Date: 19th March 2004
Game played: Ticket to Ride ( Days of Wonder ) BGG Id: 9209

This is the latest release from Alan Moon and Days of Wonder and has been produced to the same excellent standard as Mystery of the Abbey and Pirate's Cove. The game can best be described as a cross between Airlines/Union Pacific and Transamerica and is about building train routes between various cities on a map of the United States. On a player's turn he can do one of three things: either draw cards from a choice of five on display or at random from a draw deck; or build a route by playing cards he has previously collected; or draw up to three destination tickets, each of which shows two cities the player has to attempt to link with his routes. There are three ways of scoring victory points: the simplest is by building a route between two neighbouring cities. The route will gain between one and 15 VPs dependent upon its length, and can be claimed by playing a set of cards matching the colour and length of the route. VPs can also be gained at the end of the game by connecting the two cities shown on the destination tickets. However, if you fail to accomplish this you lose the same number of VPs you would otherwise have gained. The final way of scoring points is by building the longest continuous train route and yields 10VPs at the end of the game. Players start the game with a set of 45 train markers, each representing one length of train route and the game continues until one player has fewer than three markers left, at which point everyone has one final turn. The player with the most VPs wins.

Ticket To Ride is very easy to explain and play but has lots of choices to be made. Do you concentrate on building the long routes worth 15 points or do you try to benefit from destination tickets? Do you try to link to your previously laid routes or do you try to block opponents who may be seeking to do the same? As you can see what colour cards people are collecting, it is possible for the game to be quite cut-throat in spoiling other people's plans. The game plays quickly and downtime is not an issue because you need to watch what other people are doing to help decide what plan you follow on your next turn. Our game was a very friendly affair with each of us pursuing our own plans with little interference or blocking from opponents. I'm sure this will not be the case in future games.

Everyone seemed intent on connecting the cities shown on their initial destination cards as a first priority. Having achieved that, Mark, John and I continued to extend our longest routes. I had my eye on two 15 point routes in the North , which would give me a decent East-West axis to add to the North-South one I had already established. Mark G also had his eye on that area but I grabbed these before he had chance to claim them. I then decided to try my luck with the destination cards and they didn't fall kindly. The best card of the three available still needed me to develop all down the West Coast. Nige also tried his luck and from the groan he let out, I knew he was facing similar problems. Picking the destination cards early enough gives you time to achieve them. Drawing them late means you may miss out and suffer a big penalty. So it was with Nige failing to connect up a 15 point ticket. Ouch. I managed to get to my final destination and then sought to end the game as quickly as possible. I was pretty confident I had done well and so it proved with me scoring highest in all three VP areas. Very good game.

Mark G

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