Cool Things: Ticket to Ride

Board games are a great way to spend an enjoyable evening with friends and family but many of them are thematically “out there”, focusing on things like world conquest, clashing armies or other stuff that may feel too contentious for some people. Fortunately there are games that provide very intriguing and challenging gameplay while presenting a friendlier aesthetic.

Ticket To Ride is one of them.

The theme of this game is trains! Nice, safe trains, carting thousands and thousands of tons of freight and passengers daily at breakneck speed all over America and occasionally running over cars or pedestri- well, anyway. The goal of the game is to score the most points (surprise!) by laying claim to various rail lines by using (more surprising!) tickets. Tickets are color coded to certain lines and lines are worth more points depending on their length. Finally, players are secretly assigned the goal of building a long unbroken line between two cities on the map. The farther apart the two ends are the bigger the bonus but failing to finish by the end of the game gives a penalty instead.

The charm of Ticket To Ride is its simplicity. All a player has to do on their turn is decide whether they want to take new tickets or lay claim to a railway. At the same time, the ability to do only one thing on your turn makes all the other players a serious obstacle. Grandiose plans can be upset by one ill timed opposing play but, at the same time, the board is full of alternative routes and creative players will be able to do an end run around most obstacles with a little lateral thinking.

In short, the game is very simple and can be easily picked up by fairly young people but it’s still complex enough to keep experienced board gamers interested. If you’ve been looking for a board game to share with a skeptical crowd then this might be the game for you. Likewise if you’re looking for a game you can share with children age eight and up and still enjoy yourself as you play this might also be a good choice. Look around for it if you have the chance.


2 responses to “Cool Things: Ticket to Ride

  1. I played this for the first time at a retreat last fall. I’ve been interested in learning more about “European style” board games like this one. I grew up with an endless tedious round of games of chance like Aggravation. Ticket to Ride is definitely one to engage and challenge all ages and skill levels.

    • Aggravation was an aptly named board game.
      While I’m not sure the name “European” is entirely fair the European school of board games definitely plays up the aspects of careful planning and long term strategy more than some other games, which is part of what makes them effective teaching tools (for more than basic math) as well as good entertainment.
      Perhaps the name is derived from the very European way these games devolve into scheming and powerplays among the more cutthroat players. Not that I would know anything about that…

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