Friday, July 16, 2010

Ticket to Ride Update

I've been studying for an exam lately and that's left less time for board gaming. Ironically it's remained easy to whip off sessions of Dungeons and Dragons which may say something about the ease of running D&D after some thirty years of play. Last night I did my study session early and dragged Steve over so we could do a quick boardgaming session and have something to write about other than old school role playing.

Ticket to Ride is a new classic boardgame which has sold millions of copies and spawned a good number of expansions and sequels. I picked up Ticket to Ride: Europe (TRE) recently and last night we unwrapped it and gave it a try. TRE is now my favorite family boardgame and I'm looking forward to my next chance to play.

The rules of TRE are simple enough. You have a board with a map of Europe on it and several cities marked. Between the cities are train routes marked in a color- blue, white, green, etc. The players also have cards in their hand. Each card has a train car of a certain color- blue, white, green, etc. In your turn you can claim a train route by placing a number of cards down of the right color. If a route has three red spaces you need to place three red cards. You win points based on how long the route is.

In a player's turn you may claim a route, draw more train cards in the hopes of accumulating more red cards or blue cards or so on, or draw a bonus card which will give you extra points for connecting certain cities. The bonus card is a mystery, you hope the bonus is for cities you can easily connect but it may not be. There are a few more rules specifics but that's the main of it.

Our trial game moved quickly and we had very few rules issues. On our turn we would usually agonize about whether to grab some cards and hope to complete a long route Next turn, or just complete a short route this turn for some quick points. One thing we noticed is that there was very little down time between turns. This is not a game where four players will sit in boredom waiting for the fifth to complete some lengthy activity. As board games go it was really pretty dynamic and exciting.

We also realized that the short and concise rules still allowed a great deal of strategy. You may wish to accumulate huge numbers of cards before building routes, or to just build often. You may try and get bonus points for building specific routes. There seemed to be many ways to approach the game and people who want to play a "deeper" game will not be bored.

TRE was a very pleasant surprise. I think it's a terrific game for younger players and has huge potential for older ones. I liked the speed of play, the colorful board, and the simple rules. This game really does deserve the reputation it's acquired.

I got my copy at Henry Bear's Park but TRE is widely available.

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