Have You Played… Ticket To Ride

Have You Played? is an endless stream of game recommendations. One a day, every day of the year, perhaps for all time.

Admittedly, my experience of this lies far more with the boardgame than the PC adaptation, as the latter is a mixed bag – though very much recreates the key concept.

Ticket To Ride is a game about building railways. It’s extremely extremely extremely important to own the right railways. More important than anything you can imagine.

So much to do with trains has ended up self-ghettoised, locked in the realm of people with unusual dedication to a leftfield hobby. Hence, Ticket To Ride’s concept – lay tracks, connect cities and countries, own routes before anyone else does – sounds like the driest, niche-locked thing. Ticket To Ride’s genius is that it genuinely throws out all the baggage of preconception, and all the fustiness, in favour of fast yet thoughtful land-claiming. It feels powerful to be the magnate of a vital cross-country line, and it feels devastating if someone else grabs it before you. It’s a little like being Richard Branson, presuming he cares about Virgin Trains as much as he does balloons and spaceships.

Importantly, it’s extremely quick to learn, with clear and simple rules. The journey isn’t so much to do with mastering the nuances, as again the rules are so simple, but more mind-mapping out the possible combinations and how you can steam your way to victory based on what destinations are available and what aren’t, and most of all what you reckon your opponents are angling for. It’s about connections, and seeing a very specific Matrix. An awful lot from something superficially very slight.

As for the PC version – it’s not bad, but the music and voiceover is ultra-cheese to the maxxxxxxxx, the AI could be a lot sharper, and the lack of an ability to invite friends is criminal – all you can do is play solo or with randoms. Tragic, but it’s there as a (cheaper) way to learn and practice, while the tension of who’s grabbing what is almost as palpable against an unseen stranger as it is against a jeering chum.

Toot-toot!

18 Comments

  1. lomaxgnome says:

    I still regret not picking up all the addon packs when they had a big sale early last year, as Days of Wonder no longer seems to participate in Steam sales. It’s a well done version of the board game though and even not on sale much cheaper than the physical version.

  2. Jeeva says:

    This is great fun, with both board and video based games.

    …having said that, I’ve certainly been able to arrange online-friends into games of this, so you might want to try inviting folk once more. Or it might have just been by creating a passworded lobby? (delightfully oldschool, clearly)

  3. Premium User Badge

    Aerothorn says:

    And then you have Memoir ’44, which is a far better adaptation (can play with friends, etc) but has a bizarre pay-per-play model, which in the long run makes it actually more expensive than just owning the board game!

    you get what you pay for, I guess?

  4. Gothnak says:

    I found Ticket Ride, Carcassonne, Settlers etc as the best board games in the world just when i was transitioning from Monopoly/Cluedo/Risk to a full on boardgaming hobby. Now i look at them as bland, boring and simple (But still infinitely better than Monopoly/Cluedo/Risk!).

    Finding a boardgame that is simple enough for a new boardgamer but still interesting for someone who owns over 100 is pretty tough.

    Also playing a game like this online/single player vs against people at a table with you loses half of the point of playing :(.

    Sorry to be a downer this close to Christmas.. I love boardgames me, but computer boardgames have quite a lot missing, and not a hell of a lot added. Why can’t someone do a computerised version of the Mage Knight or Arkham Horror Board Game, so i don’t have to remember ALL the rules and spend 40 mins setting the damn things up, that’s what a computer should be used for, playing highly complex single player games.

    • thesleeper7 says:

      Well, there was a fully automated open source Arkham Horror game, but FFG pulled it from the internet. You can still find it if you search really hard.

      Or you can always fire up and Mage Knight or AH Vassal module, since those are pretty well done.

      Anyway, when it comes to Mage Knight I can see why a PC version will work. Once you automate all the rules you still have plenty of interesting choices, tough decision. But with AH, once you automate it, it becomes boring as hell. You realize how bad a game AH really is. Almost no choices, no planning, it all boils down to closing the big 4 gates asap, and then cruise for the rest of the game.

      Automating heavy, decision-heavy games(Mage Knight, Tzok’in, Terra Mystica) is great, but if once you atuomate simplistic, luck-heavy games games(Arkham Horror, Elder Sign, The Witcher, Ticket to Ride, Talisman) they become boring, really fast and loose a lot of their charm.

      • Gothnak says:

        Good comment. I tried Talisman on the iPad recently (it cost me 69p) knowing that i would never play the board game version any more because it takes too long. It was an experience in utter boredom. I was a Troll with 6 strength who continually lost to enemies with 2 or 3 strength with bad dice rolls, got turned into a from for rolling a 1, and basically wandered around getting beaten up while other characters got loads of random equipment and i had to fight Dragons. I can see that AH might degenerate into that on the PC, although I did quite like the Witcher boardgame that i bought for a few quid, but felt it should be co-op rather than vs, as co-op games are invariably about looking at the odds and deciding what to do.

