Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Board Games I Love: Ticket to Ride

I really didn't think I'd love Ticket to Ride. We bought it, played it a couple times, and then we tossed it in the back of the closet because it didn't do enough the things we love in games: interaction and competition.

Ticket to Ride is a race game: you have a handful of secret tasks to complete by traveling from point A to point B. Since you don't want everyone to know where you're trying to go (so they don't snatch up all the tracks that provide an easy way to get there) it's a game of silently collecting the cards you need to complete your tracks.

In silence, it is very different from my favorite games. In Settlers of Catan, you're free to trade resources, so there's a natural conversation around what different players need and what they must mean they're trying to achieve. Strategic games like Samurai Swords or Risk naturally involve a fair amount of diplomacy, with all the intrinsic deals, pleas and betrayals. Both kinds of conversation lend an urgency to every turn.

Ticket to Ride is helped by the fact that each turn is phenomenally short: you may draw cards to build with or build, never both. So, in theory, you make your plans while everyone else takes their turn.

As we've played (and re-played) I've come to appreciate how silence adds a different sort of tension. The waiting and not knowing compounds the stress of having your way blocked and having to scramble for alternate routes, especially in the 4 or 5 player version.

Are there games you've played you came to love after giving them a second chance?

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