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Ticket to Ride: The Card Game

February 16, 2009

Ticket to Ride: The Card Game is based on Alan R. Moon’s smash success boardgame series.  Ages 8 and up, 2-4 players, and playable in about 30 minutes.

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(images courtesy of www.daysofwonder.com)

RULES SUMMARY

Players have three options on their turns: Draw train cards, place train cards to the table in front of them, or draw new tickets.  Drawing train cards and tickets work very similar to the boardgame, if you are familiar with that, with a couple of minor exceptions.  A player is still able to draw from a group of five face up cards or from the draw pile when it comes to train cards.  When placing cards down to the table, one has two options.  Either play a “suit” of 2 or more of the same color, or exactly three cards in three different colors.  Train robbing is where this all gets interesting.  By playing more of a particular color your opponent has played previously, you can discard all of her cards of that color.  So if she has three reds on the table and you play four reds, her three go to the discard pile.  This makes for some very satisfying plays (and some bad blood quite quickly!). 

At the start of each player’s turn, one train card from each color stack goes into a face down pile called the “on-the-track stack.”  This stack will be used to complete tickets at the end of the game.  Tickets need a certain amount of train cards to complete.  For example, you may need one orange and two reds to complete a ticket, but the trick is keeping track of which ones you’ve gotten into your on-the-track stack so far since you can’t look at it during the game.  Like the original game, if you don’t have enough to complete a ticket, you lose that amount of points instead of gaining them.

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Players will then score bonus points if they have completed the most tickets to a particular city such as New York or Seattle or Dallas.  Pictured above are 4 train cards (including one locomotive which is wild), a ticket card from Seattle to Miami, and the bonus card for New York tickets.

GAMEPLAY ANALYSIS

I am a huge fan of Ticket to Ride, but I like certain expansions more than others.  My favorite map is the Switzeraland version, but I enjoy them all. 

Alan Moon has captured the feel of the boardgame, but this card game has its own fresh identity.  It remains engaging throughout with the kind of “take that!” gameplay upon which those confrontational gamers among us thrive.  (This is a caution to those who do not like confrontational games.  Unless you’re playing with a saint, things can get cutthroat.)  I was shocked at how fast and furiously the games went, especially the more we got a sense for which colors we had or still needed.   I usually don’t even try to keep a strict count of what I’ve got, but play more loosely and try to have a “feel” for what I still need.  Some players may want to slow down and keep better track, but either way can work. 

Regardless of whether or not you’re a fan of Ticket to Ride in its many iterations, if you’re looking for a superb, fast card game with a bite to it, you should definitely try TTR: The Card Game.

RATINGS

Presentation/Components: 10/10 – High quality glossy cards and a full-color rulebook.  This would have been the first Days of Wonder game that they skimped on, but that’s not the case here.

Theme: 8/10 – Very abstract game so lots of themes would have worked, but placing this game in the TTR setting fits just fine.

Mechanics: 9/10 – Great translation of an almost iconic game which retains the flavor but transcends to its own merits.

Replayability: 9/10 – The quick playtime and need for revenge when you lose will keep players coming back.

Fun Factor: 10/10 – I can’t stress how much fun this can be as long as you don’t mind a game with lots of disruptive player interaction.

Overall: 9/10

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