It was a Friday night, and I had no plans to speak of, which isn’t unusual for a guy with two kids at home, I suppose. I decided to head over to the local Big Box Store (Target), because I heard they were getting an influx of exclusive board games.
Most were uninspiring to me. There was a whole wall devoted to Cards against Humanity, and the purportedly naughty Code Names: Deep Undercover. Other party games, kids games, and some very light titles featured in their selection.
Among all these, I saw a $20 game: Ticket to Ride New York. I began the work of justifying it to myself mentally. It has a low price point (we couldn’t even see the proverbial movie in the theater for that money), the art looks swanky, and the playtime was 10-15 minutes–which was perfect for getting my wife to sit down at the table after a busy day of work and kids.
Plus, we already knew the ruleset: it is a Ticket to Ride game, after all.
If you are not yet familiar with the mechanics, players have a set of trains (taxis in this edition) that they use to connect routes from place to place. Which places players must connect depends on hidden destination cards dealt to them at the start (or acquired throughout the game). If players manage to connect these destinations, they score points as specified on their card. Failure to do so results in a loss of points. Ouch! The player with the highest score wins.
My only concern with Ticket to Ride New York was that the game might be too light to be enjoyable. Nonetheless, I brought it (and some other non-gaming goodies) home. It was a date!
Gameplay was a pleasant surprise: the same mechanics were preserved from our previous experiences with Ticket to Ride, but a new way to score was added! Players could connect certain tourist destinations to score points. The idea was that your taxis get more custom by serving these popular areas.
Plus, the game maintains that tension of whether or not you’ll get blocked out by other players taking your routes. If anything, this tension is heightened–but not unduly so–by the tighter board.
If there was one slight downside to the compact board, it was that the score track has been relegated to a separate score pad. But, after a few plays with this, I hardly noticed the difference. Indeed, unless you were keeping a running tally in your head based on the taxis already played, there was a bit of an element of surprise at the end of the game.
Speaking of the end of the game, it was a welcome thing to see the game end sooner. My wife and I both agreed that the sameness of the original Ticket to Ride left us with the feeling of playing a gateway game for longer than strictly necessary to enjoy what it had to offer.
The general strategy of completing destinations, claiming new destination cards, and attempting to complete those destinations is compelling for a while, but we both left this fifteen minute game satisfied with the experience: short but sweet.
End of the Line
In sum, the game manages to capture some of the retro flair of New York in the 1960s (not that I was there) with the artwork and the notion of running a cab company. The components and production are high-end as usual for Days of Wonder.
Not bad for an effectively abstract game of connecting points A,B,C and so on.
If you liked luxuriating in the Ticket to Ride experience, then this is not the game for you; but, if a little taste now and again of the mechanics, with a small scoring twist will suffice, then hop in a cab and see what the Big Apple has to offer!