ED: Gamerwok Unplugged is a segment on GamerWok where we embrace the fact that every once in a while you just need to unplug the devices and try something new. This is where Gamerwok Unplugged comes in and shows off some amazing unpowered games.
Ticket to Ride
Publisher: Days of Wonder
Designer: Alan R. Moon
Estimated Play Time: 30-60 minutes
Ticket to Ride is an enjoyable, easy-to-learn game that sees the players trying to connect cities on board by connecting train lines. The original board is of the continental US. The game is easy to set up as it has a limited number of components to work with. There is the board (of course), 5 different coloured train sets, 5 matching score markers, train cards and route cards. Route cards show two different cities, and the player must attempt to connect those two cities on the board with their trains. Train cards are one of 8 colours (purple, blue, brown, white, green, yellow, black, and red) or a locomotive, which is wild.
The board is marked with the cities and train routes that players are competing to lay down their trains on. There are limited points of access to the cities, so players need to be strategic in laying down their routes and trying to predict where and opponent is going to place their trains. Some tracks are longer, and some are shorter, with the longer tracks being worth more points that the shorter ones. Some tracks may require a certain number of a particular coloured train card to complete, while others are “greyed out” and only require a player to have that number of any same coloured card. Some tracks are doubled, which means that there are two tracks side by side. In 4 or 5 player games, both of these tracks can be used, meaning that two people can use the same route to get into a city. If there are 3 or less players, only one of the double tracks can be used, meaning some routes are more easily shut out.
At the beginning of the game, each player is dealt 4 train cards, and 3 route cards. Players choose a train colour, and matching score marker. Players must keep all train cards, and at least 2 route cards. They can choose to keep all three. The score markers are placed at “0” on the score board around the edge of the board. After all the train cards have been dealt out, 5 more are turned face up in a line, and the remaining stack placed to one side of the line. The most experienced traveller of the group is the player who plays first, and then turn order continues in a clockwise direction.
Players can do one of three things on any given turn: take two train cards either from the face up cards, or from the stack (it can be one from both), lay down a train on a route by spending the appropriate number of train cards from their hands, or take new route cards. The only exception to these rules is if a locomotive card is face up, the player can choose to take this card, and only this card. The player does not get a second draw if this is the case. If the player draws a locomotive card from the top of the stack, they still get a second pick. If there are 3 locomotives in the face up stack at any given time, the 5 face up cards are moved to the bottom of the deck, and 5 new ones are dealt out.
The game ends when one player is down to their last 2 trains. After this happens, every other player gets one more turn to either lay down trains, or pick more route cards (a risky move). The players can also choose to draw more cards if they can’t lay down trains, but they won’t be able to play them, so it is essentially a wasted last turn.
The game is scored in the following ways: During play, players should be using their score markers to keep track of how many points they are scoring by laying down trains. Each track length is worth a certain amount of points, so each time a player lays down trains, he/she should be moving his marker to keep track. If players forget to do this step, they can simply re-count at the end of the game. The second part to scoring is by how many completed or not completed routes you have. Each route card has a number on it; this is how many points that route is worth. Players move their markers forward according to the points on each of their route cards. If a route card is not completed, the player moves his/her marker backwards by however many points that card is worth. The last scoring opportunity comes from the longest route award, which is worth ten points. This is given to the player who has the longest continuous train. The player with the most points wins the game.
Ticket to ride is amazingly easy to learn, and a ton of fun as a game among friends. It is a great combination of luck-of-the-draw and strategy, as you try to outmaneuver your friends to get to your destinations while fighting for the extra 10 points of longest train. The relatively simple rules make this an easy game to pick up and play, and also great for a family game night if you have younger children.
It is really fun to try and build train routes that benefit yourself, but at the same time try and cut off your competition from getting to where they need to go. There are several different playing styles, some more aggressive than others, that you can try to be able to dominate the board and your competitors. Many (myself included) try to figure out how to link all the different routes in hand to create the longest train. Others may try to collect as many train routes as possible to score maximum points. Yet others, if they know all hope is lost for winning, will simply try to play the spoiler, and try to interrupt train lines to ensure the competition loses points for incomplete routes.
This game is quick and a ton of fun with friends and family alike. Be prepared for some hard feelings if you happen to play with a more competitive crowd (just warning you… this game can be vicious). I highly recommend this game as an introduction to board games or as a nice change of pace for the more experienced game players. It is definitely a must have for any game collection.