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Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Review: Ticket to Ride (iPad)

As a board game fan, I’m spoiled for choice with the iPad. I love Reiner Knizia’s Samurai and Through the Desert, then there’s more traditional fare, such as Monopoly or Risk. Then there’s stuff like Small World, which is popular enough overseas, but not a game I’ve had easy access to in the past.

Ticket to Ride is a game from the same folks behind Small World, which means to me it is a fresh new board game to play on the iPad. It also happens to be the best, bar none, board game on the iPad in terms of presentation and quality.

Simple and elegant; anyone can get into this game

For one thing – this game builds in video tutorials. They’re comprehensive and in five minutes you’re ready to play the game. And, if you don’t want to use bandwidth, there’s a conventional tutorial as well. The visual design of the game, from the menus through to the board itself is considered, classy and features stellar production values.

It’s rare that a massive studio like EA is upstaged, but that’s exactly what’s happened here. Risk and Monopoly are not a scratch on the presentation quality of Ticket to Ride, and as a result, this is a game that’s really, really easy to lose yourself in.


This is the introduction video - explains the game's ins and outs perfectly

Of course, presentation would mean nothing if the game itself was boring, but Ticket to Ride is a best seller for a reason. The game is broken down into three actions you can take each turn – you can pick up a few action cards (‘trains’ of various colours) or you can use those trains to claim ‘train routes’ on the map. These routes are colour coded, and claiming them is how you score points – you get points for having the longest continuous route, and for completing specific routes that are randomly assigned to you from a deck of cards. Sometime’s you’ll be asked to claim a route from Seattle to LA… and other times the ‘mission’ cards feature more challenging, but more lucrative distances to travel.

Which brings us to the third action – you can choose to draw a few more of these mission cards. Just beware that any cards you haven’t completed when the game ends means you’ll be losing points.

Given you can only take one of those three actions each turn, Ticket to Ride is a very simple, but challenging game of balance and strategy. With no dice to roll, there is no random element to the game, so luck doesn’t play a role. It’s a trait of the modern board game that elevates them beyond classics such as Monopoly, which are simply not fun when you’re having a bad day with the dice. Here, a win or loss is entirely on your own head.

Even the menus are a real joy to navigate and play with


It’s possible to play nasty in this game by blocking your opponent’s routes, but ultimately Ticket to Ride is a casual, social game. And thankfully, the multiplayer options are comprehensive and work really, really well. Game Center integration makes organising a game with friends a snap, and if you’re in the mood to play random people – it’s a well populated game right now.

Online play with board games will never replace the tabletop experience, but this comes close, and still offers a lot of fun.

It’s not the cheapest game – the basic download features just one map and ‘expansions’ cost more money, but Ticket to Ride is a near-endless game that features such stunning production values that it’s easy to justify the asking price.

Yet another example of just how good the iPad is at board games.



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Review: Ticket to Ride (iPad)
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