Alan R Moon has given the board gaming world numerous, fun, family games, often with just enough additional gameplay to pique the interest of experienced core board gamers. His games are generally well themed and always superbly illustrated, drawing the roving eye directly to them. The mechanics are normally easy-to-learn-simple and explicit, even though there are often several options openly available to the players, ensuring that players aged 8 plus (in many cases a little lower) can not only play but also understand and enjoy.
Although with his own company "White Wind" only ran for 9 years Alan published enough games that his name was always high on the radar for core games players. After several games such as "Elfenland" and "San Marco" and especially the very popular "Union Pacific" Alan hit upon TICKET to RIDE and that put his name high on the list of renown game designers. Not only did it cause one of the largest buzzes at Spiel Essen when DAYS of WONDER presented it for sale, with Alan signing copies as they were bought, but it sparked a new generation of "Train" games. Top of the list was, of course, TICKET to RIDE.
Since its 2004 launch it has spawned a Card game, a Dice game, a Computer game and a game aimed directly for children "First Journey" as well as the original Ticket to Ride there are stand alone editions with different maps and some alternative rules and additions: Asia, Europe, France, Germany, Heart of Africa, India, Märklín (with map of Germany), Nederlands, Nordic Countries, Rails & Sails and United Kingdom. You should check out your local games store for the TICKET to RIDE series.
The following are my views on the 2017 release of TICKET to RIDE: GERMANY: 2-5 Players, Age 8+, 30-60 minutes. You should be able to pick this up for around £30.00.
Until TTR GERMANY I hadn't played Ticket to Ride in a fair while. I last played it a couple of years back with friends in Scotland, though I cannot remember the edition we played. I do know that they, whose game it was, and us (my wife and I) didn't particularly enjoy it, though again my memory forgets to remind me why. Anyway so TTR Germany arrives and I immediately like the look of it, possibly because I like Germany but certainly because I like the artwork that Julien Delval has illustrated it with throughout and especially the cover art - it is of that wonderfully classic 1900s Germanic design.
Such is the excellence of Alan R Moon's rules that the entire game is explained on just two 28½ cm square glossy and colourful pages. There is one other similarly sized page that describes the components and game setup, including the map and how the cards and pieces should be set around it. This setup is quite typical for a Euro game but this illustration is one of the most concise and clear setups you could wish for. The tracks on the map connect to German Cities/Towns and also to the borders of Niederlande (Holland), Frankreich (France), Danemark (Denmark), and Osterreich (Austria).
The players select their favourite colour of train set: Black, White, Yellow, Red and Purple and also take the matching coloured score marker, which is placed on the "1" spot of the track around the board. The colours of the Train Cards (not the Trains) match the colours of the routes with the exception of the Grey routes which are Neutral. Players begin the game with 4 Train cards being dealt randomly to them, but there is no Hand size limit because some of the routes require more than 4 cards to be played out. Remember you do not have to match the Trains to the Tracks by colour, but you must play the Train cards that match the colour of the tracks on the route you are building. For instance if you are playing Black and start with the 45 Black Trains you need to play 5 Green Train cards to allow you to play 5 of your Black trains to connect Bremerhaven to Danemark.
The sixty Meeples (passengers) are mixed in the bag and placed on the board, each City has a number on it that represents the number of randomly placed Passengers. Players then select 4 Destination Tickets from the Large and Small Ticket deck which they must keep at least two of - they can get more Tickets during play and score the value of these Tickets as long as they complete them, uncompleted Tickets score negative points at the end of play. There are quite a few transport games that use this method of scoring as it has been proven successful and easy to understand by players of all ages. The object of the game, like the majority of games, is to be the player with the most Victory Points when the Turntable stops (okay there isn't a Turntable, but I thought it sounded cool). Although every player is chasing Victory Points there several ways in which they (VPs) can be obtained during the game, with one final calculation at the game end - this being the final round of turns after one player has 2 or less trains left in their supply at the end of their Turn.
