If you live in Utah and are serious about board games, chances are you've heard of the very popular "Ticket to Ride" train game. As of fourth quarter 2012, Google Trends lists the state of Utah as No. 1 in the nation for searching the phrase "Ticket to Ride game."
Its publisher, Days of Wonder, reports that more than 2 million copies have sold worldwide. That's enough toy trains to go around the moon when set end to end.
"Playing 'Ticket to Ride' is a great way for those who make a conscious effort to do things together as a family," Mark Kaufmann, vice president of marketing at Days of Wonder, said.
"Ticket to Ride" is a cross-country train adventure in which players collect and play matching train cards to claim railway routes connecting cities throughout the world. The longer the routes, the more points can be earned. The object of the game is to score the highest number of total points.
When Kaufmann first sat down with the game's creator, author Alan R. Moon, to play it, neither he nor co-founder Eric Hautemon wanted to put it down.
"The first time we played the game with author Alan R. Moon, we had played for about 15 minutes and had half the map filled," said Kaufmann. "Alan suddenly swept the map clear of our trains and said, 'OK, you see how it works, so we don't need to finish the game.' My co-founder, Eric Hautemont, and I were dumbfounded. We really wanted to finish the game!"
If you change the map you're playing on, it changes the game in new ways. Official maps have been released for the United States, Europe, Germany, Asia, Switzerland and more. Extra game mechanisms are added to create more excitement and strategy with train tunnels, ferries, destination tickets and even monsters. "We were actually on a train outside of Paris, France, when we came up with the name 'Ticket to Ride.' We knew instantly it was the right name," said Kaufmann
Two recent releases, "Ticket to Ride Map Collection 1" and "Ticket to Ride Map Collection 2," add to the "Ticket to Ride Europe" or "Ticket to Ride" base games. Each set features a new double-sided map board different than the one in the base game.
"Ticket to Ride Map Collection 1" is themed around Asia. One side of the map allows for team play and was designed by Moon. With it, you can have from four to six players compete in two-player teams. In the box are wooden cardholders exclusive to the edition. On the flip side of the map is legendary Asia for two to five players. A new game mechanism for claiming mountain routes requires the sacrifice of extra train cars that score points but are lost for the rest of the game. The map is challenging and requires careful planning.
"Ticket to Ride Map Collection 2" contains India and an old fan favorite first released in 2007, the Switzerland map. Designed for small groups from two to three players, the Swiss map allows players to connect not only cities, but also countries. Discarded destination tickets leave the game instead of being shuffled back into the deck and only the coveted locomotives can be used to build tunnels. Flip the board and you have the giant India map that sits vertical on the table. New mechanisms include ferry routes that require use of a locomotive to build and extra scoring for cities connected by more than one route. The huge eight-car route from Calcutta to Madras will score a player a whopping 21 points.
Both collections are currently available.
Ryan Morgenegg is a multimedia specialist for the Deseret News.