This is probably why I don't play board games very much.
That said, when I have to play a board game these days I've started to feel that digital is often the way to go. You'll lose that tactile feel of cardboard and plastic, and there's something to be said about gathering around a table with some chums, arguing over rules and hurling accusations of chicanery face to face. But the lack of setup and cleanup time is just the icing on the cake: Ticket To Ride's multiplayer offerings let you play with up to two to five people who own the app, and it's fast and seamless. Better still, it's cross-platform, so you can compete against fans who own the game on Android, iOS, or Steam. Being able to immediately compete against thousands of players is a strong shot in the arm for a game that was just released this morning, and I'm sure seasoned vets will appreciate swarms of doe-eyed newbies to crush under their heels and pad their ELO ranking.
Things aren't entirely rosy. I tested the game on my Nexus 7, and while everything moved at a fine clip, board games are (as expected) a little more appealing when played on my larger iPad—folks with bigger Android tablets shouldn't run into any issues. I also noticed that a few of the animations present on the iOS version are missing here, and while they're simply minor flourishes—things like tickets being stamped once you complete a route—it's lamentable. The iOS version handles multiplayer matches by linking to your GameCenter account, but you'll need to register for a Days of Wonder account on Android.
The most egregious fault here is the lack of a pass and play mode. I'd often set up pass and play games on my iPad to introduce the game to friends who either didn't own an iPad or had never played it before, and I've found it's one of the best ways to get folks hooked on a new experience. I sorely hope it's included in an update sometime soon, as expecting friends to shell out $7 on a whim—or only playing against the CPU when you don't have an internet connection—is a bit of a downer.
Ticket to Ride will set you back $7, the same price as its iOS counterpart. But that only gets you the classic USA-themed board—Asia and Switzerland are priced at $4, while the larger European map costs $5. There are also links in the store to buy the physical board games off of Amazon, if you'd like to make the experience a bit more tactile.The price might seem a bit on the steep side, especially if you don't have friends who are already fans, or are simply unfamiliar with the game. If you're on the fence, you can always check out the web version at Days of Wonders' website; the first four games are free.
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