Tag Archives: Ticket to Ride Demo

24th February 2022

Blue, Pink and Pine arrived early and while they waited for dinner to arrive, they had a quick game of Ticket to Ride Demo.  This is one of the “cut down” Ticket to Ride games which play in the same way as the full-sized versions, but are a lot shorter and often tighter.  As in the parent, players take it in turns to collect cards, or spend them to place trains on the board.  The Demo game has a double-sided map, but with events in Europe so much in the news, the Europe map was chosen.

Ticket to Ride Demo
– Image by boardGOATS

Pink and Pine began competing for the train-lines through the Benelux countries down to Bucharest, while Blue joined Warsaw to Madrid in the south east via a roundabout route. It was a really tight game, so much so that once the points for the tickets had been added, it was a three-way tie.  With just the Longest Continuous Path bonus to add, it was between Blue and Pine, with Blue just nicking it, to give her thirty-four points and victory.  There wasn’t time to dwell on it as Pine’s enormous platter of cheese had arrived and in that, he was definitely the victor.

Ticket to Ride Demo
– Image by boardGOATS

Sage was next to arrive, quickly followed by Purple and Black.  Expecting a quiet night (with lots of people away for half term) we were just deciding who was going to play what, when Lime arrived, so we split into two groups, a three and a four, with the larger group playing the “Feature Game“, PARKS.  The Nightfall expansion includes the seventeen National Parks cards that were omitted from the original base game, so these were added to the deck, though none of the other features were included in the game this time.  This is a game that Burgundy wanted to play, but sadly never quite managed to, so it we wanted to play it in his memory.

PARKS
– Image by boardGOATS

During the game, players take on the role of two hikers as they trek through the countryside over four rounds, or “hikes”.  Whilst on the trail, the hikers take actions and collect memories of the places they visit.  At the end of each hike, players can trade them in for a visit to a National Park.  Each round is set up with six basic trail tiles (five with fewer players) and one advanced trail tile shuffled together and laid out to make a path from the trail head to the trail end.  Players can move either of their hikers towards along the trail to any unoccupied space and then carry out the action on that space.

PARKS
– Image by boardGOATS

The basic locations are the mountains, forest, the valley, the sea, and a waterfall, visiting these give players wooden mountain, tree, sun or water tokens that can be exchanged for National Park cards at when their hiker reaches the end of the trek.  At the start of the round, the trail tiles are also seeded with additional tokens giving the first person to visit each one a bonus. The final basic location is the vista, which allows players to either take a new canteen card, or take the Camera token.  Canteen cards are special cards that players have that enable them to convert water into other resources or actions, once per round.

PARKS
– Image by boardGOATS

The Camera allows people to take photos, which are worth a point each at the end of the game.  When initially taking the Camera, a photo costs two wooden tokens, but thereafter, photos only cost the holder of the Camera one token, and the player holding the camera at the end of the round gains an additional photo opportunity. There are a couple of other “rule-breaking” rules, for example, each player has a single opportunity per round (or “hike”) to join another hiker at a location by putting out their campfire (turning the token over).  Additionally, players can also buy camping gear cards which alter actions or provide discounts when buying National Park cards at the end of the round.

PARKS
– Image by boardGOATS

There are additionally “Year Cards” which provide players with personal objectives, however, the group did not use these this time as Blue wasn’t making a great job of the rules explanation and it had taken quite long enough without adding more.  The round end is triggered when the penultimate hiker reaches the end of the trail.  The last hiker then moves directly to the trail end and, as usual can: reserve a National Park card from the market (and, if they are the first hiker to do so, take the First Hiker Marker); buy camping gear cards, or claim a National Park card (either from the market, or one reserved earlier in the game).  The game ends after four hikes, and players sum the total of their Parks points and photos to determine the winner.

PARKS
– Image by boardGOATS

The game started slowly as somehow it felt a little unintuitive.  Although play seemed very simple, it wasn’t immediately obvious how to excel and score lots of points.  Although they aren’t the only source, most points come from National Park cards.  As each player has two hikers and Parks cards are acquired at the end of each round, players have only eight opportunities to buy them.  With such a limited number of cards available, players have to try to maximise their takings by going for the most valuable cards.  If these are not reserved, however, there is a risk that someone else will take a desired/planned for card.  This is particularly perilous, as it can leave a player without a possible option and unable to take one of their very limited opportunities to take a Park card.

