Yes, that is, in fact, Ticket to Ride on the iPad.
Days of Wonder announced today that their popular train-building board game is now available as an iPad app, which lets you play solo games against up to four AI opponents or against other players online. What’s especially great is that you get linked into the already-populated game lobbies of the online game, which has been available for PC and Mac for some time, so you’ll immediately have tons of people to play with.
In case you’re not familiar with Ticket to Ride, it’s a fantastic game of train-building which I highly recommend. (For a more detailed explanation, check out Andy Robertson’s review.) In short, up to five players compete to build train tracks across a map. You have to collect cards of a matching color in order to lay the trains down. Points are awarded both for claiming a section of track and for completing tickets by connecting two cities with a continuous track. Rules are very simple to learn and you can get going in a matter of minutes, making this a good game for a wide audience. Plus, it’s trains!
Days of Wonder gave me a sneak peek at the iPad app and got to play around with it a bit before today, and they did an outstanding job with it. One of Days of Wonder’s previous moves to the iPad is was Small World (which I reviewed here, including comments by Dave Banks about the iPad version). From what I’ve heard the iPad version is great, but is limited to two players and only supports local play. Ticket to Ride kicks it up a notch with the online multiplayer, particularly since you can play with established online players and not just those who have the iPad app. I’ve been able to start up a game at just about any time and have plenty of other players to play against.
The graphics are gorgeous, with the same style of illustrations as the original board game, and the game itself plays like the board game but you don’t have to shuffle and actually place all those little trains on the board yourself. (Okay, yeah, so that’s part of the fun, but it’s also very easy to knock over a whole bunch of trains when you’re reaching for the bag of chips.) Making the game digital brings a few nice perks, too: cities on your tickets are automatically highlighted, making it easier for you to keep track of them, and whenever a route is completed the app plays a little sound and animation so you can be sure you didn’t miss any gaps. The app also does all the scoring for you — and this is particularly handy because we inevitably forget to score some tracks as they’re played in the actual board game.
There’s an included video tutorial as well as a step-by-step playthrough tutorial, though I found the latter to be a bit annoying as the woman’s voice kept saying “Take this card. Now take this card.” over and over again. If you haven’t played the game before it might be good to use, but I didn’t really need the help. The app is actually fairly intuitive, and all experienced players need to know is how to control things.
It costs $6.99 for the app, which includes the original USA map, and $.99 as in-app purchases for add-on maps such as Europe, Switzerland, and USA 1910. I’d actually only played the Europe version before now, since I’d read that a lot of people preferred the additional rules about tunnels and ferries, so the USA map will take some practice. Still, for only ten bucks you can get all four maps, which is a nice bargain compared to buying all of the board games. (Of course, you won’t be able to play against other players locally.)
One thing that I didn’t quite like in the online multiplayer was the end of the game. It’s nice that the game goes through each player’s tickets and shows which ones were finished and which weren’t, updating the score with each ticket. However, once that is over and the winner is proclaimed, you can’t go back to look at the map and study it any more. You also can’t chat any more, even to say “good game” or ask the same players if they’d like another round. Perhaps that’s the way the existing online game was set up, but it feels a little as if, after playing a nice round of Ticket to Ride, everyone just got up and left without saying goodbye.
Overall, the app is a beaut. If you’re a fan of board games and you’ve got an iPad, this is definitely one you’ll want to get.
Wired: Gorgeous graphics, excellent interface, lots of existing online fans to play against.
Tired: No local multiplayer, end of game feels rushed.