Ticket to Ride is a cross-country train adventure by Days of Wonder in which players collect and play matching train cards to claim railway routes connecting cities throughout North America. The PC port of this highly successful and incredibly popular tabletop game does not disappoint, and even offers some positive points over its predecessor. Love playing Ticket to Ride with friends, but hate keeping track of points? Then step right up for your complimentary ticket on the hype train and settle in for Gamespace’s review of Ticket to Ride.
Some of the most important aspects of any tabletop game are the atmosphere in which you play it and the people you enjoy playing it with. Ticket to Ride on PC does offer an interesting array of online options to allow you to connect with other players. Online PvP opts to match you up with other random players on the map you’ve selected, and LAN seeks to include gamers that have gathered together in person for their weekly night of tabletop gaming.
While it’s nice to have the option of playing online with random players, I secretly wished that there was some way to connect directly with people I wanted to play with over distances. For anything other than the base map, matchmaking took a considerable amount of time. Having downloaded Ticket to Ride from the Epic Games store, I wasn’t able to test whether or not you could use the ‘join friends game’ option on Steam. Which, by the way, Ticket to Ride is also available for purchase on Steam.
With the matchmaking frustration at my back, I settled down to play a game against Ticket to Ride’s AI. As with the traditional board game, you get to choose one player card with a charming character illustration that represents your avatar. The color of your card also corresponds with the color of the trains you place down on the board. At the beginning of the game, you draw two from a pool of three tickets; the tickets with longer routes award you the most points. My strategy here was to go for the most points, but try to pick routes that either intersect or wouldn’t be too hard to connect in the later stages of the game.
After choosing your tickets, you now get to choose two cards (two colored trains) from a spread of cards that are face up. You may also choose from the deck, which is face down, and pray to the locomotive gods for luck. On turns where you draw cards, you don’t get to place trains down to connect the routes. The computer makes the process very easy by showing you markers for the beginning and end of your routes. You can also click your ticket to highlight a specific start and end to focus your strategy.
Where Ticket to Ride starts to become complicated, is how you interact with the other player. As you could probably assume, you can’t just criss-cross train routes. This would result in an absolute catastrophe for all involved on the trip. Just a quick reminder, your goal in Ticket to Ride is to claim as many train routes as possible, and successfully connect them from the beginning to endpoint.
If you aren’t allowed to intersect train routes, your options start to become slimmer and slimmer as the game rolls on and the paths start to close. The metaphorical light at the end of the train tunnel starts to glow fainter as it were. Though you could risk losing points in the end, you can somewhat block your opponent by choosing to completely blockade the path they’re trying to pursue. Just make sure not to get too wound up in blockading instead of playing, because you can lose points at the end for incomplete tickets.
Even though I wasn’t able to play with friends, I did end up streaming my gameplay for them to try to make up for their lack of presence in the game. Friendly competition, commentary, and good vibes are what make board games interesting and fun in my humble opinion, and it is the only thing that really holds Ticket to Ride on PC back from being something truly great.
Perhaps it’s my own fault for not having friends that live closer to me that I can invite over for pizza and trains, but in an age of gaming that’s so universal and connected, I really hoped and expected for an option to reach out to those far away from me. The strategy aspect of Ticket to Ride is superb. I did find myself having to stop and really debate on what was the best course of action was, and enjoyed the backseat gaming commentary and prodding from those who watched me deliberate so heavily on my next move.