MSRP: $9.99 (base) / $30.02 (complete)*
Platforms: Win, Mac, Linux, iOS, Android, XBox 360/One
*Prices listed are for Steam – base & complete costs vary by platform.
Video games based on board games have been around, well, almost as long as video games themselves. The most satisfying seem to be ones that require a level of skill or strategy rather than being reliant mostly on the luck of the dice. Chess translates fairly well to a video game, and word games, like Scrabble also feel pretty satisfying. Ticket to Ride is based on the board game of the same name, and is fairly enjoyable, even against AI opponents.
There is some element of randomness, in that you are at the mercy of the cards for what train options are available to you, but overall, the choices you do have available are meaningful enough to make you feel like you’re in control. You must choose at least two of the three routes you’re presented with at the beginning of the game – longer routes are worth more points if you manage to complete them, but will subtract even more from your final score if you fail.
On each turn you may do only one of the following: choose two colored train cards or face down cards, choose one wild train card, choose additional route cards, or claim a route. In order to claim a route, you must have enough matching train cards in your hand to fill the entire route. Grey routes can be claimed by any color (but must be all the same color), and colored routes require cards that match the route’s color. Locomotives, or wild cards, can match any train color, so are especially useful when trying to claim a colored route.
The game is limited by number of trains played – when any player is almost out of playable trains, all players are allowed one last turn. Then points are awarded based on route cards completed, as well as a bonus given for the largest continuous route on the map.
Ticket to Ride may be played solo, with up to four AI opponents. There is online play available – including asynchronous cross-platform games, as well as local “pass & play” multiplayer. The base game only contains a single US map, however, there are several other maps and game variations available as paid DLC, with the latest having released earlier this month. The basic concept of the game is simple enough to understand, but there’s enough underlying strategy that it’s probably worth playing against the AI for awhile before entering into online multiplayer.
In my book, the downloadable content is both a pro and a con – I like the variety that it adds to the game, but I’m also leery when the extras cost twice as much as the base game (and that’s with a 30% discount for buying it all together). There is a limited trial available for free on the website, and if you’re uncertain if you’d enjoy the game play of Ticket to Ride, it’s probably worth creating a free account to try it out. However, if you already know and love the Ticket to Ride board game, this is lauded as a fairly faithful adaptation, and with cross-platform play available, is probably worth picking up on your platform of choice.