PARKS
– Image by boardGOATS

Pink started by asking what colour he was, and Blue pointed to the light purple campfire in front of him and explained it was the closest to pink.  Pointing to Lime’s “peach-coloured” pieces, he replied “Apart from the actual pink ones…”  And then there followed a heated debate as to which colour was “more pink”.  Eventually, Pine started tentatively, followed by Lime and then Pink (with his purple pieces) and finally Blue.  As the group felt their way, they realised that mountain tokens were valuable and difficult to come by.  So, after Lime had been unable to afford the camping gear card that gives a mountain discount, Blue snapped it up.  It took a while to understand the value of the Canteen cards, and some were definitely more useful than others.

PARKS
– Image by boardGOATS

Pink had a Canteen that gave him mountain tokens, which meant joining the battle for the mountain space wasn’t quite as necessary.  Lime had a canteen that allowed him to reserve Parks cards which was useful in terms of planning.  It also had the additional advantage of messing up other people’s plans, in particular, Pine’s who got caught several times.  During the second round, everyone started to get the hang of things, and began to work out what they were trying to do while keeping an eye on what everyone else was doing.  But then the “hand limit” of twelve tokens began to bite.  Some of the most valuable Parks cards need six or more tokens, so targeting these while keeping the ability to be flexible became increasingly difficult.

PARKS
– Image by boardGOATS

By the third round, Pink was questioning how Blue had managed to get “so many” cards, implying she was doing something that the others, in particular Pink, weren’t.  She had just managed to take every opportunity though, where others had been less fortunate.  Lime had a canteen that allowed him to reserve cards, which was a good use for excess water tokens.  Unfortunately, didn’t quite get the rest of his tokens right to make the most of it, and finished with lots of reserved, but unfulfilled National Parks cards.  Pine was unlucky and had Parks cards he was targeting taken at the last moment.  Still he managed to get a card with a nice picture of a wolf on it, which delighted him at the time.

PARKS
– Image by boardGOATS

It was close for second place with just two points separating three players—Pine, tied for second place with Pink, decreed that his lovely wolf card was the tie-breaker and gave him the edge.  There was no question that Blue was the winner though, with thirty-two points, eight more than Pine.  Meanwhile, on the next table, Sage, Purple and Black had been playing Puerto Rico.  This is a much older game, once ranked the best game on the BoardGameGeek website, but now often forgotten.  We’ve played it a few times, but not since the global pandemic hit, and Sage was keen to play it again.

Puerto Rico
– Image by boardGOATS

In many ways, Puerto Rico is the archetypal Euro game.  The idea of the game is quite simple in that on their turn, the active player chooses a “role” then everyone takes it in turns to carry out the action associated with that role.  Each role has a “privilege” which the active player gets which gives them a little bonus (as well as the opportunity to take the action first.  Once everyone has chosen a role, the remaining role cards are “improved” by the addition of money, the used role cards are returned to the pool and the start player (The Governor) moves one player to the left before the new Governor starts the next round.

Puerto Rico
– Image by boardGOATS

The aim of the game is to get victory points which are awarded for buildings and for shipping goods. However, to build, players need money, and before they can ship goods, players need to be able to produce the goods with a plantation (and where necessary process them in the appropriate building).  Each building/plantation has a special bonus, but for a player to receive this, the building needs to be occupied by a “colonist”. All these activities are carried out through the role cards. For example, the Builder enables players to construct a building, but the player who chooses the role gets the privilege of paying one doubloon less than they would have done otherwise.

Puerto Rico
– Image by boardGOATS

Other roles include the Craftsman (enables players to produce); the Captain (enables players to ship goods); the Trader (allows players to sell goods for money); the Settler (players can take a plantation tile and add it to their island); the Mayor (the ship of “colonists” arrives and they are divided amongst the players), and the Prospector (everyone does nothing except the person with the privilege who takes a doubloon from the bank).  The game ends when there are not enough colonists to fill the colonist ship, the supply of victory points is exhausted, or a player fills their twelfth building space in their city.

