Welcome to Roll Call, a feature dedicated to reviewing the best and latest tabletop games, and even some old favorites.
My husband and I have always enjoyed playing board games together and we wasted no time in getting our kids hooked as well. We try to play at least two every weekend. While we are a household of game systems, multiple laptops, Kindles, and tablets, it’s nice to disconnect in order to reconnect around a table and game the old fashioned way. One of favorite games to play as a family is Ticket To Ride.
Days of Wonder’s Ticket To Ride involves playing matching Train Cards to complete railway routes across North America. Every time you complete a route, you get points depending on how many train cars it takes to complete that route. You get more points for completing destination tickets linking two cities. The longer the distance between the cities, the more points it’s worth. At the end of the game, the person who completed the longest route gets 10 bonus points. You lose points for any destination tickets you didn’t complete at the end of the game.
Each player starts the game with four color cards and three destination tickets. You’re allowed to put back one destination ticket at the beginning of the game. On your turn, you can do one of four things:
- You can lay down a route. In the picture above, if I wanted to connect New York and Washington, I’d need to turn in two black Train Cards and then place two of my train cars along that route. The person in the example above (who just happened to be me), the red player, already claimed that route by turning in two orange Train Cards and then placing two red train cars over the orange tracks connecting those cities. In a three player game, as we were playing, once one route has been claimed (as the orange one was), the black one cannot be claimed by another player. In a four or more player game, double routes can be claimed by two different players. Once you claim a route, move your corresponding colored token forward along the points track that lines the perimeter of the board. Your turn ends.
- If you can’t or don’t want to claim a route on your turn, you can take a card from the five Train Cards that are face up and available to all players on their turn. If you take one of the face up cards you must immediately replace it with a card from the deck. You can next either take another Train Card from free play or take a card from the deck. Your turn ends.
- You can take two Train Cards from the deck and end your turn.
- You can take three new destination cards from the deck. You have to keep at least one of the three new cards. Your turn ends.
If a route is grey (like Raleigh to Charleston above or Atlanta to Charleston), any color Train Cards can be used to complete the route as long as they are the same color. There are special rainbow colored Train Cards available which act as wild cards and can be used to represent any color the player wants. If there are ever three or more rainbow cards laid down in the five free play Train Cards, the five cards must be moved to the discard pile and five new free play Train Cards are placed face up from the deck.
If on their turn the player chooses to take a wild card from the free play cards, they must replace it with a card from the deck and their turn ends. They do not get to take a second Train Card from either the deck or the free play cards.
You will most likely get blocked by other players when trying to complete a route so it’s best to have an alternate path in mind. Try to claim routes you need that are only available once as quickly as possible. In the picture above you see the points system is displayed on the game board under New Orleans. If you complete a route with six train cars, you move forward along the game board 15 spaces (or points). For example, in the picture above, playing six red Train Cards would allow you to place six of your train cars along the route for New Orleans to Miami and gain 15 points.
If you complete all the destination cards in your hand and still have train cars that can be played, you’ll want to use your next turn to take three new destination cards. If you’re lucky, you may have already completed one of the routes in the process of completing the ones on your original cards. Remember: You have to keep at least one of the three new destination cards picked, so choose wisely. Make sure you have enough train cards left to complete any destinations you keep.
When a player is down to two, one, or zero train cars that begins the final round of turns. After that play, each person (including the person who triggered the last round), gets one last turn and then the game is over. Players reveal their destination cards and gain (or lose) those points their cards are worth depending on whether or not the routes were completed. The special 10pt card is then awarded to the player with the longest route. Whoever has the most points wins!
There are other versions of the game available: Europe, Germany, and others, with new destinations (duh) and even new rules. There are also expansion packs with new destination cards and more that you can purchase for the main games you own.
We got our game at the local game shop as I try to support those as much as possible, but I have noticed that Amazon.com typically has the games for quite a bit cheaper. If you can afford to spend more and want to support your local game or comic shop, then go for it, but know there are options and don’t let the cost of the games to dissuade you from getting into tabletop. The quality time you’ll spend with your family and friends are worth every penny.