain to shuffle!). These different colored cards correspond to the colored tracks that run between the cities. More on this in a bit.
Image courtesy of Ken Lee/BGG.
Also included are 30 Ticket cards. These cards will feature a sort of route that one must try and make using the various tracks located on the board. The longer the route the higher the points. For instance a Ticket advising you to connect New York City to Los Angeles is going to be worth 20+ points, whereas one connecting two much closer cities, such as Chicago to Houston is liable to only net a player 10 points at the most. Point values for each ticket are located at the bottom corner of the card.
Image courtesy of Ken Lee/BGG
There's also a single reference card which details how many cards total there are and a scoring chart on the reverse side.
Image courtesy of Fawkes/BGG. We usually just give the reference card to the least experienced player so they can keep track. If all else fails one can just figure out their score from the identical point table on the gameboard.
There is also a single "Longest Path" card, The long and the short of this card is that the person with the longest continuous line of trains gets an additional 10 points. Winning those points will sometimes play into how one arranges their routes.
Image courtesy of Christian Fahlstrom/BGG. The "Longest Path" card, which handily includes an example of how to calculate who gets the card (and the 10 points it bestows).
How It Plays
After players select their chosen colors they place their wooden tokens at the beginning of the score track. Each player is dealt 3 Tickets and 4 Train cards. The deck is then placed next to the board and five cards are dealt face up in a line. The remaining Tickets are placed next to the board also for future use. The goal of each player is to complete any Tickets they may have and thus score points. The more Tickets are completed the more points that player is awarded.
Image courtesy of Ron Musial/BGG. This game is set up to play, with the 5 face-up train cards at the bottom with the Train Deck to its right and the discard pile to its left. To the far right is the Ticket deck.
A player may do one, and only one of three actions on their turn.
- Draw new Train cards.
- Declare a route
- Draw new Tickets
The goal here is to match a certain number of colored train cards to various routes found throughout the map.
For instance, in the image below there are 5 blue cards required to connect Miami to Nashville. There are 6 red cards required to connect Miami to New Orleans (lower left, out of frame), and 4 yellow or orange cards needed to connect New Orleans to Nashville. If the tracks between two cities are colored grey then any color card may be used to complete that route, provided that the number used to complete them are all of one color (4 yellow, green, red, etc. cards to fill in 4 grey spaces).
Image courtesy of Michael Jordal/BGG.
Some of the routes shown have two tracks between cities (Nashville - New Orleans in the picture above). These come into play for 4-5 player games when routes are at a premium. For 2-3 player games any time a "double" route is claimed one set (and only one set) of trains is allowed to be put down.
Given that some routes are very long and require 5-6 trains, and that there are only 12 of each color card in the whole deck the designers have put in 14 Wild Cards. These cards are used in typical wild card fashion, substituting for any card you may need but don't have.
Image courtesy of Brian Schubert/BGG. Routes start to fill up quickly once things get trucking. Taking control of big "hub" cities is one useful strategy for blocking other players as well as completing tickets.
Obviously drawing new cards is going to be the prime action for most people. On their turn a player may draw in one of three separate ways.
- Selecting a face-up card from the "community" cards. After selection the player must draw a card from the top of the deck and replace the card they took. The player may also blind-draw two cards from the deck in lieu of taking from the community cards.
- The player can then draw another card in this fashion, or they can blind-draw a single card from the top of the deck.
- If a Wild Card is displayed on the community cards a player may draw it but will use both draws to take that one card. Immediately after drawing it the player must replace it with another card.
If 3 out of the 5 cards displayed in the community cards are Wild Cards then all five are taken away and placed on the discard pile and are replaced with 5 new cards.
Image courtesy of Bobby Passmore/BGG. A typical "hand" of Train Cards. Beware card "hoarders", who keep a sizable portion of the deck in their hands as a means to be prepared for any conceivable Ticket completion!
A Player may choose to draw a new Ticket in lieu of more Train Cards. If said player chooses this option they will draw three Tickets total and must keep at least one of them. This is a calculated risk as any uncompleted tickets in one's possession are subtracted from their total score at the end of the game using the Ticket points at the bottom corner.
A Player may also choose to use their turn to Declare a Route. Said player must present the requisite number of properly colored cards (or Wild Cards), state which two cities they are claiming the route between, and then place their plastic trains on the gameboard in the appropriate place. Depending upon how many trains are placed on the board in one turn an increasing number of points are awarded.
1 Train = 1 Point
2 Trains = 2 Points
3 Trains = 4 Points
4 Trains = 7 Points
5 Trains = 10 Points
6 Trains = 15 Points
Players then adjust their score by moving their wooden token along the perimeter of the gameboard. Voila!
Gameplay continues until at least one player has 0, 1, or 2 plastic trains left in their possession, at which point the last turn is put into effect in which everyone has to do their best to complete their tickets or use up as many trains as they can.
Image courtesy of Andrew Lavish/BGG. Ticket to Ride is very fun and yet extremely easy to learn, which makes it ideal to teach to one's kids. I guarantee they will love it!
Ticket to Ride is definitely one of the most fun boardgames I've ever played and I have not regretted purchasing it at all. Even my wife enjoys it, which was the whole point of my purchasing it in the first place . Ticket to Ride plays like nothing else I've ever seen, although there are elements of Rummy in it (collecting sets of suited cards). The game is ridiculously easy to learn and my brother and I were chugging away (no train pun intended) within 10 minutes of reading the rules. It took only half of that time to explain things to my wife and within a half hour we were all having a great time. The game tends to last about 45-60 minutes, although it seems that the more people you have in your group the longer it will take. Theme-wise this is a decent package. I always feel like a 1900's railroad baron trying to outdo my competitors using wits and steel (or cards in this case), This is a solid gold hit and I've been impressed with it since I opened the box and haven't been let down one iota. I score it at a 7.5.
- Ridiculously easy to learn
- And yet a lot of fun
- Each game develops differently and almost all will be down to the wire
- Very social game, custom made for chatting with opponents
- Artwork is thematic and beautiful
- Plays in an hour or less
- The game box is wonderfully compartmentalized
- The game box is a nice size making it easy to take it with you on trips
- If I were to introduce someone into the world of boardgaming this is the game I would use to do it with.
- Shuffling 100 cards is time consuming (seriously, that's the only con I can come up with for the game. )
Good to hear all of this, while how about some others such as? TransAmerica You could even try it out quite a bit using BSW to gain familiarity from it. There is also Trans Europa
DO NOT CLICK HERE!
I just got this game recently, your review is great!
edit to add a grrovy thumbs up emoticon, yay!
- Last edited Wed Jul 7, 2010 8:49 am (Total Number of Edits: 1)
- Posted Wed Jul 7, 2010 8:49 am
The standalone program for TransAmerica (see game's links/files) is much better for people to gain familiarity with the game.
Good to hear all of this, while how about some others such as? TransAmerica
You could even try it out quite a bit using BSW to gain familiarity from it.
BSW's interface is known to be hideous, and a large barrier for entry.
If you play with only 2 players with any frequency, I strongly suggest picking up Ticket to Ride: Nordic Countries. The board is much better balanced for 2-3 player games than the base game is. We own both games and they have both demonstrated their value very well.