Ticket To Ride – Mobile, Computer And Board-ing Passes Required
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Besides computer games, I enjoy a multitude of other things… One of those things are board games. The two go hand-in-hand, for me, as they utilise my brain and get me thinking of things in different ways. They also allow me to gain entertainment in different ways. I mainly use computer games for single-player experiences, while getting my multi-player, social fix from board games.
Last year, I was given access to a board game called Ticket To Ride. I didn’t think much of it, at first, but came to find great enjoyment when playing it with friends. It isn’t a particularly hard game, but it has a simple charm that everyone seems to get, which really works in a social setting. I was intrigued, though not surprised, when I saw a digital version of the game available. I picked it up and now I’m going to witter on about it for the rest of this article.
Since the game spans multiple platforms, I’m going to give an overview of the core gameplay first before exploring the variations.
The Basic Rules & The Mobile Game
The basic rules are consistent across all interactions of the game. The object of the game is to score the most points by establishing train routes across the country. The longer the individual connection, the more points you score for it. At the start of the game, you are dealt a number of bonus routes. If these are completed by the end of the game, you score the extra points indicated. If you fail, you lose that many points; this immediately gives you a bit of strategy in planning your overall route for the game.
Now, to establish these particular routes, you need to play sets of coloured train cards. Most routes accept any colour of train, as long as they all match, but some routes require a particular colour. Collecting these train cards is one of a handful of actions you can take on your turn. These are as follows:
01. Play a set of Train Cards to establish a route.
02. Pick up two Train Cards, or a single Locomotive Card
03. Draw three Bonus Route cards and put, at least, one into your hand.
You can only perform on of these actions on each of your turns, but the most common one will be picking up Train Cards. There is a little more strategy and tactics to this action, than it may initially seem.
At the start of the game, five Train Cards are placed face up for all to see. Amongst the coloured Train Cards are Locomotive, which act as wild cards of all colours. You may pick up one Locomotive from the face up cards, or two cards from the face up area or the top of the draw pile. If you happen to draw a Locomotive from the top of the draw pile, then HORRAY; no-one else needs to know and you get two cards! Likewise, you may get two cards which don’t match your colours and you need to keep persisting.
When a player takes a face up Train, it is immediately replaced with a new card from the draw pile. If there are three, face up Locomotives at any one time, they are all shuffled back into the draw pile and five new cards are placed face up. This just keeps the area clean and varied.
Each player has a limited supply of Train Pieces to place on the board and when a player has two or less trains left, each player has one, final turn. This puts a clock on the game and keeps you paying attention to your opponents’ play styles.
There are also a couple of bonus points available to the player who has the longest, continuous train line, across the board. It isn’t a massive bonus, but it can allow a player to steal the lead at the last possible moment.
That is it for the basic rules. Some of the boards have extra rules, but they only add a little complexity, or address some potential issues which can occur in the base game. We can cover those as we come across them.
The mobile version of Ticket To Ride grants access to all editions of the popular board game, all in one place. Unfortunately, I only have access to the classic version of the game. This includes the basic rules, listed above, and is played on a map of America.
The game plays well and makes good use of the computer processor. When you are selecting your Bonus Routes, the game highlights their locations, so you always know where you need to be heading at all times. It also keeps all the scores and calculates the final scores, for you. It isn’t a vital feature, but it is a nice extra which keeps things moving quickly.
Unfortunately, some of the touch screen functionality levels a little to be desired. The main issue which comes to mind is with the picky nature of claiming routes. Once you have enough Train Cards to claim a route, you can drag your cards onto the board and a tiny reticle appears to help you target the route you wish to claim. Unfortunately, you need to be VERY accurate with this, otherwise the game ignores your attempt to claim a route and throws the cards back in your hands. This wouldn’t be so hard, if you didn’t have your own finger obscuring the targeting reticle. See my problem, here?
There is a high chance that this isn’t such a problem on iPads and similar tablets, but I haven’t played on those, so I can’t pass judgement.
Otherwise, the game translates well. It looks good and the AI is pretty tough competition. There is online multiplayer, but my phone wasn’t up to the task of running it.
The Board Game
I have a copy of Ticket To Ride : Europe. This version of the board is more familiar to me, being from the UK, as well as having a couple of extra rules to develop the gameplay.
The first new rule is the addition of Tunnels. These are sections of track which may be longer than they appear on the board. They have thick, chunky borders and activate when a player tries to claim them. Before they put their trains on them, the player reveals the top three cards from the Train Card draw pile. For each train revealed which matches the colour of the route they are trying to claim, they have to pay an extra train card. This means that a route could be three trains longer than it appears on the board, and adds an element of pushing one’s luck when trying to claim a Tunnel.
The second addition is Ferry Routes. These are almost identical to normal routes, but they always require a Locomotive to be claimed; some even require TWO locomotives. There isn’t much else to these, but it encourages players to pick up Locomotive cards more often.
The third rule is the most noteworthy. Each player is given three Train Stations. Instead of one of your normal actions, you can place a Train Station for the cost of a Train card. This Train Station allows you to use another player’s connection, as if it were your own, when completing Bonus Routes. At the end of the game, you get points for the stations you didn’t use, so you are encouraged not to use them.
As a whole, I think this game is pretty good. The Ferry routes and the Tunnels add an extra element to consider, when you are claiming routes and planning your overall game plan at the beginning. The Train Stations allow you to still stay in the game, if other players block your desired routes; maliciously or not. I find the most fun comes from making train noises, as the Trains are placed upon the board. It brings me considerable joy and helps to put other players at ease, as well as making them smile, if nothing more.
The game suffers in that it boasts a five-fold board and requires a vast amount of table space. It then wants the players to place lots of plastic trains upon it, which can very easily be knocked about in fits of excitement or rage.
Now, one of my biggest critiques comes in the form of expansions. Now, technically, Ticket To Ride : Europe is an expansion to the original game, but it can be played as a standalone piece. This seems to be the case for all of the Ticket To Ride games and poses a problem regarding space. Every game comes with enough components to play it, but is the only real way of getting new boards.
The Computer Game
I was pretty disappointed to find this to be an almost straight port of the Mobile version. The only difference was that I had some DLC for it, so I could play more of the maps and variants. Otherwise, the game is almost identical.
The major difference is the fact there wasn’t any touch screen, so the interface worked better. You just drag and drop with the mouse and it works sufficiently well.
So the overall opinion is this:
If you like playing games with other people present, the board game is probably best suited for you. The mobile version has a “Pass & Play” function, but it isn’t really the same and offers up too many options for sabotage.
If you wanna play the digital version, I would advise the Steam version. You will likely have a more reliable internet connection for online play and it is more space efficient for storing multiple boards and variants.
I like the game, but I will likely stick to Steam while I am away from family and friends…
Ellie captured all these images herself with her Compy64 and her inferior mobile phone; the other images have had their origins stated. She does apologise for the terrible pun in the title. All aboard for mobile and digital games would have been better… Oh well…
Last played on 14/10/15 for mobile and Steam.