Puerto Rico
– Image by boardGOATS

Black was clearly an early front-runner, but while Sage was slightly slower to get his engine going, he was coming up fast on the inside rail when the game came to an end.  As a result, the end-game building scoring was critical.  Purple had built the Guild Hall giving her extra points for her production buildings while Sage built the Residence providing additional points for the plantations and quarries he had placed on his island.  Black had built and occupied a two large civic buildings:  a City Hall giving him points for his civic buildings, and a Customs House which increased his the victory points he had acquired during the game by twenty percent.

Puerto Rico
– Image by boardGOATS

Unfortunately for Sage, it turned out that the game had ended a few rounds too early for him to overtake Black who finished with sixty points, five more than Sage in second place.  It had been fun though, and demonstrated that while some older games show their age, others still have it.  Puerto Rico and PARKS finished at much the same time, and although Lime left to make sure he got across the river before the drawbridge was lifted (commenting he’d like to give PARKS another go some time), everyone else was keen to play something light and quick.

Puerto Rico
– Image by boardGOATS

Despite Blue’s inevitable enthusiasm, Pine ruled out Bohnanza as too long, and with six players, 6 Nimmt! was the obvious choice.  We played this loads online, but it doesn’t seem to have dampened our enthusiasm for it, though we’ve mostly played the simple version in person since.  The idea is that players simultaneously choose cards from their hand which are then added in sequence to the four rows on the table.  In the original version, cards are added to the end of the row with the highest card that is lower than the card played.  In the professional version, cards can also be played on the low end of rows, upsetting other players’ plans (if players can claim to have plans in this game).

6 Nimmt!
– Image by boardGOATS

Although we all decided that it was too late for the complex maths that comes with the professional version.  Pine and Blue immediately commented that they regretted that decision when they looked at their hands.  It seemed most people struggled a bit in that round as everyone picked up points.  Blue and Pine were high scorers, but Pink managed twenty-seven nimmts off just nine cards, albeit very colourful ones.  Pink did better in the second half with a clear round, but the damage had already been done.  Purple and Blue top scored overall, with thirty-seven and thirty-nine respectively, but the winner was the very constant Black with just five from each round.

6 Nimmt!
– Image by boardGOATS

Learning outcome:  Not all games are a walk in the PARK.

23rd September 2021

Burgundy and Blue were just finishing their supper when Teal introduced himself.  The three were chatting when Lime, who hadn’t been able to come for over a month, also joined the group.  It was expected to be a quiet night with Green and Lilac away on holiday, Pine working late, and Pink stuck somewhere on the Warwick bypass.  So, there was a lot of chat, but eventually, the group decided to play something and settled on Love Letter.

Love Letter
– Image by boardGOATS

This is a very simple little game that we’ve played a lot, but somehow Lime had missed out.  So, there was a very quick rules explanation:  players start with a hand of one card, draw a second and choose one to play and do the action on the card.  The cards are numbered and the aim of the game is to finish the round with the highest card, or more commonly, avoid being knocked out.  There are only sixteen cards in the deck (and one of those is removed at the start of the round), so it doesn’t take long.

Love Letter
– Image by boardGOATS

The group were only three rounds in when everyone else turned up (including Pink who had escaped the roadworks), so Lime was declared the winner with two tokens and everyone else was introduced to Teal and started to discuss what to play.  In the end, Burgundy took matters into his own hands and started a game of Wingspan, so while Pink waited for his pizza to arrive, Blue explained the “Feature Game“, Mini Rails.

Mini Rails
– Image by boardGOATS

Mini Rails is a very simple little stock-buying and track-laying train game that compresses a lot of the game play of long and complicated games like the 18xx series into under an hour.  Players have two turns in each round, on one they buy shares in one of the companies and on the other they extend the “track” of one of the networks.  If it is built on a white space, players with holdings in that colour increase their value by the marked amount.  If the network is built on a red space, the stocks in that company are decreased in value.

