Ticket to Ride, the better Risk
Yes, that is right, today we are doing a board game review of Ticket to Ride, the better version of Risk. If you have never played Risk, let me save you some time by introducing you to this game instead. Risk, like Monopoly is one of those games that goes on forever and destroys friendships. Who wants a game like that, even if it does have a Star Wars version. Please don’t sue me Hasbro. And to that end, I give you Ticket to Ride. Ticket to Ride, unlike the Beatles song, is not about picking up STD free hookers in Germany, yeah, that is what that song is about. Instead it refers to the ticket that you need to ride trains. Which I think, we can all agree is a lot more family friendly. So let’s take a look at it.
Like Risk, the goal is domination of the map. But there is a lot more strategy to be had than just camping in Australia. And that is what makes the game so good. As a rule, I like games that are never play the same each time you open the box. To this end, the game does a great job of making your objectives different each game. The other players also add in their own randomized goals to the mix of chaos. For this reason, I love the game, just enough chance to make it interesting, but enough strategy, that I am not annoyed with constantly rolling 1’s on dice. This and the fact that the game has a more or less time limiter on it to keep it from running for 3 days, combining LOTR and regular Risk boards into a super board, will do that. Speaking of multiple versions, this game has those as well. The original version uses a map of the US, but my personal version is the Europe version. I like it, it makes me feel classy. The final thing I will say on this game, is it is easy to learn, as you will see below. This makes it a great game for people who are new to non-traditional board games, i.e. Risk, Monopoly, Yahtzee, as well as for young players, but the game involves enough strategy to keep it interesting for more advanced players as well.
How to play… the abridged version
Each game has its own rules on who goes first, but they normally go something like, person who visited the most European countries. So make sure you travel the most before playing this game. Gotta commit if you want to win. Each turn is really simple, either you draw some train cards (those help you play routes), draw a new destination (because no one is taking a train to New Jersey), or you play a route. If you can remember those three things, you too can play Ticket to Ride. Also not be color blind. So let’s take a look at what all that means.
As the label says, these are your train cards. Hopefully you didn’t need me to tell you that. There is one missing. That is the locomotive; it works as a wild that you can play at any time for any color. The card itself looks like a kaleidoscope exploded on the front of a chromed out train. The amount of chrome only seen on some rappers grillz. On your turn you are allowed to select at most two, and you can hoard as many of them as you want. That is part of the strategy. Play them early and you can gobble up track quick, but might open yourself up to being blocked at a critical point, collect too many, and the board may be filled by the time you get to finally play. So how and when do you play them?
So what the arrow is pointing to is called a route, a route is any length of track that connects two cities. The cities are all marked as dots. On your turn you can throw down a route if you want, simply by playing the correct number of train cars of the correct color. What the heck does that mean? Well let’s use our example here of Calgary to Winnipeg. To claim that route you would need to play 6 white train cars in one turn to claim it. Once you pay the fee for the route, you claim it by placing your plastic train cars on the route so that no one else can have it.
You are not allowed to play parts of a route during your turn. It’s all or nothing. For each route you lay down you get points based on how long the route is. So that is the first way to get your points. The next involves destination cards.
So at the beginning of the game you get some destination cards, and you can pick some up as the game goes along. Think of these as missions. In the card above, if you have trains that connect, in any way so long as they are all connecting, the two end points, you get a bonus indicated on the card. So I could literally go from France to Turkey and finally to Russia or just straight from France to Russia along the map. These cards are super easy to understand with a large number indicating the point value, and beginning and end marks for those of you that failed geography. At the end of the game you will combine all your completed destinations and route points to get your total. Caveat, each game has different rules about failed destination cards. Normally, I play where they do not negatively impact you for failure to complete, but that is a house rule. The person with the highest points at the end wins. But wait, how do we determine the end? Sorry, knew I was forgetting something. When someone gets down to their last two plastic trains, everyone gets one more turn. Then the game ends. It is literally that easy.
Like I said there are a lot of versions of the game to explore, including a mobile version, steam version, and kids versions. If you are still locked in quarantine, feel free to check out the amazon link or the digital versions. If you need an escape to the store, Family Time Games, Meijer, Target, heck just about everyone has a version they are selling now. Enjoy. If there is a board game you want me to take a look at, hit me up in the comments.