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Games with the family

Family playing games

I have always enjoyed games. I think the games I enjoy the most are the games that require imagination. Imagination is a quality underrated by the adult world. We respect it when we call it "creative" (e.g. "Oh yes, she is one of those creative types!") while disrespecting the utmost tool that flexes those creative muscles, imagination (e.g. "He has quite the imagination.") The most imaginative games are the analog boardgames where the players have to invest the most in things like strategy, critical thinking, and team collaboration. They work the best when there is some sort of narrative that moves the whole effort along.

This last Christmas my family got together and I brought along the game Ticket To Ride by Days of Wonder. If you are at all familiar with this game it won the Spiel des Jahres German game of the year award in 2004 and has since been turned into an online game with over 50 million games played in the online format.

When you first open the game it can look a tiny bit intimidating: different kinds of cards, lots of little train cars, player pegs, and a multipage manual. Until you open that manual to determine that it is really just two pages printed in multiple languages, then the whole game becomes less of an event and more like fun. 

When I was a kid, I didn't like to slow down and read instructions. I just wanted to get on with the fun. This was true if we were talking about games or some new thing requiring assembly (It is probably a good thing that my parents didn't buy me a chemistry set!) At some point I realized, not unlike taking the time to flavor a meat or fish dinner, it enhanced the experience to the point of making it a positive experience.

So, with my family, we laboriously read through the entire two page manual and got playing. In the end it was quite simple. The game hs a very simple "story" where the players are railroad barons trying to dominate routes (ok, it's a little more complicated than that, but that is fundamentally it for the story) I could describe the rules to you, but instead, maybe you would want to check out Will Wheaton's web show Tabletop as he and family and friends review the rules to the original Ticket to Ride and play Ticket To Ride the Europe edition:

Ticket to Ride game USA 1910 expansion setWe played a couple games in a couple days of hanging out and I have to say, it was a lot of fun. Previously, I heard about the USA 1910 expansion pack and have since made the purchase. The value of adding the expansion pack would be:

  • The game cards are fullsized: The original game came with minicards which, while fun and conveniently sized for a medium-sized table, and not so conveniently sized for grown up hands, making shuffling a bit irritating. 
  • Three new ways to play: For example, the original game would award extra points to the person who completed the longest train route chain within a game. Now you can replace or add the extra points challenge for completing the most ticket cards regardless of how long the train chain is. You can also play with both of those award cards.
  • 35 new destination tickets: you can play with the old ones, the new ones, or both for a massive challenge.

I wouldn't say this is needed the first time you play the game. But I like the larger cards and I think it is a lot of fun to add the game play goals. I would think by the second or third time you play the game with the same group, it might well be worth adding the expansion just to add some variation and challenge. 

Below are some photos of the game, the expansion, as well as my family playing the game on Christmas morning. 


Family playing Ticket to Ride
Ticket to Ride game board
Ticket To Ride USA 1910 expansion

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