I shied away from covering this yesterday as there’s no indication when it might all be over, but the offer to download the iOS edition of Ticket to Ride: Pocket and its European map counterpart for a measly cost of ZERO is still going strong, so hurry up and get on it.
Two apps means two maps, with the choice of the original USA board in the standard ‘pocket edition’, and the tricksier European option with tunnels and ferry routes and all sorts in the other one. They’re both superb ports of the multiple award-winning 2004 and 2005 board games, which are rightly vaunted as among the best options for persuading¬†non-board gamers to dip their toes into modern games.
If you’re not familiar with it, Ticket to Ride is a masterclass in mixing a handful of simple ideas to make a tightly-wound, competitive game. Up to five players battle it out as railway barons and baronesses looking to pick up points by completing routes between cities across the continent. All the cities have several potential tracks snaking out of them in different colours – collect the right amount of corresponding coloured cards and you can complete the stretch of line, gaining increasingly large amounts of points the more cards are needed. Only one player can claim each line though, so you also get to watch friends and family howl with rage as you block them off from reaching Los Angeles by stealing a route from under their nose. Bliss.¬†
Each turn you can either take a couple of cards from the five on show (which get immediately replaced from the draw pile), or blind from the top of the deck if there’s nothing you fancy. OR you can build a section of track. and you’re probably thinking about completing about nine routes. Which means you’ll invariably spend one more turn bagging a couple of badly-needed pinks, only to watch someone swoop in and nail the orange route between Denver and Kansas City you could have put down.
As if that’s not enough, the routes each player is trying to complete are clutched secretively to their chests, which means you’re also trying to second-guess who’s going where by what cards they draw and which routes they thrown down onto the board. Points for laying track get added straight away, but points for routes don’t get totted up until one player is down to the last two or less of their 45 starting wagons. Then everyone sees points rolling in for completed routes, but LOSES points for any they didn’t pull off, so you can never be truly confident of a win until all the cards are down. Did I mention you can always use your turn in-game to rifle through three more routes if you think you can complete more? It’s seriously no wonder this thing won a bucketful of gongs you know – I’d bust it out for seasoned wargamers or my old gran with equal glee.
Both apps let you tuck into the game solo, local multiplayer over the same WiFi or Bluetooth network, online multiplayer or by handing the phone or iPad back and forth between you. I think the online multiplayer needs work to be honest – I tried a bunch of times to launch games with strangers through both app, but no one ever appeared. Spoooooooky. Or maybe that’s why they’re giving away the apps for free.