16 June 2013

Ticket To Ride

Board game of choice in this household recently has been "Ticket To Ride". We've had it for years (a birthday or Christmas gift from someone, I'm sure) but only got around to playing it recently - after watching the Tabletop episode. It's really quick and easy to learn - just watching Mr & Mrs Wheaton and their friends in the YouTube episode was enough to teach me. And it's a whole lot of fun to play.

The Pacific hub of my cross-country railway.

Tonight was the first time it featured at my mate Dave's monthly Blokes & Board Games gathering. We usually play three or so different games at each get-together. Except for the "Redshirts" night. Two games were over fairly quickly - one in about five minutes, after only two players had taken a turn - so we decided to play "one more quick game". Which lasted four hours.

Anyway, back to TTR...

Tonight's B&BG run of TTR was the first time I'd played it as a 4-player game. It's a little different to 2-player. In a 2 or 3 player game, routes with 2 colours are either/or and once claimed, are blocked for the other player(s). In a 4 or 5 player game, adjacent tracks between the same cities can be claimed by 2 players. Which makes it slightly more difficult to block your opponents - a perfectly legitimate strategy.

I ended up winning - not by a huge margin, but being the only one who'd played the game before helped.

Ticket To Ride was followed by a game of Settlers Of Catan, in which I didn't do too well - although I built the first "race track" (six roads in a closed loop) on the island. We finished off the evening with a couple rounds of Tsuro, another fun quick game that we've played on other B&BG occasions. I had to work till 5 today, so the others had also played most of a game of Carcassonne before I joined in.

* * *

After I got home, I had another game of TTR with Kara, while the late-night music videos of "rage" played in the background. Guest programmers of tonight's episode were Fredrik and Mikael of Opeth. Which meant a great dose of hair bands (including some heavy on the cheese) as a soundtrack to our late game.

Soundtrack to the evening: Opeth, Sabbath, Judas Priest, G'n'R, Van Halen, Audioslave, Mastodon, etc.

The finished board. Kara 115, Glenn 180.
My claiming the single piece of track linking Omaha to Kansas City as part of my East-West railway was also on Kara's intended North-South plans. So she was forced to detour through Denver instead, which ended up in her succeeding in claiming the "longest track" bonus.

My strategy is simple, but often effective.

I kept 2 of my starting Destination Tickets, choosing those that could potentially share tracks to optimise my routes and save on trains. Then once I had my most-valuable-in-points route completed (in this case, Seattle to New York) I drew more routes, and kept the ones that could be easily added on to my East-West line by the shortest possible distances.

Seattle to New York is worth 22 points, and I used 21 trains to link them. Portland to Nashville is worth 17, and only required an additional 3 trains. Of course, the best result is to draw an additional Destination Ticket for two cities already linked by your trains. Free points!

My draw-and-add routine netted six successful routes at the end of the game. Points from tracks laid: 76. Points from successfully completing routes: 104.

Drawing additional Destination Tickets is always risky. You could end up with three impossible choices nowhere near your established tracks... but that's part of the fun.

LA to Miami. Via Seattle.
I'm pretty sure I'm only a few moves away from turning into a board game geek. Which is probably a good thing - because it's a social activity, and requires sitting down and hanging out with other people, as opposed to computer or video games.

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