Board Game Review: Ticket to Ride

Quick description from Board Game Geek:

With elegantly simple gameplay, Ticket to Ride can be learned in 3 minutes, while providing players with intense strategic and tactical decisions every turn. Players collect cards of various types of train cars they then use to claim railway routes in North America. The longer the routes, the more points they earn. Additional points come to those who fulfill Destination Tickets – goal cards that connect distant cities; and to the player who builds the longest continuous route.

Players: 2-5 (ideal with 4) (3,5 is good) (2 is not recommended)
Play Time: 60-90 minutes
Difficulty: Easy
Learning Curve: Low
Price: $34.98 on Amazon, $10 on Xbox Live, $2 on iOS
Best Place to Learn: Your iDevice

Review

I first played Ticket to Ride over New Years a couple of years back. My group ended up playing until 4:00 AM and we all spent the night dreaming of trains. The main reason for this is that the first couple of times you play the game you may find yourself incredibly stressed. As you try to plan your route across the map you’ll start to worry as connections that you felt were essential to your success end up being taken by the other players. As you play more you’ll learn to relax and allow yourself more flexibility in your route planning. Claiming your routes is important, but generally the most successful strategy for winning involves drawing or acquiring routes that overlap.

Watching others take your routes is stressful

After that first play session I decided that I had a new favorite game, however, I’ve noticed that the more I play the game the less I tend to enjoy it. I think that is because a game that I originally thought had a ton of complexity and required a lot of strategy to win actually requires a fair amount of luck. In my play sessions the game usually flows as follows: Players lay down their main route connecting their longest route (either cross country or north to south). The winner is then the person who gets lucky with their subsequent draws of more destination tickets. If you are lucky enough to pull a high point ticket that you have 90% of the route already claimed for your odds of winning just increased dramatically. On the flip side if you draw smaller point routes or routes that don’t overlap you generally know then and there that you have lost.

I know that I’ve generally been pretty negative about the game, however, I do enjoy it in the right circumstances. If you have a group that’s looking for a less complex game, or if you want to play a game you’re fairly confident you can wrap up in under two hours, Ticket to Ride is great. Also, it’s popularity means it’s available at incredibly low prices both on Xbox Live and on iOS. The $2 version on your iDevice is a steal and I highly recommend it as a tutorial device even if you don’t plan on playing it much.

Ticket to Ride
Components 3.5 The board is really cool and I like the plastic trains. Not a ton of pieces but what’s here is nice.
Skill
5 If you win at this game you’re going to need to draw the right routes. Knowing what those are does take some skill, however.
Replayability 6 Getting different routes can be fun, but generally, I feel like too much luck is involved to make Ticket to Ride a game I want to come back to often.
Complexity
5 Ticket to Ride is a pretty easy game to learn. It take a while to master, but it’s not terribly complex.
Fun 6 I can have fun with the game if the group is right and I’m not looking to think too much.
25.5 Ticket to Ride is a decent game. There are others I’d much rather play but I won’t say no if there’s a good group looking to lay some trains.

 

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