We’ve Got a “Ticket to Ride”

(Editor’s Note: That title works on two levels. First, it is accurate. Second, it is a cheesy Beatles reference. Aren’t we so clever?!)

I don’t remember either how we ended up on the subject of the game “Ticket to Ride” nor how we got someone to buy it for us. Wait, that last part sort of makes it sound like a con, which it isn’t. I mean, I know that her mother bought it for us for Christmas, but that’s not the point. It’s just that we had never discussed the game, it came up in conversation once, and then her mother agreed to buy it for us for Christmas. The whole sequence of events happened so rapidly that it felt sort of surreal. It was like an episode of the X-Files except the big reveal at the end is that a chain smoking conspiracy theorist purchased a popular board game for our family.

I do remember that I read about the game through my various online gaming groups. As with anything on the internet, some enjoyed it and some hated it. However, many more enjoyed it than not. In addition, those that enjoyed it almost universally loved it. It seemed like a good game and one that we could play as a family. It must have gotten stored somewhere and not accessed for some reason or another. Then, we got to talking about Christmas, the Cigarette Smoking Man intervened, and we own a copy of “Ticket to Ride”.

Unlike some of the other games we own, we specifically put aside a family game night to play this one. During that first play through, we experienced some of the growing pains mentioned by people who didn’t like the game. However, instead of letting it affect our enjoyment of the game, we adapted the rules slightly to learn some of the nuance of the game. For instance, we played with all cards face up, helped one another make decisions on each turn, and probably messed up the final scoring a bit.

However, the game was fun. In our house, ultimately, that’s all that matters. Sure we have our competitive sides, but we try to temper them during family game night. The last thing we need is another ER visit, especially one due to a fist fight over Connect 4. So, sometimes we play by house rules to add to the fun and enjoyment of the game. Thankfully, understands this and he is also willing to put some of his competitive streak to the side when we play Magic. Otherwise, he’d wipe the floor with me using his more finely tuned Modern decks that he put together to hang during Modern nights with his other play group.

My gaming buddies, I’m thinking of you!

While it isn’t quite so dramatic as Brokeback Mountain, can you tell I miss the other guy gaming? I think I’ve mentioned him at least once in each article that I’ve written since this attempted reboot. We tried to get together a couple of weeks ago for some AER draft and Modern action (I’ve built 2 semi-viable decks), but life got in the way. Life seems to get in the way of far too much. I think I think life needs a solid punch in the face. Maybe I need to stop making excuses and just put “game time” into the schedule. Ugh, I just miss my gaming buddies. But, I digress.

Perhaps “But, I Digress” should be the name of a podcast. File it away if I ever get so popular that this is my job. So, look for that in my next life. “But, I Digress”, streaming–or whatever they call that technology–into your brain in whatever year I’m old enough after having been reincarnated. I smell a hit.

For now, I need to focus on “Ticket to Ride”. In case you don’t know, the game involves up to four players who attempt to build a railroad between cities on a map of America. I know! Sounds thrilling, right? You’d be surprised. The version that we have is America. The game is so popular that it has spawned several expansions (sequels? I’m not sure what to call them.) that take place all over the world. Crazy, right?

Heck, they even have trains on boats!

Believe me, I thought the same things as I did research after hearing how popular it was. You build trains cross country? Really? That’s the game? Well, okay, if you insist. I fail to see how that will sustain a family for one game night. Forget the multiple plays necessary to justify the price tag. As you read this, also consider that our family are some of the biggest train fans that you will meet. I mean, we’re not on par with Sheldon Cooper from Big Bang Theory, but we do attend an annual train hobby show and have taken a couple of trips by train. The second trip was much better than the first.

So, when I tell you that was my initial reaction to the game, you can believe me when I say that I understand your skepticism. The concept is very simple, almost to the point that you wonder if there is enough to sustain a game. Well, put that thought to rest. This game might be simple, but it is fun.

Well, you might argue in an attempt to play devil’s advocate, some of the best and most fun games are simple. Isn’t Hearthstone’s motto, “Deceptively simple, insanely fun”? Well, first, that’s a terrible example, because we barely tolerate Hearthstone around here. I certainly don’t find it insanely fun. Second, that motto seems to follow the rather dubious Blizzard tradition of stealing ideas and changing them only ever so slightly to avoid litigation. Seriously, that sounds very much like the slogan on the Othello box. Not exactly, but close enough that’s immediately what I thought when I first heard it.

Completely random and unnecessary Hearthstone slam. *air guitar*

Nevertheless, your point stands. Games that you can play right out of the box with little to no reference to the rules are some of the most fun. While our initial play through of Ticket to ride led to more than one glance at the rulebook for clarification, it didn’t interrupt the flow of the game much and we were back in business quickly.

The fun in the game comes in the form of strategy. Do you build your own routes? do you attempt to block your opponents? Do you split the difference? Furthermore, how do you execute your strategy once you settle on one? It all makes for an intense game experience and one that we recommend.

One final thought. Maybe the price tag is too intimidating for you to invest in just for “a try”. I can appreciate that. It is quite the investment, especially if you don’t like the game. You are not guaranteed to get any return on your investment if you have to resell it. Luckily, an app has been developed that lets you play the game solo or in a group using play and pass. I bought the app because I like the game and so that I could play and practice, but you could buy it to see if the game is something you’d enjoy. At only 2 bucks, it’s a lot less money than the actual game.

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