Ticket to Ride has become not just one of the most entertaining games to play lately, but the definitive pastime for get-togethers. Excuse me here if I’m a little late to the party for something that clearly has been around for some time and has been enjoyed by many, but that’s typically the case for me when it comes to analog games. Over the last couple of weeks I’ve been playing it like crazy, both on the newly released Steam version as well as the old-school board version.
For the uninitiated, Ticket to Ride plays as a secret mission style of game where only you know which route it is you need to connect, say New York to Memphis or Toronto to Seattle. Each turn is a risk-reward between either laying down new track to collecting resources for future turns. The hoarders are rewarded by not revealing their strategies and laying everything down at once, while the aggressive are rewarded by snatching up early leads and ruining the best laid plans of conservative players.
Connecting especially far apart cities has a rewarding element when its finally completed and every move in the late game usually draws anticipatory gasps from those hoping you won’t take their most-needed track. Its a fairly simple to grasp game after the first go-round and numerous strategies begin to become apparently, espcially depending on who you play with. Throwing people off the scent of your future destination can be deviously satisfying as well as blocking well-known “needed cities”.
I personally haven’t been able to get the online version of the game to work well yet, but I do like to pass the time by playing with the game’s AI. But it shouldn’t be a huge surprise that the tabletop version is the preferred way to play. Holding cards physically, placing your trains on the board and hiding your destination has a very different feel on the real board, not to mention how much more fun it is to play in the company other others.
My tabletop experience with the game so far has been amazing, even with complete new-comers, who often take about 3 turns to “get” the game and a full round to understand how to start playing the odds. The short game length means that numerous rounds are usually called for, letting players vet new strategies and exploit what they think other players will do based on the last game.
This could be the new Settlers, which in turn has replaced any desire I used to have for chance-based games like Risk or Monopoly. Over the weekend I picked up a tabletop version of the Europe edition, which bumps up the intensity of the gameplay a bit, adds a few new options and generally just kicks it up a notch.