Updated: Sep 16, 2019
We are on the cutting edge of technology at the turn of the century. Huge steam powered beasts roam the wild plains on steel tracks taking humans to new speeds never before imagined. Yes, this week we’re playing a train game.
Over the last few weeks we’ve been looking at the four games I consider to be classic gateway games and seeing how they hold up with my group of non-gamer friends. This week we’re looking at the #TicketToRide series.
A Quick Overview
In basic terms Ticket to Ride is pretty easy to explain. There are three possible actions on your turn.
If you draw cards you can take two face up cards from the display or two face down from the deck or one of each. To play trains you must play a number of cards from your hand that matches the colour and length of route you want to build. To draw tickets you take three ticket from the deck and must keep at least 1.
The game continues in this fashion as players attempt to complete their tickets to score points. When one player only has 2 trains remaining each player takes one last turn and then the game is scored.
Now, it is worth noting that my group actually played Ticket to Ride Europe as that is the one I own. TTR Europe is a more complex entity which is, in general, harder to teach. Firstly you have Stations, a feature which can be built to allow you to use other players routes. Then you have Ferries and Tunnels, both of which are routes with special rules.
So why did I buy Europe? Well, my family were big fans of the TTR app, which ships with the basic (america) map. So when I decided to buy a physical copy of the game I decided to go for a different version and Europe was the easier base game to find.
If you plan on teaching Ticket to Ride I don’t recommend starting with Europe if you have the original.
Why Choose It?
Ticket to Ride has become somewhat of a gaming staple, its name rolls off the tongue as easily as Fish & Chips. Ticket to Ride has also enjoyed many a cameo in the last decade of TV, being visible in the background of shows like The Big Bang Theory and the IT Crowd. In short Ticket to Ride is a game so well known that you simply have to play it, at least once, if you’re going to call yourself a gamer.
Oh and it’s fun too!
Did They Like It?
We played Catan, Carcassonne and then finished with Ticket to Ride, it had been a long night with Catan taking an hour and a half, so it was late by the time we started TTR, plus we were complicating issues by playing TTR: Europe, but even with all that said I think this was the game they all enjoyed the most.
I think that the Ticket to Ride series is a great jumping in point for new gamers. I would definitely start with the core game for the simplest experience. Ticket to Ride will open players up to the ideas of Set Collection, Area Control and Secret Objectives. It can be mean but that is something new players will discover after a few learning games.
The rules are really simple and not entirely alien to players familiar with set collection card games like Rummy. Once you have the rules down there's plenty of tactics and strategies to explore, such as knowing when to draw more tickets and when to place trains. Then if you like the system there’s tons of additional content available through the various expansions.
I can’t recommend Ticket to Ride highly enough for new gamers, the only downside is that the game is probably a little on the long side, perhaps one and a half hours with a full complement of players. However ease of teaching, plus a diverse player range and infinite expandability makes up for that. And of course, if you aren’t sure you will like it, try it first using the digital app.