I have a few board game enthusiasts at work and they were recommending some board games to play with Sal. At first, I wasn’t into the idea behind Ticket to Ride, but when I was talking to another parent about games with choice versus games without choice (like Chutes and Ladders) she brought up all the choices within Ticket to Ride. Looking at the board game for $30 or the app version for $8, I decided to go with the app version. And I’m pretty glad we did.
Turns out, the game is a lot more fun than I thought it would be when described to me initially. You get mission cards, where you need to connect two cities with your train cars. To place train cars, you use similarly colored train cards. You pick train cards from the displayed cards or randomly from the face down stack. You can do one type of move per turn. There are a limited number of train cars each player has. Game ends when people get down to 2 or fewer cars. Points are scored by placing trains on the track (longer trains get more points) and by completing mission cards. Incomplete mission cards are subtracted from your score. Depending on the style of game you play, there might be bonus points for longest train or most missions completed.
- You pick up some geography. The default map is of the US, but your can buy add-on packs for Europe or Switzerland. For Switzerland, I’m not sure I’m picking up so much geography, but if you’ve got relatives there, I’m sure you’ll impress them with some knowledge after playing that add-on pack for a while.
- You try and do some basic route planning – adjusting as the game plays on and people block you. Picking routes that are similar and can re-use trains of yours is a big advantage and skill to be learned in the game. Easier for adults to pick up on, but simple enough that kids can learn it after a few games. As the game plays out and people block your route, you need to get a bit creative about how to still accomplish your goals. Very good for that.
- You learn to balance many simultaneous needs. A great skill to be used daily as one grows up and gains more responsibility. Basically, the game hinges upon balancing whether you should use cards now or gather more cards for play later. Consider how many other cards your opponents have.
- You learn to manage risk/reward scenarios. Turns out, Sal’s pretty “against risk” as he likes to put it. He’s content with completing his initial missions and not taking on additional risk. Which is fine for our home games – as I figure he’ll grow more comfortable taking on more risk as he gains confidence with the game. Taking on more missions can be more lucrative or it can penalize you quite a bit.
It was a simple enough game that he was able to teach a friend of mine how to play. But now he’s beating us. So Sal’s motivated to teach more people how to play, so they might start to beat his first student.
The game can be played as a pass and play, where up to 5 people can share 1 device. Or it can be played via Game Center (how our friend is beating me – really easy to start up a casual couple of games after the kids go to bed), with your friends around the world (even on desktops). Or strangers – so watch out for that if you’re letting your little one play. Sal doesn’t play unsupervised – so it’s not an issue for us right now.
$6.99 in the store, with some add-on in game purchases to expand the game – more mission cards or other maps, like Europe and Switzerland.