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!