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Connect train routes in Ticket to Ride for iPad

by Wayne Stuckey

If you love board games, or even think you might enjoy board games, Ticket to Ride ($6.99) should be the next app for you! Ticket to Ride is often mentioned in lists of "gateway" board games, or games that are easy to learn, that have attractive pieces or components and will be fun the first time played, even for those unfamiliar with Euro-style or designer board games.

The main object of the game is to connect routes between cities on a map of the United States. These routes are shown on tickets that are given at the start of the game, with the longest ones being worth a great deal of points, and smaller routes worth less. The tension in the game lies in the choice of when to start laying down the train pieces to secure a section of the route. The positive in doing this is that a portion of your route is now secure and can't be taken by another player. The negative is that the other players now have an idea of where you might want to play next, and they can try to secure these sections for themselves. If they succeed in taking a section of your most direct route, you will need to spend more time and train pieces to make it to your goal. If you fail to complete any of the tickets in your hand, you will be penalized in the final point tally.

The games I played against both AI opponents locally and other people online went very smoothly. Individual games do not take long to play, and there is usually a great deal of tension throughout the entire game. This tension is what keeps me coming back for more, and I haven't even explored the additional train maps that are available as in-app purchases.

Overall, this app is dressed to impress, and sometimes it's the small touches that make it shine. For instance, the sounds of the train horn and bustling central station match perfectly with the artwork taken straight from the popular board game. In another nice touch, the player avatars for online play are also lifted from box artwork and represent the color each player will use during the game.

If there's one thing to fault this app on, it's the fact that there is currently no way to do local multi-player. The difficulty in implementing this is that some cards need to be kept a secret from the rest of the players. If this could be done, though, it would allow my wife to play with me instead of having to steal the iPad away to get her own games in, as she loves Ticket to Ride just as much as I do.

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