Days of Wonders' classic Ticket to Ride is a board game about trains. Lots of them: hundred of little plastic pieces to dole out amongst your friends. There are also cards to shuffle through, points to track, and a great big cardboard map of the United States to lay out on a table. Fortunately for us civilized (or friendless) folk, digital versions of the game have been kicking around online, on PC and on iOS devices, allowing us to build railroad empires without needing to dedicate much in the way of furniture. Now Ticket to Ride has finally arrived on Android devices in all its glory, and it's still all rather fun.
If you're new to the game (or just terrible, like me) an introductory video in the Android version explains all of the rules. Curiously, it's a video for the PC version, making references to double-clicking and showing all of the action on a PC monitor. The iPad version of the game gets its own dedicated video, so I'd imagine something Android-friendly will be popping up soon enough.
The game's rules are simple: you need to connect cities by rail, plotting routes across the map. At the start of the game every player chooses up to three destination tickets: these link two cities, and are worth a number of points—Los Angeles to Miami nets you 20 points, for example. Each turn you can pick up a pair of colored railcar cards, or draw a new destination ticket if you're feeling gutsy. Cities are connected by colored rail lines of varying lengths—you'll need five train cars for a track with five segments, and so on. Drop railcars onto the tracks that correspond to their color (grey tracks will accept any color), and you'll eventually complete your route.
Sounds simple, right? And it is, until you introduce that onerous human element. The number of trains are limited: once a player only has two trains left, everyone else gets one last turn before the game is over and points are tallied. You'll get the points on your destination ticket when you successfully complete it, but you'll also get extra points for having a longer route. Fail to complete that route, and you'll lose that number of points—that makes cross country routes especially dangerous. Only one player can claim a set of tracks, so winning is less about planning an efficient, pleasant journey for your passengers, and more about cutting off your opponent's rail line.
I like to imagine I'm a 19th century robber baron plopping railcars across the board seemingly at random, all the while cutting off opponents in a Machiavellian scheme that sees my rail company as the only successful one. The reality is that I run out of trains long before completing that treacherous Seattle to New York trip, and presumably spend the rest of my years sleeping in freight cars, lamenting my misspent wealth and cursing my nemeses.
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