At first glance, Ticket to Ride looks to be a boring, innocuous game. For those that get the impression that the game is complex and the strategy overly simple, the truth is far from the appearance. Ticket to Ride, by Days of Wonder, has been heavily lauded as the next Catan, something simple yet addicting and addicting it is.
For the purposes of testing its fun potential, several groups were tested but when the time came to switch to the next group, the first group had gone feral and was actively defending their right to play it a second time. The true beauty of the game is how easy it is to learn, despite having a confusing appearance. After a few rounds of play, even the most inept neophyte had their own strategy and was actively defending their own routes.
The winning condition is simple – have the most points. Points are gained by filling the most routes, which all have varying values. Large routes give huge payoffs but have many requirements to take. On the other hand, small single routes can be taken in the blink of an eye.
Where the true strategy of the game shines is in the route cards. At the beginning of the game each player is dealt a few route cards which, if completed, can increase the points gained dramatically. On the other hand, if the route card’s requirements are not completed, they subtract points from the overall score.
While strategies for the game are diverse, the two main branches are those of the long route and the spider-web. Long routes are useful for high point value route cards since generally it can be easy enough to link towns by long winding routes. On the other hand, spider-webbing excludes the ability to fulfill long routes but can connect many smaller route cards. Of course, if you find yourself unable to complete anything, you can begin to sabotage other players routes based on the cards they choose.
Since the game is easy enough to learn and is extremely addicting, if you have never ventured into the realm of board games, this is a great place to start. Even the most casual encounter can turn into a rage-driven dash to the most points.