I’ve been mulling over whether or not I should review Ticket to Ride on The Game Aisle because it can ABSOLUTELY exceed the 30 minute time limit maximum I’ve set for games to be reviewed on this site, but I figure it’s my site so I can break the rules if I want! Seriously though, I like to stick to games that are 30 minutes or less not only because I like short games, but life can be hectic and it can be hard to find a full hour or more to play a game. But with Ticket to Ride I’ve found that if you have an opponent who can embrace the “play with speed” mentality, you can have a great 2-player game of Ticket to Ride in less than 30 minutes. In fact, I tested out the theory this weekend and out of the insanely large number of games we played, not a single one exceeded the 30-minute mark – although many came close.
Pretty much every “geeky” gamer out there has heard of and probably owns a copy (or a few) of Ticket to Ride, one of the expansions or spin-offs but for those of you who haven’t played Alan Moon’s game it’s definitely worth a look. The premise of the game is to connect stops so you create a continuous path between the two cities on your “Destination Tickets.” Each player has their own color train and draws 3 Destination Tickets at the start of the game, choosing to keep 1, 2 or all of the tickets. If you are successful in connecting the two cities you score that number of bonus points. Connecting cities is easy. At the start of the game you are dealt 4 Locomotive cards that will have a colored train (or a “wild” train) on the back of it. To connect 2 cities — let’s say Pittsburg to Nashville — you’ll have to collect 4 Locomotive cards that are either yellow or wilds. If you want to connect Pittsburg to Washington, the two Locomotive cards can be ANY color since the pathway is grey, so you could play 2 reds or 2 blues. Only one player’s train can occupy a route between two adjacent cities except for cities that have 2 side-by-side pathways, like you see between New York and Washington. (These pathways are not used in the 2-player version of the game.) The green player discarded 2 black Locomotive cards to place their train there and another player can use 2 orange cards to take the other route.
On a turn you have 3 options: 1. You can choose to draw 3 destination cards and you must keep at least 1 of them. 2. You draw 2 Locomotive cards either from the 5 that are face-up or from the deck (you may only take 1 card if you choose a face-up wild). 3. Discard like-colored Locomotive cards to connect 2 adjacent stops and place your train on the board. Each time you play a train you earn points and the longer the train the more it’s worth, so if you’re connecting Pittsburg to Nashville it’s 4 trains long which is 7 points. The score is kept using the numbers on the outer perimeter of the board. The game ends when a player has 2 or less train tokens left and after each player takes 1 more turn, bonus points are tallied. Players collect bonus points for each of their completed Destination Tickets, but lose points for one they didn’t complete. A 10-point bonus is awarded to the player with the most number of connected train pieces.
Ticket to Ride (USA) is the original game invented by Alan Moon. You can also find Ticket to Ride Europe, Ticket to Ride Nordic Countries as well as two “Map Collection” games (Ticket to Ride Asia and Ticket to Ride India/Switzerland) which have maps on both sides of the board. The Ticket to Ride brand also includesther expansions which alter the original Ticket to Ride USA….whew! A little about Alan, he was born in England but currently resides in the United States. He worked at Parker Brothers (now part of Hasbro), had his own company and was VP at Ravensburger. He’s invented other “German-style” games including Santa Fe, Union Pacific, San Marco and even the more casual game 10 Days in the USA (the original version of the spin-off I reviewed 10 Days in the Americas which you can read HERE.) Another interesting tidbit about Ticket to Ride is that it won the 2004 Spiel des Jahres (Game of the Year in Germany).
Ticket to Ride Stats:
~$37 Amazon and local game stores
30-60 minutes (it CAN play in less than 30 minutes with 2 or 3 but you have to play with fast people.)
Ages 8 and up