Ticket to Ride [$6.99] is a board game turned digital. It has no great pits to leap across, caves to plumb for loot, or monsters to bludgeon. It is, without a doubt, a traditional game that requires the old-fashioned stuff: deduction, tactics, and skill. It isn’t for people who want flash and glam; rather, it’s for people who can appreciate sharp, boiled-down design that presents compelling challenges without the mess.

Straight up: Ticket to Ride is good on the iPad, just as it’s always been good as a board game. The things the digitization brings to the table is the streamlining of setup -- the end game counting of points, the piece setting, and the shuffling of cards -- and online play against or with friends or even random dudes.

It’s not shocking, but it’s still weird how sterile Ticket to Ride is from a visual design standpoint. I can count the number of animations and UI elements on my fingers. The focus here is on the game itself, as it should be. But while it’s nice to not have to deal with clutter, the thriftiness also highlights the questionable decisions.

The main menu turned HUB world in particular sticks out like a tumor. There’s a quick start option and then there’s the train station that hosts the majority of content. Also, the lobbies for multiplayer feel too front-loaded with bits and pieces of needless UI.

That’s enough overheard gazing, probably. The meat of Ticket to Ride is delicious. Like other solid board games, its rules are the main attraction, the sticking point that guides all of the strategy and deduction.

I fancy the contrast of this and Magic: The Gathering, the card game. In M:TG, success is often measured in how well you tap dance around the rules. Ticket to Ride is a regimented title in which you can only do one action per turn -- even though you want, and can often do, much more given free reign. I think this bumping and grinding against Ticket to Ride’s rule set is the most enjoyable aspect; the game is teasing and challenging you at all times.

The point is to complete a railroad from one location to another. The initial phase has you being handed three location-to-location cards. If you manage to build that railroad on the card, you’ll earn the points listed on the card. The person with the highest score wins.

The rub is on the board. Certain tracks require a certain amount of colored train cars to fill in the track. In order to facilitate this, you’ll need to draw cards either from a shared pile or the random stack. After drawing cards, however, your turn is over.

If you set a piece or pieces on the map, your turn is also over. Or if you draw a new location card, your turn is over. You can’t mix and match; it’s one and done.

The overall strategy, I think, is tied to how and when you act. Do you set your pieces down as soon as possible before an opponent can tie up a track? But if you do, are you giving clues as to which cards and locations you’re trying to get to? Should you block a person instead? Or do you just sit around and draw cards until you can overtake the map?

The deduction and tactics aren’t subtle, but they’re still satisfying. Ticket to Ride requires a lot of foresight, critical thought, and even some reverse engineering if a person happens to screw all your plans with a surprise move. It’s fun and satisfying to do this and I think it needs to be noted that every game is different and presents its own challenges.

The AI, by the way, seems fairly sharp thus far. Human opponents, however, are where the real fun resides and the game does multiplayer without hitches. I was just in a four-person room and the game reacted well to the crowd, though stuttering was apparent.

This is such an overused phrase, but if you’re a fan of Ticket to Ride, or even its XBLA incarnation, you’ll dig this. Hell, if you’re looking for something in a similar vein to the other tremendous board games turned video games out there this will do just fine. Ticket to Ride is a sharp game that has all the charm of the board game minus a lot of mess. It is as challenging as you can make it and rarely unsatisfying.

NOTE: Ticket to Ride ships with just one map at the moment. You can purchase others through IAP by clicking on a vendor. Each is .99 cents, a steal considering the game is just $6.99 to begin with. Also, there is no pass and play.

TouchArcade Rating

  • http://twitter.com/hanerlend Erlend D. Handeland

     "Also, there is no pass and play."

    That's a no-buy, then.

    • Texasbeth2005

      the latest version (1.1) has pass and play

  • http://www.facebook.com/ASFx2600 Jason Tucker

    Great game, but the thing that really breaks the experience for me is the lack of asynchronous multiplayer. 

    My friend and I play play several games of Carcassonne on our iPads each week during our free time, but we rarely have a chance to sit and play a game from start to finish. This means we won't be playing many games of Ticket to Ride until asynchronous multiplayer is added.

    And no pass & play.... WHY?

    • Anonymous

      No pass-and-play is a bummer. I hope they add that. I disagree about asynchronous, though, as I noted in a response above which explains why I really don't think it would work for this game. This game would not be served well by it.

      • Texasbeth2005

        the latest version has pass and play

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_JWMR5DSATTJX7T6WSUPOVDRQ64 TheWatcher

    It's always amazing that people think their "Not buying" comments have any relevance whatsoever.

    Also, asynchronous multiplayer for TtR is one of the single stupidest things ever conceived. This is a bang-bang game meant to be played in 20 to 40 minutes. At most.

    • http://www.facebook.com/ASFx2600 Jason Tucker

      It's meant to be played in 20-40 minutes because you say it is huh? I suppose all the people who use the asynchronous multipler feature in Chess, Carcassonne, Risk, and many other popular games just have it all wrong!

      • Anonymous

        Yes, but this is quite different from Carcassonne. Most turns involve drawing cards. Stretching that out over a long time is not going to make for a fun experience. I really don't think that asynchronous would give a good experience and DoW would end up lots of reviews saying "game is slow" and "game is boring", which it precisely isn't. It's a fast paced, fun game. In Carcassonne, in contrast, every turn you place a tile and it has an impact on everyone. TTR simply is a different type of board game and wouldn't be served well by asynchronous play.

  • wilef

     if the developer promised pass & play in a future update, I'd be interested, but until then, I'll save my cash.

    • Texasbeth2005

      the latest version has pass and play

  • Janvier

     If we're not wrong, online multiplayer can be against those who own TtR for PC too, and not just those who bought the app?

    We're looking to get iOS apps of euro/design boardgames instead of shelling out lots more for the actual boardgames, and already have Zooloretto, Blokus and Carcassone! Was rather let down by the fact that there's no pass-and-play, otherwise we'd have more games to introduce to friends (and these are great entry level games!). We guess we'll wait till they manage to implement some form of single-device multiplayer - hopefully it doesn't involve each player requiring their own iPhones/iPod Touches a la Scrabble!

  • midwinter

    You don't want to know what I would do to own this on iPhone. 

  • http://twitter.com/glennbroadway Glenn Broadway

    ABSOLUTELY NOT COLOUR-BLIND FRIENDLY. Which is especially surprising considering the from the second edition of the board game onwards the designers have had the foresight to put matching symbols on the tracks and cards.

    No response from Days Of Wonder's customer support either.

    • Anonymous

       Good point. I'm not color blind, but I can imagine it would be an issue. Hopefully they address that in an update.

    • Anonymous

       Good point. I'm not color blind, but I can imagine it would be an issue. Hopefully they address that in an update.

    • Anonymous

       Good point. I'm not color blind, but I can imagine it would be an issue. Hopefully they address that in an update.

      • http://twitter.com/glennbroadway Glenn Broadway

        Yep, they've fixed it now. Good work DoW.

    • Texasbeth2005

      the latest version has addressed the issue for color blind players

  • Shatnershairpiece

    Not surprising that Dow didnt add pass and play. They don't care about the two player experience. Look at their last game, small world. It has the worst two player interface of any board game I've ever bought for iPad. virtually unplayable and deleted within a half hour.

  • AbujaBlue

    This game won't be on the iPhone at all? Great shame.

  • Guest
Ticket to Ride Reviewed by Brad Nicholson on . Rating: 4.5