Ticket to Ride: Ghost Train is a family friendly introduction to the popular game series, Ticket to Ride. In the same vein as Ticket to Ride First Journey this is a simple to learn and play fun game for younger children, full of child friendly aesthetics and cute cartoony imagery.
The first journey series of Ticket to Ride games are great scaled down versions from the popular Ticket to Ride franchise. And whilst Ticket to Ride is often marketed as a gateway game you may still have some adult friends resistant to the lure of gaming, even with the less weighty rules of Ticket to Ride Europe, for example, yet due to its simplicity and pace may enjoy playing this game.
In essence, if you love Ticket to Ride but your friends won’t play it with you because they think it’s complicated or takes too long, then Ghost Train could be a perfect game for you to try with them.
Plus, as mentioned, it is a great game for a younger audience, targeting age 6 upwards, to introduce them to the franchise in a fun, themed way that should help them build the confidence and skills to move on to the other versions.
Trick Or Treat
And the best thing about Ghost Train is… the artwork follows a ghostly autumnal theme making it a wonderful seasonal game to pick up and play at Halloween, my favourite holiday. The box art and card graphics are so cute adding to the seasonal cheer. I particularly love the scarecrow whereas my husband prefers the bats. It has a cartoony kid vibe that will really attract younger children to the game and like other games in the series it has symbols on the cards and train tracks as well as colours making it colour blind friendly.
Never Heard Of Ticket To Ride
So what do you do? Well, the general premise of the game is to use haunted carriages to build routes between destinations such as the Mad Scientist’s Lab, the Circus of Dread or the Pumpkin Patch in order to claim tickets. The first player to claim 6 tickets is the winner, or should someone run out of carriages, the person with the most tickets at that time wins.
How To Play
Lets get the most important question out of the way first… what colour do you want to play? I generally play with black because it’s my favourite. Once this is picked you’ll be given 20 haunted carriages in that colour. This can of course be randomised if you have siblings who love the same colour to avoid any squabbles.
One thing I love about Ticket to Ride as a game series is they always give you a few extra, you know, in case you lose a couple. I mean, never say never but I never lose game pieces so I probably won’t ever need them. However, I think this is a really nice touch that costs the company very little, I imagine, but could be the difference between playing or leaving the game on the shelf if a piece does happen to go missing, particularly when younger children are involved.
During set-up players are dealt 4 parade float cards. These are differently coloured to represent the paths you can take on the board and include a wild card that can be used as any colour, blue, orange, green, red, black or yellow.
Finally players are dealt 2 tickets. The tickets show the routes you are trying to make by placing your carriages on the game board in a way that links one location to another. But be careful, some routes only have 1 coloured pathway so you could quickly become blocked by another player claiming it before you, meaning you’d have to find a way round which will take longer.
Chug, Chug, Whiz
Game play begins… Players take it in turns completing one of two actions. You can either draw two parade float cards from the deck or play parade float cards from your hand to claim a route between two destinations on the map, placing your haunted carriages there.
Your hand is unlimited so you can keep drawing parade float cards as many times as you want but remember, other people might be claiming tickets whilst you stand at the side of the tracks trainspotting.
To claim a route on the map you must have enough float cards that match both the number of spaces on the route and the colour. For example, there is one direct path between the Town Hall and the Circus of Dread. This path has four green spaces on it. To claim this route you need to discard 4 green (remember you can also use wild cards) and place 4 of your carriages on this track. The pathway between the Pumpkin Patch and the Swamp has 3 orange spaces and 3 blue spaces so to claim that route you would need to discard either 3 orange or 3 blue cards (remembering you can use wild cards) to lay your haunted carriages on the colour you have discarded. You CAN NOT mix and match, for example, you can not discard 1 blue and 2 orange cards to claim this route.
Completing tickets happens once you have built a continuous line of carriages between two destinations that match a ticket in your hand, for example, the Train Station to the Graveyard. This means you get to claim that ticket and draw a new one from the ticket deck. Well done, you’ve dropped all your passengers off safely… or have you, since this is a Halloween addition after all maybe they’ll get lost in the Hidden Cave or end up cooking in the Witch’s Cauldron, mwah ha ha.
And don’t forget when you draw a new ticket you may find the spooky season has heightened your powers of premonition and you find a route you’ve already completed! Lucky you. No seriously, lucky you… this happened to my husband and I was not jealous at all. Not at all! Did he go on to win that game… maybe!
Keep taking it in turns until a player claims 6 tickets, when that happens declare them the winner… the spookiest train owner in town.
So, What's Different
Well for a start instead of using trains you use haunted carriages which fit the theme pretty well because, well, the veil between this world and the other world is so thin obviously you’ll be taking your journey with spooks and ghouls around the town.
The parade float cards have replaced the illustrated train cards but essentially they just give you the colours you need to claim routes so in that sense they work in exactly the same way as the main game.
Similarly the route cards have just been replaced by tickets, but this isn’t a game that requires any kind of mathematical scoring it is just simply the first person to claim 6 of these cards wins. That makes this game really easy for young children to see how close they are to winning or losing.
There are also some additional treats available in this version of the game. Achieving the longest route game mechanism has been made a little simpler and a lot more fun.
When a player makes a continuous route between a location within the Dark Forest to a location within the Seashore region and screams, okay says, but it’s more fun if you scream, “trick or treat” you can claim a Trick or Treat bonus card. Now you can only do this once, per player, however, it does count as an additional ticket so it could be just what you need to grab that all important sixth winning route! These locations are shown the map with little green tree symbols and little blue wave type symbols.
All the important people work at the Town Hall right? It’s at the centre of the heart and spirit of every town and people need to be able to move easily to and from this location, especially our dearly departed laying in rest in their crypt or haunting that new family that moved into the mansion at the edge of town. Well when you make a continuous connection between Town Hall and the Crypt, or the Town Hall and the Haunted Mansion you can claim another cool bonus of drawing an extra two parade float cards from the deck. Super useful if you are just trying to get that 1 yellow or red card you’ve been trying to draw for ages to complete a route.
Finally, the winner gets to take away the jackpot card. I mean it doesn’t do anything really but it does bathe you in the accolade of your peers and family!
Lets be frank, Ticket to Ride Ghost Train is not a complex game. It you are a seasoned board gamer this is not going to challenge you very much. BUT… it is a fun game AND it’s a family game. If you have younger children I feel confident they’ll love it. If you love ticket to ride but don’t have time to play this fast paced game may have you reaching for the shelf.
For me personally, I love Ticket to Ride, my husband loves Ticket to Ride but we don’t have children so we’re unlikely to play Ghost Train often. However, I strongly suspect if you did have children you’d be playing this game all the time it is so much fun. And Halloween is absolutely my favourite holiday so despite it being gimmicky I love the theme and it’s a game I’d definitely crack out every October just because. It’s also a game I can and do use to introduce my friends to the franchise. For that reason alone it has my recommendation. Fun, cute, fast, simple… what more could one want?
That concludes our thoughts on Ticket to Ride Ghost Train. Do you agree? Let us know your thoughts and tag us on social media @zatugames. To buy Ticket to Ride Ghost Train today click here!