Updated: Ticket to Ride iPad Review

Shortly after our review went live, Days of Wonder updated the game to include pass-and-play local multiplayer. This was one of our few complaints in the original review, so we’ve given the new addition a spin. For good measure, we’ve also played through the various expansion packs.

Although we enjoyed playing online against others, there’s nothing like playing a board game together with family. The newest addition to the game allows just that. Pass-and-play works by displaying your cards and tickets only when it’s your turn. Once you’ve made your move, a message pops up to tell you to pass to the next player, and your items are hidden from view. The game also does a great job of hiding which routes you’ve completed, which keeps your opponents always guessing. As each player needs to play their hand in private– rather than communally– finishing a local game takes a bit longer than when playing online, but it’s a fine trade-off, and only adds a few minutes to gameplay time.

We also spent some time with the Europe, Switzerland, and 1910 expansion packs. Europe is the most expensive, but it’s also the largest map, and it adds tunnels and ferries to the mix. Tunnels, especially, complicate the game by introducing the potential to lose a turn. Still, it adds great replay value to the game, and we enjoyed our time across the pond. Switzerland is smaller, naturally, but plays very similarly to Europe. If you can only afford one, splurge on Europe. The 1910 pack adds new routes to the regular North America map, as well as offers some new gameplay types and rules. If you can’t get enough of the original but just want to tweak things, this is a good route to take.

Whatever you do, update your app immediately. And if you get as addicted to the game as we have, you’ll have a hard time stopping yourself from purchasing the expansions.

Ticket to Ride is much more than a catchy Beatles tune. Though the Beatles popularized the phrase, Alan R. Moon’s German-style board game of the same name took it in a whole new direction in 2004. And just as the Beatles finally came to Apple’s iTunes, this fantastic game has also pulled into the App Store.

American-style board games are usually pretty straightforward, but games out of Germany have reinvented the classic pastime by introducing complex and exciting new styles of play, popularized by hits such as Carcassonne and Catan. Ticket to Ride has been hugely successful for its publisher, Days of Wonder. The iPad version may be lacking an essential feature, but it’s still one of the best board games to come to the tablet.

Don’t get lost.

Gameplay is deceptively simple. You draw cards representing track routes or trains, and then place these on the game board. The object is to complete train routes across a 19th century version of America. The game can further be expanded with paid add-ons for more U.S. and European maps. Winning decisively is harder than it looks, thanks to some tricky scoring rules that take a while to master.

You can play against up to four other people online or against AI competitors locally. The game’s greatest drawback is that local multiplayer is not included. For a family-style board game, this is a huge letdown, and it’s something that needs to be addressed in the near term. The AI is tough, and playing against friends and strangers from afar is plenty challenging, but the iPad’s screen is large enough for local pass-and-play gaming, as we’ve seen in many other similar games.

Have you seen my bear, Paddington?

The transition from a physical game board to a digital one is seamless, and Ticket to Ride looks and plays beautifully. The game board is colorful, with an intuitive touch interface. This iPad version is also easy to learn for newcomers, thanks to ample tutorials, which beat an instruction manual any day. The menu presentation is also warm, voiced by kindly voice actors and brimming with delightful animation.

If you find yourself enjoying the game, those add-on maps (ranging from $.99 to $3.99) are going to look awfully tempting. Ticket To Ride plays like a dream, and it’s an incredibly fun and original board game that draws you in and keeps you coming back to master your skills as a railroad tycoon. There’s nothing else quite like it, and even without local multiplayer, you’re bound to enjoy it. All aboard!

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