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Saturday, February 20, 2016

Boards & Brews at Home: Ticket to Ride

Today it's time for yet another at home segment and we're bringing you one of the biggest games to hit the tabletop genre!  I'm talking about the game for all family members that integrates great strategy and fun!  I'm talking about the big one that will stand the test of time!  The one and only Ticket to Ride.  We have a couple of friends who are joining us today to ride the rails and complete the routes.  Read on to learn how this is going to be the next Monopoly.

In this 2 - 5 player, hand-management, adventure game, players begin by drawing two or three tickets from the top of the ticket deck.  Those tickets display the routes that they must complete before the game ends otherwise they receive a penalty for the number displayed on that card.  This is the end goal of the game, to complete as many routes as you possibly can.  In order to play trains on routes, you draw various colored train cards from the supply stack and when you have enough trains of a single color that you would like to play, you play that number of cards corresponding to the amount of train cars that you're wanting to put down on the board.  You cannot mix colors of different train cars to put down.  Every section of your route whether a single space, or up to 6 or more, will always require one type or set of colored train cards.  Your routes are not revealed to any other players until the end of the game to determine the extra scoring you may attain or the possible penalties you incur.  You also do not have to connect your routes exactly as it may be displayed on your ticket.  All you have to do is connect a completed route between the two cities that are specified (from point 'A' to point 'B') on the tickets that you draw.  If you draw more tickets that have similar routes in close proximity to your tickets, then use those existing routes as an assisted strategy to complete other tickets faster and score more points at the end of the game!
So what makes Ticket to Ride such a great game aside from what you've already seen?  Well, the game can be played across a lot of age ranges as it's a relatively simple game to play.  However, the game provides plenty of room for strategic moves and nail-biting excitement with a great theme!  I'm not even into trains that much, but after Claire taught me Ticket to Ride, I was blown away by how great it is and thus, I was hooked for life.  There is also a great app available for purchase if you want to try it electronically before purchasing it.  We would always push for the board game though.  Between both of us, we've played Ticket to Ride well over 300 times so far, and we're not even close to being tired of it yet.  The more versions we play, the more we're drawn to it.  The game provides a lot of uncertainty every time you play it.  Any player may be trying to complete one route, while your route could be overlapping with part of theirs and neither one of you would know it.  This means you may need to find a work around if someone is in your way of you completing one or more of your routes.  On the flip side of this, players could easily become wise to a route you're trying to complete, and might try to block you from completing your route.  Yes, if this is deliberately being practiced by other players that is called BEING EVIL!!!  Out of all the times Claire and I have played this together, we have never intentionally blocked the other person to systematically keep them from completing their routes.  
Today was a lot of fun!  Our friends Kaz and Takamasa from Japan joined me to play a couple of rounds and to keep the theme flourishing, we wore fake, old-timey mustaches that Claire purchased a while back.  You have to rock the stache in a game like this.  Our music of choice was the original soundtrack to Railroad Tycoon 2.  An absolutely PERFECT selection for a game like Ticket to Ride.  There's a lot of replay ability with this game.  In just several years from it's release date, it's made it's way out of the small game shops and into the mass market selection at stores like Target and Wal-Mart.  As I mentioned in the beginning, it's made such a huge explosion in the board gaming hobby and spread to enough people that it's the next Monopoly.  If you love games that you can play with your family while still allowing for plenty of strategy, this is the very essence of essential games!  I'm guessing that most people who are reading this have either already played or currently own Ticket to Ride.  However, if you're just getting into the hobby of board gaming and are looking for a well versed, strategic, hand-management, adventure game, then you should not be without Ticket to Ride.  As I mentioned earlier Claire and I have played this over 300 times and we're still not bored with it.  Lots of other games will fade over time, but this is the one that people will still be talking about 30 years from now.  Ticket to Ride is going to stand the test of time. 

Ticket to Ride
Overall Meeple Rating: 8/10

Game Mechanics:1) Card Drafting2) Hand Management3) Set Collection
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