The set collection and route building game Ticket To Ride is truly a modern classic. In the original game you would claim routes across a map by playing a group of matching coloured cards. You would do this hoping to fulfil ‘tickets’ - journeys made up of multiple connected routes, with larger journeys worth more points. Unfulfilled tickets, however, lose you points at the end of the game.
The large maps of North America and Europe created an interesting tug of war as players attempted to construct the most efficient network, plastic train pieces made the board grow in a colourful spider web fashion as the game progressed. Ticket to Ride: New York shrinks all those ideas into an amazingly quick battle of taxi routes across the titular city.
In essence, New York shrinks everything about it’s older sibling down, the box, the cards, the game length. The box claims 15 minutes and I was shocked to find this is entirely accurate. Due to the tighter map, smaller routes and shorter tickets, the game has become somewhat akin to a knife fight in a phone box.
Because Ticket to Ride: New York is so short, tickets become incredibly important and reading them correctly is key to doing well. If you want to maximise your points you will need to draw extra tickets fairly early on in the game, but of course that’s a risk because if you can’t fulfil them you are going to lose points.
There are a couple of differences in the gameplay too. Namely, the points are all totted up at the end rather than as you go along, and there are some landmarks on the map which give you a small amount of bonus points. The rest of the changes all come from that shrinkage of the core game.
So, in Ticket to Ride: New York you have a quick playing, intense version of a modern classic, perfect for those times when you can’t commit to a fuller game, or just as an aperitif.
Player Count: 2-4
Time: 10-15 Minutes
This might be the hardest review I've had to write, not because I have loads of awful things to say about Ticket to Ride's latest incarnation, just that there's not much to say unless you have never heard of the original. The main issue is whether the shrinking of the game works, and then if it was needed? Let's find out with Ticket to Ride: New York.
For those who don't know, the usual Ticket to Ride (TTR) game sees you collecting sets of coloured cards to use in order to play your trains onto the board. The spaces on the board are colour coded between points and can have anything between 1-lots of spaces between them. There are referred to as routes. To claim a route you must play the same amount of cards of the correct colour, or a combination of the correct colour and wild cards. So, to claim a route of three blue spaces I must play three blue cards, or equivalent using wilds. Picking up cards is one of three actions you can take on your go, the others being claiming a route and picking up tickets.
Tickets are where a lot of your points will come from as they define two points on the map that, if you link with routes of your trains, will score you points. However any tickets you fail to complete will lose you points.
Ticket to Ride: New York doesn't do much to mess with this formula. You are playing with Taxis instead of trains, on a much smaller map, and there are some bonus scoring opportunities through 'landmarks', but that is essentially it. Landmarks are points on the board that will score you an extra point if you link to them with at least one route.
So does any of this make any difference? It's undeniable that Ticket to Ride: New York is quicker. 15 minutes is pretty much bang on, certainly at three players, but then TTR was never the longest of games in the first place - clocking in at around an hour. I have to wonder if anyone is that desperate for a quick TTR fix? On the other hand, it's nice to be able to fit the 'TTR feel' in a shorter game that you can fit between other games, or if you do want that quick fix.
However the smaller map means less variety in tickets, this impacts your ticket strategy, as due to the shorter time frame taking additional tickets is very risky and needs to be timed extremely well. Even more so with only 15 taxis to put out on the map, yes there's more chance that you may have completed at least part of the ticket, but no guarantees.
To be fair this does create most of the feelings of TTR full fat in a much shorter time, my worry is that the less of everything will lead to long term replay-ability issues. However I'm not sure Ticket to Ride: New York is meant to be a game that is played over and over again. In fact I think it's better not to be.
For me there is room for both the fuller experience and this newer short version. But the New York edition does replace Ticket to Ride: First Journey. My son had no problem reading the tickets or understanding the slightly more complicated map. In fact I'd wager Ticket to Ride: New York plays quicker than First Journey.
New York does present a quandary though as it isn't really a new game per say. One new scoring method doesn't really make a new game. So can I recommend it? Well yes I think I can. You see in our collection this will replace My First Journey as the family version of TTR until our son is a few years older and can manage the full game. If you have children aged eight and above then they should be fairly comfortable with New York, base TTR or Europe. The great think about Ticket to Ride: New York is that the game length is perfect for our family as our son doesn't do well with longer games.
This would also be a good choice for someone wanting to dip their toes in the TTR water so to speak. It's cheap and would be a perfect gift should you graduate to the full game.
Ticket to Ride: New York
Ticket to Ride is a great game, and honestly you could pretty much buy any version and enjoy it, but there is definitely a place for this shorter experience - even at the potential cost of longevity.