Board Game Review: Ticket to Ride – Rails and Sails

So here’s a weird thing. Having playing Ticket to Ride quite a bit I was really excited about Rails and Sails, and yet having played the latest version a fair bit I still can’t decide how much I like it. The game is slightly more complex than before, which by itself would be fine, and it takes longer than before, which again would be fine by itself, but considering I enjoyed Ticket to Ride with the younger members of my family quite a bit the two changes put together have scuppered the enjoyment a little. Want a better explanation? That’s a relief, because here it comes.

Let me make one thing pretty clear from the very start: I’m writing this from the perspective of someone who, as mentioned above, played Ticket to Ride as a family game. Not necessarily with my own son (who I mentioned in our TtR:Europe review enjoyed playing with very reduced rules) but with nieces and nephews who are between 10 and 15, kids (and their parents) who could hold their own in a game and focus throughout while still enjoying themselves. But Rails and Sails has ended up just beyond their reach, nudging beyond their attention span with a difficulty that’s just a little too much. The idea of using both trains and boats was incredibly exciting for us all, the concept was very warmly received and the new rules seemed to make sense when we read through them, and I imagine with a group of adult gamers this would be fine, but before long we’d started to drift a bit as a group.


Part of the reason for this was having to maintain a different stock of cards depending on whether you wanted to build train or boat routes, as well as deciding in advance how many trains and boats you’ll need. While you can exchange boats and trains later in the game there’s a bit of a penalty for doing so, which can be a bit of a confidence killer for the kids. It all adds an element of juggling, which I actually quite liked on a personal level but the younger players seemed to struggle with keeping track of what they needed – it put a dent into the long term strategy of the game by giving everyone a little too much to think about. And then there’s the harbours, which can be built with specific cards and give you a bonus for completing routes which link into them. Again, when I played this a couple of times with an older group they worked really well, but it was just another thing to keep in mind, and anyone who frequently plays board games with younger players knows that every kid has their limits, and this helped to push beyond theirs.

Now, a bit of balance, because so far I’m not painting Rails and Sails in a very positive light. There are some elements of this that everyone loved, and the board is one of those. Firstly, it feels huge on the table and looks fantastic, but the best thing is the fact it’s double sided, giving you a world map on one side and the Great Lakes in America on the other, giving two quite different games to play depending on what you fancy looking at for the next two hours. And let’s not forget the fact that this is still Ticket to Ride; it’s still building up routes with trains and boats, it’s still the thrill of finishing a huge route and getting a massive haul of points, and it’s still the joy of seeing the despair on someone else’s face when you bugger up their finely crafted journey. But you can get that from any of the Ticket to Ride games, and with the price of Rails and Sails being pretty hefty it’s possibly just not worth the premium price tag if you’re planning on playing this with a younger family.

So if you’ve got a more adult-based gaming group, and want something a bit different to the other train-only Ticket to Ride games then this might do you a far better service than with a more junior set of players. But if you’ve got £60 to spend on a game, and want to pick up Ticket to Ride, then the 10th Anniversary Edition is more or less the same price and it utterly gorgeous in terms of the components provided – for impressing people and enjoying a game, that’s probably a better bet.

Ticket to Ride: Rails and Sails
Available Now, RRP £59.99
Find your local stockist here

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