Pick of the Week – July 13-19, 2015

I am continuing the series of board and card game Picks that I began a couple of weeks ago.  Again, I discovered all of these thanks to Tabletop, the web series hosted by Wil Wheaton in which he and his guests each episode play a different game (or games in some cases).  As viewers, we get to learn the rules, see gameplay, and enjoy the banter.

In the post where I started this series of Picks, I stated that I am not a fan of Monopoly.  That said, it is quite possibly the board game that just about everyone in the Western World knows how to play.  In the United States, at least, it is ubiquitous. 

This week’s Pick, Ticket to Ride, bears some surface similarities to Monopoly.  Players are competing with each other to claim particular spots and prevent other players from doing the same.   But instead of running around a board trying to land on the right spaces to buy properties and maybe eventually build some houses and hotels, how about we build some train routes instead? 

Ticket to Ride is an easy-to-learn game wherein the players attempt to earn points by successfully building train routes between major US cities.  These routes may be short or quite long and are assigned via cards at the beginning of the game.  The routes are color-coded and require a certain number of train cards of the same color in order to claim them.  On their turn, players may draw cards, claim routes, or even draw additional route cards. 

At the end of the game, points are earned for each route completed and for the longest continuous route, but they are taken away for routed that have not been completed.  As I said above, it’s a very easy game to learn and quite fun.  I’ve found that it’s a great game to use to show people that there’s more to board games than Monopoly and Life.

HERE is the Tabletop episode dedicated to Ticket to Ride.  This episode also contains one of the greatest moments ever on Tabletop.  Watch out if you ever invite Wil Wheaton’s wife, Anne, to play games with you.

There are several different iterations of and expansions for Ticket to Ride.  Tabletop played my preferred version, Ticket to Ride Europe, in THIS EPISODE.  The gameplay is basically the same, but it adds a couple of new mechanics, such as tunnels and stations.  The stations, which allow you to use a route claimed by another player, have saved my butt a couple of times.

- Alan Decker

@CmdrAJD on Twitter