Board Game Review: Ticket to Ride New York

It seems like we’re getting a new Ticket to Ride game every month at the moment. Not that this is a bad thing, there’s a good reason why it’s such a popular series of games, but it must be tricky to come up with new and interesting ideas to keep things feeling fresh. In Ticket to Ride New York we’ve got a very different game to the rest of the main Ticket to Ride set of titles, but if you’ve played any of the First Journey games you’ll get a very clear air of familiarity.

This latest iteration of Ticket to Ride does something that might horrify some of you: trains are nowhere to be seen. Instead we’ve got taxi cabs to place onto the various routes around New York, and a much smaller board compared to what you might be used to. But that’s no bad thing, this isn’t being pitched as another full scale game, instead the intended game time is a mere 10 – 15 minutes.

So what’s different other than the taxis? Well, not much in terms of how the game plays. You still have routes to undertake, you still pick up coloured cards in order to gather enough of a certain colour to claim a route between two areas (which this time include such locations as Times Square, Chinatown and Central Park) and you still get points for completed routes at the end of the game.

But there are less taxis for each player, and less places dotted around the board to join up. As such the routes are shorter and easier to claim, which has the knock-on effect of increasing the tension considerably while you wait for the other players to claim their routes, hoping all the while that your huge points-paying card doesn’t suddenly get blocked off and require a huge detour. And as soon as a player has 2 or fewer taxis left, there’s only one final turn before the game ends and the totals are added up. It’s fast, it’s tense, and it’s a surprisingly enjoyable twist on the classic formula.

There are a couple of additional scoring tweaks as well, all of which are recorded on the mini notepad provided. Extra points can be picked up by forming routes between key landmarks, and there’s a version of the traditional scoring method of earning more points for taking the longer paths between locations, but all in all it’s pretty quick and easy to add up the scores. There won’t be, after all, all that many routes for you to total up.

This is, essentially, a First Journey game with a slight change of direction and marketed for a wider audience. I do wonder if Days of Wonder realised that it wasn’t just younger people enjoying the First Journey games and chose to take that formula and turn it into a “proper” Ticket to Ride game. We certainly have had a lot of fun playing this, with the shorter playing time and maximum of 4 taxis per route between locations  making it a far more upbeat title and as such a more attractive proposition when trying to decide what to play for half an hour. In the time it would take to set up a more complex game, you’ll have already done an entire game of Ticket to Ride New York, and for that reason alone it’s worth picking up.

But as an overall game, should you be picking this up? Well, if you’re after another traditional Ticket to Ride game with a huge board, epic long routes and a couple of hours game time then no, you shouldn’t. But if you enjoy the style of the game, and want to be able to enjoy it without having to block out the best part of an evening to play it then you should be all over this. It’s quick, it’s simple, and it’s fun. Exactly what a game like this should be.

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