Ticket to Ride is an iPad board game based on Days Of Wonder’s hugely popular real world board game series (of the same name), which first debuted in 2004.

Going into this review I had heard a lot of great things about the board game Ticket to Ride, but had not had the opportunity to play it for myself, nor did I have the desire to spend $35 on a board game. So when the opportunity came up to review this iPad version of the game, I jumped at the chance…and boy am I glad that I did…THIS GAME IS UNBELIEVABLY FUN!

Ticket to Ride has players collecting cards picturing various colored train cars which they must use to claim railway routes across North America. The longer the routes, the more points you earn, with additional points awarded to players who complete Destination Tickets (building a continuous path between two specified cities) and to the player who builds the longest continuous route (period).

Learning a new board game can be a bit of a daunting task, especially when you are trying to do so on your own, without the aid of another person to guide you, or give you their interpretation of the rules as well. Fortunately Ticket to Ride was much simpler to learn than had I anticipated. Literally I watched the 5 minute tutorial video accessible from within the app, played a tutorial game and I was ready to go.

Strategy-aside, the game really comes down to three simple rules, of which you must choose one to complete on your turn. “The rules are simple enough to write on a train ticket – each turn you either draw more cards, claim a route, or get additional Destination Tickets,” says Ticket to Ride author, Alan R. Moon. “The tension comes from being forced to balance greed – adding more cards to your hand, and fear – losing a critical route to a competitor.”

A turn-based strategy game, the elements at play will hold some resonance to anyone who has ever played a game of Monopoly. While Ticket to Ride doesn’t bear much actual resemblance to Monopoly, the core concepts of balancing which properties to try to collect (in this case, specific track segments and destinations) and avoiding spreading yourself too thin by being greedy are key aspects of the gameplay. In the week or so that I’ve been playing the game I’ve already developed and changed my strategy and approach to the game a number of times and that’s what I think is so wonderful about this deceptively simple game….the depth. There is also just something so immediately familiar, like a game you’ve played since childhood. The best way I can think to describe it, is that it feels like the type of game you’d find one day exploring your parents’ basement, dust it off, ask your Mom or Dad how to play and would go onto become a family tradition for generations.

Ticket to Ride offers both robust single and multiplayer modes. In the single player mode you can choose to play against up to five other AI players. While there doesn’t seem to be a way to adjust the difficulty of individual AI players, adding more players definitely increases the overall difficulty level as you are all now competing for the same tracks.

For multiplayer gameplay you even more options… Create a local game via Bluetooth or WiFi and players can join via any iOS device running its own copy of the game (including the iPhone and iPod Touch with the all-new Pocket edition of Ticket to Ride). You can also play with friends on the same device using Pass & Play Mode. If you don’t have any friends close-by you also have the option of going online where you can compete with players from around the world via Game Center. Connect to Days Of Wonder’s servers and challenge players on the Mac and PC versions of the game as well and compete for you spot on the leaderboards.

I tested out all of these game modes and they all worked perfectly. Games are played in real-time so when playing online you’ll just want to be sure that you have a stable WiFi connection. During a few of my online games I did see a couple of the other players drop out, but Days Of Wonder does a fantastic job at resolving this, replacing the dropped player with an AI player so that the game can be completed.

The graphics, sound and layout of the board all look fantastic with charming artwork, music and voice work. The basic $6.99 game includes the “classic US Map” (err North America) that came with the original Ticket to Ride board game. For a nominal fee you can purchase up to three additional map packs which add new destinations as well as new game rules. I purchased two of these map packs (USA 1910 – 99¢ and Switzerland – $1.99) and they are a lot of fun, adding endless hours of additional content. However, I did find the rules of the Swiss map to be a bit more challenging to fully comprehend. I’ll certainly be picking up the $3.99 European map sometime in the near future as well. If you were to purchase the game PLUS all three map packs it would cost you $6.99 + $6.97 (DLC), or just about $14. To put that into perspective the original board game itself sells on Amazon for just under $40! These same additional packs for the physical board game will set you back around another $100, so this is a real bargain…plus there is no cleanup!

In Conclusion

Ticket to Ride is an amazingly fun board game for your iPad which is easy to learn, offering hours upon hours of strategical entertainment. Days Of Wonder have no doubt set the gold standard when it comes to creating a board game for the iPad. Though I am unfamiliar with the source material, I’m certain they’ve captured it perfectly. There is just so much depth to the game and it has the instant feel of a classic board game like Risk, Monopoly or Clue. This game is destined to become a classic in its own right and a fixture on your iPad. Ticket to Ride will be your newest obsession…I’ll see you on the rails.