Board Game Review: Ticket to Ride London

A while back, Ticket to Ride took a new turn with the release of Ticket to Ride New York, a game which followed the same premise of the much-loved and insanely-popular Ticket top Ride games but trimmed it down significantly and replaced trains with New York taxis. The game was quick, easy to play and relied more on quickly reacting to other players’ moves and hoping that the tiny, short routes didn’t get congested before you had a chance to finish your route off. Now, we have Ticket to Ride London, which in much the same way as New York does away with the long gameplay, swaps trains and taxis for London buses, and lets you nail a whole game in under half an hour. Worth a go? Well, that depends on whether you feel you can lose the depth of the full scale game really.

The London board is small, with far fewer locations than a full scale game. The number of buses is a slim 17 (for comparison you get 45 trains in a full size game) and with most routes between stops being between 1 and three spaces long, there’s a lot to consider while you build up your strategy. Firstly, forget strategy, there’s no time. My usual Ticket to Ride technique of gathering loads of cards early on didn’t work at all here; in fact by the time I’d got round to trying to claim a relatively short route, the other players had placed their buses on the main routes and I had to take the long way round. My game never recovered, and I lost horribly.

So it pays to think quickly. Grabbing those routes with only a single lane can be the difference between winning and losing, and trying to figure out just what the other players are up to is a handy thing to keep in mind as well – there’s not much more satisfying than blocking off a high-scoring route and preventing them from having enough buses to get round. There are other considerations though, with each zone carrying a colour which, if you join them all up, awards bonus points. It’s incredibly easy to forget that in the madness of a game, but the rewards are big enough for it to be a suitable backup plan.

Other than that, the game plays much the same as any other Ticket to Ride game. You can take cards or place buses on your turn, and each route you complete earns you points at the end of the game, with other bonuses on offer for the longest route around the board. It takes no time at all to learn, proved by the fact I taught my in-laws how to play in a few minutes, two people who aren’t exactly board game experts and had certainly never played a Ticket to Ride game before. The short games really suit a younger audience too, and while I had to give my 6 year old a little helping hand, he could spot the routes, decide when to take cards and when to play them, and generally had a very decent stab at winning.

Beyond that, there’s not much to say. It’s a really fun, short version of Ticket to Ride, and for English people – especially those from London – it’s nice to see plenty of locations that you’ve heard of and probably been to at some point. The only question mark is whether you’d like the fact that a lot of the long-term strategy has been sucked out of the game; if you get your Ticket to Ride thrills from the longer more strategic games then this won’t tick many boxes for you, but for people wanting the Ticket to Ride game style without the longer time to play, this could be right up your street.

Quite literally too, if you  live in London.

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