“She’s Got a Ticket to Ri-hi-hide!…”
Ticket to Ride, which comes in several different versions now, is a way cool game. I just want to get that out there, straightaway. But, I wouldn’t be featuring it on Meeple Roast if it was perfect!
Timmy, Tommy, Mindy, Mom and Daddy… all laying track together!
A very pleasing tactile sense, created from the cool little train pieces and stations, coupled with a very widely understood theme and setting make this game family friendly fun for all! Once you understand how to play Ticket to Ride, it’s a real gas for folks from all walks. The theme goes a long way in creating this high level of approachability. Unfortunately, that approachability is quickly dashed on the rocks by the start mechanic…
Mind That First Step – this bad boy’s learning curve is bass-ackwards!
Player’s don’t pick up the basic rules and gradually get into more engaging dynamics. Instead, they are faced with an immediate “learning cliff.” The whole problem is picking your tickets at the onset of the game. Wow, way to require complete mastery before you even start the game! I’ve lost people I wanted to introduce to Ticket to Ride within minutes. Would have probably lost me too, except that I’m “crazy smart and quite a catch,” so sayeth my sweet mother. J
Unfortunately very super high randomness is germane to the game. (It ain’t no chess) Personally, I can forgive this for the most part, especially in the card draw mechanics. Think of each draw phase giving you two points. You either take your chances trying to draw a wild card at random, pick one you need, or get a wild card straightaway. Not too bad. But the tickets, OH EM GEE!
I usually win, unless I’m playing my oldest nephew for some reason, but a man can dream. The way I win is always the same. Complete one of your first forced start tracks, then go nuts drawing new ones to find whatever costs you the least to complete. Look for synergy – economies of scope. Then, if you have just the right number of tracks go nuts and take the longest track.
*Also, as a side note, my dear brother was forced to play this game endlessly and while you don’t blame the car for the car accident… I feel for you buddy. J
Around the Board Scoring; why? Just… why?
I’ve played this game countless times and I’ve never ever ever one single time tallied during the game. We always count at the end. I’ve never even met someone who scored during the game. It’s messy business trying to tally up your score as you go… There wasn’t any need for the border scoring in the first place and the board is deadly complicated-looking, as it is.
If You Rack ‘em Up, You Knock ‘em Down!
Alright, so nasty learning curve; How would I fix it? Easy peasy, lemon squeezy… kind of. Give everyone a single blue (long track) ticket and no other choices. This gets you half way there, because players that understand the game may pick new routes right away, but the new players don’t have to figure all that out.
As for the super high randomness, if you think about it, a good answer is already there. Place routes out to bid. Stack three of them like Small World and a few of my games do. Then, you have to wait or pay the price for the route the gives you that sweet spot economy of scope with what you’ve already got down. But… everyone can see it coming too! The plot thickens – which immediately doubles player interaction and tactical appeal.
Finally, you’ve got around the board scoring. It should have been designed for the end game count. Nix the nasty useless border. Easy as that.
Do this, and “Bob’s yer uncle,” you got yourself the masterpiece…. It could have been, in the first place.