April 10, 2004

Session Report for April 8, 2004

by Susan Rozmiarek

 

The UPS guy dropped off a box from Game Surplus a mere two hours before game time, containing such goodies as Alexandros and Ticket to Ride. Ed and I were both able to peruse the very simple Ticket to Ride rules with the plan of roping the first players through the door into a game. One of first was Mark, back from a business trip to Japan and bearing some very interesting and very cute raccoon candy.

Ticket to Ride

Wow. What a fabulous game. As soon as it ended I wanted to play it again right away, which is very unusual for me. It is very simple and not all that deep, but it created such painful turn angst that we found ourselves impatiently moving each other along, hardly able to wait for our turns, a sign of a very good game.

Days of Wonder has once again done a supreme job with the presentation and quality of components. The map is enormous, almost like a large print version of Union Pacific or Santa Fe Rails. The plastic train cars all come separated by color in ziplock bags, including a separate bag of extras. The art is super and the cards have that nice linen weave finish. Very nice, indeed.

The rules are incredibly simple, yet the decisions can be agonizing at times. You have to choose between claiming routes before somebody else can claim them, or collecting the cards that are needed to claim the routes. To add to the tension, you are also trying to connect secret destinations, which will get you points at the end of the game if you are successful, or take away points if you are not. The game reminds me slightly of TransAmerica with the same additive quality, but having many more decisions. In TransAmerica, the little bit of tension comes with hoping the other players lay their track such that it helps you connect your cities. In Ticket to Ride it is the opposite. You gamble with your decisions and sweat out the other playersí turns, hoping they donít lay their track such that they ruin your plans. The tension here is much greater and very enjoyable in a painful sort of way. This is simply a fantastic game.

I started out the game by grabbing the short connections in the central area that were needed to connect one pair of my destinations easily. The other pair, Seattle and Los Angeles, was on the west coast and I held off claiming those routes, as nobody else seemed to be interested in that area. About midgame, I had my two destination cards fulfilled and chose to draw another. I got extremely lucky and drew one that overlapped one of my others, giving me instant points. I then tried to work on building the longest continuous route, but a key blocking move by Mike spoiled my chances. With that plan ruined, I concentrated on just collecting cards to claim larger routes, particularly the pink ones, as I noticed nobody else was choosing this color. Rick, however, was not only able to claim the longest route bonus, but also connect some very high value destinations and he won the game handily.

Results: Rick 124, Susan 96, Ed 82, Clark 78, Mike 58


Mike, Susan, Clark, Rick and Ed try out the recently released Ticket to Ride.

Midway though Ticket to Ride.

Ed and I had to take some time to resolve some issues with our kids, so we missed getting in on the start of the next games. We decided to give a few two-player games a whirl.

Coda

This is a very light deduction game. There is a lot of luck in it but it is very short and the bit of brainpower required makes it a pleasant filler. We played it twice, with each of us winning once. I have a hunch it plays better with more players.

10 Days in Africa

I love the challenge of putting together a route, but I had yet to win a game of this. This time I got really lucky with my initial card draws and was able to piece together about half of my route at the very start. The middle got a little muddled but then a few key cards came up and I was able to sort it out for my first win. I love the puzzle-like feel of this game and plan to pick up the others in the series as they come out.

Cloud 9

We needed something light that could handle six players to close the evening with. This whimsical, push-your-luck favorite was perfect. I ended up with a large hand of blue and green cards for most of the game, causing the balloon to crash early on my turn a couple of times to the astonishment of the others. Ed held the lead for most of the game and it came down to a tight finish between him and one of our newest attendees, Francisca.

Iím glad to see that this game is going to be republished by Out of the Box Games. It is an excellent family game and a decent filler.

Francisca 55, Ed 51, Mark/Susan 45 Peter 29, Mike 24

Other games played: Ra, Oh, Pharaoh


A third table in action tonight! Jon, Mike, Clark, Robert and Rick play the classic Ra.

Mark, Doug, Robert and Roxana play Oh Pharaoh!.

Hmmm?? What can it be?!? Mark brought this back from Japan

Just too cute eat!

For more pictures from this gaming session and others, see our Gaming Picture Gallery.

Posted by Susan Rozmiarek at April 10, 2004 10:10 PM

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