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.