Playing on a German map where all the Towns and Cities are named (correctly) in German makes it geographical fun. Even though the Destinations are marked on the Tickets it is still amusing (at least for anyone like me who has trouble map reading) during the first game or two trying to locate them. I like that you receive/choose your Destination Tickets prior to placing your first trains on the board (the plastic pieces are called Trains but are actually Carriages), giving everyone a fair chance of beginning with an easy score Route. It is also good to remember that you do not have to place your Trains in continuance of other Trains you have already laid, thus you could, for example, complete a journey from Rostock to Regensburg on the East side of the map in one turn (actually it would take a minimum of 3 Turns to complete that journey) and then start another journey from Köln on the West. It should be noted that Journeys between two cities are always completed in one turn, there are no part-journeys and each journey ends the player's turn - there are no multiple journeys in one turn.
Each of the Towns & Cities are connected by routes made up of train sized spaces. Some of these are single routes and others have multiple links; these may be in a single colour or in Grey (neutral). Examples: Saarbrücken to Karlsruhe is directly connected by 3 Grey spaces, thus a player can lay 3 Trains of the same (any) colour to connect Saarbrücken to Karlsruhe. Stuttgart is linked to Ulm by two parallel sets of 3 Grey tracks. This means that 2 separate players may join Stuttgart to Ulm by each playing three Train cards. (one player may not claim more than one direct route between two Cities/Towns). They do not have to play the same colour Train cards as each other if the Tracks are Grey. ie Player A (Red) could play three Green cards and lay 3 of their Red Trains and player B (Yellow) can play 3 Blue cards and place 3 of their Yellow Trains. Alternatively both Player A and Player B could lay 3 cards of the same colour each (say 3 White cards) but they would place 3 Trains of their own colour. Players must play the correct number of cards of the same colour. Note: There are Joker cards that count as any colour Train card.
On their Turn players can do one of three things;
Draw Train cards to their hand: taking 2 in total from either the face up cards on display or from the top of the deck. If you take a Joker from the display you may only take one card, this also counts if you draw a Joker from the top of the deck. However if the first card you take is not a Joker and the second card you take (must be from the top of the deck, unseen) is a Joker then you keep both cards.
Claim a Route: Play cards of the correct number and required colour to own a route. Collect available Passengers.
Draw New Destination Tickets: Draw 4 Tickets, Small, Large or a mixture of both. They must keep at least one of them but can keep as many as they wish - remembering that unfinished tickets are going to cost VPs at the end of the game.
To spice things up each of the locations has passengers - the number of passengers is determined by the number printed on the illustrated board in the rules, (Note that these numbers do not appear on the actual board) at the City intersection. Passengers are placed on these spots at the beginning of the game, randomly drawn from the provided black draw-string bag. Whenever a player links two locations where one or both have passengers waiting the player can collect one passenger from each, choosing which one they want if there are more than one available. For example if there are a group of 4 passengers at Hamburg (2 Green 1 White 1 Black) and one passenger at Hannover (1 White) the player that completes the route first by playing either 4 White cards or 4 Orange cards collects the White passenger from Hannover and has the choice of 1 Green, 1 White or 1 Black passenger from Hamburg. The next player to complete the route only has the choice from the remaining passengers in Hamburg; passengers are not replaced. Collecting passengers can earn you bonus VPs at the end of the game.
As players complete routes they score points according to the number of Trains in that route, immediately moving their marker around the track accordingly. At the end of the game the Destination Tickets are revealed and scored. If your colour trains have completed the required route/s (according to the card/s) you score the number of points shown on the card/s. If you haven't completed the Ticket/s you lose the number of points on the card/s. Then there is a 15 point bonus to the player who has completed (not collected) the highest number of Tickets and to round it all off the final scoring is the Passengers - each colour of Passenger is scored separately (Reiner Knizia style) - the player with the most in the colour gets 20 points and the player with the second highest scores 10 points. You score this 20 and 10 for each of the 6 passenger colours. The rules cover variations of tied positions.
Like Carcassonne and Settlers of Catan, Ticket to Ride is a classic Euro game (even though Alan R Moon was born in England) and board games playing families should have at least one edition in their collection. My understanding is that each edition offers something new to the game, beit a different map or the collection of Passengers, that makes each game decidedly different. Designed with families in mind while not forgetting the needs of core gamers, this is a superfine, superfun game.