Saturday, 29 December 2012

Games for Kids - Ticket to Ride

So in addition to wargaming I LOVE games, I think I've discussed my love of things like the "Game of Thrones" living card game (LCG) but also more traditional board games. Our little group of gamers plays a fair few faster games in our friendly local gaming store (FLGS), especially newer ones like "Gears of War"" and "Zombiecide", and we usually have a get together once a month for a full day session where we'll break out a few big box games. As such we're always on the lookout for new games that look fun or older games we may have missed. 

I also love playing games with my family, especially as of late we don't have much time for each other so we usually get round on a Sunday night for a game of risk. I have however tried teaching my two young sisters how some nerd games work. They're eight and eleven so not too far apart but i forget that some games are a little hard for them to understand so began with things like "Settlers of Catan" and "Munchkin" but keep my eyes out for games they may enjoy as well.
So as part of these two endeavours I put out a challenge to my family for Christmas to find me some older games I wanted to play and more importantly ones they would want to play with me, they did me proud with a good haul of both casual and nerd games over Yule. So the first game up for my child friendly reviews is judged a modern classic. 

Winner of the board game world coveted "Speil des Jahre" (German game of the year) 2004, in addition to a host of others. In just 8 years it's spawned numerous spin offs, expansions, Ipad apps and more.

But enough of its history on to the game it’s self. The box is gorgeous, which I realise is a strange thing to say, but certain game boxes make me want to linger on them and just imagine what’s inside (the box for risk made me do this as a child, the original artwork was amazing). 
Once I opened the box and pulled out the usual wedge of catalogues and adverts I was struck by how simple the box content was just five sets of trains, two decks of card and five tokens for marking points, that's it. Setting up the cards and board took seconds, about the same amount of time it took to learn the rules.
The rules manual is only three sides of A4 paper and most of that is clarification and examples, in fact I will explain here how to play.

1) Deal five cards to each player
2) Deal three ticket cards to each player (tickets are routes your trains must complete for extra points)
3) In their turn players can take one of three actions, draw two cards, play trains on a route if they have the correct cards or draw new ticket cards.

That's it. I swatted up over the weekend and played a few practise games so I had all the rules down before I taught the kids. So we sat down at the table and got ready to play.

So above it the start of our game, my elder sister is playing red, my younger blue and I'm black (Yes by the beer). At first both girls were intent on getting their mission card achieved, and focused on them to the detriment of collecting cards for later game or even making sure they could go the way they wanted to. I've mentioned the objective tickets twice now so I'll go into more depth. The fastest way to gain points is to play coloured cards that correspond to a section of rail you want to play your trains on, your ticket card is card of two destination points for a set number of points.
This example shows us that getting from Winnipeg to Little Rock will win you 11 points.

So after an initial bit of confusion we all began storming towards out objective stops, my youngest sister began to crush the two of us as she hit several long stretches of rail and was well on the way to two finished routes.

So the game took us about 40 minutes and as I think the picture shows we all went for clearly defined routes as the system is so simple and clear. The scores were pretty close too until the last few objective cards came out as I was lucky and drew two that I had achieved by accident.

So my or should I say "our" overall impressions, the first thing both girls said to me as we began to pack away was "Can we play again... SOON!" so I get the feeling they liked it. I found the game really interesting, the random nature of the card drawing can be a little frustrating, and the game with three of us made it better than the two player practises I did as card rotated faster. I'd like to play the game with a few more people (the game is designed for 2-5 players) though we did find certain routes became congested quickly.
So overall I believe not only is ticket to ride a great game it’s great for kids and they love it.

Next time on Games for Kids - Small World.

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