Mini Rails
– Image by boardGOATS

The game is very simple, but there are a couple of clever little tweaks.  Firstly, there are two “tracks”, one is the turn-order track, while the other holds train disks drawn at random from a bag.  On their turn, players choose one of tokens and decide which action to use it for, “build track”or “buy shares”.  The position of the token that is taken dictates where they will be in the turn order in the next round.  Manipulating this turn order is one key aspect of the game, as is deciding whether to buy and then build, or build and then buy.

Mini Rails
– Image by boardGOATS

Perhaps the most complicated aspect of the game is the end-game scoring.  At the start of each round train discs are drawn from a bag; one more than there are turns.  This means everyone always has a choice, but the token the last player does not use is put to one side indicating they have paid “taxes”.  For the companies that have “paid taxes” any negative dividends are erased and positive dividends are counted.  For those companies that have avoided paying their taxes the reverse is true and negative points will be scored while positive points are lost.

Mini Rails
– Image by boardGOATS

This means it is in the interest of players with both large positive or significant negative scores to forgo building track or buying shares and leave a potentially valuable token as taxes.  Similarly, if a player is left with a choice of two tokens, it may be in their interest to buy/build a relatively unfavourable track to deprive other players of points.  With three players, the game doesn’t take too long to play, and with more it would likely become quite random.

Mini Rails
– Image by boardGOATS

Lime took an early lead, though of course lots of early points are… pointless, if the company doesn’t pay taxes.  In the end it was extremely tight, but in the end, Blue just pipped Lime by a single point.  With just three there isn’t much downtime and the game rocks along nicely with plenty of interaction, though as Pink said, “That’s one hell of an abstraction for a train game.”  Blue pointed out that this was what a lot of gamers thought of when someone said “Train Game”.  Pink felt disappointed at the lack of actual trains and tracks so to make it up to him, the group moved on to play Ticket to Ride Demo.

Ticket to Ride Demo
– Image by boardGOATS

Ticket to Ride Demo is one of the small games based on the Spiel des Jahres winner, Ticket to Ride Europe.  The Demo game has an interesting history—it was designed as a sales tool and had only a small print run.  It was so popular though, that it ultimately spawned a new range of small “City” games, New York, London and Amsterdam.  These games are essentially played the same way as the full-sized versions, but with fewer pieces on a smaller map which means they typically take less than half the time.

Ticket to Ride Demo
– Image by boardGOATS

On their turn players can do one of three things:  take cards from the market, spend cards to place trains or take tickets.  Players score points for placing trains, but also for connecting the places on their tickets.  The catch is that any tickets that are not completed score negative points.  The small versions of the game are much tighter with less room for error.  Unlike the others, Ticket to Ride Demo has a double sided map, one USA and one Europe.  This time the group played the Europe map.

Ticket to Ride Demo
– Image by boardGOATS

Compared to the full-sized equivalents, all the little games are like a knife-fight in a phone-box, and this game was no exception.  Lime only completed three of his four tickets as Blue brought the game to a quick and sudden end.  Pink completed all four of his tickets and they were high-scoring too.  Blue’s tickets were less lucrative, but she managed to place all her trains and took the European Express bonus points for the longest continuous route, and with it victory, by just two points.

Ticket to Ride Demo
– Image by boardGOATS

Meanwhile, on the next table an epic, five-player game of Wingspan was underway.  We’ve played Wingspan quite a bit since it came out and always found it very enjoyable.  We’ve played it enough that we’ve also explored the European expansion, but thanks to the restrictions over the last year or so, this was the first opportunity to play the new Oceania expansion.  The base game is a reasonably light, card-driven, combination building game.  On their turn, players can place a bird card from their hand in one of the three habitats, or activate all their cards in one of the habitats and carry out the associated action.

Wingspan: Oceania Expansion
– Image by boardGOATS

The habitats are Woodland, Grassland and Wetland and the actions associated with them are collecting food, laying eggs or collecting cards (respectively).  Once the action has been carried out, the active player activates each card in the habitat in turn.  The game is played over four rounds, with a decreasing number of actions per round as the game progresses.  At the end of each round there are goals and each player also starts with a personal bonus card which is evaluated at the end of the game.

