For my first post on games for your friends and family to enjoy, I’m going to introduce you to a big favorite of ours – Ticket to Ride.
Now to briefly explain – this is one of the “German-style” games that crowd the market. The Germans have taken family games to a whole new level in the past decade or so. You can have simple fun with the classics like Clue and Monopoly. But to really challenge your brain and have a good time, look to the Germans! They even have their own national award for the best game of the year (the Spiels des Jahres). And today’s game was the winner in 2004.
Ticket to Ride takes you back to the days of early America when railroads were being laid cross-country. Your goal is to link various cities together in one continuous path. Those cities are determined for you through Destination Tickets you are dealt at the start of the game. But watch out! There are only so many routes in and out of each city, and other players may block you (intentionally or not). Thus your completed routes may get pretty convoluted. (Remind me to tell you about the time I got to Seattle by way of Dallas..) The value of your Destination Tickets are tacked onto your score at the end, but if you don’t complete one, that amount is deducted from your score. Also at the very end, the player with the single longest continuous track picks up 10 bonus points.
To claim routes, you have to draw the matching colored Railway Car cards until you get enough for a set. Some routes are very short (Dallas to Houston) while others may require a set of 6 cards (Houston to El Paso). Shorter routes score less points, and longer ones score more. About a third of the routes can be filled by any colored set. Also to help you in the deck are Golden Locomotive cards which are wild and can be used as any color you need.
And that’s it! I selected this one to talk about first, because it’s one of the easiest of the German games to learn, and is always fun to play. This is one of our stand-bys – not sure what to play? “Trains!” It works for 2-5 players, although we’ve found that 3-4 is ideal. It’s also pretty short – you can complete a 4 player game in about 45 minutes.
Ticket to Ride is so versatile and popular, that the maker (Days of Wonder) has come up with a host of expansion sets or alternate boards, like maps of Switzerland and the new Nordic countries.
So check out this modern classic, which I’m sure you’ll love for years to come. Also as a bonus you’ll be able to play the game online with a free 6-month subscription.
Next up I’ll talk about another easy game to learn, this one with cards – Bohnanza! And by the way, if you would like longer explanations of some of these games on video, then check out Board Games with Scott – a great online review site.