    • Asurmen says:

      My problem with Ticket to Ride and Settlers is that it’s more or less entirely random who wins (although Ticket to Ride is better than Settlers in that regard). That said, even though I dislike games solved entirely at random (looking at you Talisman), Ticket to Ride and Settlers are simple enough that I can just go with the flow/not stressed without getting bored/pissed off at a bad session (again, looking at you Talisman).

  5. rannelvis says:

    You can play with friends, you just have to create your own game (password protected to make things easier). You do this by going from the Main Menu > More… > Online Games, then creating a private game via the Create tab. Your friends should click on the Join tab and select the game you created and enter the password if necessary. Everyone needs to sign up for their own Days of Wonder account. My wife and I play together every night. She plays on her surface or her android tab, I play on my dell venue pro 8.

  6. gambl0r says:

    I started getting into tabletop games in the last couple years, and heard so many good things about this one. Before buying the table version, I got the iPhone version for a dollar or so… For the life of me, I can’t figure out why people like it. Someone explain this to me:

    If one player happens to pick a bunch of city cards that are on the same rail line, and a second player happens to pick cities that are scattered across the country, there seems to be literally nothing the second player can do to have a chance at winning. At least in the iPhone version, I would keep getting destinations that were already along a longer, established route… meaning I’d get points for doing nothing (or, I’d end up on the other side, needing to make a bunch of branched routes as my opponent racked up points for doing nothing).

    Needless to say, I didn’t buy the table version.

    • jrodman says:

      The tickets you get have a strong influence on the outcome, it’s true. That’s part of why this is considered a game at a lighter end of the spectrum. A classic design choice, more chance means less serious.

      However, you can often come out on top with a less optimal initial ticket draw in a multiplayer game, by reading the intents of the other players better, and taking the cards that help you and hurt them. One of the key insights is that the tickets do not HAVE to be completed, and you can sometimes win the game by explicitly skipping some, and changing the tempo.

      The really punishing part of the original game is having your routes stolen by chance or deliberate action. You can have 60 point swings that you couldn’t really do anything about. The europe and marklin maps reduce this.

  7. Chiron says:

    Surprisingly good game actually, only played the boardgame but its really simple and flows smoothly and while not the most taxing for experienced players it still manages to be interesting while accessible to newbies.

  8. FroshKiller says:

    There was a board game club here at work that met and played during lunch weekly. The winner each week picked the next game played. Ticket to Ride and Ticket to Ride: Europe were popular choices with a certain segment. Unfortunately, it was the segment of players who were the least fun to play with.

    I’m sure the game is great fun with the right group, but I haven’t enjoyed a single instance of playing it. It’s the kind of game that attracts a far too serious player, in my opinion. The only fun I ever salvaged from it lay in deliberately making bad choices to confound the type-A personalities I played with.

    • mukuste says:

      Gosh, I know what you mean. Had the same experience playing Carcassonne with some colleagues. It’s just no fun with that one board game geek who plays the optimal move every round and scoffs at you for your silly, silly beginner mistakes (well, the last part can be, as you said, a bit of perverse fun if you do it on purpose).

      And to think that there are people in the comments above clamoring for more complex board games… it’s just not the point of a board game for me. Get a PC strategy game if you want complex systems, but give me me a clever, focused, elegant design in a board game anytime.

      • Gothnak says:

        I actually said that PC boardgames should be more complex. You have removed the Player face to face interaction, so you replace it with things that can’t be done on a physical table, or with stats and charts that would be a nightmare to look after in real life.

        To me, the most important element of a real boardgame is not complexity, it is player interaction. The best games are those which have alliances that form and break every turn and that you never really know who your friend is, or who can trust. This is something computer games do REALLY badly, but Board games are awesome for. That doesn’t mean complexity.

    • Asurmen says:

      My experience is different. Half of my board gaming group are serious, the other half casual, and none of take TtR serious because, well, you just can’t. It’s too simple and too laid back to do so. In what manner are they playing it seriously? The only thing I can think of is losing out to a single track segment, but TtR is set up to sort that out.

  9. RanDomino says:

    The best part of this game is that it shows what Europeans think America looks like.
    Hint: That’s Minneapolis.

    • Llewyn says:

      And the best part of that is that Alan Moon is an American national.

  10. Tams80 says:

    Yes, once. I won by going around the outside and no one properly blocking me off. I now refuse to play it, as I want to keep my perfect record.