Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Ticket to Ride and links

Growing up, I was not a fan of board games. My brother loved Monopoly and would try to get me to play with him, and every now and again I would out of boredom, but I never enjoyed it. The game took too long and wasn't all that interesting. Yes, it's a classic game and every house has one (even mine, though it's the updated Monopoly Empire, which takes much less time to play), but I've never had all that much fun playing it.

Perhaps the only board game I really enjoyed, and not until college, was Risk. And most of that, looking back, was from hanging out with my friends as we played, making the same jokes about the Ukraine being weak or having that one friend who would seemingly  get bored and then recklessly start attacking for the fun of it without a long-term strategy.

But about four years ago, I read a review of a board game called Ticket to Ride by baseball writer Keith Law. He gave the app high reviews so I figured I'd give it a shot, especially since it was on sale for $1.99.

The basic premise of the game is you're trying to connect cities on a map of the United States (and a few Canadian cities) go earn points for your routes. But other people are also connecting cities and they may get in your way, causing you to have to readjust your plans. You draw colored train cards which correspond to the connections and try to earn the most points.

It was unlike anything I'd ever played before. Among other things, there were no dice and no spinners. Sure, there was an element of luck as you're waiting for your color train cards to appear, but it was significantly less luck-based than pretty much every game I'd played. After playing a few times to get the hang of it, I found I really enjoyed it. The game play was easy and intuitive. Soon, my son, who had just turned four, would sit in my lap and watch me play, eventually asking to play on his own.

We got it for Christmas later that year and after a year of playing it, we got the next version, Ticket to Ride: Europe. Another year of enjoying that (it has a few minor tweaks to the rules, but nothing complicated) and this past Christmas we got Ticket to Ride: Asia as well as an expansion pack for the original game with new destinations. It's opened us up to a a whole new genre of games that are completely different from the games I grew up playing. And to my delight, a few of my friends have picked up the game too.

It's a great family game for 2-5 players that is simple enough that my son at 4 or 5 was able to play it without being on a team with me or my wife. Granted, there is minimal reading involved so kids wanting to play will need to be able to figure out cities on a map.

And if you know me and want to try it out, let me know as I'm always up for introducing people to a game that's brought me and my family such joy.

Today's links:

The Easiest Way to Lose 125 Pounds is to Gain 175 Pounds - A brutally honest look at what it took for the writer to lose 125 pounds, and why he got to the point of needing to lose the weight.

Those Jamokes in Oregon Aren't Terrorists, They're Jamokes - This seems about right to describe the jamokes in Oregon.

Former KKK Leader Organizes Great Falls MLK Celebration - People can change and if we forget this, we rob them of their humanity.

Is the Drive For Success Making Our Children Sick? - Have we reached the point of diminishing returns on the ever-higher expectations of our kids? Did I just answer a question with a question? Are you going to read this?

Thanks for reading.

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