All aboard! Ticket to Ride is a very enjoyable game of strategy, and luck as players compete to establish numerous train routes across the United States.

The players in Ticket to Ride are friends competing in 1900 America to see who can travel by railroad to the most cities in North America. Each player starts with 45 train pieces, four random train cards, and two or three of the three random goal cards (more on them below). All players compete on the same board of America, and five train cards are placed face-up next to the board.

The object of Ticket to Ride is to earn the most points by completing the most train routes, meeting their goal cards, and ending the game with the longest consecutive train route (worth 10 points). Each turn a player can perform one of three actions: Select two train cards (or one if choosing the "wild" card, good for any color), either from the face-up cards or at random from the top of the deck; draw three more goal cards and keep from one to three of them; or complete a route. To complete a route a player discards the equal number and color train cards matching a route on the board (gray routes can be any color, but all the same color), including wild cards, and then placing their locomotive pieces along that route. Once a player claims a route, no other player can make that same route. When a player is down to two or fewer train pieces, everyone gets one final turn and then the points are totalled.

Goal cards are keys to victory -- but they can also lead to failure. Each goal has two cities and a point value; the further apart the cities are, the more points the goal is worth. If a player completes a route, they get that many points at the end of the game; but they lose points for each incomplete goal card they have. Since goal cards aren't revealed until the end of the game, players need to guess if they hope to keep their opponents from completing their goals.

Ticket to Ride is a game of both strategy and chance. There's no direct combat in the game -- the only aggression is aggressively claiming train routes. Strategy is key: completing goals is essential, but a player who telegraphs the locations they're trying to connect may lead other players to take routes they need for their goal. While only one player can control a route, there are enough alternate routes on the board that most goals can still be met even if a long detour is required. And drawing the right cards, and being able to complete a certain long route before an opponent, can make or break a game.

I really enjoy Ticket to Ride. The rules are simple enough to teach in a few minutes, and the game goes by pretty quickly, yet there's a lot of thinking that goes into every game and a great replay factor. Ticket to Ride isn't the most complex game out there, nor do players have to work together while competing against each other (as in Settlers of Catan), but it's a fun way to spend a few hours racing across America by train (pieces).

Overall grade: A-
Reviewed by James Lynch

1 comment:

Chad Cloman said...

I think that the sequel, Ticket to Ride: Europe, is a much better version of the game, primarily because of the station tokens.