What is Ticket to Ride?
When many of us at Typhoon Studios aren’t making cool games, we’re often playing them. While usually that means relaxing at home, cruising through whatever blockbuster video game is popular at the time, sometimes we like to gather together over lunch to enjoy something a little more analog. I’m talking meeples. I’m talking chits. I’m talking board games, baby!
This week, a few of us decided to don our conductor’s hats and gather for a nice, friendly game of Ticket to Ride: Alan R. Moon’s “Spiel des Jahres” winning smash-hit board game about lining up little plastic trains and exerting dominance over your fellow railroad tycoons. Despite its elegant simplicity – it can be learned in its entirety in about five minutes flat – Ticket to Ride is full of strategic depth and, more importantly, plenty of opportunities to screw over your friends.
It’s a game about choo choos!
Here’s the gist: Each turn you can either replenish your hand of cards, lay some trains to claim a route (which is done by playing certain combinations of cards), or pick up some new destination cards (which are hidden from other players). By claiming routes, you work toward connecting specific pairs of cities as dictated by your held destination cards. Scores are tallied at the end of the game – completed destination cards award whatever point value they have listed, while incomplete destination cards deduct that value. To win, you’ll want to complete your lines while also trying to block your opponents from doing the same.
And that’s it. It’s simple, streamlined and tons of fun. If there’s a game better-suited to introducing people to the broader world of modern board games, I can’t think of it.
Let The Games Begin
One fine Thursday afternoon, four enterprising railroad barons gathered in the Typhoon break room to lay some trains – Mike (Animation Director), Jessie (VFX Artist), Alex (Programmer) and myself (Denis, your fearless Community Manager). After quickly running down the rules for Jessie and Alex, who had never played before, and organizing our pieces, cards and tickets, we were off.
Already looking pretty ugly
The early game was rather quiet, as it usually is, but as we continued to play a disturbing pattern slowly started to emerge: It was clear we had all started our game by selecting tickets situated in the Eastern portion of the map. While were all able to work around each other amicably, it was becoming increasingly obvious with each passing turn that a storm was brewing for the late game. Eyes began darting around the room with suspicion, and hushed cursing could be heard after every card drawn. The intensity was palpable. And then it happened.
Jessie, wisely noting the positions of my trains and obvious need for copious amounts of blue cards, casually claimed the route between Atlanta and Miami – aka the object of my desire for at least 10 turns and the linchpin to my entire train operation. Needless to say, I was more than happy to vocalize my displeasure. After calming myself and being talked down from a rage-induced board flip, play resumed. After spending a frustrating amount of follow-up turns drawing cards and reconsidering my approach, I was able to circumvent Jessie’s roadblock.
I am untethered and my rage knows no bounds!
Once again, however, Chaotic Evil Jessie – not content with just obstructing my endeavors – deliberately triggered end game by reducing his supply of trains below two. While Alex and I seemed content enough with our current situation, a wrench was clearly thrown into Mike’s plans. After a final round of desperate moves and not-so-hushed expletives, all of which I am too modest to repeat here for you in text, the game was concluded, and it was time to figure out whose trains reigned.
Tallying the scores/assessing Jessie’s damage
In the end, as the only person not to be targeted by Jessie’s meddling, Alex cleaned up with a commanding victory. Mike’s final position was the most tragic: If the game were ended only a few rounds later he may just have won the game. As for myself, thought I didn’t win I did achieve a very satisfying personal victory – My final score put me exactly one point ahead of Jessie. Screw you, buddy. Screw. You.