Wingspan
– Image by boardGOATS

The European expansion really only adds extra cards, though this includes a number of birds with abilities that are activated at the end of rounds, and others that increase player interaction.  The new Oceania expansion also adds more cards, but additionally mixes things up a little more with the addition of a new food type, nectar.  Nectar can be used as wild food type, although some of the new bird cards have nectar specified in the cost.  Whenever players spend nectar though, they don’t put it back in the supply, instead they store it in the habitat they spent it on.

Wingspan
– Image by boardGOATS

At the end of the game, the player with the most nectar stored in each habitat scores five points at the end of the game with the player coming second scoring two points.  Nectar is therefore a very important resource giving a potential fifteen points at the end of the game, although it requires some skill to use it effectively as it can’t be carried over between rounds.  Burgundy and Black really invested in nectar and managed to make good use of it during the game as well as take the lion’s share of the nectar points at the end of the game.

Wingspan: European Expansion
– Image by boardGOATS

Burgundy and Black also prioritised valuable birds and tried to ensure they stayed in the running for the end of round bonuses.  Three out of the four of these involved eggs, which fitted with Ivory and Teal’s strategies which focussed on an end-of-game egg rush.  Ivory also picked up a lot of points from his Common Starling which enabled him to discard up to five bits of food and tuck a card for each one.  With a maximum of twenty points, Ivory did well to take eighteen during the game, but it was only enough for third place this time though.

Wingspan
– Image by boardGOATS

It was very close at the top between Black and Burgundy.  Burgundy had four bonus cards one of which proved quite lucrative.  The big difference was in the value of the bird cards, however, while Black edged it in many departments Burgundy had a ten point head start.  This wasn’t simply because he had high value birds, more that he had lots of them.  In the end, Burgundy finished five points ahead of Black with ninety-five, in a good game that had been enjoyed by everyone round the table.

– Image by boardGOATS

Wingspan was still only on its third round when Ticket to Ride Demo came to an end.  At around the same time, Pine pitched up, so the, now foursome settled down for something else which ended up being a game of Reiner Knitzia’s Botswana (aka Wildlife Safari).  This is an unusual auction-like game made all the better by the inclusion of plastic animals.  Played over several rounds, players are dealt a hand of cards and on their turn play a card and take an animal of their choice.  The cards are numbered zero to five and come in five different animal suits.

Botswana
– Image by boardGOATS

The cards are played in the centre of the table in suits and the game ends when all six cards of one suit have been played.  The top card in any suit is the current value of that animal.  Thus, if the top zebra card is a five, a player that has three zebras will earn fifteen points for them if the game ends.  However, if the zero just before the game ends, the zebras will become worthless.  It is a deceptively simple, yet fun little game.  Blue thought she’d won until a recount docked her ten points and she finished just two points behind a delighted Pink.

Botswana
– Image by boardGOATS

As Botswana came to an end, so did Wingspan, and although time was marching on, and Lime and Ivory took an early night, there was still time for everyone else to play one last game.  After a little discussion, we settled on 6 Nimmt!, a game we all know and love.  Players simultaneously choose a card and these are sequentially added to the end of four rows of cards, specifically the row with the highest number that is lower than the card itself.  If the card is the sixth card in the row, instead, the player takes other five and adds them to their scoring pile.  The player with the lowest score at the end of the game is the winner.

6 Nimmt!
– Image by boardGOATS

We’ve all played this a lot online over the last year, but doing the maths ourselves was a little daunting, so we decided to go back to playing the non-professional version.  We play over two rounds using half the deck in first and the other half in the second.  This time Teal top-scored in the first round with nineteen, while Burgundy kept a clean sheet with Pink just behind.  Blue’s killer thirty-three in the second round gave her a total of forty-eight, but the winner for the second time in the evening was Pink with just four points.  And with that, it was bedtime.

6 Nimmt!
– Image by boardGOATS

Learning Outcome:  Today’s railway industry is no longer about trains and tracks. ☹