The newest entry to the Ticket to Ride board games created by Alan R. Moon and published by Days of Wonder brings the long-running series to San Francisco! Started in 2004, the series has over 30 themed games all focused on connecting destination cards with train tokens.
The basics of the game are simple. You are given destination cards that highlight two points on the map, and it’s your job to connect them with train tokens. Every time you complete a route you can get new cards to keep going. Travel around the board and, by extension, the map, to claim the most. You can have as many destination cards as you want but be warned. If you fail to complete a destination card you will lose points.
The original game was set in the United States and Canada, and later versions and expansions would widen the scope with Europe, Asia, and more. This resulted in large board/maps and long game times, but a very popular game all the same.
However, today we’re looking at the newest in a relatively recent line of Ticket to Ride, the Cities Collection. These are smaller-scale maps, with shorter play times as a result, and cable car tokens instead of trains. The gameplay remains largely the same though, allowing for a largely similar experience to previous Ticket to Ride games.
That’s not to say Ticket to Ride: San Francisco is entirely without novelty. This game introduces new ‘Tourist Tokens’.
These are placed at five specific points on the map, and collecting a set of them offers an additional way to gain points in this version of the game. They are optional, but they allow for an additional bit of flavor to the Ticket to Ride formula.
Ticket to Ride is one of the longest-running casual friendly board games out there, and aside from the Tourist Tokens San Francisco admittedly doesn’t have much new to offer. Still, a brief overview of the gameplay for the newcomers may be in order.
How To Play
Ticket to Ride: San Francisco is for two to four players. At the start of a new game, players will be given two transportation cards and two destination cards-the former determine which spaces the player can put tokens on, while the latter give the players specific goals to reach.
In addition, five transportation cards are laid out for the players to draw from (though you can choose to blind draw from the remaining deck instead, should you wish to).
From there, gameplay goes fairly smoothly. Each turn you can choose to draw transportation cards, claim a route on the map, or draw a new destination ticket. Transportation cards are used to claim routes, with you discarding the cards that correspond to the route (ferries are wild, as are grey spaces). Gameplay ends when a player has two or fewer cable car tokens left, with all the players getting one more turn before wrapping up. Tally your scores, and the highest score wins (ties settled by quantity of completed destination tickets).
Ticket to Ride: San Francisco has a lot to offer players…but very little of it is new. For newcomers, that’s no problem. Indeed, the shorter playtime of the Cities Collection will help ease them into the series. Fans of the Ticket to Ride series may enjoy a new map and the added twist of the Tourist Tokens. However, those hoping for something new beyond that will find themselves disappointed.
This is Ticket to Ride in San Francisco. No less…but also no more. Whether you’re interested at that point is going to be purely subjective.
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Images and review copy courtesy of Days of Wonder and Asmodee.
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