Monday, April 17, 2023

Ticket to Ride: New York does its iob

I have read (but I don’t actually know if it’s true) that Ticket to Ride: New York was designed as a convention demo and only went retail due to demand. Even if that’s not true, it is a fun story.

I actually picked up a very lightly used copy a couple years back (so lightly that the cards were were still wrapped) but only recently got it on the table.

I’m assuming that anyone reading this knows how to play Ticket to Ride. If you don’t, close your browser window and go play Ticket to Ride. That will be a better use of your time than reading my blog.

The idea behind the city line of Ticket to Ride is a shorter, smaller version of the game, one that takes ten to fifteen minutes to play.  The boards are smaller (I want to say a third the functional size of the big boards) and you have fifteen cars instead of forty-five. Huh, that number supports my one-third estimate.

The only addition to the basic Ticket to Ride rules that everyone should know and love in New York is tourist attractions. Certain locations are marked with a penny and you get a bonus point for connecting to them.

I went in with two negative expectations. I was expecting that the games would be so short that sifting through tickets wouldn’t be a viable strategy. And I was expecting that the points from tourist attractions would be too small to make a difference.

What I hadn’t considered was that the routes and the tickets would both be smaller. So no one burns through their cars so fast that drawing more tickets is the equivalent of losing a turn. In fact, sticking with only your starting tickets looks like a losing strategy. 

And that’s because my fear about the tourist attractions does seem to pan out. The bonus points you get from them aren’t as much as pursuing tickets or even longer routes.

Looking at the other city games, New York doesn’t seem as polished. The map has more bottle necks and the bonus feature is meh. After playing it, I ordered the London map because the district bonus scoring (effectively having bonus tickets printed on the board) seems more of an actual game changer.

Still, at the end of the day, Ticket to Ride: New York succeeds at its most important goal. It feels like playing Ticket to Ride.

I will admit that ten years ago, a fifteen-minute Ticket to Ride would have just seemed cute. As a parent, it’s now a much higher deal. Being able to get in a game on a school night and feel like I’ve actually played a game is huge for us.

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