Thursday, December 11, 2008



What makes a good board game for a group of friends?
That is always a good question, and it really comes down to a handful of key gaming features.
To start with a game must generally have simple rules. Serious gamers might like games with tons of depth in terms of mechanics and rules, but if you want to keep a group of friends who show up interested, it's usually important to have a game explained in a few minutes.
The game should be fun, and be simple enough play wise to keep everyone interested, with clearly defined goals, and an obvious way of measuring how one is doing as the game goes along.
And, generally it's best if everyone finished the game at the same time, and a winner is then determined based on points, or some other factor. There is nothing worse than a player going out of a game early, then being bored watching as the game continues while the rest battle on to determine a winner.
A relatively new game that offers all of the above attributes is Ticket To Ride (TTR).
The game was designed by Alan R. Moon, whose name is attached to literally dozens of games over the last 20 years or so. None have achieved greater popularity than TTR.
The game has a simple elegance in terms of game play. Players collect cards of various types of train cars they then use to claim railway routes which run across North America (Canada included). The longer the routes claimed, the more points earned. You can score additional points by fulfilling Destination Tickets – goal cards which connect distant cities. The player who builds the longest continuous route also scores a bonus.
The components are well done too. There is the game board itself featuring high-quality illustrations, basically a map of North America with a scoring track laid out around the outer edge. There are the game pieces 225 custom-molded train cars, along with 144 illustrated cards, and wooden scoring markers, enough for the game to be played by two to five players.
There are definitely choices to be made in this game, which routes to focus on, do you try to block an opponent's rail line, do you risk adding an additional line to your goal, although of course it often comes down to which cards you draw, and when.
Ticket To Ride has been critically acclaimed in the board game industry, and with good reason. It is far superior to say Monopoly, or even Risk for the casual boardgamer. It has a great look, and keeps everyone in the game until the end.
The game has been popular enough to spin-off several expansions, including Ticket to Ride: Europe, TTR: Nordic Countries, TTR: USA 1910, TTR: Mystery Train Expansion, and even a card game based off the board game. Pretty impressive considering the original only debuted in 2004.
You can get more information on this intriguing game at
This one should become a long time classic.

-- Review first appeared in Yorkton This Week newspaper July 30, 2008 - Yorkton, SK. Canada

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